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New Senate Bills for Low-Carbon Advanced Fuel and Fuel Economy

4 May 2007

US Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, introduced a bill (S.1297) increasing the volume of low-carbon and advanced renewable fuels to as much as 35 billion gallons by 2025.

Separately, Senators Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and Ted Stevens (R-AK), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee, released compromise legislation that would establish a nationwide new vehicle fleet fuel economy average of 35 mpg by 2020 for passenger cars and light-duty trucks—about 40% higher than the current average of about 25 mpg.

Under Senator Boxer’s bill, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required to increase the Renewable Fuels Standard from 12 billion gallons in 2011 to as much as 35 billion gallons by 2025. To count towards the Renewable Fuels Standard, however, fuel must be at least 20% better than gasoline in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition, the Renewable Fuels Standard would require increasing volumes of fuels that are at least 50% and 75% better than gasoline in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. EPA would be required to establish an Advanced Clean Fuel Performance Standard that gradually reduces greenhouse gas emissions from the entire transportation fuel supply by as much as 10% of 2008 levels by 2020.

Additional aspects of the bill include:

  • The National Academy of Sciences would periodically study the environmental and other impacts, and the energy independence implications, of increasing the amount of advanced clean fuels in the transportation fuel supply.

  • The bill would establish a green renewable fuel labeling program modeled on Energy Star to spotlight renewable fuels that result in 50% lower greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline and that are produced using best environmental management practices.

  • The bill promotes the use of the most suitable lands for clean fuels development.

Following the 35 mpg standard in 2020, the Inouye-Stevens bill proposes ongoing improvements of 4% per year in fuel economy for cars and trucks. The bill proposes fuel economy improvements of 4% per year for medium- and heavy-duty trucks beginning in 2011. The Department of Transportation would have flexibility to adjust the standards if industry could not meet the rules.

The proposal would also eliminate the current flex-fuel credit for automakers by 2009.

May 4, 2007 in Climate Change, Fuel Efficiency, Fuels, Policy | Permalink | Comments (24) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

I wonder if these standards take into account the lower energy content of biofuels. Otherwise, it is a sham.

Its very possible to get 35mpg on bio fuels.
I did a tank of E85 in my 07 prius and the average was 35mpg. This may be why it was written this way as thats what todays technology sits.

I watched the hearing last night on CSPAN (here in USA) and Boxer's bill would actually create tiered size/weight based standards that would each have their own fuel efficiency standard. Thus, GM, with a higher percentage of heavy-load vehicles would have to meet goals related to that size of vehicles.

This is a marked improvement over the current assessment of CAFE that measures across an OEM's entire fleet.

Also, the 35 mpg standard would be a national standard across the entire country for all new cars across all manufacturers and the agency responsible for setting the tiered benchmarks would have the ability to adjust the rankings to hit that national target.

But I agree with Senator Levin from Michigan who stressed that the best way to ween ourselves off of foreign oil and clear the air would be to encourage work on leap-frog technologies, like fuel-cell, plug-in hybrids, and advanced diesels.

I praise the effort. But why 35 MPG? Why not 40 or 45 MPG for passenger cars and SUVs?

I'm not talking about mpg; I am talking about the ability to cut greenhouses gases by 20%. If you cut greenhouses gases by 20%, but your fuel penalty is greater than 20%, then you haven't gained anything.

Btw, didn't you have to modify the Prius prior to using the E85. And why would you want to use E85 in your Prius, anyway?

The bill addressing mpg is Inoye's bill, not Boxer's.

I guess it was inevitable that a member of the new majority party would make some meaningless proposal for a future that will never exist. Anyone making biofuel plans for 2025 needs to have their head examined. We all know what happened to the plans for ethanol. If there are biofuel vehicles on this planet in 2025, I will be VERY surprised, and planning for them leads me to believe that Boxer hasn't a clue as to which direction auto technology is moving. I'll give her a hint : "It ain't moving towards biofuel, which would simply be a continuation of a very inefficient way of powering out cars." Maybe we better send GM VP Bob Lutz to Capital Hill to let everyone know that the future car is electric. We are in a mostly electron economy that will become an all electron economy. Boxer
is out of her league, quite obviously. Boxer's skills with respect to autos probably begin and end with choices of interior color schemes and seat fabric selection. I thought everybody knew that the future of
cars was electric. Apparently not. Unfortunately, they dseem to be in Congress making silly and irrelevant
proclamations about a future that'll never come to pass.

I really don't see how anybody here can say "The future of cars is X". There are too many uncertainties in the marketplace to make any accurate predictions. We all have technologies we'd love to see deployed--algae-based biofuels, nanotech-based batteries, etc.--but I don't think I know enough to predict which technologies will win out.

Personally I'll take an algae-based biodiesel or biobutanol PHEV that gets 100 mpg. But that's just me.

I heard Carl Levin's comments. Being the senator from Michigan, you would expect him to be against CAFE. He said that with modern technology, better results can be had without a CAFE mandate. That may be, but they have not done it so far.

I hope that they take their time and craft a good law that everyone can live with and that has the desired outcomes with the fewest side effects.

The senior senator from California outlined the 4% per year improvement in mileage that would result. We all know that you can not continue to improve mileage indefinitely, but we need to do better and maybe this is one way.

Well of course hes against cafe. He and many others know exactly how gm and ford plan to meet high cafe and that isnt good for his state at all. No large change can be had without serious fallout. We have to face the dact it will cost us alot to get there not just in cost of the car.

CAFE of any kind is just plain stupid. The real definition of CAFE is: "We politicians are total invertebrates and don't have the intestinal fortitude to tax gasoline, so instead we are going to make you buy cars you don't want, or make cars you might actually want so expensive you can't afford them." The only thing dumber than CAFE was the absolutely clueless Euro-Pols displacement tax. It would take someone even dimmer than Barbara Check-Bouncer to come up with that regulatory scheme.

Or maybe a 35 or 45 MPG CAFE will accomplish exactly what the POLS want. Force us to use inconvenient, mass transit with the human disasters. The only mass transit I use is the rental car shuttle bus at the airport, and that's bad enough.

As for biofuels, let the market and VC take care of that. If Barb Bouncer really cared about global warming, she would be ramming a fast track bill though to build hundreds of Nuke plants over the next 20 years to provide the US with base load electricity instead of Coal. Ms. Check-Bouncer bragged recently she owned three Prius' (Prii?), one at each of her three homes, which she probably accessed by private jet.

Japanese car manufacturers stick to voluntary power cap for domestically sold cars, at 200 KW max, just to curb unnecessary hp wars. Apparently, Australian tuners happily double power output of Japanese gray import of muscle cars without much troubles. Such voluntary restrictions would be beneficial for US and German companies too. But I do not hold my breath.

"In addition, the Renewable Fuels Standard would require increasing volumes of fuels that are at least 50% and 75% better than gasoline in terms of greenhouse gas emissions."

If climate change mitigation is the objective, fuels must be compared on a well-to-wheels basis. None of the renewable fuels available can reduce CO2 emissions by a factor 3-4 over gasoline, except hydrogen produced via electrolysis. That is only renewable if the electricity is produced in solar, wind and/or hydroelectric plants, all of which are very expensive.

The best way to really make a dent in CO2 emissions from the transportation sector is to improve fuel economy by reducing vehicle size and weight. In addition, urban architects and traffic planners need to focus their efforts over the next 30-50 years on reducing the number of miles that must be traveled by car: higher building density, dedicated infrastructure for (electric) bicyles, more light rail/subways are all good starting points.

@tom -

you're right, comparing different fuels on a volumetric basis (e.g. MPG) is moronic. It needs to be based on gravimetric SFC instead.

Tom

I run E85 in a prius on occasion to prove a point. E85 is not a perfect fuel by any means but it is an alternative to a growing industry that is going to have to start using cellulose. Until I can buy a PHEV my options for "alternatives" for gasoline are limmited

As with many things there is good information and bad information out there.
Running E85 was a test to show that when people start making claims about how ethanol is impossible or a bad idea etc that there is some hope and as well for my own curiosity.
Running E85 did not cause any of the problems that many people "reported"
No check engine lights came on.
Besides a drop in millage(expected) and a noticeable power increase thats all there was as far as a change.
Normaly the car gets 48 to 54mpg
With E85 I was guessing about 35 and it came to 35mpg
The prius has a few advantages when it comes to useing E85
first being that the fuel is pre warmed for better combustion efficency
second being the engine has a compression ratio of 13:1
third the gas tank has a bladder to keep the stuff from evaporating
forth the electric engine spins up the ICE to about 1500 rpm for better efficiency before it dumps in fuel so there are no "hard starts"
This is all with NO modification
Also with no modification E85 ran just fine in a 1990 Jeep cherokee apx 12mpg
a 1995 jeep cherokee also 12mpg
a 1888 ford festiva 28mpg
a 1978 corvette (some modifications) about 8mpg

The thing that does sicken me about e85 is that most FFVs out there are only gas guzzlers and SUVs and not small passenger cars, I guess its good for demand though.

In any case it does prove that more efficient design does make a difference and a lot of the technologies that are needed to do it are here today and can only improve.
Government intervention and forcing efficiency on the public is the only way things are going to change for the better.

Since ethanol has less energy than gasoline, to what do you attribute the 'noticeable power increase"?

The power increase is due to greater volumetric efficiency and higher octane (allows more spark advance).

Volumetric efficiency refers to the flow of air or charge through the cylinders.

Are you saying that by injecting E85 instead of gasoline, the airflow characteristics of the engine are changed?
How does that work?

Typically I have noticed when you are running a fuel with less BTU's in order to have the car preform the same as it would with gasoline my foot generally increases in density with the formation of Lead. This in turn opens the throttle allowing for a richer mixture of fuel and air to be combined in the ICE.
They may be able to take lead out of gasoline but they cant take it out of peoples feet, a common problem with E85 use besides the formation of lead in the feet is the mild formations of adrenaline further contributing to a more rapid use of E85.

It may be possible if I can inhibit the use of adrenaline and the formation of lead in the foot I may be able to get some more MPGS out of E85.

I am confident the government has top scientists and engineers working on this problem. As I have encountered people out there that work for government agency's who's sole job is to with force and financial and point penalties regulate the formations of such lead and adrenaline.

A bill is being introduced into Congress to fund a Hydristor demonstration vehicle. The Hydristor is a
retrofit system converting any vehicle that has a bell
housing space behind the engine into a full hydraulic hybrid, doubling the fuel economy while also quartering it's existing CO2 emissions. If this technology were adopted for new vehicles, the CAFE standard could be raised to 50Mpg, not the wimpy numbers I am seeing in
this blog. Think of it; the Hydristor doubles existing vehicle fuel economy while using existing engine technology and permits a new OEM vehicle the same benefit without massive redesigns. The US auto industry could be saved if only the industry would open it's thinking. Another version of the Hydristor is a super
heat pump system which harvests environmental heat from the air and water and turns it into free electricity with no emissions of any kind. This is a far superior technology to the floating array of pontoon based wind
machines just waiting for another Katrina. By locating
Hydristor heat exchangers under the water and away from bad weather, localized small grids could be established
eliminating the need for these overbearing transmission lines running hundreds of miles and scarrifying the land, not to mention the risk of massive power failures
and security aspects of that. Google the word Hydristor
and see the light. Tom Kasmer 607-2068960

Tom,

That does sound interesting. I have thought that a hydraulic regeneration system would be good, if it could be made cheap and small enough. There are more ways to recover energy than alternator/motor/cap/battery designs. Another method was compressed nitrogen to store the energy from slowing the vehicle and use it to accelerate the vehicle from a stop.

The whole idea of energy recovery has just begun. Otis elevator has the Gen2 designs that store energy on the way down to use on the way up. All of this seems so obvious, you have to wonder why we did not do this before. Maybe necessity is the "mother of invention".

Ethanol is "HERE, NOW" ! It does not require some 'pie in the sky'
technology
that is, at best, 5-15 years down the road AND it can be burned efficiently by almost any well maintained, fuel injected gas engine placed in service in the U.S.A. since 1990.

The 'noticeable power increase' from burning Ethanol is due to the fact that it burns more EFFICIENTLY. Two joint EPA/Commercial Testing Lab reports dating back to the mid 90's have shown that the "Brake Thermal Efficiency" of 100% Ethanol, when burned in a high compression Spark Ignition test engine, is as much as 48% greater than 86 octane unleaded gasoline. The 2003 ["Ethanol-Gasoline
Blends:
Fuel Economy and Emissions Benefits" report] by Matthew Brusstar, of the U.S.
EPA, summarizes those results.

The ["Comparing Performance and Cost of Various Ethanol Blends and Standard Unleaded Gasoline"] study commissioned by ACE (American Coalition for Ethanol), shows the Mileage and Cost comparison using Unleaded, E10, E20, and E30 Ethanol/ Unleaded Gasoline blends.

The 1998, 73 page ["Ohio's First Ethanol-Fueled Light Duty Fleet Study"] recorded 24 months of data from 10 Ford Taurus E-85 FFVs running against 3 Taurus Gasoline control vehicles. It spells out virtually every aspect related to the operation of an Ethanol burning FFV (Flex Fuel Vehicle) fleet. The Emissions benefits of burning E-85 is quite evident.

During the past 7 month/4,xx mile E-85 FFV conversion experiments I've conducted with my personal 98,xx mile, 1998 Ford F-150 4.2L V-6 engine pickup has yielded a max mpg reduction of 1.5-3 mpg when burning straight E-85 when

compared with my usual 86 octane unleaded gas usage.

Both the Full Flex Gold FFV Conversion Kit I installed early last Sept., [ www.fullflexint.com ], and the DiabloSport Chip from "Run E-85.com" [ www.rune85.com ] I installed recently have performed beautifully and each has produced a noticeable increase in performance - its much 'sparkier' pickup.
Numerous Dyno runs have shown a 12+ horsepower and 5.5 ft-lb. Torque increase when burning full tanks of E-85, (at 85% +/- 2% Ethanol in the blend), even when operating at altitudes that normally range between 5,000-8,000' msl (above mean sea level).

If I'm careful with how fast I accelerate from a dead stop, (the lead foot syndrome), and hold my speed on the interstate using the cruise control at
60-65
mph, the mpg fuel usage on 180 mile round trips to visit my grandkids, (with the first 90 mile leg starting at 7,000' msl then descending to 5,000' and climbing back up to 7,800' before reversing the path on the return trip to home at 7,000'
msl), has held within 1.5 mpg of what I've recorded when burning 86 octane unleaded gasoline over the 6 years I've owned the pickup.

In response to the question of burning E-85 in a engine that is not 'designated an FFV' by its mfgr., the answer is 'it depends'. The ECUs in most 2001 & newer fuel injected gas engine vehicles are sophisticated enough to 'train themselves'
to burn E-85 if the volume of E-85 mixed with gasoline in their tanks is increased in 3 or 4 increments. Of course, the maintenance condition of the engine and fuel system components are the most important parts of the FFV conversion equation.

'Most' well maintained 1990 and newer fuel injected gasoline fueled vehicles can be converted to burn E-85 efficiently with the installation of a FFV conversion kit, (less than $500.xx). the Kit/Chip merely signals the fuel injectors to stay open longer when the oxygen sensor signals an air/fuel mixture change which indicates the engine is burning a much higher oxygen blended fuel like E-85 Ethanol. Some kits and chips require that you flip a switch when changing back and forth between unleaded gas and E-85 while others, like the Full Flex Gold Kit are designed to adapt to the change of fuel blend with out the drivers intervention. (I've run the full Flex Gold Kit over 3,800 miles (on my own
nickel) just to prove its FFV conversion possibilities.)

A high compression gas engine like that cited in the Prius Hybrid (above) most likely has an ECU that can 'retrain itself' or, which can be reprogrammed in

place, to burn E-85 without the need to have either a FFV conversion Kit or Chip inserted between the ECU and the Engine.

Currently, I've just started burning a 75/25 mix of E-85/92 octane gas in my
'01
BMW 4 cyl. touring motorcycle with nothing but a noticeable increase in throttle response. NO check engine lites or gas tank/fuel hose leaks have occurred.
(As
soon as I burn the 92 Octane gas that remains in the tank it will be replaced by a full tank of E-85.) BMW's ECU seems to have adjusted its program to operate the engine just fine. (The E-85 fuel usage comparison with my usual 42-44 mpg has yet to be recorded.)

In case anyone is still reading...I believe we need higher CAFE standards that ignore vehicle sizes.

An exception for larger vehicles allows Detroit to flout the purpose of the law, and continue pushing over-sized and over-powered SUVs that are really just passenger vehicles.

If you want to make an exception for light-duty trucks as genuine work vehicles, fine. But if they seat more than two people, they should be forced to comply with passenger vehicle CAFE standards...which should be higher than 35 mpg.

Europe and the Japanese are at 35 Mpg today, pre-hybrid, let alone pre-PHEV. Raising CAFE standards in the 70's and 80's doubled US average fuel economy. The only problem with it was the loophole that let trucks and SUV's off the hook. We need to close the loophole and raise the standards aggressively.

Last I heard, more than 1 million pickups are sold in the U.S. each year. That may have come down recently, but not all that much. I would say that many of those pickup trucks are NOT used to work as we would define it, but are used by people that THINK they need a pickup for one reason or another.

This is a similar mind set for large SUVs. Some people think that they are "safer", when tests show that they do not handle all that well and can roll over. People do not always use logic to make decisions. Emotions play as much if not more of a role in the decision making process. The sense of freedom is one of those emotions and as long as that is the case, you will not get a lot of political support to change things.

There are developments in DME in China today!

We see great potential for DME as a clean alternative fuel . The present diesel oil is a major source of air pollution from diesel engine of trucks and busses in large city like Tokyo. The potential market of diesel oil substitute is larger than LPG. DME is one of ideal fuel for diesel engine. DME vehicles were demonstratively manufactured in Japan, China and Korea and their driving test already started. Practical durability fleet test of a DME truck is under going in Japan.

We are pleased to organise a conference on China taking the lead in the DME market in production from coal and Japan and Korea activities.

If you would like to know more on COAL to Syngas to DME developments, join us at upcoming North Asia DME / Methanol conference in Beijing, 27-28 June 2007, St Regis Hotel. The conference covers key areas which include:


DME productivity can be much higher especially if
country energy policies makes an effort comparable to
that invested in increasing supply.
By:
National Development Reform Commission NDRC
Ministry of Energy for Mongolia

Production of DME/ Methanol through biomass
gasification could potentially be commercialized
By:
Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and
will be sharing their experience.

Advances in conversion technologies are readily
available and offer exciting potential of DME as a
chemical feedstock
By: Kogas, Lurgi and Haldor Topsoe

Available project finance supports the investments
that DME/ Methanol can play a large energy supply role
By: International Finance Corporation

For more information: www.iceorganiser.com

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