July 31, 2007
ICCT Releases New Report Comparing Global Fuel Economy and CO2 Standards
With debate on light-duty vehicle fuel economy likely headed for the floor of the US House of Representatives, the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has released a new report comparing car and light truck fuel efficiency standards worldwide.
The report, which includes Feng An as an author, updates the 2004 An and Sauer study for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change that compiled GHG emission standards and passenger vehicle fuel economy from seven governments around the world.
|Actual and projected GHG emissions, adjusted to NEDC test cycle. Click to enlarge.|
The new ICCT report reflects changes in the development of vehicle standards in Japan, Europe, and the United States.
It also identifies new fiscal policies enacted in China and Canada that are designed to promote fuel-efficient vehicles and to discourage larger, inefficient vehicles.
Findings of the new report include:
Although Japan and Europe continue to lead the world with the most stringent passenger vehicle greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards (Japan’s being mandatory, with Europe poised to transition from voluntary to mandatory), the two are moving in opposite directions. In 2006, Japan increased the stringency of its fuel economy standards, while Europe is in the process of weakening its CO2 standards by shifting from a target of 120 g/km from the vehicle to 130 g/km from the vehicle.) As a result, Japan’s standards are expected to lead to the lowest fleet average greenhouse gas emissions for new passenger vehicles in the world (125 g/km) in 2015.
California’s GHG emission standards for passenger vehicles would achieve the greatest absolute emission per vehicle reductions from any policy in the world, although the emissions endpoint is still higher than that of a number of countries, including China, the EU and Japan.
US passenger vehicle standards continue to lag behind other industrialized nations, both in absolute terms as well as in the relative improvements required under current regulations to 2011. If targets under discussion in the Congress are enacted, the US could move ahead of Canada, Australia, South Korean and California by 2020.
Canada has established the world’s only active feebate program with significant incentives and levies for vehicles based on fuel consumption. At the same time, Canada plans to issue an attribute-based fuel economy regulation this fall to take effect in 2011, while it continues to implement its voluntary agreement with automakers.
The Chinese government warrants significant notice for reforming the passenger vehicle excise tax to encourage the production and purchase of smaller-engine vehicles, and to eliminate the preferential tax rate that applied to sport utility vehicles (SUVs).
South Korea is the only nation in the world with fuel economy standards for new passenger vehicles where fleet average fuel economy is projected to decline over the next five years. The South Korean government is considering policy options to address this negative trend.
|Per vehicle GHG emission reduction associated with the most recent regulations by country. Click to enlarge.|
In an attempt to partially control for the impact of variations in vehicle size, weight, technology penetration, and engine performance across countries, the report compared standards in terms of the absolute improvement required over each regulatory implementation period. That analysis yielded the conclusion that California’s regulations would achieve the greatest overall per vehicle reduction, even though the per vehicle emissions would still be higher than in other countries.
|Fuel Economy and GHG Emissions Standards Around the World|
|Canada||GHG||5.3Mt reduction||Vehicle class-based||New and in-use||US CAFE||Voluntary|
|California||GHG||g/mile||Vehicle class-based||New||US CAFE||Mandatory|
|US||Fuel||mpg||Single standard for cars; size-based for trucks||New||US CAFE||Mandatory|
|South Korea||Fuel||km/l||Engine size-based||New||US EPA City||Mandatory|
|Taiwan||Fuel||km/l||Engine size-based||New||US CAFE||Mandatory|
Kawasaki Heavy to Test NiMH-Powered Light Rail Vehicle
Nikkei. Kawasaki Heavy Industries will begin test runs in October of a light rail vehicle powered by a NiMH battery.
|A Kawasaki light rail vehicle, in use in Hong Kong.|
The light rail car will be able to use power from overhead catenaries as well as the on-board batteries, which are installed below the passenger seats. The light rail car supports regenerative braking to recharge the batteries.
Kawasaki will market the train for use in areas that cities want to keep clear of overhead wires.
European rolling stock manufacturers Alstom and Lohr have been working with Saft NiMH batteries on similar light-rail vehicles for use in cities that want to keep historic areas clear of the catenaries. (Earlier post.)
Southern Research Institute Evaluates Off-Road Clean Diesel Technologies for New York State
Southern Research Institute has completed the first round of installations and testing of clean diesel technologies for the Clean Diesel Technology/Off-Road Field-Testing Program at the New York City Department of Sanitation in Maspeth, Queens, NY.
The purpose of the program is to evaluate and improve diesel emissions from off-road equipment, generate emission factors with and without control technologies and assess the performance of the control technologies tested using a standard in-use testing protocol developed under the program.
Under a three-year contract with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Southern Research has developed and assembled a testing protocol and is also managing the testing efforts for the project with the goal being to reduce air pollution in New York State. This universal testing protocol can be adopted and utilized by other state and federal agencies for in-use emission testing.
The project is sponsored by NYSERDA in collaboration with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and supplemented by a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Clean Diesel Campaign.
This focus on off-road vehicles, typically used in construction, is an important element in understanding how emission-control technologies can play a role in improving air quality in the New York City Metropolitan Area and statewide.—Paul D. Tonko, president and CEO, NYSERDA
Southern Research, together with Environment Canada and NYSDEC, has completed nine of the 15 planned tests on diesel construction equipment operated by the New York City Department of Sanitation. In addition to the 15 planned in-use emission tests, Southern Research and its partners, Environment Canada and Emisstar, are managing the demonstration of 13 additional technologies.
Nett Technologies, Clean Air Systems, Engine Control Systems, Extengine, Airmeex, Donaldson, HUSS, DCL, Airflow Catalyst Systems and Johnson Matthey (via Caterpillar) have all provided technologies for the project.
The demonstration and in-use testing of a variety of passive, active, and flow through diesel particulate filters, diesel oxidation catalysts, and a selective catalytic reduction system on the DSNY non-road construction equipment will provide needed information on the effectiveness of these technologies in novel applications, in addition to providing significant reductions in emissions from the DSNY fleet.
More information will be available about this program in a report that will be issued at the conclusion of all testing. An event to discuss the project and its results with others interested in emissions control and new technologies is tentatively being planned for the spring in 2008.
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) recently adopted NOx and PM regulations aimed at reducing toxic and cancer-causing diesel emissions from the state’s estimated 180,000 off-road vehicles used in construction, mining, airport ground support and other industries. (Earlier post.)
Mazda to Deliver Rotary Hydrogen Vehicle to Japan’s METI
Mazda Motor Corporation will deliver one dual-fueled RX-8 Hydrogen Rotary Engine (RE) vehicle (earlier post) to Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) on 1 August.
The dual-fuel system enables the driver to select either gasoline or hydrogen fuel with the flick of a switch. METI will use the RX-8 Hydrogen RE in its daily operations. The delivery to METI will mark the eighth hydrogen rotary engine vehicle to be leased to government bodies and private enterprises and the first time that Japan’s central government has adopted a hydrogen vehicle for its daily operations.
Mazda has been developing the hydrogen rotary engine since 1991.
Marathon Oil Acquiring Western Oil Sands for $6.2 Billion
|With the acquisition, Marathon gains a 20% stake in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP). Click to enlarge.|
Marathon Oil Corporation, the largest refiner in the US Midwest, is acquiring Canadian oil sands company Western Oil Sands, Inc. in a transaction valued at C$6.5 billion (US$6.2 billion). Under the terms of the agreement, Western shareholders will receive C$3.8 billion (US$3.6 billion) in cash and 34.3 million shares of Marathon common stock and securities exchangeable for Marathon common stock.
With the acquisition, Marathon picks up a 20% interest in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP), which includes the operating Muskeg River Mine and the Scotford Upgrader. The company will gain immediate net production of approximately 31,000 barrels per day (bpd) of bitumen, increasing to more than 130,000 bpd of bitumen by 2020.
Marathon will also assume Western’s debt at closing, which as of 30 June was approximately C$700 million (US$650 million). Contingent upon Western shareholder approval and applicable regulatory approvals, the transaction is anticipated to close early in the fourth quarter of 2007.
The acquisition agreement requires Western to spin-off WesternZagros, its wholly-owned subsidiary with interests in Kurdistan, prior to closing.
Western Oil Sands has net proved mining reserves of 436 million barrels of bitumen, with a total net resource of approximately 2.6 billion barrels of combined mined bitumen and in-situ recovery.
The Athabasca Oil Sands Project is truly a world-class asset with multi-billion barrel, long-life resource potential. Marathon’s strategically advantaged US Midwest downstream business is well positioned to provide both near and long-term solutions to maximize the value of these substantial bitumen resources. We are joining an ongoing and expanding project with strong partners, and collectively, we will be able to apply our technical and commercial skills to maximize both the recovery and value of these resources.—Clarence P. Cazalot, Jr., president and CEO of Marathon
The AOSP Joint Venture also includes Shell Canada (operator, 60%) and Chevron Canada (20%). The oil sands mining operation encompasses the Muskeg River Mine, located north of Fort McMurray, Alberta, and the Scotford Upgrader, located near Edmonton, Alberta.
Marathon also will take ownership in both operated and non-operated in-situ leases. The Company will gain a 60% interest and operatorship in a 26,000 gross acre project along with a 20% working interest in 75,000 gross acres in the Chevron-operated Ells River project. Collectively, these in-situ leases will add an estimated 600 million barrels of net resource.
Bitumen production from the Muskeg River Mine is taken by pipeline to the Scotford Upgrader which uses hydro-conversion technology to upgrade this bitumen into a range of high-quality, synthetic crude oils without the production of high-carbon coke as a byproduct.
Two-thirds of the bitumen production, together with acquired feedstocks and blendstocks, is upgraded into Premium Albian Synthetic and Albian Heavy Synthetic crudes and marketed directly to refineries in North America. The remaining production is converted into Vacuum Gas Oil and sold under a long-term supply agreement.
Premium Albian Synthetic (PAS) is a 34 degree API sweet blend of hydrotreated Light Carbon (LC) Finer and virgin streams. It is characterized by low sulfur, a high distillate yield and the absence of vacuum residue. The absence of vacuum residue in PAS enables refiners to produce light products without residual fuel oil.
Heavy synthetic crude is a blend of premium Albian synthetic sweet components with LC Finer bottoms. It has a gravity of 20 degree API with a sulfur content of approximately 2.5%.
The Scotford Upgrader will be expanded to handle increased bitumen production through Expansion 1. Each of the Joint Venture Owners is currently working on its own upgrading solution for volumes produced from additional expansions.
A key attribute of this acquisition for Marathon is the ability to link the oil sands production from the AOSP developments with Heavy Oil Upgrade Projects at its refineries. Progress continues on the previously announced front-end engineering and design (FEED) study at Marathon’s Detroit refinery where the Company expects to increase the crude unit capacity to approximately 115,000 bpd, and construct a 28,000 bpd heavy oil coker and other associated process units.
Marathon estimates the capital costs to refine an incremental 80,000 bpd of heavy sour crude at the Detroit refinery will be less than half the investment needed to build an equivalent capacity upgrader in Alberta. Marathon continues to evaluate the potential for similar heavy oil processing projects at its St. Paul Park, Minn., Robinson, Ill., and Garyville, La. refineries.
Scotford Upgrader 2. Separately, Shell filed a regulatory application for Scotford Upgrader 2, a new upgrading facility adjacent to Shell’s existing facilities.
The proposed Scotford Upgrader 2 will be constructed in four phases and process Shell’s share of future Athabasca minable bitumen production as well as bitumen from the company’s in situ oil sands developments.
Scotford Upgrader 2 could ultimately process up to 400,000 barrels a day of oil sands bitumen into a range of synthetic crude oil products.
DuPont and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Collaborate on Crop Genetics Research
DuPont and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory have entered into a multi-year research collaboration to conduct crop genetics research on yield enhancement and develop enabling technologies in corn, soybeans and other important agricultural crops. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business and leader in agricultural plant genetics, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), an internationally recognized leader in plant biology, have collaborated on individual projects over the past decade. This new multi-project, multi-year effort will allow for a deeper sharing of information that aims to facilitate unique approaches to long-term agronomic challenges.
Several teams of researchers from both organizations will make use of extensive genomics data, trait information and germplasm resources from Pioneer in the discovery research collaboration. Pioneer also will have responsibility for bringing innovations and technologies resulting from the collaboration to the marketplace.
Increasing crop yields is critical to meet growing global demands for food, feed, fuel and fiber. The collaboration will develop technologies that accelerate the rate of yield increase, as well as traits that will bring value to farmers worldwide.—William S. Niebur, vice president - DuPont Crop Genetics Research and Development
Founded in 1890, CSHL is a private, non-profit research and education institution with programs in cancer, neuroscience, plant genetics, genomics and bioinformatics. The transposable genetic elements, or “jumping genes,” discovered in the middle of the 20th Century at CSHL by Nobel prize winner Barbara McClintock, are the building blocks of plant genetics research today. CSHL is at the forefront of research to isolate plant genes and unravel the genomic sequences of plants such as Arabidopsis, maize and rice.
Miles Electric Vehicles Announces Initial Dealers
Miles Electric Vehicles announced the initial group of dealerships it has appointed to sell its all-electric cars and trucks, including its highway-speed vehicle (HSV), due to arrive in showrooms in 2008.
Among the 30 new car dealerships initially selected to become Miles Electric Vehicle franchisees are the Cardinale Automotive Group (CA), Lloyd Wise Auto Center (CA), MC Electric Vehicles (WA), Motorworks of Long Island (NY) and Alan Vigil Ford of South Atlanta (GA).
Miles Electric Vehicles offers a line of low-speed (25 mph max.) vehicles imported from China. Current Miles Electric Vehicles fleet customers include Stanford University, UCLA, California State Polytechnic University, NASA, the US Navy, and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.
The company has recently expanded its nationwide network of dealer relations representatives to build, promote and support a 190-member dealer body in advance of the planned delivery of the company’s Pininfarina-designed HSV sedan in late 2008.
Miles is anticipating an MSRP of around $30,000 and an anticipated ’09 model year build of 18,000 units for the HSV. The lithium-ion battery-powered car achieves speeds over 80 mph and travels more than 120 miles on a single charge. Miles’ highway-speed sedan will be complemented with an HSV crossover model in 2009. The company plans to produce 38,000 HSV units in 2010 and approximately 100,000 in 2011.
GM Two-Mode SUVs to Offer 40% Improvement in City Fuel Economy
The forthcoming Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon two-mode hybrids will offer a fuel economy improvement of approximately 40% in city driving compared to conventional models of the SUVs, according to GM.
The V-8 powered two-mode hybrids are combined with GM’s Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation technology. The Tahoe Hybrid will go on sale in the fourth quarter of 2007 as a 2008 model, along with the GMC Yukon two-mode Hybrid. Pricing and production volumes have not been announced.
Because of its low- and high-speed electric continuously variable transmission (ECVT) modes, the system is commonly referred to as the two-mode hybrid. However, the system also incorporates four fixed-gear ratios for high efficiency and power-handling capabilities in a broad variety of vehicle applications. (Earlier post.)
During the two ECVT modes and four fixed-gear operations, the hybrid system can use the electric motors for boosting and regenerative braking.
In the first mode, at low speed and light loads, the vehicle can operate in three ways: electric power only, engine power only or in any combination of engine and electric power. When operating with electric power only, it provides all the fuel savings benefits of a full hybrid system.
The second mode is used primarily at highway speeds. In addition to electric assist, the second mode provides full eight-cylinder engine power when conditions demand it, such as when passing, pulling a trailer or climbing a steep grade. The second mode also integrates sophisticated electronic controls, such as Active Fuel Management, cam phasing, and late-intake valve closure, allowing even more efficient engine operation.
A sophisticated controller determines when the vehicle should operate in either mode of the 2-mode drive system. Input from the controller determines the necessary torque for the driving conditions and sends a corresponding command to the engine and electric motors. The engine and electric motors transfer torque to a series of gears in the transmission, which multiply torque similar to a conventional automatic transmission to propel the vehicle.
Toyota to Offer Lower-Priced, New Standard Prius for 2008, Cuts Price on Camry Hybrid
Toyota announced that it will offer a new lower-priced standard Prius with the 2008 lineup.
The base MSRP for Prius ranges from $20,950 for the newly introduced standard model to $23,220 for the Touring model. Base MSRP for the standard model 2007 Prius was $22,175.
The new Prius arrives in dealerships in August.
Toyota has also lowered Camry Hybrid’s base MSRP to $25,200, a decrease of $1,000 (-3.8%) versus the 2007 model. Both the 2008 Camry and Camry Hybrid will begin arriving in dealerships later this month.
The base MSRP for the RX 400h with front-wheel-drive will remain unchanged at $41,180. The price of the all-wheel-drive RX 400h also remains unchanged from 2007 at $42,580.
July 30, 2007
“Chalcogels”: New Aerogels For Water Decontamination, Hydrogen Purification
Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have created new aerogels that could cleanse contaminated water and potentially purify hydrogen for use in fuel cells.
Argonne materials scientists Peter Chupas and Mercouri Kanatzidis, along with colleagues at Northwestern and Michigan State universities, created and characterized six different types of the porous semiconducting aerogels at Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source (APS).
The researchers formed the gels from various sulfide and selenide clusters with platinum as the linking metal ion. Because the gels formed are based on all-chalcogenide species (molecules centered on the elements found directly under oxygen in the periodic table), they termed the new gels “chalcogels”. A report on the work appears in 27 July issue of Science.
The researchers submerged a fraction of a gram of the aerogel in a solution of mercury-contaminated water and found that the gel removed more than 99.99% of the heavy metal. The researchers believe that these gels can be used not only for this kind of environmental cleanup but also to remove impurities from hydrogen gas that could damage the catalysts in potential hydrogen fuel cells.
When people talk about the hydrogen economy, one of the big questions they’re asking is ‘Can you make hydrogen pure enough that it doesn’t poison the catalyst?” While there’s been a big push for hydrogen storage and a big push to make fuel cells, there has not been nearly as big a push to find out where the clean hydrogen to feed all that will come from.—Peter Chupas
The chalcogels are expected to be able to separate out the impurities from hydrogen gas much as they did the mercury from the water, by acting as a kind of sieve or selectively permeable membrane. The unique chemical and physical structure of the gels will allow researchers to tune their pore sizes or composition in order to separate particular poisons from the hydrogen stream.
You can put in elements that bind the poisons that are in the stream or ones that bind the hydrogen so you let everything else fall through.—Peter Chupas
For example, gels made with open platinum sites would extract carbon monoxide, a common catalyst poison.
The research team had not intended to create the aerogels. Originally, the researchers had used surfactants to produce porous semiconducting powders instead of gels. When one of the researchers ran the synthesis reaction without the surfactant, he noticed that gels would form time after time. Generally, such reactions produce only uninteresting precipitates at the bottom of the flask.
Kanatzidis and his co-workers recognized that aerogels offered one remarkable advantage over powders: because the material maintained its cohesion, it possessed an enormous surface area. One cubic centimeter of the aerogel could have a surface area as large as a football field, according to Kanatzidis. The bigger the surface area of the material, the more efficiently it can bind other molecules, he said.
Previous experiments into molecular filtration had used oxides rather than chalcogenides as their chemical constituents. While oxides tend to be insulators, most chalcogenides are semiconductors, enabling the study of their electrical and optical characteristics. Kanatzidis hopes to examine the photocatalytic properties of these new gels in an effort to determine whether they can assist in the production, and not merely the filtration, of hydrogen.
Unlike periodic materials, which possess a consistent long-range structure, the gels formed by the Northwestern and Argonne researchers are highly disordered. As a result, conventional crystallographic techniques would not have effectively revealed the structure and behavior of the gels. The high-energy X-rays produced by the APS, however, allowed the scientists to take accurate readings of the atomic distances within these disorganized materials.
The initial research into porous semiconducting surfactants was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation. Use of the APS was supported by DOE, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences.
“Porous Semiconducting Gels and Aerogels from Chalcogenide Clusters”; Santanu Bag,Pantelis N. Trikalitis, Peter J. Chupas, Gerasimos S. Armatas, Mercouri G. Kanatzidis; Science 27 July 2007: Vol. 317. no. 5837, pp. 490 - 493 DOI: 10.1126/science.1142535