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November 2006

November 30, 2006

2008 Escape and Escape Hybrid Feature 100% Recycled Seating Surfaces

The redesigned 2008 Escape and Escape Hybrid feature the first US automotive applications of 100% recycled fabric seating surfaces. The new fabric significantly exceeds Ford’s internal target of introducing seating fabrics with 25% recycled content into production by 2009.

The 2008 Escape’s new fabric is supplied by Atlanta-based InterfaceFABRIC Inc., a global leader in the manufacturing of environmentally responsible floor coverings and commercial fabrics. The bolster and seating fabrics—named “Eco” and “Nature”—are a dobby weave that is piece-dyed in six colorways exclusive to Ford. The fabric is constructed from a polyester created from off-quality soda bottle resin.

The fabric is a result of a collaboration between teams at Ford and InterfaceFABRIC, and features an innovation in backcoating technology that minimizes the use of commonly used flame retardants (decabrome and antimony trioxide) in favor of a new, phosphorous-based flame-retardant created by InterfaceFABRIC for Ford.

Using more sustainable fabric in production vehicles is yet another step in Ford Motor Company’s journey to long-term sustainability. Given the time and effort required to source, design and validate a new seat fabric, it’s a significant achievement to beat both our recycled-content target and our calendar deadline.

—Lisa Nicol, designer for Ford Color and Materials—Sustainability

Ford estimates that, eventually, more than 80,000 of its vehicles will feature the fabric. InterfaceFABRIC estimates that Ford’s use of post-industrial recycled materials, rather than virgin fibers, will conserve annually:

  • 600,000 gallons of water;
  • 1.8 million pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents; and
  • The equivalent of more than 7 million kilowatt hours of electricity.

InterfaceFABRIC is a division of Interface, Inc., a leader in industrial ecology whose pursuit of Mission Zero—eliminating negative environmental impact by 2020—means that product and process come from an increasingly sustainable manufacturing environment.

November 30, 2006 in Sustainability, Vehicle Systems | Permalink | Comments (19) | TrackBack

Inco and Süd-Chemie in JV for Development of Diesel Emission Control Materials and Catalysts

Inco Limited (Inco), a leading nickel and nickel specialties producer based in Toronto, Canada, and Süd-Chemie AG, Munich, Germany (Süd-Chemie), a leading supplier of catalysts for the chemicals and refining industry and for environmental applications, are establishing a joint venture company for the production and marketing of catalyzed diesel emission control materials for the automotive industry.

The two companies will hold equal equity shares in the new company, which will be named Alantum.

Alantum will concentrate initially on diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) and diesel particulate filter (DPF) applications for European passenger car and light truck markets.

Production will take place in a new facility at Süd Chemie’s Heufeld site in Germany. Commercial scale production is expected to begin in 2008.

The technologies brought into the joint venture by each of the parents are complementary. Süd-Chemie brings in its depth of knowledge in catalysis, while Inco will provide its new alloy foam substrate and extensive metals processing technology.

This new generation of catalyzed substrates for emission control products will compete with traditional catalyzed ceramic substrates currently used in most diesel particulate filter systems for light duty vehicles.

The introduction of increasingly stringent regulations for exhaust emissions in Europe offers an outstanding opportunity for growth, according to the two partners.

Inco is delighted to enter into this partnership with Süd-Chemie, a recognized leader in catalyst products. We view this as an exciting application for our nickel foam technology and an important technology breakthrough in catalyzed diesel emission control, with significant value-creation potential. Our two companies, the automotive industry and the environment will all benefit from this partnership.

—Peter Goudie, Inco Executive Vice-President Marketing

November 30, 2006 in Diesel, Emissions | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Neste Oil to Build Second NExBTL Plant at Porvoo

Neste Oil has decided to build a second plant to produce premium-quality synthetic NExBTL diesel at its Porvoo refinery in Finland.

The capital costs of the plant, scheduled to begin production towards the end of 2008, are estimated to be around €100 million (US$133 million). The plant will have the same capacity, 170,000 tonnes per year, as the first one at Porvoo due to start up in summer 2007.

Biodiesel is a major growth area for us, alongside oil refining, and we are aiming to become the world’s leading biodiesel producer. Building a second plant at Porvoo will bring us one step further towards reaching our goal, but it will not be the only move that we’ll be making.

We intend building a number of such plants in various markets, both alone and together with partners. When we talk about aiming to be the leader in the field, we’re not just talking about production volumes, but also about being the technology leader as well. We aim to secure this position by investing heavily in R&D on biofuels to develop technologies that will enable us to further extend the range of raw materials that we can use. Ensuring the sustainability of the raw materials is also a top priority for us.

—President and CEO Risto Rinne

Neste Oil currently has two other projects under way related to starting biodiesel production elsewhere in cooperation with Total in France and OMV in Austria (earlier post), and these are progressing as planned.

The proprietary NExBTL process is a second-generation biofuel technology. The Neste NExBTL process and resulting product differ from both the transesterification process used to produced fatty acid methyl ester (biodiesel) and the gasification and Fischer-Tropsch conversion used in Biomass-to-Liquids (BTL) projects.

The NExBTL process hydrogenates vegetable oil or animal fat feedstock (using hydrogen from the refinery) to produce a hydrotreated “biodiesel” that has similar fuel qualities to BTL or GTL. NExBTL in testing reduced PM and NOx emissions even further than GTL.

The process, as scaled for the Porvoo implementation, requires 0.9 to 1.0 tonnes of hydrogen gas per hour for a NExBTL output of about 20 tonnes per hour.

The market for premium-quality biodiesel looks very promising. We decided to invest in our first NExBTL plant purely with the export market in mind, but now it appears that legislation requiring the use of biofuels on the road will also be introduced in Finland, and we need a second plant to meet domestic demand as well as growing demand elsewhere. We will benefit significantly from being able to build the second plant alongside the first one soon entering the final phases of the construction.

—Kimmo Rahkamo, Executive Vice President, Components Division

November 30, 2006 in Biodiesel, Biomass, Biomass-to-Liquids (BTL), Fuels | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Phoenix Installs and Tests First Production EV Lithium-Ion Battery Pack from Altairnano

Phoenix Motorcars has installed the first Altairnano NanoSafe production battery pack system in a Phoenix Motorcars all-electric sports utility truck (SUT), and completed initial testing with satisfactory results.

The lithium-ion battery pack is a 35 kWh configuration that will enable Phoenix to equip a SUT that can be charged in 10 minutes and achieve up to 130 miles between charges (earlier post). This SUT will be used as a demonstration vehicle for initial sales, and already it is committed for multiple prospect demonstrations and a trade show in December.

The results are amazing, we are delighted with the quality of construction and the specification of this first production battery pack. Based on early feedback we are confident we will be able to sell at least 500 vehicles into the fleet market during 2007.

The SUT is an ideal vehicle for fleets because it combines a large payload capability with the ability to carry 5 adults at freeway speeds, and deliver a driving range of 100+ miles. With over 200,000 fleet vehicles in California alone, and no one else providing a viable zero emission, fleet-ready vehicle, we have an outstanding market opportunity. Now that we have seen the production quality of Altairnano’s NanoSafe batteries we know we have a winner.

—Phoenix Motorcar CEO Daniel J. Elliott

Altairnano is also working on a 70 kWh NanoSafe pack that can support a driving range of up to 250 miles for possible delivery to Phoenix Motorcars in the latter part of 2007.

November 30, 2006 in Batteries, Electric (Battery) | Permalink | Comments (41) | TrackBack

Acheson Introduces New Coatings for Lithium-Ion Batteries

Acheson Industries has introduced Dag EB-012, a versatile conductive, protective coating for lithium-ion and lithium-ion polymer batteries. In addition, Dag EB-012 can be used as a current collector primer coating for electric double layer capacitor (EDLC) applications and as a conductive coating on screw threads.

Earlier this year, Acheson introduced Dag EB-023 and Dag EB-030, new coatings for lithium-ion batteries that are highly conductive, tough, and chemical- and solvent-resistant to withstand the environment inside polymer lithium-ion batteries.

The EB-023 and EB-030 coatings, which are one component, solvent-based dispersions of semicolloidal graphite in a thermoset binder, are also suited for PEM fuel cell applications for acid corrosion protection and for electrical conductivity enhancement of bipolar metal plates.

Dag EB-012 is a single-component, water-based dispersion of graphite in a thermoplastic binder that provides an extremely flexible coating with low resistance at low cure temperature. With proper dilution, Dag EB-012 can be applied by spray, brush, roll or print methods. Once cured, Dag EB-012 provides a tenacious chemical- and solvent-resistant coating for most metal substrates.

The water-based, low-VOC coating enables easier environmental compliance, while its low-temperature cure provides energy savings and reduced process costs. Dag EB-012 delivers excellent adhesion to copper and aluminum substrates for lithium-ion and polymer lithium-ion battery applications, providing excellent adhesion of electrode materials to the current collector for stable conductivity and chemical and solvent resistance. The product can be applied wet by spray, bush, roller or flexo and gravure print techniques for processing flexibility.

November 30, 2006 in Batteries | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Unions File Petition Urging Action on Global Warming

The presidents of 22 locals of five unions—the American Federation of Government Employees, the Engineers and Scientists of California, the National Association of Government Employees, the National Association of Independent Labor, and the National Treasury Employees Union—that represent public employees signed a petition calling on Congress to take immediate action against global warming.

Among the employees represented by the unions are more than 10,000 scientists, engineers and other technical specialists working in the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—more than half of the agency workforce.

The filing of the petition coincides with oral arguments before the US Supreme Court on a case (Massachusetts v. EPA, Case No. 05-1120) brought by states seeking to force the Bush administration to regulate greenhouse gases that fuel global warming under the Clean Air Act.

The petition signatories represent more than half of the total EPA workforce. Addressed to the members of the Senate and House committees overseeing EPA, the petition argues that:

  • The strategy of using primarily voluntary and incentive-based programs to reduce greenhouse gases is not working;

  • EPA has abdicated its enforcement responsibilities by failing to investigate coal-electric plants for technical options to control carbon;and

  • EPA’s scientists and engineers must be able to speak frankly and directly with Congress and the public regarding climate change, without fear of reprisal.

The petition was released by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch noted that the petition began among EPA staff.

November 30, 2006 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (37) | TrackBack

Mascoma and Tamarack Energy Partner on Cellulosic Ethanol; Focus on Forestry Waste

Tamarack Energy, Inc., and Mascoma Corporation, a developer of biomass-to-ethanol technologies will collaborate on the joint development of cellulosic ethanol facilities in New York, as well as follow-on opportunities in Pennsylvania and New England states, leveraging wood mills and other production facilities.

This partnership enables Mascoma to apply its licensed and internally-developed cellulosic conversion technologies, processes, engineering and design expertise, to Tamarack Energy’s alternative energy development, permitting, operational, and financing abilities.

Mascoma has assembled a formidable powerhouse of technical talent that, when integrated with the Tamarack Energy team’s biomass project development, wood procurement, engineering, construction and facility operations experience, strategically positions us to lead the commercialization of ethanol production from cellulosic biomass.

Given the number of sites across the northeast with access to cellulosic feedstocks, including scrap wood, paper sludge, and other forestry and agricultural biomass, the region is ideal for the renewable energy economic development projects and integrated plants which Tamarack Energy and Mascoma can develop.

—Tamarack Energy President Derek Amidon

Earlier in November, Mascoma raised $30 million in its second round of venture funding. (Earlier post.) Mascoma Corporation was founded earlier this year to pursue the development of advanced cellulosic ethanol technologies based on work developed in Professor Lee Lynd’s labs at Dartmouth College across a range of cellulosic feedstocks. Lynd is one of the scientific founders of Mascoma, as is University of California professor Charles Wyman.

Tamarack Energy is a developer, investor, owner, and operator of energy projects that utilize biofuels, wind, biomass, and combined heat and power (CHP) technologies.

November 30, 2006 in Biotech, Cellulosic ethanol | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 29, 2006

UK Travel Agents Association Developing Plans for Carbon Offsetting

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) is working with the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) and the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) to develop a scheme for offsetting carbon dioxide emissions from travel.

ABTA views the scheme—to be launched next year—as an important and practical way for the industry to deal with carbon emissions.

The carbon off-set scheme we will be launching aims to make a clear connection between the money invested and projects in the kind of destinations where people go on holiday. Currently there aren’t enough destination-related projects around. It’s important that consumers can make that link as it will encourage more to use the scheme.

It’s not the solution, but it’s one of the recognized ways to tackle the inevitable impact of current travel pattern. It’s just one part of our longer-term strategy on sustainable tourism generally.

—Keith Richards, ABTA Head of Business Development and Consumer Affairs

ABTA recently met with the Government Office for Climate Change to discuss plans and representatives from that department are attending the ABTA Travel Convention.

November 29, 2006 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

AGCO Approves Biodiesel Blends up to B100 for SisuDiesel Engines

AGCO Corporation, a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment, has approved a broad range of biodiesel mixtures for its SisuDiesel engines. Depending upon the engine model, blends of up to B100 can be used without engine modification or any change in warranty coverage for the specified warranty period.

The biodiesel—the only approved alternative fuel for SisuDiesel engines—must adhere to the European standard EN 14214 or the US standard ASTM D6751.

Based in Finland, SisuDiesel is an AGCO-owned company that supplies diesel engines for a variety of AGCO brand products, as well as other OEM manufacturers for agricultural, industrial and marine applications. For agricultural machines, SisuDiesel offers 3-, 4- and 6-cylinder engines.

All new Tier 3-compliant SisuDiesel engines with common rail fuel injection systems may not be used with more than a maximum 20% biodiesel blend (B20). In other parts of the world outside the US and Canada, Tier 0 Valmet and Sisu diesel engines, and Tier 1 and Tier 2 Sisu engines can use biodiesel up to B100, or 100%.

However, when any blend greater than 5% (B5) is used, the crankcase oil drain, oil filter change and fuel filter element change intervals should be reduced by 50%, according to the company. Up to 5% dilution of biodiesel can be used with normal service intervals.

We see biodiesel as a win-win product for farmers, the environment and AGCO products. Even low blends of biodiesel have shown to reduce friction, lower maintenance costs and lengthen equipment life while proving friendlier to the environment and developing new markets for our customers’ commodities.

—Martin Richenhagen, chairman, president and CEO of AGCO Corporation

Biodiesel blends of 5% (B5) have also been approved for use in Perkins, MAN and Caterpillar engines used in a number of Massey Ferguson, FENDT and Challenger products respectively.

November 29, 2006 in Biodiesel | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Improving Combustion and Reducing Emissions with Methanol/Gasoline Blends

Researchers at Xi’an Jiaotong University (XJTU) in China have quantified the improvement of combustion and reduction in emissions with the use of gasoline-methanol blends of up to 30% (M30) in spark-injection engines.

Increasing the methanol fraction of the blend shortens the flame developing period and the fast burning period, and the indicated mean effective pressures become higher during the first 50 cycles.

The team also developed a new quasi-instantaneous measurement system to measure emissions. With the increase of the methanol fraction up to 30%, the unburned hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide (CO) decrease.

Measured results show that the hydrocarbon emissions are reduced about 40% at 5° C and 30% at 15° C during the cold-start and warm-up period; CO is reduced nearly 70% when the engine is fueled with M30, and a higher difference in the exhaust gas temperature of about 140° C is achieved at 200 s after starting compared to gasoline.

Earlier, other researchers at XJTU had investigated the effect of methanol/gasoline blends on the combustion and emissions characteristics of cold starts. They found that moderate methanol addition can slightly improve the combustion performance at low temperatures, compared to that of pure gasoline fuel, because methanol addition into gasoline results in the improvement of blend evaporation.

This group found that emissions of HC during the rich fuel/air mixture combustion at relatively low temperatures increase with the increasing addition of methanol into gasoline, because of the enhanced evaporation of blended fuel, compared to gasoline. They also pointed out that HC and CO emissions can be reduced when moderate addition is used, because a leaner mixture has been supplied to realize rapid combustion for blended fuels.

Methanol—the simplest alcohol, and sometimes called wood alcohol due to earlier production processes—has been considered as a gasoline substitute at various times reaching back to the 1920s. During the oil crises of the 1970s, research into methanol/gasoline blends accelerated once again.

Now, the prospect of producing methanol as a fuel substitute from coal or from biomass is re-stimulating interest in its use and associated impacts.

However, methanol’s energy density is about half that of gasoline, with the result that vehicle’s would experienced reduced range when using higher methanol fractions in vehicles—a situation similar to current flex-fuel vehicles focused on using ethanol. But also like ethanol, methanol also offers the potential for optimized engine design.


November 29, 2006 in Methanol | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

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