June 30, 2006
Nanotechnology holds promise for necessary breakthroughs in a number of critical energy sectors, including solar cells, thermoelectric conversion and transport, hydrogen storage, and electrochemical conversion and storage (i.e., batteries, capacitors and fuel cells), according to scientists participating in the first Energy Nanotechnology International Conference (ENIC2006) held June 26-28 at MIT.
The technical conference included invited and contributed presentations from academia and industry. Among the speakers were Michael Graetzel, professor at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, and MIT Institute Professor Mildred Dresselhaus.
Replacing the standard two thinner tires per wheel with a single wide-base tire improves the fuel efficiency of heavy-duty tractor-trailer trucks and allows them to be made to run with more stability, according to studies by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).
Interstate tests by ORNL’s National Transportation Research Center show gas mileage increased nearly 3% with use of wider single tires on tractor-trailers. Bill Knee, who headed the study, said the change also allows widening of the trailer frame by six inches, providing a much more stable configuration.
|Forecast German domestic consumption of petroleum fuels. Click to enlarge.|
In its just-released annual forecast to the German petroleum industry, the MWV (the Association of the German Petroleum Industry: Mineralölwirtschaftsverband), estimates that domestic consumption of gasoline and diesel will drop a combined 25.4% from 54.9 million tonnes of fuel consumed in 2004 to 39.6 million tonnes in 2025.
The drop for gasoline is more precipitous, as diesel is steadily gaining marketshare in Germany. From 25 million tonnes in 2004, MWV projects that gasoline consumption will drop 41.9% to 13.6 million tonnes by 2025. Diesel consumption increases from 2004’s 29.9 million tonnes until tipping over after 2010 to drop down to 26 million tonnes by 2025 (-12.5% from 2004).
Ford to Establish Hybrid Development Center in Sweden; Volvo Cars to Invest $1.4 Billion in Environmental R&D
Ford Motor, through its subsidiary Volvo Cars, announced it will establish a development center for hybrid systems in Gothenburg, Sweden, to serve Ford’s Premier Automotive Group and Ford of Europe business units.
In a related announcement, Volvo said that it will invest SEK 10 billion (US$1.4 billion) in environmental R&D to improve fuel economy and tailpipe emissions of its global fleet.
|Coming to India? The Chevrolet Matiz/Spark minicar.|
The Hindu. GM will launch a minicar in India during the first half of 2007, according to GM India President and Managing Director Rajeev Chaba.
The minicar—rumored to be the Chevrolet Spark (earlier post)—will be produced at the Halol facility, and benefit from the excise tax cut announced for small cars in India.
Research Suggests Food-Crop Yields Under Future Greenhouse-Gas Conditions Will Be 50% Lower than Expected
Five major food crops—maize, rice, sorghum, soybeans and wheat—grown in open-air trials under carbon-dioxide levels projected for the future are producing significantly less than those raised in earlier greenhouse and other enclosed test conditions. As a result, scientists are warning that global food supplies could be at risk without changes in production strategies.
The new findings are based on on-going open-air research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and results gleaned from five other temperate-climate locations around the world.
|Brooks cools off his solar panels. Click to enlarge.|
Sunlight-propelled dragsters competed down a quarter-kilometer raceway in the second annual Solar Drag Race held in Wenatchee, Washington on June 24th.
Unlike other solar race events, solar drag racers do not use batteries or other pre-energized devices. The racers’ only fuel source is sunshine captured by the vehicle over the quarter-kilometer distance.
June 29, 2006
New Process for the Efficient Production of a Chemical Intermediate (HMF) from Sugar; Building Blocks for Plastics and Fuels
|Click to enlarge. Source: James Dumesic|
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed an efficient process to make a chemical intermediate called HMF (hydroxymethylfurfural) from fructose from biomass. HMF can be converted into plastics, petroleum or diesel fuel extenders, or even into diesel fuel itself.
The two-phase process operates at high fructose concentrations (10 to 50 wt.%), achieves high yields (80% HMF selectivity at 90% fructose conversion), and delivers HMF in a separation-friendly solvent.
California and the Kingdom of Sweden have finalized a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cooperate with one another and the industry to develop bioenergy, particularly biomethane.
Representatives from both governments signed the MOU in Stockholm this month identifying how the two states can benefit from enhanced information-sharing and interaction to develop bioenergy for transportation fuels and other uses.
|Transportation is the leading source for energy-related CO2 emissions.|
US energy-related emissions of CO2 rose 0.1% from 2004 to 2005, increasing from 5,903 million metric tons (MMTCO2) to 5,909 MMTCO2 in 2005, according to an early estimate from the US Energy Information Administration.
Emissions from petroleum accounted for 43.75% of total energy-related CO2 emissions in 2005. Although total emissions from petroleum fell 0.1%, (while emissions from coal increased by 1.4%) emissions from transportation edged up by 0.2% in 2005.