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September 2007

September 30, 2007

Gaz de France, Vattenfall in CO2 Project in Germany

Gaz de France has signed a cooperation agreement with the Vattenfall Group for a CO2 injection and enhanced gas recovery pilot project in Germany.

Under this agreement, Erdgas Erdöl GmbH Berlin (EEG), a 100% exploration-production affiliate of Gaz de France in Germany, will use CO2 for the enhancement of gas recovery (EGR) from its almost depleted Altmark gas field, the second-largest onshore field in Europe. Vattenfall will deliver the carbon dioxide required for this process from its own power plant processes.

This project, which will contribute to Gaz de France’s research program on capture, injection and storage of CO2, will need approximately 15 months to implement.

Gaz de France is involved in several European projects focused on CO2storage, including injection experiments on the K12-B field in the Dutch North Sea.

September 30, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Polaris Introduces ATV With New Air-Assisted Direct Injection Engine

The Orbital two-phase, air-assisted injector. Click to enlarge. Source: Orbital

Polaris Industries Inc. has completed first production of its newest military vehicle, the MV800 4X4 ATV, and received purchase orders for it from the US Department of Defense. The MV800 is Polaris’ first vehicle to feature a 760cc, 30kW (40 hp) twin-cylinder 4-stroke engine that utilizes a newly developed air-assisted direct-injection combustion system.

The new Patriot Engine uses JP8 as the primary fuel. Developed in partnership with Australian-based Orbital Corporation, it delivers almost twice the horsepower of traditional diesel compression engines of comprable size.

Overall vehicle performance is thus the same or similar to Polaris’ gasoline-powered family of Ultra-light Tactical Vehicles for the military. In addition to running on JP8, the Patriot Engine can operate on emergency fuels including gasoline, JP5 and highway diesel.

The new production launch represents the culmination of a two-year program between Polaris and Orbital to develop a spark ignited engine running on kerosene without sacrificing the performance of the gasoline engine.

This product launch is a key milestone in the development of new markets for Orbital direct injection technology. This is the first 4-stroke production application and we see this as a key step in expanding the capability to many other engines and markets. The initial market for this product will be the military, but the flexibility of the Direct Injection system has now been proven, and we see the potential for other commercial multi-fuel vehicles and gasoline engines going forward.

—Rod Houston, Orbital CEO

Rather than using high-pressure injection to atomize the fuel charge, Orbital uses an air-assisted, low-pressure direct fuel injection, combustion and engine management system: the Orbital Combustion Process (OCP) technology.

With OCP, fuel is first metered into an injector pre-chamber via a conventional automotive port injector (MPI), and then delivered into the combustion chamber with the assistance of air at pressure. The air-assisted injector decouples the fuel metering and delivery events, thereby assisting the dynamic range of the injector, according to Orbital.


September 30, 2007 in Engines, Fuel Efficiency, Vehicle Systems | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Ozone Triggers Overreaction in Innate Immune System Response in Lungs

While it has long been known that exposure to ozone, a major component of urban air pollution, is associated with increased cardiovascular and pulmonary hospitalizations and deaths, the actual mechanisms involved remain unclear.

New studies led by Duke University Medical Center pulmonary researchers on the effects of ozone on the innate immune system found that ozone exposure in mice at levels approximating unhealthy levels for humans appears to enhance lung injury in response to bacterial toxins, and also appears to enhance programmed cell death (apoptosis) in critical innate immune system cells, the macrophages. Results of the study appear in the 1 October issue of the Journal of Immunology.

The innate immune system refers to a host’s antigen-nonspecific defense mechanisms that come into action immediately or within several hours after exposure to almost any antigen. The innate immune system represents the initial response by the body to eliminate microbes. By contrast, the adaptive immune system refers to antigen-specific defense mechanisms that emerge over several days, and react with and remove a specific antigen. The adaptive immune system develops throughout a lifetime.

Small amounts of inhaled foreign material can be relatively harmless, since they stimulate an appropriate innate immune response that protects the lungs. However, it appears that ozone causes the innate immune system to overreact, killing key immune system cells, and possibly making the lung more susceptible to subsequent invaders, such as bacteria.

—John Hollingsworth, M.D., lead author

For their experiments, the researchers had mice breathe either room air or air with levels of ozone meant to mirror what an exercising human would experience on a high, or unhealthy, ozone level day. After exposing all mice to the active portion of E. coli bacteria in aerosol form, the researchers studied how the innate immune system responded.

In the mice exposed to ozone, the airways of the lungs were hyperactive and we found higher concentrations of inflammatory cells. But more significantly, ozone pre-exposure reduced the number of macrophages in the lung after secondary exposure to inhaled bacterial endotoxin. Exposure to ozone in this context had stimulated them to undergo programmed cell death, or apoptosis.

—John Hollingsworth

The researchers also found that the effect of the inhaled ozone was not limited to just the lungs. Mice exposed to ozone were also found to have lower levels of immune system cells circulating in the blood.

The Duke team plans further studies on the mechanisms behind ozone’s ability to induce cell death in macrophages in the lungs. They will also focus on the pollutant’s ability to interfere with system-wide immune responses.

The Environmental Protection Agency is in the final phases of reviewing and possibly updating the standards for allowable levels of ozone in the air. (Earlier post.) The current standard says that any amount greater than 85 parts per billion can be unhealthy for those at risk. Many medical groups, including the American Thoracic Society, recommend setting a stricter standard of 60 parts per billion, citing studies showing ozone’s adverse effects on health, especially in children and those with compromised health.

Hollingsworth’s research was supported by the National Institutes of Health. Duke members of the team included Zhuowei Li, Erin Potts, and W. Michael Foster. Other members were Alan Fong of the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences researchers Shuichiro Maruoka, Stavros Garantziotis, David Brass and David Schwartz.


September 30, 2007 in Emissions | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 29, 2007

Two Biofuel Commitments from the Clinton Global Initiative

Two commitments to biofuel projects were announced at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting this week in New York.

The Petra Group, in partnership with the governments of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Guyana, is heading a jatropha biodiesel project in the Caribbean. Jatropha nurseries will be set up on St. Vincent and the Grenadines, saplings will be transported to Guyana to grow to maturity on large plantations and harvested plants will be shipped back to the processing plant on St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The commitment is designed to provide sustainable employment as well as producing a renewable fuel source.

FourWinds Capital Management, along with its local partners, will establish an eco-integration program in which local communities participate at all levels in the planting, harvesting, and processing of novel sources of biofuels.

The objective of the FourWinds program is to offer viable alternative energy solutions that are net positive for the environment in terms of carbon emissions and biodiversity. In addition to the biofuel component, other elements that are expected to be included in the program are reforestation, biodiversity management, bio-prospecting, land rehabilitation and water table management.

September 29, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Taiwan Orders Use of E3 in Government Vehicles

CNA. The government of Taiwan launched a “green government vehicle” program with an order that calls for vehicles owned by the central government and the Taipei municipal government to use an E3 (3% ethanol) blend.

Taiwan is developing biofuel plans to reduce its dependency on energy imports, which account for 98% of the island’s energy supplies, and to increase farmer incomes.

Taiwan has set a compulsory goals to use B1 diesel starting July 2008; B2 diesel in 2010; and E3 gasoline to replace MTBE by 2011.


September 29, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

RMI Forms Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) Team; Focus on “Smart Garage”

Chart shown by RMI on the conceptual impact on minimum and peak grid load in California with PHEVs and V2G services. Red is  baseline load; yellow, load with off-peak PHEV smart charging; and green, peak load reduction from V2G. Click to enlarge.

The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) has formed a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) team to lead a consortium of companies to design and develop an optimized PHEV platform. Originally part of RMI’s transportation consulting team, the PHEV team is working with Alcoa, Johnson Controls, Google, and the Turner Foundation to explore the possibilities of bringing a lightweight, more efficient, fully functional PHEV to the US market.

RMI sees the PHEV as playing a critical role in bringing together two critical pieces of the energy system—power generation and transportation—and the company is working in a broader partnership with Johnson Controls and PG&E on the concept of the “smart garage”.

Spearheading the RMI effort are John Waters and Joel Swisher. Waters, team leader of the RMI Breakthrough Design Team, was formerly vice president of business development for EnerDel and had led the design and production of the battery pack system for General Motors’ EV1. Swisher is team leader of the RMI Energy & Resources Team, which focuses on the development of financially and environmentally superior ways to produce, buy, sell, and save energy.

In addition to focusing on advanced battery, motor, engine and control technologies, the RMI team—characteristically—is focusing on optimizing the efficiency of the vehicle platform through aerodynamics, lightweighting, and rolling resistance.

In that latter context of optimizing the efficiency of the basic vehicle platform as well as designing a powertrain, Waters is not at all optimistic about the prospects for the Chevrolet Volt.

[The Volt] is a 4,000-pound vehicle. The drag coefficient is around .30. They [GM] forgot everything they learned on the EV1 so for me, it is a very discouraging concept, the fact that it is inefficient.

Therefore if it is inefficient, it takes more batteries on board...and batteries cost money, and you’re not going to pay for them. So this is a concept that is not going to work.

So until they start hearing the RMI message, really, of lighten your vehicle, make it more efficient, and that the energy you put on board is a minimum...then you can afford it. The cost equation does work.

—John Waters

The Smart Garage, says Swisher, is the place where the vehicle fleet, the building and the grid come together.

[The plug in hybrid] is an important piece of the energy system in that it is bringing together these different parts of the energy systems.

—Joel Swisher

Through a combination of smart charging and other vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technologies, the use of PHEVs can help increase the use of renewable power generation at the margin, flatten out peak demand, and overall contribute to the more efficient use of electric power, while reducing the need to build new power generation capability, according to the team.

RMI and its partners are thinking of creating a customer service package that includes PHEV charging via renewable generation, a home makeover (energy efficiency and solar), a reliability system and a package of financing.

(A hat-tip to Felix at CalCars!)


September 29, 2007 in Plug-ins, V2X, Vehicle Systems | Permalink | Comments (35) | TrackBack

September 28, 2007

GM Assigns Volt Production to Hamtramck in 2010

Detroit Free Press. GM has agreed to begin production of the Chevrolet Volt at the Detroit Hamtramck assembly facility beginning in 2010 as one of the future product commitments made to the UAW as part of their tentative labor agreement, according to the union.

UAW leadership, which is recommending ratification of the agreement, provided local leaders with a 24-page report about the highlights of the new agreement. The report includes a list of future product commitments at 16 of GM’s 17 US assembly facilities where workers are represented by the UAW.

In addition to the Volt, GM will have Hamtramck start manufacturing a product on global small car platform starting in 2009; produce the Buick Lucerne and Cadillac DTS until 2010; and begin production of a Chevrolet mid-sized car in 2012, according to the report.

GM’s commitments include continuing production of its large SUVs through 2012 at the Arlington, Texas and Janesville, Wisconsin plants. Both plants will manufacture full-sized SUV replacements starting in 2013.

September 28, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Nissan Adds Diesel Hybrid and CNG Models to Atlas H43 Lineup

The layout of the Isuzu PTO hybrid drive system. Izuzu manufactures the Atlas for Nissan. Click to enlarge.

Nissan Motor has added diesel mild hybrid and compressed natural gas (CNG) models to its Atlas H43 lineup of light-commercial vehicles in Japan. The Atlas H43 is manufactured as a Nissan model by Isuzu Motors Ltd, and uses the Isuzu hybrid system developed for the Elf.

The hybrid features a power take-off (PTO) parallel drive system with the diesel engine and traction motor connected to separate drive shafts.

The Atlas Diesel Hybrid.

The Atlas hybrid uses the standard 3.0 liter 4JJ1-TCS diesel that delivers 110 kW (148 hp) of power and offers 375 Nm (277 lb-ft) of torque combined with a Smoother-E Autoshift transmission.

The transmission combines an electromagnetic solenoid shift-actuator with a conventional manual transmission, and a fluid-coupling, wet-type clutch. Clutch control automatically activates by receiving signals from transmission shift and acceleration. With fluid coupling and the wet-type clutch mechanism, gear-shifting and clutch control is automatically activated.

Cross-sectional Drawing of the Transmission, PTO and the Motor Generator. Click to enlarge.

The 25.5 kW electric motor with built-in gear reducer is installed on the PTO shaft. Use of the reduction gear (3.286:1) results in a compact size with an outside diameter of the stator of 198 mm and high torque output of 274 Nm (202 lb-ft). Power blending between the engine and electric motor in the hybrid system is controlled by the wet multiple disk clutch in the Smoother system and the dog clutch in the PTO.

The Hybrid Unit Box, which integrates the lithium-ion batteries, inverter, and system components, is installed on the side of the frame.

The manganese lithium-ion battery pack has a nominal voltage of 173V (3.6V x 48 cells) and a capacity rating of 5.5 Ah. Isuzu was the first to deploy lithium-ion batteries in hybrid trucks in Japan.

External view of the motor/generator.

The Atlas H43 Diesel Hybrid achieves vehicle fuel economy of 11 km/liter (26 mpg US, 9 l/100km) and complies with Japan’s 2015 heavy-duty vehicle fuel economy standards.  It is also certified by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport as a low-emission vehicle, reducing NOx and particulate matter (PM) emissions by an additional 10% from Japan’s 2005 exhaust emission regulations.

It also complies with the 2005 low-emission vehicle standards of the low-emission vehicle designation system adopted by eight Kanto region prefectures/cities.

The 4.6-liter, Atlas H43 CNG model is certified as a low-emission vehicle, emitting 10% fewer NOx and PM emissions than the levels required by the 2005 exhaust emission standards. It also complies with the 2005 low-emission vehicle designation standards. An automatic engine stop-start system is provided as standard equipment, helping improve practical fuel economy and further reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

September 28, 2007 in Diesel, Hybrids | Permalink | Comments (30) | TrackBack

Denso To Begin Making 2,000 Bar Diesel Injection Systems In Europe In '08

Nikkei. Denso Corporation plans to start manufacturing 2,000 bar common rail fuel injection systems for diesel engines in Europe in 2008, ahead of the implementation of Euro 5 standards in 2009.

Rival Robert Bosch GmbH plans to start making the [2,000 bar] injection systems before the end of this year. Bosch and Denso rank first and second in the field of diesel injection systems and control the global market.

Denso will manufacture the new system at its Hungary plant before it begins producing them in Japan. An upgrade to the Hungarian plant will increase output capacity to 1 million units a year. Denso projects initial production to be 50,000 units in 2008. The firm will initially supply Toyota for use in a new 2-liter diesel engine for the European market.

September 28, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

BASF, RWE Power and Linde Developing New Processes for CO2 Capture in Coal-Fired Power Plants

BASF, RWE Power and the Linde Group are cooperating to develop and deploy new processes for CO2 capture from flue gases in coal-fired power plants. The partners are targeting removal and subsequent underground storage of more than 90% of CO2.

Their cooperation includes the construction and operation of a pilot facility at the lignite-fired power plant of RWE Power AG in Niederaussem/Germany to test new solvents from BASF for CO2 scrubbing. Linde will be responsible for the engineering and the construction of the pilot facility. The goal is to apply CO2 capture commercially in lignite-fired power plants by 2020.

Once pilot tests are complete, the partners will decide on a subsequent demonstration plant in 2010. This will be designed to provide a reliable basis for the commercialization of the new process.

RWE and BASF are members of the 30-partner CASTOR (CO2 from Capture to Storage) project partially funded by the European Commission to develop and validate, in public/private partnerships, innovative technologies needed to capture and store CO2 in a reliable and safe way.

In 2005, BASF developed a novel solvent that was more efficient in removing carbon dioxide from power plant emissions and contributed it to the CASTOR project, where it is being tested at a pilot plant in Esbjerg, Denmark.

“Scrubbing” uses chemical solvents to bind CO2. The solvents are then reconditioned to release the CO2. However, conventional solvents are easily degenerated by the oxygen contained in the power-plant waste gas, and the process also requires major input of energy to achieve the absorption, release and storage of CO2.

The amine-based solvent BASF contributed to CASTOR was more stable than conventional solvents, allowing it to be used longer. It also consumed less energy in the process of absorbing and releasing CO2.

RWE Power has earmarked a budget of approximately €80 million for the development project, including the construction and operation of the pilot facility and demonstration plant.

RWE Power is also developing an integrated gasification combined-cycle process (IGCC) coal-fired power plant with CO2 capture, transport and storage. The 450MW plant is due to come on stream in 2014, although no decision has yet been taken as to where it should be located.

RWE Power is the largest German electricity producer, and also provides power in Central/Eastern Europe. RWE Power uses a wide range of energy sources: lignite from open-cast mines in the Rhineland and nuclear energy for the base load, as well as hard coal, gas and renewable energies such as water, wind and biomass for medium and peak loads.


September 28, 2007 in Climate Change, Coal, Emissions, Power Generation | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

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