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December 2005

December 31, 2005

Georgia to Propose State-wide Diesel Idling Rules in 2006

Telegraph. Georgia state environmental officials plan to draft a state-wide rule in January to limit the time drivers of diesel vehicles would be allowed to idle their engines.

State regulators had planned to propose the rule in late summer 2005, but Hurricane Katrina and fuel shortages made it necessary to put off any new fuel and transportation requirements, according to the state Environmental Protection Division (EPD). (Diesel idling regulations would, however, reduce fuel consumption.)

The state-wide regulations may limit bus idling to less than 15 minutes, or offer incentives to long-haul truck drivers who avoid idling. Currently, the city of Atlanta sets a 15-minute limit on idling.

The EPD hopes to convene a stakeholders' group in February or March to discuss parameters of the proposed rule, with representatives from local governments, the transportation industry and environmental groups giving feedback.

Fourteen states plus the District of Columbia currently have state-wide idling regulations; a number of municipalities also have their own requirements.

State-level idling regulations
StateMax. Idling time
California 5 minutes
Connecticut 3 minutes
Delaware 3 minutes
District of Columbia 3 minutes
Hawaii 3 minutes
Illinois 0 minutes unattended
Maryland 5 minutes
Massachusetts 5 minutes unattended
Nevada 15 minutes
New Hampshire 5 minutes
New Jersey 3 minutes
New York 5 minutes
Texas 5 minutes (Apr-Oct)
Utah 15 minutes
Virginia 10 minutes

Resources:

December 31, 2005 in Diesel, Emissions, Policy | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 30, 2005

EPA Issues Actions on Vehicle Emissions Durability Testing

The Environmental Protection Agency EPA is issuing two actions related to vehicle emissions durability testing procedures. This comes on the heels of the $90-million settlement with DaimlerChrysler to repair defective catalytic converters on nearly 1.5 million Jeep and Dodge vehicles (earlier post).

First, EPA is issuing a final rule that establishes vehicle aging procedures that automotive manufacturers must use to demonstrate that their vehicles will continue to meet the emission standards throughout the required useful life period (120,000 miles for most cars and trucks).

The rule also includes two prescribed test methods: (1) the standard whole vehicle-aging cycle, and (2) the standard bench-aging cycle. Manufacturers would use one of these cycles to age pre-production vehicles to the equivalent of the useful life mileage. Test data from this aging would then be used to project what the emission levels of certification vehicles would be at their full useful lives. In addition, EPA includes a provision to allow the use of customized or alternative cycles with advance EPA approval.

Second, EPA is proposing three options for comment on processes for testing the durability of vehicle emissions-related components, such as oxygen sensors and catalytic converters.

  • The first option would retain the current EPA process of allowing manufacturers to use good engineering judgment, such as computer modeling, test data, or other established methods to demonstrate component durability.

  • The second option would allow manufacturers to continue using the current EPA process, but would require the manufacturers to submit whole vehicle testing data for a worst-case vehicle configuration.

  • The third option would allow manufacturers to continue using the current EPA process, but would also require that manufacturers submit data when a new type of component or a new technology is being introduced.

Resources:

December 30, 2005 in Emissions, Policy | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Oregon Governor Outlines Goals to Fight Global Warming and Improve Air Quality

In a recent speech to the state Environmental Quality Commission (EQC), Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski called upon the EQC to create a strategic plan for the state Department of Environmental Quality to follow in developing and expanding existing programs to fight global warming and improve air quality.

Noting warnings by regional scientists and economists that climate change poses a real threat to Oregon’s economy and quality of life, the Governor reaffirmed his support for new regulations reducing CO2 emissions from new vehicles. (The California CO2 regulations.)

The threat of global warming is real—not idle speculation.

—Gov. Kulongoski

Based on the recommendations of his Advisory Council on Global Warming, the governor last spring announced greenhouse gas reduction goals for Oregon of 10% below 1990 levels by 2020 and 75% below 1990 levels by 2050.

Regulating and reducing CO2 emissions from vehicles is an important component towards achieving that goal, according to the Governor.

As you know, carbon dioxide accounts for the lion’s share of our greenhouse gases—and transportation alone accounts for nearly 40 percent of total carbon emissions in Oregon.

Looking at the largest sources of carbon emissions, and the most effective ways to reduce those emissions, my Advisory Group recommended that we adopt stricter vehicle emissions standards—and I hope that you share my commitment to moving forward on this critical part of our strategy to curb global warming and improve air quality.

It is projected that if we adopt stricter emissions standards for cars and small trucks beginning with model year 2009, we can reduce carbon emissions by 13–18 percent over the next 15 years and up to 30 percent over the next 25 years. Whereas if we do nothing, our trend of increasing emissions will continue at approximately 1.6 percent per year.

Beyond the reduction in carbon emissions, stricter standards will help provide the benefits of better fuel efficiency and longer lasting emission systems in our cars—in addition to cleaner air and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. And contrary to what opponents say, consumer choice will be expanded not diminished.

Furthermore, adopting new standards will also help us create new economic opportunities. Oregon already has one of the highest per capita uses of hybrids in the country and a small niche of electric car manufacturers. New standards would increase demand for these advanced technology cars, which in turn would attract and support emerging new industries in the fields of technology and innovation.

The Governor also called for expanding two existing programs to improve air quality in Oregon: the Air Toxics Program and the Oregon Clean Diesel Initiative. He highlighted the role of biodiesel and declared his intention to further support the growth of that industry.

The Governor charged the EQC to focus on three areas:

  1. To create a strategic plan for the Department of Environmental Quality to develop and expand existing programs to combat global warming and improve air quality.

  2. To revisit the report by the Advisory Group on Global Warming and identify actions that can be implemented to complement the actions being taken already in the areas of: waste management; landfill methane capture; targeted carbon reduction; and renewable energy.

  3. To build on the Air Toxics Program and Clean Diesel Initiatives while also exploring the effectiveness of voluntary incentive-based programs that either: target the emissions of particular air pollutants, encourage the use of renewable energy, or even target specific regions of the state.

December 30, 2005 in Climate Change, Emissions, Policy | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Toyo Engineering to Design and Build Coal-to-DME Plant in China

Chinacoal
DME is a component of China’s vision for coal utilization.

Japan’s Toyo Engineering will design and build China’s first major coal-to-dimethyl ether (DME) with China’s Ningxia Coal Group in northwestern China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

DME can serve as a synthetic fuel that is to diesel what LPG is to gasoline. It is gaseous at ambient conditions but can be liquefied at moderate pressure. With a high cetane number, DME has very attractive characteristics as an alternative fuel for diesel engines.

DME is clean-burning, sulfur-free, with extremely low particulates. A dedicated DME vehicle might not require a particulate filter but would need a purpose-designed fuel handling and injection system as well as a lubricating additive.

The Ningxia DME plant will have an initial production capacity of 210,000 tonnes of DME annually and is to be completed at the end of 2007. The facility will be part of a larger petrochemical complex.

This will mark Toyo’s second major DME initiative in China. The company is completing a 110,000-tonne per year DME plant for the Lutianhua Group in Sichuan province. This plant, which uses natural gas as its feedstock, is due to come online early next year.

DME automobile project. China’s Ministry of Science and Technology recently announced the successful development of a Euro-3-compliant prototype DME-fueled automobile. The test car, built by FAW Dalian Diesel Engine Factory, Xi’an Jiaotong University and Wuxi Fuel Injection Equipment Research Institute, has logged some 4,500 kilometers so far.

The researchers in the “Dimethyl Ether Automobiles R&D Project” are examining:

  • High- and low-pressure fuel injection systems to handle DME’s low viscosity and low boiling point

  • Optimization of the combustion system

  • Emissions reduction

Physical properties and combustion characteristics of DME
PropertyDMELPGMethaneDiesel
Formula CH3OCH3 C3H8 CH4
Boiling point (ºC) -25.1 -42.0 -161.5 180–370
Liquid density (g/cm3 @20ºC) 0.67 0.49 0.42 0.84
Liquid viscosity (kg/ms @25ºC) 0.12–0.15 0.2 2–4
Specific gravity of gas (vs. air) 1.59 1.52 0.55
Vapor pressure (MPa @25ºC) 0.61 0.93
Explosion limit (%) 3.4–17 2.1–9.4 5–15 0.6–6.5
Cetane number 55–60 5 0 40–55
Net calorific value (MJ/Nm3) 59.3 91.0 35.9
Net calorific value (MJ/kg) 28.8 46.3 49.0 42.7

DME Production. In the coal production pathway, coal is first gassified to produce a syngas rich in CO and hydrogen. The syngas is then put through the water gas shift reaction (CO + H2O → H2+ CO2) to maximize conversion in the synthesis reactor.

Coaldme_1
Without carbon capture, the fuel cycle GHG emissions from coal-based DME are almost twice that of gasoline on an energy-equivalent basis.

Acid gases (H2S and CO2) and other impurities are removed from the syngas, which then moves to the synthesis reactor for production into DME. By-produced CO2, methanol and water are separated from the product DME in the distillation columns. Methanol is recycled to DME synthesis reactor to be converted into DME.

This coal-based process can be quite CO2-intensive, and would need to be implemented with a strategy for carbon capture and sequestration to fit into any sort of regime for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.

Because of the abundance of coal in China, and its ever-growing demand for energy, the country will remain dependent on the ultimate carbon fuel for decades to come. Accordingly, developing coal-based polygeneration strategies is of intense interest and exploration in the country. DME as a diesel substitute will be part of that.

Resources:

December 30, 2005 in China, Coal, DME | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Las Vegas Joins Ranks of Cities with Hybrid Taxis

Las Vegas Sun. Lucky Cab Company in Las Vegas, Nevada, is testing four Prius hybrids as part of its fleet of 120 cars. The move puts Las Vegas in a small group of cities that have rolled out hybrid taxicabs, including San Francisco, New York and San Antonio.

A Chicago taxicab operator is expected to introduce hybrids in the coming weeks, according to Todd Sigaty, executive director of the New York-based Coalition for Smart Transportation.

As a taxicab, the Prius is delivering 35 to 40 mpg—below its advertised rate, but far better than anything else in the cab fleet.

Over the course of a year—and about 100,000 miles—a Prius would save $15,775 in gasoline costs compared with a Marquis and nearly $7,884 versus a Camry, based on the $2.88 a gallon Lucky was paying in September for fuel.

However, gasoline wasn't the only motivation for testing the hybrid vehicles, which use an electric motor as a backup to a traditional gasoline-powered engine, [Awad] said.

“If the price of gas was the only factor, I would say now that we don’t need them,” he explained, citing current gasoline prices that have dropped to about $2.10 a gallon.

With 1,675 cabs in the Las Vegas Valley, cutting gasoline usage and emissions could go a long way in improving the local environment, Awad said.

“I’ve been living here for 35 years,” he said. “I’ve seen the growth. I’ve seen the congestion. I hope my children want to live here too, and I want to do my part.”

December 30, 2005 in Fleets, Hybrids | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 29, 2005

Japanese Consortium Planning to Build Trial Gas-to-Liquids Plant in 2006

Jogmec_gtl_1
The JOGMEC GTL process streamlines syngas production, removing O2 plant, CO2 removal, and conditioning.

A group of Japanese companies intent on making gas-to-liquids (GTL) fuels a commercially viable overseas business by 2011 (earlier post) plans to start building a trial GTL plant in Niigata Prefecture in fiscal 2006, according to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun.

The ¥36 billion (US$306 million) facility is targeted to begin operation in 2008 with a daily output capacity of about 500 barrels per day (21,000 gallons) of synthetic fuels and chemicals using natural gas that Japan Petroleum Exploration produces from the Iwafuneoki gas field off the coast of Niigata.

The partners include Nippon Oil, Nippon Steel, Japan Petroleum Exploration, Inpex, Cosmo Oil, Chiyoda and the government-owned Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp (JOGMEC), along with support from the Ministry for Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). METI has requested ¥1.8 billion (US$15.3 million) in the 2006 budget in support of this project.

JOGMEC has been researching GTL technology since 1998, with an emphasis on the efficient production of the syngas used in the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process that actually produces the end products. (The syngas production systems can represent some 60% of the total capital cost in a conventional GTL plant.)

Working in partnership with Chiyoda (which developed the catalyst), JOGMEC is developing a GTL process that eliminates the need for three units usually found the syngas section of a conventional GTL operation, thereby potentially significantly reducing the cost:

  • CO2 removal unit. The JOGMEC process instead uses CO2 in syngas production.

  • Oxygen plant. JOGMEC (like Syntroleum) does not use oxygen as an input into syngas production.

  • Syngas conditioning unit. The JOGMEC process produces syngas suitable for the FT process in a single pass.

The JOGMEC process has only been tested in very low production pilots (7 bpd). This trial is designed to help perfect in support of building an overseas plant (likely in Indonesia) with a production capacity of 15,000 barrels per day.

Resources:

  • METI FY 2006 Economic and Industrial Policy: Key Points

December 29, 2005 in Gas-to-Liquids (GTL), Japan | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Spending Bill Includes $2.1 Million in 2006 for Hybrid Electric Military Vehicle R&D

An appropriations bill passed by Congress before the holidays and now awaiting the President’s signature contains a $2.1-million provision for the development of Hybrid-Electric Military Vehicles, including Integrated Starter Alternator research and development according to Raser Technologies, a developer of advanced electric motors and a founding member of the Plug-In Hybrid Development Consortium (earlier post).

(This bill—the Support Our Scouts Act H.R. 2863—is a different bill than the large defense appropriations bill H.R. 1815 (earlier post), and also contains an agglomeration of various projects seemingly unrelated to direct military spending.)

Although the language of the bill does not specify the HEV program, Raser, which was active in developing integrated starter alternator designs for the US Military for potential use in Future Combat System vehicles including a hybrid Humvee, says that the funding for the HEV program, which comes out of a R & D appropriations section, will be administered by the Department of Defense.

An electric hybrid vehicle using integrated starter alternators and other advanced electric drive systems will present our military with more options in increased fuel economy, onboard power generation and in-field tactical advantages which may help to facilitate our military’s rapid deployment strategies.

Congress acknowledged the need and the potential for incorporating new hybrid vehicle technologies in their truck fleet to help the military in terms of economy of operation, rapid deployment, stealth tactics on the ground and promoting the safety of our troops.

—Brent Cook, Raser CEO

Raser, founded in 2003, is an R&D company developing advanced electric motors based on its proprietary Symetron technology; Raser’s business plan calls for it then to license its technology to manufacturers.

Symetron is an umbrella label for several Raser innovations in motors and controllers that increase power, torque and efficiency. The company recently received its third Notice of Allowance from the Patent Office, a milestone prior to the actual issuing of a patent.

Put another way, the Symetron technology, which can be applied in a range of packages, AC or DC, can deliver the high torque of a permanent magnet motor without the use of permanent magnets—in essence, enabling the production of smaller, more powerful and less expensive motors.

There are two major design attributes of the Symetron motors contributing to their capability: full flux density at high rpm, and a 90º torque angle.

The Raser motor differs from a brushless DC motor in one major way: the usual permanent magnet rotor is replaced with an electromagnetic wound rotor. According to Raser, even with the most advanced permanent magnet neodymium super magnet materials, the flux density within the brushless DC motor is only half the flux capacity of iron. By contrast, Raser claims that its motor delivers near saturation flux capacity, effectively doubling iron utilization.

Maximizing flux density in the motor allows doubling of torque per unit of heat generation relative to a brushless DC motor. In other words, torque may be produced with less than a fourth of the energy losses. Power density is over twice as great for a given heat dissipation with a corresponding increase in motor efficiency.

The Symetron motor always operates efficiently at the ideal 90º torque angle yielding a three-fold boost in torque density (torque per pound of motor weight) over AC induction motors operating at a torque angle of 160º to 170º degrees, according to the company.

Raser sees four major benefits to its system:

  • Downsizing. For a comparable power output, drive systems can be smaller in size and lighter in weight.

  • High torque for vehicle launch assist. This makes Symetron motors good candidates for hybrid vehicle applications.

  • Production cost. Standard components and simplicity of design should result in costs equal to or less than current motors and controllers for a given output.

  • Energy savings and range extension.

Raser Symetron vs. Toshiba Prius Motor
Parameter Toshiba PM Raser P-180
Peak torque 400 Nm 590 Nm
Continuous torque 186 Nm 188 Nm
Peak power 50kW @1250 rpm 77kW @1250 rpm
Efficiency 87.5% @1250 rpm 88% @1250 rpm
Power density 3.0kW/liter 4.7kW/liter
Torque density 24.3 Nm/liter 35.8 Nm/liter

As a demonstration, Raser earlier this year dropped a small 147-pound pancake AC induction motor into a Formula Lightning race car. The motor was about the same dimensions as the electric motor in the Toyota Prius. The Raser motor, however, powered the race car on its own, delivering 569 Nm of torque.

In June, Raser and Prestolite Electric, a global manufacturer of alternators and starters for heavy-duty vehicles, signed a non-binding Letter of Intent to work together on Integrated Starter Alternators for military equipment. Under the terms of the agreement, Raser will design and develop the Integrated Starter Alternators and Prestolite manufacture them.

The ISAs are to provide acceleration support and mobile power generation. The ISAs are pancake-shaped, in-line motors, which will be sized appropriately for existing and/or future military wheeled vehicles. In addition, under the agreement, Raser and Prestolite will collaborate in a commercial truck ISA development program. Prestolite intends to market commercial ISAs to the medium- and heavy- truck markets under license from Raser.

In October, Raser signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the U.S. Army’s National Automotive Center (TAC) and their Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) to explore common interests in ground vehicle applications of the components, designs, and technology associated with high performance electro-magnetic equipment, especially in hybrid electric vehicle uses.

As part of the CRADA, TARDEC and Raser will investigate the possibility of using an ISA in military vehicles, using Raser’s motor technology as an ISA in the Humvee, and using Raser’s motor and controller technology in non-ISA applications in military vehicles. Under the Agreement, the parties will share engine/vehicle design specifications for multiple vehicles, and document testing/performance parameters of the motors, controllers and ISAs.

Prototype Symetron Integrated Starter Alternators (ISA)
Parameter AC ISA—Humvee AC ISA—Future Tactical Truck
Modeling and simulation, assumes engine supports ISA
Size 35.6 cm x 12.7 cm 50.8 cm x 20.3 cm
Weight 50.8 kg 160 kg
Peak Torque 512 Nm @1000 rpm (431 @3000 rpm) 1,020 Nm @1000 rpm (796 @3000 rpm)
Peak Power 136 kW @3000 rpm 250 kW @3000 rpm
Continuous Power 32 kW @1000 rpm (generating) 77 kW @1000 rpm (generating)
Efficiency 93.5% @3000 rpm 94.9% @3000 rpm
Power Density 10.8 kW/liter @3000 rpm (peak) 6.1 kW/liter @3000 rpm (peak)
Torque Density 40.5 Nm/liter @1000 rpm (peak) 24.8 Nm/liter @1000 rpm (peak)

Resources:

December 29, 2005 in Hybrids, Motors, Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Renault Increases Stake in Samsung Motors to 80%

Reuters. Renault has purchased an additional 10% interest in South Korea’s Renault Samsung Motors (RSM) for 55 billion won ($54.3 million). The exercise of these options brings Renault’s stake in the Korean company to 80.1%. Samsung Group owns the remaining 19.9%.

Late last month, Renault Chairman Carlos Ghosn announced that RSM will begin to export the compact SM3 model (earlier post) under the Nissan brand beginning in 2006. Ghosn is also the chairman of Nissan.

Renault Samsung sold 85,098 cars last year, which accounted for 9.3% of the South Korean auto market. As of October 2005, Renault Samsung has sold about 100,000 cars, marking a 42.9% increase compared with the same period last year.

RSM will begin producing about 30,000 Nissan-branded SM3s annually beginning in 2006, according to Ghosn.

December 29, 2005 in Fuel Efficiency, Other Asia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 28, 2005

Seattle’s Essential Baking Company Shifts Delivery Fleet to B99 Biodiesel

Seattle’s Essential Baking Company has shifted its entire delivery fleet to B99 (99% biodiesel).

The organic bakery sold off its old fleet of trucks and leased 13 newer diesels: nine Dodge Sprinters, three Ford Cargo E250s and one Isuzu NPR Box Truck. All run on the B99 fuel.

Peter Miller, President and Chief Executive Officer of the 200-employee Essential Baking Company, said that aside from the rising costs of traditional fossil fuels, switching to a biodiesel delivery fleet stemmed primarily from the company’s socially responsible and ecologically friendly philosophies: “going biodiesel” was better aligned with the brand’s core values.

The Essential Baking Company currently uses Dr. Dan’s (Freeman) Alternative Fuel Werks of Ballard for biodiesel fueling, and International Truck Leasing for trucks and service of the fleet, among others.

December 28, 2005 in Biodiesel, Fleets | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Chinese EV Company Exports 106 Happy Messenger Electric Cars to US Buyers

Happymessenger
Happy Messenger

Tianjin Qingyuan Electric Vehicles has exported 106 of its Happy Messenger (earlier post) electric vehicles to buyers in the US. According to the company, the US buyers are townships, military bases, ports and research institutions.

The Tianjin company sent over six Happy Messengers in April for performance tests and marketing. The electric vehicles, developed internally, are priced at around $10,000.

TianJin QingYuan Happy Messenger Specs
Length / Width / Height (mm) 3,395 / 1,475 / 1,695
Gross weight (kg) <1,400
Curb weight (kg) 1,050
Max speed 100 km/h (62.15 mi)
Acceleration 0-400m, <20s
Grade-climbing ability >20%
Range(km) Constant speed: 250 km (155 mi)
City driving: 150 km (93.2 mi)
Motor rated power/peak power (kW) 20 / 60
Motor Rated torque/maximum torque (Nm) 53 / 160
Battery type NiMH
Cycle life (80% DOD) 500

December 28, 2005 in China, Electric (Battery) | Permalink | Comments (52) | TrackBack

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