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August 2007

August 31, 2007

DuPont Acquires New Hydroprocessing Technology for Refineries

An onsite IsoTherming Technology hydrotreater.

DuPont has acquired the IsoTherming hydroprocessing technology from Process Dynamics. IsoTherming uses a novel hydrodesulfurization reactor system that features lower capital and operating costs while supporting a faster way to produce low-sulfur products, reducing sulfur-based emissions in the process.

According to an evaluation in 2003, an IsoTherming unit used in a pre-treatment position in an ultra low sulfur diesel application could deliver 90-98% of the sulfur removal with only 70-90% of the hydrogen consumption and containing only 15-30% of the total catalyst volume compared to a conventional hydrotreater.

The global supply of crude on the market is now trending to higher sulfur content (sour crude). That sulfur must be removed during the refining process to deliver the types of end products now required by regulation and by modern emissions control systems.

Many factors influence the quantity and type of sulfur in crude oil, and there are a number of challenges to the deep desulfurization of crude that can vary with the quality of the feedstock, the performance of the catalytic cracker, and so on.

The conventional approach to desulfurization is to use a trickle-bed reactor operated with large quantities of hydrogen circulating over the catalyst bed—up to 10 times the hydrogen required for chemical consumption.

To address difficulties with deep desulfurization, operators tweak the process in a variety of ways: replacing the current catalyst with a more active catalyst; higher operating temperatures; higher purity hydrogen or increased hydrogen partial pressure; more reactors; improving feed distribution to the catalyst bed; and H2S removal from the recycle gas being some of the more proven.

The IsoTherming process developed by Process Dynamics is designed to enhance the basic hydrotreating process itself, rather than adjusting parameters. In a conventional system, hydrogen vapor and the liquid are mixed and passed through a distributor, and are at equilibrium as they enter the catalyst bed. As the reaction occurs, hydrogen is depleted from the liquid, and must be replenished from the vapor phase. Reaction rates are limited by mass transfer of the hydrogen from the vapor phase into the liquid phase.

The IsoTherming process changes this by first saturating a combined feed and recycle stream of previously hydrotreated liquid with hydrogen. The combined feed and recycle stream enters the catalyst bed with all the hydrogen required for the reaction. The overall reaction is controlled by the intrinsic reaction rate—the product of the effectiveness factor of the catalyst and the actual reaction rate—since hydrogen is delivered to the reactor in the liquid phase as soluble hydrogen.

Most of the reactions that take place in hydroprocessing are highly exothermic and as a result, a great deal of heat is generated in the reactor. The recycle stream of treated fluid not only delivers more hydrogen to the reactor but also acts as a heat sink, helping to contain the heat of the reaction and have the reactor operate in a more isothermal mode (hence the name). Isothermal reactor operation results in fewer light ends being made.

Hydrotreater after retrofit with IsoTherming Technology (in red). Click to enlarge.

The technology also can greatly reduce catalyst coking which can occur on the surface of the catalyst if there is insufficient hydrogen available. Reducing coking leads to longer catalyst life. The IsoTherming process is designed to use conventional, off-the-shelf catalysts, and can be installed as a retrofit.

After six years of development, Process Dynamics and its partner Linde BOC Process Plants, LLC (LBPP) developed a commercial-scale unit for Giant Refining at their Ciniza Refinery in Gallup, New Mexico in 2003. The unit there produced 3,800 barrels daily of 10 ppm sulfur-content diesel. Subsequent to that, Giant awarded Process Dynamics a contract for a kerosene hydrotreater and a contract for a diesel hydrotreater revamp, both to be located at the Ciniza refinery, and a contract for a 12,000 barrel per day ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD) hydrotreater to be installed at Giant Refining's Yorktown, Virginia refinery.

DuPont is committed to delivering sustainable science-based services and solutions to help petroleum refiners respond to difficult sulfur-related and clean fuel challenges. Because IsoTherming Technology provides a faster and less expensive way for refiners to make cleaner fuel, this acquisition will further strengthen this emerging business as it grows to become a leader in providing integrated environmental solutions for the refining industry.

—Jim Pawloski, DuPont Clean Technologies Business Director

DuPont will integrate the IsoTherming Technology business into DuPont Clean Technologies, a part of DuPont Chemical Solutions Enterprise, as a clean fuel offering along with DuPont STRATCO Clean Fuel Technologies, based in Leawood, Kan.  DuPont Clean Technologies business offerings also include DuPont BELCO Clean Air Technologies, DuPont Clean Water Technologies and DuPont Sulfur Technologies.


August 31, 2007 in Fuels, Oil | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Petrobras to Postpone Commercial Production of H-Bio

Folha de S. Paulo. Petrobras is postponing the commercial production of its renewable diesel fuel based on the hydrogenation of vegetable oil and mineral oil—H-Bio (earlier post)—due to high soy prices.

Petrobras originally intended to develop H-Bio production in two refineries (Gabriel Passos - Regap, in Minas Gerais, and Repar, in Paraná) during 2007-2008, with the structure extended to the remaining refineries where process deployment is viable during 2009-2011. Petrobras planned to use 10% soy oil in the first two refineries.

However, soy prices in São Paulo have climbed to BRL 35.50 (US$18) per 60 kg bag from BRL 25.50 (US$13) a year ago—an increase of 39%.

Petrobras is maintaining its production target of 425 million liters of H-Bio in 2008, and 1.6 billion liters in 2012.

August 31, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Vienna Talks Reach Consensus on Key Elements for Response to Climate Change; Targets 25-40% GHG Cuts Below 1990 Levels by 2020

A round of climate change talks under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) concluded in Austria today with agreement on key elements for an international response to climate change.

Negotiators officially recognized the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) indication that global emissions of greenhouse gases need to peak in the next 10 to 15 years and then be reduced to very low levels, well below half of levels in 2000 by mid-century, if concentrations are to be stabilized at safe levels.

The group also officially recognized that avoiding the most catastrophic forecasts made by the IPCC, including very frequent and severe droughts and water-shortages in large parts of the world, would entail emission reductions in the range of 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 by industrialized countries.

The targets are in no way binding, but set the stage for the major UN conference in December in Bali that will seek to advance future action on climate change post-2012, when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires.

The working group noted that “the mitigation potential of Annex I Parties is determined by national circumstances and evolves over time.

Countries have been able to reassess the big picture of what is needed by identifying the key building blocks for an effective response to climate change. There is a consensus that the response needs to be global, with the involvement of all countries and that it needs to give equal importance to adaptation and mitigation.

—UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer

Government delegates also debated how the response can be enabled by an approach that opens the way for financial flows to climate-friendly and climate-proof investments. This was based on a report on the investment and financial flows relevant to the development of an effective and appropriate international response to climate change, presented to the conference by the UN Climate Change Secretariat. (Earlier post.)


August 31, 2007 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack

EPA Releases First External Review Draft of New ISA of NOx for Public Comment and Peer Review

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released for public comment and independent expert peer review its first external review draft of the new Integrated Science Assessment for Oxides of Nitrogen—Health Criteria.

Oxides of nitrogen is one of six principal (criteria) pollutants for which EPA has established national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS). The Clean Air Act requires EPA to periodically review the scientific basis for standards by preparing an Integrated Science Assessment (ISA), formerly called an Air Quality Criteria Document (AQCD). The basis for NOx standards was last reviewed in 1996.

The draft ISA—Health Criteria was prepared as part of the review of the primary or human health-based NAAQS for oxides of nitrogen. This represents EPA’s latest evaluation of the scientific literature on the potential adverse health effects resulting from exposures to oxides of nitrogen, particularly nitrogen dioxide or NO2.

There are significant new data, particularly epidemiological studies, that strengthen the evidence for these adverse effects since the last scientific review document was released in 1993.

The current review is the first using the agency’s revised process for reviewing and setting NAAQS. A review of the secondary NAAQS (based on ecological or welfare effects) for oxides of nitrogen is being conducted independently, in conjunction with a review of the secondary NAAQS for sulfur oxides.

The first draft ISA will be reviewed by the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) at a public meeting later this year. A second draft ISA will be released in 2008, which will address CASAC and public comments received on the first draft ISA. Once final, the complete ISA will provide the scientific bases for EPA’s periodic review and possible revision of the primary NAAQS for oxides of nitrogen.

The current draft of the ISA concludes that it is plausible, consistent, and coherent that current ambient NO2 exposures directly result in adverse impacts to public health at concentrations below the current NAAQS for NO2.

The deadline for comments is 31 Oct 2007.


August 31, 2007 in Emissions | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Hyundai To Introduce New Fuel Cell Vehicle Concept at Frankfurt Show

Hyundai Motor Corporation will unveil the i-Blue Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle concept at the 2007 Frankfurt International Motor Show.

The all-new i-Blue platform, developed at Hyundai’s Design and Technical Center in Chiba, Japan, incorporates Hyundai’s third-generation fuel cell technology, currently being developed at Hyundai’s Eco-Technology Research Institute in Mabuk, Korea.

Unlike its predecessors which were built on full SUV platforms, the i-Blue features a new 2+2 crossover utility vehicle (CUV) body type.

The i-Blue is Hyundai’s first-ever model designed from the ground up to incorporate fuel cell technology, marking a tremendous leap forward for our R&D program.

—Dr. Hyun-Soon Lee, president of research and development

Hyundai hopes to achieve mass production of hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles in the next decade.

August 31, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Toyota Total European Hybrid Sales Accelerate Past 100,000 Units

Cumulative European sales of Toyota and Lexus hybrid vehicles have topped the 100,000 mark, according to Toyota Motor Europe (TME).

Since hybrids were first launched in Europe in 2000, a total of 101,235 vehicles have been sold as of 31 July, 2007. This represents a rapid acceleration in the uptake of hybrid vehicles, with more than 50% of Toyota’s cumulative European sales achieved in the last 13 months. (Earlier post.)

The Toyota Prius maintains its position as Toyota’s best selling hybrid, with more than 73,000 vehicles sold in Europe since 2000. Total cumulative sales of Lexus hybrid vehicles have now exceeded 27,000 units in Europe, incorporating the launch of the LS 600h in June.

August 31, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Report: New US Vehicle Fuel Economy Increasing to Highest Level Yet

Detroit Free Press. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the owner of the CAFE program, estimates that 2007 model year fuel economy in the US will increase to 26.4 mpg US, surpassing the previous high of 26.2 mpg in 1987.

The increase of 1 mile per gallon, or 3.9%, from the 2006 models follows two years of no change in the fleet average.

The NHTSA says the average fuel economy of cars is expected to rise by 1.2 to 31 mpg, while the light truck average is expected to rise by 0.7 to 22.9. Among cars, domestically built models are expected to increase their fuel economy by 0.4 to 30.5 mpg, while imported cars are expected to post the largest gain of 1.2 mpg to 31.7 mpg.

The numbers exclude the largest models and could be revised once automakers and the NHTSA collect actual sales data of 2007 models.

August 31, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Study: New US Vehicle CO2 Emissions Dip 3% from 2004 to 2005, But Remain Up 1.5% Since 1990

Average new car and light truck CO2 emissions rate. The sharp drop corresponds with the initiation of CAFE. Click to enlarge. Source: Environmental Defense

While the average CO2 emissions rate from new vehicles sold in the US fell 3% from 2004 to 2005, it remained up a net 1.5% since 1990, according to a study by Environmental Defense. The report examines the automakers’ overall carbon burden, reflecting the efficiency of vehicles and the carbon intensity of the fuel they run on, as well as new vehicle sales.

The study, Automakers’ Corporate Carbon Burdens, Update for 1990-2005, found that GM, Ford, and DaimlerChrysler all saw a net worsening of their fleet-average CO2 emissions, while Toyota and BMW, in spite of rising light truck sales, cut their average per-vehicle CO2 emissions rate—the only automakers in the US to do so. Nissan had the largest increase in its average CO2 emissions rate due to the combined effect of rising truck fraction and declining truck fuel economy.

The six largest automakers in the US market—GM, Ford, DaimlerChrysler, Toyota, Honda and Nissan—had a 90% market share and accounted for 90% of new fleet carbon burden in 2005. With the exception of Toyota, the average fuel economy for the Big Six automakers decreased from 1990 to 2005.

This trend is largely explained by each firm’s rising truck fraction, resulting in higher fleet average CO2 emissions rates. All automakers significantly expanded their light truck offerings, with the overall light truck fraction growing 22 points over this 16-year period.

Nissan had the largest increase in its average CO2 emissions rate due to the combined effect of rising truck fraction and declining truck fuel economy. Toyota’s 125% increase in new vehicle carbon burden was the largest among the Big Six. It is, however, the only firm among the Big Six that showed improved fuel economy, despite the company’s growing truck fraction. Its carbon burden increase therefore was solely driven by its sales success. The fleet average CO2 emissions rate of both GM and Ford in 2005 was higher than in 1990 due to their higher reliance on trucks. Nevertheless, their new fleet carbon burdens fell below the 1990 levels as both companies saw nearly 10% drops in sales between 1990 and 2005.

Summary findings for the Big Six include:

  • General Motors. GM’s new fleet average CO2 emissions rate was 3 percent higher in 2005 than it was in 1990, while market share dropped 10 points. GM’s new car fuel economy steadily increased from 2000 through 2005, reaching a value 6.4% higher in 2005 than it was in 1990, as a result of a general increase in the fuel economy of some high-volume models.

    However, rising light truck share and flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) credits more than offset the recent increases in the fuel economy of many GM models. Carbon burden fell 6.5% but remained the largest overall.

  • Ford. Ford’s market share dropped 7 points from 1990 to 2005, leading to a 5.8% drop in carbon burdens. Heavy use of FFV credits caused a 4.3% increase in fleet average CO2 emissions rate, accounting for most of Ford’s total 4.7% increase in emissions rate.

  • Ford’s car saw its fuel economy increase 1.2 mpg from 2004 to 200, due to market shifts to more efficient vehicles. Ford’s 2005 new fleet average CO2 emissions rate was down 5% from its 2004 peak as a result of lower sales of the most fuel-consuming models.

  • DaimlerChrysler.  As a result of higher truck share and net lower fuel economy, the company’s CO2 emissions rate was up 4.8 percent from 1990 levels, and the worst among all automakers. Market share increased 3 points. The company’s truck share increased by 22 points to reach 72% in 2005, the highest among all automakers.

    Truck fleet fuel economy rose 7% from its lowest levels in 1999 but as of 2005 remained down a net 0.4% from its 1990 level.

  • Toyota. Toyota’s CO2 emissions rate decreased 3% while its market share rose 7 points from 1990 to 2005. Its carbon burden growth—the highest among the Big Six—was due entirely to increased sales.

    Despite a 17 point increase in the truck share of its sales, Toyota’s average new fleet CO2 emissions rate dropped as its CAFE levels improved 13.6% for cars and 5% for trucks. Of the 13.6% improvement in Toyota’s average new car fuel economy, 5.4% came from steady fuel economy improvements and strong sales of the Corolla, and 4.2% came from the introduction and growing sales of the Prius.

  • Honda. A rapidly growing truck fraction pushed Honda’s CO2 emissions rate up 4.4% while its market share gained 1.6 points from 1990 to 2005. Nevertheless, the company remained the fuel economy leader with a combined car and light truck average of 29 mpg. The company’s average new car CO2 emissions rate dropped by 7.6%, corresponding to an 8.2% fuel economy gain over 1990.

    Since entering the light truck market in 1997, Honda’s truck share grew at an average 4.5 points per year, reaching 40% in 2005.

  • Nissan. Growing truck reliance and declining truck fuel economy pushed Nissan’s CO2 emissions rate up 9.2 percent, the most among the Big Six, while the company gained 2 points of market share from 1990 to 2005.

    The truck fraction of Nissan’s sales grew from 27% to 42% while its light truck fuel economy dropped 17% between 1990 and 2005. The car-to-truck shift alone accounted for 3.5% of the 9.2% overall growth in Nissan’s CO2 emissions rate from 1990 to 2005.

    Nissan was the first overseas automaker to use FFV credits, which inflated its combined CAFE by 0.5 mpg as of 2005 and pushed its CO2 emissions rate 1.8% higher than if the company had achieved the same fuel economy levels without the credits.


August 31, 2007 in Climate Change, Fuel Efficiency | Permalink | Comments (36) | TrackBack

Mexico City Outlines Green Plan

The government of Mexico City has proposed a wide-ranging “Green Plan” that, among other measures, will seek to better manage traffic flow, improve the emissions quality of the public transportation fleets, and put more emphasis on walking and cycling.

The full Green Plan tackles the future of conservation; restoration of the local ecosystems including a focus on the basins of the Magdalena and Eslava rivers and reforestation and restoration with an average of 3,000 ha and 2.5 million plants per year; green buildings; the establishment of more public spaces and parks; the repair and extension of the water infrastructure, including drainage and treatment; transportation; air quality; energy; and waste and recycling.

Among the measures proposed for transportation and traffic are:

  • A major renovation of the bus and taxi fleets with lower-polluting, more fuel efficient vehicles, with Euro-4 being mandatory in all metrobuses.

  • Replacing the thousands of microbuses with fewer, larger, less-emitting vehicles by 2009.

  • Use of ultra low sulfur diesel in public transport as of 2008-2009.

  • Extending the weekday license-plate-based driving restrictions to Saturday.

  • Mandatory busing for school.

  • Replacing 100% of the government fleet with efficient, low-emitting vehicles by 2012.

  • Extension of mass transit lines.

  • Creation of pedestrian-only zones and increase support for cycling with the goal of 5% of personal trips being made by bike before 2012. This includes 300 km of bikeways by 2012.

  • Intelligent traffic management systems including smart signalling on the main roads and 15 reversible flow roads by 2010. 8,000 new cameras an 100 radars will monitor infractions.

  • Mandatory emissions testing for cargo vehicles and a reorganization of the schedules for cargo vehicle traffic.

Mexico City is the world’s second largest urban agglomeration, according to the UN, with a population estimated at 19.4 million in 2005 and projected to grow to 21.6 million by 2015. (According to UN figures, Mexico City will yield its number two spot by 2015 to Mumbai, India, currently number 3.) Tokyo is the world’s largest urban agglomeration, with some 35.2 million people in 2005.


  • Background: Urban Air Quality Programs for Mexico City 2000-2010

August 31, 2007 in Emissions, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), Latin America, Sustainability | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Saskatchewan Gets On Board the Oil Sands Train

Saskatchewan’s oil sands deposit is contained within the Mannville Group of the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin which was deposited across B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the US. Click to enlarge.

The Canadian province of Saskatchewan, the eastern neighbor of Alberta, the locus of the oil sands boom in Canada, held its first public offering of oil sands rights at its 16 Aug sale. Saskatchewan holds oil and gas sales six times a year.

The auction raised about C$38 million in total. Sales of the new oil sands dispositions included six oil sands exploration licenses that attracted C$3.3 million in bonus bids.

The highest price paid for an oil sands parcel came from Petroland Services Ltd., with a bid of more than $1 million or $108 per hectare for a 36-section oil sands exploration licence located north of the Clearwater River in northwest Saskatchewan.

This historic sale also heralds the beginning of a potential new oil sands industry in Saskatchewan.

—Government Relations Minister Harry Van Mulligen

Another provincial first in the August sale was the awarding of oil shale exploration permits under the competitive work commitment process. Two permits were issued, both in the Hudson Bay area. One was issued to Noble Hydrocarbons Alta Ltd. with a commitment to spend over $1 million on 38,000 hectares. The other was awarded to Cavalier Land Ltd. on the basis of a commitment to spend over $300,000 in exploration on 34,000 hectares.

Alberta’s three primary oil sands deposits. Click to enlarge.

Saskatchewan’s oil sands deposit is contained within the Mannville Group of the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin which was deposited across B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the US. However, to date, Alberta contains the only three major known economic oil sand deposits: Peace River, Athabasca and Cold Lake, with Athabasca being the largest. (See chart at right.)

While there was some oil sands exploration and activity in Saskatchewan in the 1970s, it was limited. Drilling identified a resource, but exploitation of the oil sands was deemed uneconomic due to technological limitations.


August 31, 2007 in Oil sands | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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