January 31, 2008
Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission Recommends Congestion Pricing Plan for New York City
|The TCMC plan institutes a congestion charge zone south of 60th Street in Manhattan. Click to enlarge.|
The independent New York City Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission (TCMC) has recommended an alternative congestion pricing plan that, according to its research, will reduce traffic levels in all five boroughs while raising nearly half a billion dollars per year in net revenue for transit improvements and service expansion across the city and the region.
New York’s Governor and State Legislature created the Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission in 2007 and charged it with developing a solution to the severe traffic congestion problem in New York City’s central business district (CBD). The legislation establishing the Commission required it to study and evaluate different approaches to reducing congestion in the CBD, including the congestion pricing plan forwarded by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in April, 2007 (earlier post), and to recommend a comprehensive traffic congestion mitigation plan to the City and the State by January 31, 2008.
The Commission was required to set forth an implementation plan that achieves at least a 6.3% reduction in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Manhattan south of 86th Street—the estimated level of VMT reduction of the Mayor’s plan.
Under the original Bloomberg plan, passenger vehicles entering or leaving Manhattan below 86th Street during the business day (weekdays 6 am to 6 pm)—with the exception of the FDR Drive, the West Side Highway, and West Street—would pay an $8 daily fee. Trucks would pay $21. Autos that drive only within the Congestion Zone would pay half price. The charge would apply to all vehicles, except emergency vehicles, those with handicapped license plates, taxis, and for-hire vehicles (radio cars.
The TCMC plan pushes the northern boundary of the congestion zone south to 60th Street. Cars would be charged an $8 fee for inbound trips only on weekdays between 6am and 6pm. Trucks would pay $21, except for low-emission trucks, which would pay $7.
Drivers would pay once upon entering the charging zone and would be able to make additional trips in and out of the zone at no additional cost. For E-ZPass users, the value of all tolls paid on MTA or Port Authority bridges and tunnels would be deducted from the fee up to $8.
The TCMC plan would use an electronic fee collection system based on E-ZPass and license plate cameras. Non-E-ZPass users would be subject to a $1 surcharge to encourage E-ZPass use and to cover the additional cost of processing license plate image transactions. In addition, the Commission’s plan includes a package of parking and taxi policies designed to further discourage driving within the zone, including a $1 surcharge on taxi, black car, and car service trips that start and/or end within the zone during congestion pricing hours, increased on-street parking meter rates within the zone, and elimination of the resident parking tax exemption for off-street parking garages and lots within the zone.
The TCMC calculated that its plan will reduce VMT in the area of Manhattan south of 86th Street by 6.8 percent, exceeding the requirement in the legislation establishing the Commission. The plan will also reduce traffic across the City and region.
The plan, according to TCMC, will also generate $491 million a year in net revenues for transit investment. The plan’s design will result in significantly lower capital and operating costs than the Mayor’s plan.
The plan—which now goes to the legislature for consideration—met with the approval of The Campaign for New York’s Future—a broad citywide coalition comprising more than 150 civic, labor, community, environmental, public health and business organizations.
After months of deliberation and more than 50 hours of public hearings, the Commission has proposed a traffic relief plan that will also deliver mass transit expansion and improvements across the New York City region. This is exactly what voters have asked for in polls and public hearings, and it’s what we need to improve our quality of life today and ensure New York remains a great place to live as we add one million more residents in the coming years.”— Michael O’Loughlin, Director of the Campaign for New York’s Future
Today’s vote for congestion pricing is a historic moment: the launch of a real solution to New York’s traffic and air-quality crises. The commission has designed a congestion pricing system that delivers cleaner air on day one and guarantees transit expansion in all five boroughs and the suburbs. Now the legislature must act. We may never again have a chance to address our congestion and pollution problems so effectively.—Andy Darrell, Regional Director of Environmental Defense
Mercedes-Benz Citaro G Bluetec Hybrid Bus Given 2008 DEKRA Environmental Award
|The Citaro G BlueTec Hybrid urban bus.|
The Citaro G BlueTec Hybrid, announced in 2007 (earlier post), is a series-hybrid articulated bus featuring a downsized diesel engine as the genset to provide power for a 19.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack located on the roof. The Citaro hybrid uses four 80 kW electric wheel hub motors on the center and rear axles of the vehicle, with total output of 320 kW.
The engine applied in the hybrid is a compact 4-cylinder Euro 4 engine with a cubic capacity of 4.8 litres and an output of 160 kW (218 hp) at 3,200 rpm with maximum torque of 810 Nm at 1,600 rpm. This replaces the 12-liter in-line six-cylinder engine of conventional articulated buses. As a result, the engine weight is reduced from around 1,000 kg (2,200 pounds) to 450 kg (992 pounds) or so.
The battery pack is recharged by regenerative braking as well as the 160 kW generator. When approaching a bus stop, at standstill and when accelerating away from the stop, the hybrid bus is able to operate under electrical power alone. The aim is for the Citaro G BlueTec Hybrid to cover around half of a demanding inner-city route under electric power alone, without the diesel engine running.
Daimler anticipates that the hybrid will offer 20% to 30% lower fuel consumption than conventional diesel Citaros.
The Citaro hybrid bus will shortly enter field trials with public-transport operator; a small production series is planned for 2009.
Daimler is the top-seller of hybrid buses in the world at this point, with sales of some 2,600 hybrid buses to date by its Orion brand in the US and Fuso in Japan.
The DEKRA environmental prize is oriented towards the principle of sustainability and is awarded to projects, measures or initiatives which make a far-reaching and innovative contribution to protecting the environment. The assessment focuses on mobility, in particular improving the transportation of people and goods. DEKRA selected ten projects from a long line-up of potential candidates and a panel of expert judges made up of environmental and traffic scientists and trade journalists.
ECOtality’s eTec Completes SuperCharge System Installation at Long Beach Airport
Long Beach Airport and Electric Transportation Engineering Company (eTec), a wholly-owned subsidiary of ECOtality, Inc., have completed the installation of five Dual Port SuperCharge systems at Long Beach Airport. The five stations will be used to recharge a fleet of electric baggage tractors and belt loaders that service JetBlue and US Airways.
Able to charge up to 40 electric ground support vehicles, the SuperCharge installation provides the infrastructure for Long Beach Airport to transition its ground support equipment from gasoline- and diesel-powered equipment to pure electric powered systems. By reducing its dependence on gasoline, the airport will cut fueling costs, while significantly reducing noise and air pollution. The City of Long Beach received funding from the California Air Resources Board for the installation.
According to a February 2007 report published by ETEC and the US Department of Energy, use of electric ground support equipment can reduce annual fueling costs by 70 to 80% and reduce total operating costs by 30 to 40% when compared to internal combustion engine ground support equipment that operates on gasoline or diesel fuel. Currently installed in 13 major airports in North America, there are more than 300 eTec SuperCharge systems in daily operation that service more than 1,000 pieces of electric ground support equipment.
Study Compares Use of Hydrous and Anhydrous Ethanol Fuels in Direct-injection, Turbocharged Engine
Comparative testing by engineers at Orbital Corporation of hydrous (E93h, E87h, E80h) and anhydrous (E100) ethanol fuels on a direct injection multi-cylinder turbocharged engine found that the engine may be operated at high load with the same output and efficiency, with either hydrous or anhydrous ethanol. Orbital published its results in an SAE paper presented at Congresso SAE Brasil in late November, 2007.
In ethanol production, the “beer” resulting from the fermentation is processed in distillation columns where an azeotropic mixture of ethanol and water is separated out from the rest of the stillage. This product is referred to as hydrous ethanol—about 95% ethanol and 5% water. To be used as a supplementary blend in low levels with gasoline, this hydrous ethanol needs to be dehydrated, resulting in anhydrous ethanol.
The process of dehydration is costly and energy-consuming. A study on the use of E10-E26 hydrous ethanol blends by HE Blends BV in the Netherlands noted that hydrous ethanol is 10%-20% less expensive than anhydrous ethanol, is easier to produce and to handle, and offers a better life cycle emissions profile than anhydrous ethanol.
Hydrous ethanol is currently used in Brazil and Sweden, and hydrous E10-15 is currently being used under the European BEST project in the Rotterdam area.
Although there have been a large number of published studies on the use of both hydrous and anhydrous ethanol fuels, the Orbital team noted, there is little available that directly compares the performance of the two types of ethanol fuel in spark ignition engines.
The researchers used a SI multi-cylinder turbocharged unit incorporating Orbital’s centrally mounted spray guide direct injection and compared the performance of four ethanol fuels: anhydrous E100, and hydrous E93h (83% ethanol, 7% water by mass), E87h (87% ethanol, 13% water by mass), and E80h (80% ethanol, 20% water by mass).
Orbital conducted their evaluation at high load, and initially at 2,000 rpm and manifold pressure of 100 kPa to assess variation in ignition timing. Subsequent testing at 2000 rpm evaluated increases in manifold pressure to 140 and 170 kPa. Finally, they assessed the effect of engine speed at a BMEP of 1,900 kPa.
The key findings of the study were:
Ignition delay and burn duration are increased with increasing water content at fixed ignition timing, as a consequence of charge dilution. Engine output, efficiency and combustion stability are decreased and MBT ignition timing is advanced.
Engine output, efficiency and combustion stability are typically recovered at MBT ignition timing. Some reduction remains at engine speeds of 4,000-5,000 rpm, and load of 1,900 kPa BMEP and above.
Emissions of CO are unaffected by fuel water content.
Emissions of NOx decrease linearly with increasing fuel water content at fixed ignition timing, as a function of diluent specific heat and consequent reduction of peak combustion temperatures. At MBT ignition timing the reduction is typically less than 10%.
Emissions of HC increase linearly with increasing fuel water content for E93h and E87h, the trend being largely independent of ignition timing. The mechanism is proposed to be an increase of flame quenching, and also the effect of water content on fuel preparation within the cylinder.
Exhaust gas temperature increases slightly with increasing fuel water content at fixed ignition timing, as a consequence of later combustion. The increase is in the order of 20°C. At MBT, increasing water content may reduce EGT in the order of 10°C. This is attributed to reduced combustion temperatures arising from increased heat capacity of the charge, and also the latent heat of vaporization.
MBT ignition timing was achieved at all conditions tested and with all levels of fuel hydration. Further increases in boost pressure and compression ratio are therefore feasible, and it is proposed that the suppression of knock and pre-ignition offered by hydration may present the greatest opportunity for extension of the engine operating regime.
When reviewing powertrain applications for anhydrous vs. hydrated ethanol fuels, key areas of difference may include fuel preparation, catalyst specification and control system calibration. Items not addressed within this study but also requiring consideration include compatibility and durability, lubrication, cold start capability, and fuel system capacity.
Further work in support of this area is on-going, and includes development of low temperature starting capability, and turbo-charger application development for transient performance and high specific output.
Brewster, S.C., “Initial Development of a Turbocharged Direct Injection E100 Combustion System”. SAE paper # 2007-01-3625.
Brewster, S.C., et. al., “The Effect of E100 Water Content on High Load Performance of a Spray Guide Direct Injection Boosted Engine”. SAE paper # 2007-01-2648
Biofuel Centre at Napier University Focusing on Biobutanol
The centre opened last month and is designed to bring together industry, government, academia and the public to further research and understanding of second-generation biofuels. The most promising line of development now focuses on butanol, a fuel that potentially can be produced by fermentation from a diversity of organic material, including waste products from industrial processes, thus ensuring that the raw materials and harvesting involve no extra emissions.
[Martin] Tangney adds: “We are putting together an EU consortium to identify dominant waste products across different regions and assess how many could be used to produce fuel.”
Suncor Board Approves C$20.6B Oil Sands Expansion
|The diagram depicts the assets of the 200,000 bpd “Voyageur” expansion program; however, Voyageur will be operated on an integrated basis with existing operations. Click to enlarge.|
The Board of Directors of Suncor Energy gave final approval to a C$20.6 billion (US$20.7 billion) investment to boost crude oil production at the company’s oil sands operation, located north of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, by 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) over its planned 2008 levels to reach 550,000 bpd in 2012.
The expansion plans include constructing four additional stages of in-situ bitumen production, a new upgrader (Suncor’s third) to convert that bitumen into higher-value crude oil, and various infrastructure and utilities.
An investment of approximately $9 billion (with an estimate accuracy range of +16%/-13%) is to be made to construct the four stages of in-situ production. Each stage is expected to produce an average of approximately 68,000 bpd of bitumen. (Depending on certain operational and market conditions, excess bitumen may be sold to market as a heavy crude blend.)
An investment of approximately $11.6 billion (with an estimate accuracy range of +12%/-8%) will go towards construction of an upgrader designed to process 245,000 bpd of bitumen into 200,000 bpd of crude oil. The product slate is expected to consist of approximately 85% sweet crude oil and diesel, and 15% sour crude oil. Oil products are planned to be shipped to market through third-party and Suncor-owned pipelines.
The expansion puts in-situ production on more of an equal footing with Suncor’s historical reliance on oil sands mining. Of the estimated total of $20.6 billion, Suncor has already invested approximately $2.5 billion on the expansion, including detailed engineering, site work and fabrication of major vessels.
One area of particular focus of the project, in an attempt to mitigate the environmental impacts of oil sands development, is improved water management. Suncor has reduced water use per barrel by nearly 50% during the past five years. With this expansion program, the company plans to spend $225 million to further improve water management. As a result of plans to reduce water consumption and increase treatment and recycling, the company did not seek an increase in its water licence for the construction or operation of its planned third upgrader. In Suncor’s in-situ operations, more than 90% of the water used for steam generation is expected to be recycled.
Suncor has reduced greenhouse gas emission intensity at its oil sands plant by approximately 50% compared to 1990 levels. While this expansion will lead to an increase in absolute greenhouse gas emissions, the company says it continues to investigate technologies such as carbon capture and storage that hold the potential for reducing absolute emissions in the longer term.
The company also continues to target technologies to reduce intensity in other emissions. For example, approximately $800 million is being spent to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions through the construction of a new sulfur plant. Improvements in emissions of nitrogen oxides are also expected and Suncor will continue to investigate gasification options, which could enable the company to process petroleum coke, an oil sands by-product, into an energy source. Investments in new equipment and processes are also expected to mitigate operational odors.
The expansion is designed to be completed in a phased manner. Mechanical completion of the new upgrader is expected to be completed in 2011, while bitumen feed from the new stages of in-situ production is expected to begin operation in 2009 through 2011. Crude oil production is expected to begin ramping up in late 2011, with full production capacity of 550,000 bpd expected to be achieved in 2012. Suncor’s plans for some components of in-situ expansion are still subject to regulatory approval and, as such, the company’s schedule is subject to change.
The capital required to fund the expansion is expected to be financed through cash flow from operations, credit facilities and access to debt capital markets.
Suncor Investor Presentation
Youngman Automotive Signs Second Exclusive Distribution Agreement with ZAP for North American Bus Market
Youngman Automotive Group, one of China’s leading bus manufacturers, has signed a second exclusive distribution agreement with ZAP that grants it the rights to distribute the full line of Youngman buses in North America.
In October 2007, the two companies signed a joint venture agreement to manufacture, market and distribute electric and hybrid vehicles for the passenger car, truck and bus markets. (Earlier post.) ZAP will focus on marketing and distribution while Youngman will contribute manufacturing and development resources. Albert Lam is the Chairman of the joint venture company as well as a member of ZAP’s board of directors.
The more I look at the emerging market for advanced technology vehicles, the more I see that ZAP is one of the only companies offering a selection of vehicles available for sale today. Buses can only enhance ZAP's overall business plan and I decided, rather than wait until the joint venture vehicles become available, to do something today that can benefit both companies.—Pang Qingnian, Chairman, Youngman Automotive Group
Youngman is currently manufacturing and exporting six bus platforms available in 71 different configurations with the capacity to build 10,000 units annually. Youngman and ZAP expect to introduce buses using electric, hybrid and other advanced technology power trains as part of their joint venture.
The new agreement is based on conventional bus technologies.
Youngman recently introduced advanced manufacturing technology to its facilities in a joint venture with Neoplan of Germany. Youngman expects to soon have the capacity to produce 200,000 vehicles per year, including a capacity to build 10,000 buses annually.
PACCAR to Use SCR and EGR for 2010 Engine NOx Requirements
PACCAR, manufacturer of light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks under the Kenworth, Peterbilt and DAF nameplates, stated in its Q4 2007 Earnings Statement that it will use selective catalytic reduction (SCR) in combination with exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) in its PACCAR engines for Kenworth and Peterbilt to meet the NOx requirements of the 2010 EPA diesel engine emissions regulations.
Starting in 2010, allowable NOx emissions will be reduced by more than 80% from the 2007 standard. PACCAR trucks have been using SCR emissions systems in Europe for several years.
The company said that it is working with SCR distributors to ensure a nationwide infrastructure is in place to support the SCR aftertreatment systems with urea.
January 30, 2008
DOE Restructures Its Approach to FutureGen
The US Department of Energy (DOE) is restructuring its commitment and approach to the planned $1.5-billion FutureGen project, which would have resulted in the construction and operation of a prototype 275 MW plant that would co-produce electricity and hydrogen from coal with essentially zero emissions, including carbon dioxide emissions, which would be captured and sequestered. (Earlier post.)
The restructured approach will focus on separating carbon dioxide for CCS in multiple future IGCC plants. DOE will support industry in building IGCC (Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle) plants by providing funding for the addition of CCS technology to multiple plants. The new approach does not include support for hydrogen production.
This approach, said Bodman, builds on technological research and development advancements in IGCC and CCS technology achieved over the past five years and is expected to at least double the amount of carbon dioxide sequestered compared to the FutureGen concept originally announced in 2003. It also reduces the financial commitment from the federal government.
Under the new plan, DOE’s investment would provide funding for no more than the CCS component of the power plant—not the entire plant construction, compared with the original FutureGen concept in which the federal government would incur 74% of rising costs. This would allow for commercial operation of IGCC power plants equipped with CCS technology to begin as soon as the plants are commissioned, between 2015 and 2016.
This restructured FutureGen approach is an all-around better investment for Americans. As technological advancements have been realized in the last five years, we are eager to demonstrate CCS technology on commercial plants that when operational, will be the cleanest coal-fired plants in the world. Each of these plants will sequester at least one million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually and help meet our nation’s rapidly growing energy demand.—Secretary Bodman
Concurrent with the announcement, the DOE issued a Request for Information (RFI) that seeks industry’s input by 3 March 2008, on the costs and feasibility associated with building clean coal facilities that achieve the intended goals of FutureGen.
Following this period and consideration of industry comment, DOE intends to issue a competitive solicitation to provide federal funding under cooperative agreements to equip IGCC (or other clean coal technology) commercial power plants that generate at least 300 MW, with CCS technology aimed at accelerating near-term technology deployment. Initial input from industry will assist in determining how many demonstrations can be commissioned.
The four sites—two in Illinois and two in Texas—evaluated in the Department’s Environmental Impact Statement issued in November 2007, including the site announced by the FutureGen Alliance in December 2007, Mattoon, IL, may be eligible to host a commercial-scale IGCC plant with CCS technology, according to the DOE. The site analysis and characterization data at these sites may be applicable to future environmental analyses under this restructured approach.
More than one site may be selected as a host for the commercial demonstration of CCS technology and DOE encourages applicants to include these four sites in their consideration for this restructured approach. Also, the FutureGen Alliance’s 13 member companies may compete with all the other applicants.
The official DOE announcement on FutureGen caps weeks of speculation on the future of the program that began following the failure of the DOE to immediately approve the site in Mattoon, Illinois selected by the FutureGen Industrial Alliance as the site to host the FutureGen power plant. (Earlier post.)
The FutureGen Alliance issued a statement in response to the restructuring, saying that it is committed to keeping the original project moving ahead at Mattoon.
Carbon capture and sequestration is an important technology, but it must be integrated with advanced power plant technology so that we understand the full system cost, performance and operating strategies.
FutureGen can deliver the needed technology with urgency. It will take four to five years for DOE to evaluate new proposals, place contracts, and conduct environmental reviews for new projects. FutureGen has crossed these hurdles and is positioned for success.
The Alliance remains committed to keeping FutureGen on track. We owe it to the people of Illinois, to the Alliance members who have contributed significant funds and resources to bring the project to this stage and to society which depends on technology to provide clean, affordable and secure energy.
The FutureGen Alliance is a non-profit organization representing some of the world's largest coal companies and electric utilities including: American Electric Power, Anglo American, BHP Billiton, the China Huaneng Group, CONSOL Energy Inc., E.ON U.S., Foundation Coal, Luminant, PPL Corporation, Rio Tinto Energy America, Peabody Energy, Southern Company, and Xstrata Coal.
Secretary Bodman also announced President Bush’s budget request of $648 million for the DOE Office of Fossil Energy’s advanced coal technology research, development and demonstration program for Fiscal Year (FY) 2009. The FY09 budget requests $407 million for coal research—including development of more efficient gasification and turbine technologies, innovations for existing coal power plants, and large-scale CCS injection tests—and $241 million to demonstrate technologies for cost-effective carbon capture and storage for coal-fired power plants, including $156 million for the restructured FutureGen approach and $85 million for DOE’s Clean Coal Power Initiative.
This $648 million request represents a $129 million increase from the President’s FY2008 request and is the largest amount requested for DOE’s coal program in more than 25 years.
SwRI Full-Load Study of Scuderi Split-Cycle Engine Indicates Higher Power, Torque and Efficiency Than Conventional Engines of Equal Displacement
The first independent laboratory study of the Scuderi Split-Cycle Engine (earlier post) under full-load conditions indicates that a gasoline-fueled version of the engine will have higher power, torque and efficiency ratings than the current state-of-the-art turbocharged gasoline engines of equal displacement on the road today.
The Full Load (FL) Study by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is the first of three reports to be published by the laboratory prior to the assembly of the first prototype, which is scheduled for completion later this year. A Part Load Study and an Air-Hybrid Study will be published in early and mid-2008 respectively.
The air hybrid study will incorporate the results of full load and part load studies, and add to that the compressed air storage tank used in the hybrid implementation. The air-hybrid study will compare the Scuderi air-hybrid efficiency levels to those of an electric hybrid.
The patented Scuderi Split-Cycle Engine divides the four strokes of the Otto cycle over a paired combination of one compression cylinder and one power cylinder. Intake air is compressed in the compression cylinder and transferred via a high-pressure gas passage to the power cylinder for combustion. The full-load study was made using a single paired combination of 1-liter displacement.
The SwRI study concluded that at full load, the efficiency of the gasoline-fueled split-cycle engine would be around 37.5%, versus approximately 33% for conventional Otto cycle engines, according to Sal Scuderi, president of the Scuderi Group and co-inventor of the split-cycle engine. Torque levels would be about 50% higher than those of gasoline engines, taking the split-cycle engine into diesel territory in terms of torque.
Additionally, the predicted NOx emissions are 50% to 80% less than that of a conventional engine, which will mean an even greater advantage in diesel applications.
The NOx reduction was an unanticipated result of the engine design, said Scuderi in a 2006 presentation. One of the design features of the engine—“the biggest breakthrough,” he said—is that it fires after top dead center in the combustion cylinder.
The compressed air charge pours into the combustion cylinder at 50 bar pressure with massive turbulence, rapidly atomizing the fuel charge, which is injected only into the combustion cylinder. By firing after top dead center, the piston is already pulling away from the combustion, enhancing the full air motion. Combustion is very rapid—10 crank angle degrees, two times faster than anything else the company had found, according to Scuderi.
With the very fast flame chasing the piston, rather than piston crashing into the flame, the flame front, where most of the NOx usually is formed, doesn't reach temperatures high enough for the same amount of NOx formation as in a conventional engine. This, Scuderi said, could turn out to be one of key features of engine, especially for diesel applications.
The company will begin ramping up its work on a diesel-fueled application of the split-cycle engine this quarter, said Scuderi, who noted that it looks like the split cycle engine may be able to address both NOx reduction and PM reduction without the same level of aftertreatment systems required by current diesel engines.
The combination of lower engine-out emissions along with the reduced cost of the split-cycle engine compared to a conventional diesel (no turbocharger, half the fuel injectors, reduced aftertreatment system) has piqued the interest of light-duty vehicle OEMs, Scuderi said.
At this point, the Scuderi Group is only releasing the complete data from the full-load report to OEMs who have signed a non-disclosure agreement. The data will eventually be made public after the company’s patent applications have been published. The company will again appear at the upcoming SAE World Congress in April.