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May 2005

May 31, 2005

D1 Oils Raises $47M in Second Placement

Reuters. D1 Oils, the UK-based biodiesel producer with a global distributed production strategy (earlier post) raised another US$47 million (£25.8 million) in a second share placement. The company went public last October, raising US$21 million ( £11.5m). Since then its has increased its production targets sevenfold in seven months.

D1 also announced a joint venture with a Sichuan Yangtze River Technology in China to develop a biodiesel refining and feedstock supply business with a target to produce 500,000 tonnes of biofuel a year. Up to 2m hectares of land has been made available to the project. (ShareCast)

The company also announced an expansion of its Saudi presence  (earlier post) with a second joint venture with Abdullatef Al-Rajhi International. D1 had planned to plant up to 100,000 hectares in Saudi Arabia, but that has now increased by 300,000 hectares.

D1 also reported a loss of US$5 million (£3 million) during 2004.

May 31, 2005 in Biodiesel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BMW Hints at a Future Supercapacitor Hybrid

Edmunds.com interviews BMW’s Professor Raymond Freymann, the managing director of BMW Group Research and Technology. An aeronautical engineer by training, he has been at BMW for almost 20 years.

As the company has often said, BMW is bullish on hydrogen long-term, although not necessarily on fuel cells. Hence their emphasis on internal combustion engines fueled by hydrogen. BMW will be offering a bi-fueled (H2 and gasoline) 7 Series within two years—earlier post).

We think the future is not so radical. All of our consideration is on internal combustion engines. We’re not sure fuel cells will happen—other than as the power source for everything driven electronically, such as air conditioning, in-car entertainment, lights, etc. For this application, the fuel cell makes perfect sense. But as the power source for driving the car? That is a huge step.

Rather, we think the internal combustion engine, fuelled by liquid hydrogen is perfect. The technology exists. The internal combustion engine also offers much better power density and efficiency than fuel cells. Fuel cells have such a long way to go. I'm not sure anyone would be able to pay the bills.

Hydrogen will work best in direct-injection engines with supercharging. The thermal efficiency of a hydrogen internal combustion engine will be more than 50 percent. Gasoline engines currently operate below 40 percent and diesels just above 40 percent. The hydrogen engine will have more power and more torque. And no pollution. Initially, maybe we will make [hydrogen] from natural gas, but eventually all hydrogen will be produced using renewable energy—such as solar power.

Freymann predicts a peaking of diesel popularity in Europe as direct-injection gasoline engines gain greater presence. And he is somewhat dismissive of current hybrid designs (“two engines...simply add weight to the car, and add money to the car”).

Freymann indicated that BMW is working on a gasoline-electric hybrid, however, but using supercapacitors boosted by regenerative braking, rather than batteries.

[The super capacitors] are lighter and store less power, but unlike batteries we can use all their power—all 100 percent. An electric engine has a lot of torque at low revs—that is its main benefit—so it’s ideal for fast initial acceleration. At higher revs, once you’ve begun to accelerate, nothing can beat an internal combustion engine. Our hybrid approach combines the best characteristics of both engines.

BMW has worked on ISAD (Integrated Starter Alternator Damper)-like hybrid systems for a number of years, as chronicled in the IEA Implementing Agreement for Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Technologies and Programmes Overview Report 2000.


  • IEA Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Implementing Agreement website

May 31, 2005 in Hybrids, Hydrogen | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Swiss Environmental Agency Calls for Mandatory PM Filters

With this year’s UN World Environment Day (5 June 2005) approaching, the director of the Swiss Agency for the Environment, Forests and Lanscapes (SAEFL), Philippe Roch, has called for specific action to improve air quality, reduce noise and provide ample green spaces in Switzerland’s towns and cities.

Among the proposed policy and regulatory actions:

  • Particulate emissions in urban areas should be halved, and dramatic reductions are required in the amount of soot released by diesel engines. The guiding principle: no diesel-powered vehicles without a particulate filter.
  • To alleviate noise problems in residential neighbourhoods, 30 km/h (18.6 mph) speed limits should be introduced as widely as possible.

The call for mandatory PM filters for all diesel engines comes as the Swiss parliament is due to debate a proposal to suspend the 2003 regulation mandating compulsory installation of diesel filters in construction machinery. (Swissinfo)

May 31, 2005 in Diesel, Emissions, Europe, Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

VW May Offer Jetta Hybrid in US

Autoweek reports that Volkswagen may introduce a mild hybrid Jetta in the United States in two years.

VW did not forecast sales volumes or discuss the costs. The company said it has not decided which supplier would provide the technology.

Volkwagen has had a tepid attitude toward hybrids in the past, seeing them as niche products for the US market (earlier post), and preferring to focus instead on the benefits of the diesel platform (earlier post).

(A tip of the hat to Joe!)

May 31, 2005 in Hybrids | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ford Product Development VP on Powertrain Futures

all4engineers runs an interesting, albeit short,  interview with Richard Parry-Jones, Ford’s Executive Vice-President for product development, on Ford’s views and activities around different powertrains.

Parry-Jones touches on electric vehicles (“very, very limited”); hybrids (significant, but not taking over); hydrogen and diesel.

A few snippets:

[On Hydrogen Internal Combustion engines] A second reason is that there is no guarantee that fuel cells will work. I think they will, but I would not swear my daughter’s life on it. And hydrogen/internal combustion provides a back-up. If we get into an energy crunch, we have another way to go. It’s not as efficient as fuel cells, but it’s not a bad idea.

[On hydrogen fuel] There are no easy wins. If you reduce natural gas to create hydrogen, the cost of fuel is approximately five times higher than using oil. The cost of oil will rise to the point where that becomes viable. But longer term, to really address CO2, we need to find a sequestering technology to sequester the carbon after we liberate the hydrogen, and if we go even longer term, we have to find renewable sources of energy.The oil crunch I talk about is not just around the corner. It will be 40 years at least to work this out. But we have to find a replacement for the energy, not just the oil.

[On Diesel] I believe clean diesels can play a role in this [North American] market, not starting with passenger cars in my opinion, but coming down from pickups.

[On the 2.7-liter diesel shown in the Mercury MetaOne concept diesel hybrid (post)] No [we can’t bring that engine to North America]. There is a new regime coming along, Euro V, and probably an Euro VI after that, which have increasingly stringent levels for particulate and NOx emissions. The North American legislation, after low-sulphur fuel becomes available in 2006, is going to be Tier 2 Bin 5, which is more stringent than Euro V. Although we could sell that engine today in North America, we won't be able to keep it. We and anyone else who wants to sell in North America is going to have to invent some new technology. I tell our engineers, don't moan about it, fix it.

May 31, 2005 in Diesel, Engines, Hybrids, Hydrogen, Vehicle Manufacturers | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Mazda Strengthens Global Environmental Charter

Mazda has updated its global environmental charter for the first time in 13 years. The revised plan defines the expanded scope of environmental initiatives for the entire Mazda group and reinforces the company’s worldwide corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts.

Mazda’s basic stated policy consists of three principles:

  1. To contribute to society by creating environmentally friendly technologies and products.

  2. To use the Earth’s resources and energy sparingly, and never overlook environmental considerations when conducting its business.

  3. To play its part in improving the environment, hand in hand with local communities and society at large.

Mazda then takes those principles into guidelines for action:

  1. Creation of environmentally sound technologies and products. We are committed to the challenge of creating clean technologies, including those facilitating cleaner exhaust emissions, a reduction in CO2, the development of clean-energy vehicles and alternative energy vehicles, and the protection of the ozone layer. We will encourage the creation of products that are environmentally sound throughout their lifespan, from the planning and development stages through to manufacturing, use, and recycling/disposal.

  1. Corporate activities for conserving resources and energy. In order to conserve limited resources, we will actively promote resource conservation and recycling activities. We will strive to achieve diversified and efficient use of energy.

  2. Corporate activities in pursuit of a clean environment. We will not merely comply with environmental laws and regulations, but will also impose voluntary controls for higher standards, and implement thorough self-regulated control. In our pursuit of a clean environment, we will promote the development of new technologies and the introduction of new systems which contribute to a cleaner environment.

  3. Working with others in the car-making industry to create a better environment. We will actively provide our employees with in-house education and information about environmental protection to enhance their awareness of the global environment. We will work in close cooperation with other car manufacturers in Japan and overseas to achieve better environmental protection.

  4. Creating a better environment in cooperation with local communities and society. We will work actively to understand and appreciate society’s requirements for the environment and reflect them in our business activities. We will disclose and publicize environment-related technologies, systems, and information. We will not only conduct our own environmental activities, but will also make a collaborative effort in other social activities for the conservation of the environment with society.

    May 31, 2005 in Emissions, Fuel Efficiency, Policy, Vehicle Manufacturers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Rio de Janeiro Trash Fleet Adopts O2Diesel; First On-road Use of E-Diesel Blend in Brazil

    Comlurb, the municipally owned trash collection company serving Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, has begun using O2Diesel’s proprietary ethanol-diesel fuel blend in its fleet of trash-hauling vehicles.

    Comlurb’s use of O2Diesel represents the first time that ethanol-diesel fuel has been used in a commercial on-road truck application in Brazil.

    Comlurb, one of several municipal fleets, was selected by Rio de Janeiro as the pilot fleet to verify the suitability of O2Diesel for all municipal fleets. The initial verification process is expected to last approximately three months, and involve 15 diesel-powered trucks. Comlurb operates 300 diesel powered vehicles consuming around 2 million gallons of diesel fuel annually. The O2Diesel fuel used by Comlurb is blended and delivered by state-owned Petrobras/BR, the largest oil and fuel distribution Company in Brazil.

    O2Diesel uses 7.7% ethanol, with up to 1% proprietary additive and a cetane improver. Cetane is a measure of a fuel’s ignition delay—the period between the start of injection and start of combustion of the fuel. Higher cetane fuels will have shorter ignition delay periods than lower cetane fuels, and shorter delay is better.


    May 31, 2005 in Brazil, Diesel, Ethanol, Fleets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    May 30, 2005

    Corporate Leaders to Blair: Do More on Climate Change, We’ll Help

    In a letter to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, leaders from thirteen major UK and international companies are offering to support the Government in developing new, longer-term policies for tackling climate change.

    The companies, members of the Corporate Leaders Group, argue that there is a need for urgent action to be taken now to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and offer to work in partnership with the Government towards strengthening domestic and international progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. They also pledge to engage other British businesses, the UK public and governments and businesses internationally to back this effort.

    [...]we have spent the last four months working together to develop the advice in this letter. We have done so because, like you, we are convinced that we need to take urgent and informed action now if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Enabling a low-carbon future should be a strategic business objective for our companies and UK plc as a whole.

    [...]As business leaders, our concern is with how we can help bridge the gap between today’s economy and the radically different low-carbon future that will be needed to deliver this target [60% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050].

    [...]Our companies and many others have already made significant investments in low-carbon technologies, processes and products. But what we have done so far is not nearly sufficient given the size of the challenge facing us. We need to create a step-change in the development of low-carbon goods and services by rapidly scaling up our existing investments and starting to invest in new technologies. To achieve this, we need a strong policy framework that creates a long-term value for carbon emissions reductions and consistently supports and incentivises the development of new technologies. Without such policies, our companies are not able to justify to our boards or investors the necessary high up-front investment in low-carbon R&D, technologies and processes.

    An effective policy framework for stimulating low-carbon investment should enable us both to scale up our investment in existing technologies and to accelerate development of new technologies from research opportunities into mature businesses. It should also continue to make clear and skilful use of market mechanisms wherever possible.

    [...]While it is clear that tackling climate change will impose some upfront costs on businesses, governments and the public, we believe that with the right policy framework in place, these can be minimized and the UK’s overall competitiveness need not be adversely affected.

    [...]At present, we believe that the private sector and governments are caught in a “Catch 22” situation with regard to tackling climate change. Governments tend to feel limited in their ability to introduce new policies for reducing emissions because they fear business resistance, while companies are unable to take their investments in low carbon solutions to scale because of lack of long-term policies. In order to help break this impasse, we are proposing to work in partnership with the Government in order to:

    • Support the development of a world-leading climate change policy framework capable of enabling a step-change in private sector investment in low-carbon technology in the UK;

    • Significantly increase support for action on climate change from UK businesses, the public and other governments and businesses internationally;

    • Dramatically scale up investment in low-carbon technologies and processes by our companies and others in response to new policy.

    It is expected that the Group will meet with the Prime Minister to discuss the recommendations in the run-up to the G8 Summit at Gleneagles in early June.

    The Corporate Leaders Group is made up of executives from: ABN Amro, AWG, BAA, BP, Cisco Systems, F&C Asset Management, HSBC, John Lewis Partnership, Johnson Matthey, Scottish Power, Shell, Standard Chartered Bank and Sun Microsystems.


    May 30, 2005 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Blue Sun Plans to Open 10 New Biodiesel Stations on 4 July

    Rocky Mountain News. Blue Sun Biodiesel plans to open 10 new biodiesel fueling stations in Colorado on July 4.

    The new stations, located in Vail, Glenwood Springs, Golden, Steamboat Springs and Grand Junction, among others, pump B20 (20% biodiesel, 80% petroleum diesel).

    Jeff Probst, president and CEO of Fort Collins-based Blue Sun, said the company would have 50 fueling stations by the end of this year.

    Blue Sun has been bounced around a bit in its quest to build a production plant. Initially targeted to be adjacent to a proposed ethanol plant in Johnstow, Blue Sun next shot for Alamosa as the plant’s site.

    The Alamosa site, which was to be part of a fuel terminal and operational by this May, fell through when complaints delayed the project.

    Currently, Blue Sun is trying to close on a  site in Monte Vista for the $4.4 million production plant.

    The site is linked to the Alamosa fuel terminal by a railroad, which would be used to carry 3 million gallons of B100 per year  from the plant to the terminal, where it will be mixed to produce the B20.

    May 30, 2005 in Biodiesel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Audi Introduces High-End Diesel V8


    Following on the heels of DaimlerChrysler’s release of its most powerful diesel passenger car, the E420 CDI, (earlier post) Audi has upped the ante with the new diesel Audi A8 4.2 TDI quattro.

    The new 240 kW (326 hp) engine deivers 650 Nm (479 lb-ft) or torque, with fuel consumption of 9.4 liters/100km (25.0 mpg). 

    This is an expensive, limited-market luxury car. The basic price of the A8 4.2 TDI quattro in Germany is €81,000 (US$101,000). But the developments and enhancements of the engine and exhuast system on this car (as on the Mercedes E420 CDI) highlight some of the possible technology paths and manufacturing enhancements that could be applied to smaller engines to increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.

    Power Diesels: Audi vs. MercedesBenz
     Audi A8 4.2 TDIMercedes E420 CDI
    Displacement 4,134 cc 3,996 cc
    Power 240 kW (326 hp) 231 kW (314 hp)
    Torque 650 Nm (479 lb-ft) 730 Nm (538 lb-ft)
    Power/liter 58 kW/l 57.81 kW/l
    BMEP 286.3 psi 333.1 psi
    Acceleration 0–100 km/h 5.9 sec 6.1 sec
    Fuel consumption 9.4 l/100km 9.3 l/100km
    Mileage 25.0 mpg US 25.3 mpg US
    Emissions Euro 4 Euro 4

    Audi engineers made a number of structural changes to the engine design to achieve the enhanced power. The new engine is made of vermicular graphite cast iron (GGV), reducing the engine weight by 15 kg from its predecessor, the 4.0 TDI. The 4.2 TDI is this one of the lightest diesel V8s ever.  Cylinder spacing in the new engine block is 90 millimeters, giving the engine a compact overall lenth of 520 mm.

    The surfaces of the cylinder bores are treated using UV laser exposure. This special honing process ensures significantly reduced oil consumption in the TDI engine, and, as a result, a significant reduction in particulate formation during combustion.

    The cylinder head is made of aluminium, and two camshafts are used to operate the valves in each. They are driven via a maintenance-free chain drive, which also drives the oil, water and power-assisted steering pumps.

    Roller cam followers with hydraulic valve clearance compensation operate the 32 valves (four per cylinder) on the new V8. This low-friction drive technique plays an important role in reducing both the fuel consumption and the emissions of the 4.2-litre engine.

    Two turbochargers with variable turbine geometry deliver high torque even at low engine speeds, in conjunction with high power output. Variable turbine geometry optimizes the flow of exhaust gas to the turbine rotor depending on load and engine speed. By means of air mass metering, the engine management ensures that both turbochargers run constantly at the same speed and therefore achieve the same delivery rate. Maximum boost pressure is 2.5 bar; the turbochargers rotate at up to 226,000 revolutions per minute.

    The variable turbine geometry is supported by electrically operated actuators on the new 4.2 TDI. These actuators adjust the vanes faster and more precisely: particularly at low engine speeds, this means a more rapid build-up of boost pressure, thus achieving an excellent response.

    Each of the two turbochargers serves one bank of cylinders. The two intake manifolds are interconnected by means of a “feedthrough” system, to equalise the pressure between the right and left cylinder banks. This feature boosts cylinder charging and consequently enhances the engine’s output.

    There are continuously variable swirl flaps integrated into the intake tract. These permit the air movement to be adjusted to suit the engine speed and load at the time. High tumble at low engine load results in optimised combustion, just as low tumble does at high engine load. In practice this means that a closed swirl duct at low load increases swirl, while open ducts at high load boost cylinder charging.

    Audi has upped the pressue of its common-rail injection system to 1,600 bar (250 more than previous). The higher injection pressure results in even finer atomisation of the fuel, better mixture preparation and hence more efficient combustion. The consequence is not merely extra power and torque, but also reduced fuel consumption and emissions.

    Piezo injectors enable considerably smaller and more precisely metered injection quantities. At the same time, piezo technology permits a higher injector needle speed. With a value of 1.3 metres per second, the piezo system responds twice as fast as other common rail injectors.

    The number of injection processes per combustion cycle can thus be varied almost at will. In the case of the 4.2 V8, the Audi TDI development team decided on up to four injections. In the lower engine speed range there is a double injection in addition to the main injection, and a single pre-injection in the mid-range.

    The fuel is injected into the combustion chamber via eight-hole jets. They too play a major part in making the combustion process ultra-efficient, and thus improving the quality of emissions, by distributing the fuel homogeneously throughout the combustion chamber.

    The 4.2 TDI has a twin-pipe exhaust system with particulate filters as standard. In each exhaust pipe the cleaning of the exhaust gases is undertaken by an oxidizing catalytic converter close to the engine and a catalytically coated particulate filter.

    The particulate filter, made of silicon carbide with thin-wall technology, is located in the under-floor area. The combination of thin-wall technology and catalytic coating enables controlled regeneration from temperatures of approx. 580 ºC, with simultaneously low exhaust back pressure. This is reflected in only marginally increased fuel consumption and enhanced regeneration efficiency.

    The A8 4.2 can cover distances of up to 2,000 kilometres before the filter reaches its maximum charge level. The charge status of the filter is continuously checked by means of monitoring of the exhaust back pressure and parallel simulation calculation for both exhaust pipes separately.

    When regeneration becomes necessary, the engine management system generates the required increase in temperature by means of measures taken within the engine and exothermic conversion of unburned hydrocarbons in the oxidising catalytic converter. Up to 5 injections are also possible with the common-rail injection system used at Audi.

    May 30, 2005 in Diesel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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