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3rd Quarter 2008 Gasoline Use in California Declined 6.1%; Diesel Use Dropped 10.4%

The California State Board of Equalization (BOE) released gasoline and diesel consumption figures for September and complete figures for the third quarter of 2008. The third quarter of 2008 marked the tenth consecutive three-month period to show lower gasoline consumption. In the third quarter of 2008, Californians used 242.6 million... Read more →

Ford ’s New Active Park Assist Leverages Electric Power Assisted Steering; Nearly 90% of Ford Lineup to Have EPAS by 2012

Ford’s Active Park Assist. Click to enlarge. Ford is introducing a new Active Park Assist technology on its 2010 Lincoln MKS flagship sedan and new Lincoln MKT seven-passenger luxury crossover. Available in mid-2009 as an option, Active Park Assist uses an ultrasonic-based sensing system and Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS)... Read more →

Jaguar Introduces New 3.0L Diesel for European Market

The new AJ-V6D. Click to enlarge. Jaguar is introducing a new 3.0-liter diesel engine—the AJ-V6D Gen III—in two power levels in its XF Diesel S sedan for the European market. The new V6 engine, derived from the 2.7-liter diesel, improves fuel economy by 12% and produces 10% less CO2 (179... Read more →

Beijing Implementing Plan to Remove Heaviest Polluting Vehicles

Gasgoo. Beginning 1 January, Beijing is implementing a plan (earlier post) to ban vehicles that do not meet the Euro 1 emissions standard, which was adopted in China in 1992. Before the 2008 Olympic Games in April, the environmental watchdog of Beijing labeled the city’s heavy-polluting vehicles “Yellow” and thus... Read more →

UK Met Office Forecasts 2009 to be One of Top 5 Warmest Years on Record Despite Cool Pacific

Warmest 50 years, color-coded by period. The inset shows the entire data range from 1850. Click to enlarge. Climate scientists at the UK’s Met Office and the University of East Anglia forecast the 2009 global temperature to be 14.44 °C—more than 0.4 °C above the long-term average. This would make... Read more →

NASA Study Links Severe Storm Increases and Global Warming

The frequency of extremely high clouds in Earth’s tropics—the type associated with severe storms and rainfall—is increasing as a result of global warming, according to a study by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Extremely high clouds, known as deep convective clouds, are typically associated with severe storms and rainfall.... Read more →

California Rolls Out New Vehicle Labeling Scheme to Show Environmental Impact

Beginning 1 January, every 2009 model year and newer car sold in California will be required to carry a label that clearly ranks the vehicle’s environmental impact. Sample of the new label. Click to enlarge. The label will show the simple ranking system that is intended to provide consumers practical... Read more →

GMAC to Resume Financing With Relaxed Credit Restrictions

On the heels of its approval as a bank holding company (earlier post) and a $5-billion infusion from the US Treasury (earlier post), GMAC Financial Services will immediately resume auto financing for a broader spectrum of US customers as a result of the expanded access to funding as a bank... Read more →

Study Finds Biodiesel Blends with Marine Fuel Can Improve Thermal Efficiency and Reduce CO Emissions; NOx and CO2 Emissions Increase

Brake thermal efficiency (top) and fuel consumption (bottom) of 100% biodiesel, 100% marine fuel, and three biodiesel-marine fuel blends. Click to enlarge. Adopted from Gökalp (2008), Credit: ACS Blending biodiesel with marine fuel can improve the brake thermal efficiency (BTE) of a diesel engine and reduce CO emissions, although it... Read more →

Air New Zealand Completes Jatropha Biofuel Blend Test Flight

Air New Zealand completed the test flight of its 50:50 blend of a jatropha-derived synthetic paraffinic kerosene and conventional Jet A1 fuel (named NZ-J50) in an Air New Zealand Boeing 747-400 on Tuesday. (Earlier post.) The two-hour test flight took off from Auckland airport on Tuesday morning, with the jatropha-derived... Read more →

US Fuel Cell Council Pushes Congress for $1.17B for Hydrogen, Fuel Cell and Infrastructure Programs

The US Fuel Cell Council (USFCC), an industry association formed to foster the commercialization of fuel cells in the United State, is asking Congress to put $1.17 billion into fuel cells, hydrogen and infrastructure. Fully funding programs of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT) at levels Congress has already... Read more →

Munich Re: 2008 Natural Catastrophes Show That “Climate Change Has Already Started”

by Jack Rosebro 2008 natural disasters, by location and severity. Source: Munich Re. Click to enlarge. Munich Re, one of the world’s largest re-insurers, has released its annual figures on worldwide losses from natural catastrophes, and has termed 2008 “one of the most devastating years on record,” partly due to... Read more →

California ARB Staff Releases Updated California-GREET Model

The staff of the California Air Resources Board (ARB) has released an update to the California-GREET model 1.8b for estimating the carbon intensities of transportation fuels as part of the Low Carbon Fuels Standard (LCFS) rulemaking process. This update reflects updates in the September 2008 release of the Argonne National... Read more →

Michelin Postpones Challenge Bibendum Rio 2009 to 2010

Michelin is postponing the coming Challenge Bibendum event—scheduled for April 2009 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil—until 2010, due, it said, to the depth of the current economic crisis. In a short statement, the company said that its decision takes into account the increasing financial constraints of several of Challenge Bibendum’s... Read more →

GMAC Receives US$5.0B Investment from the US Treasury

GMAC Financial Services has sold US$5.0 billion of GMAC’s preferred membership interests and warrants to the US Department of the Treasury as a participant in the $700-billion Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) established under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. GMAC received approval of its bank holding company application... Read more →

CAPP Adjusts Oil Sands Forecast Downward

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), in a December 2008 interim update on its annual crude oil forecasts, has revised downward its forecasts for oil sands production. Revised forecast for Western Canada oil production. Click to enlarge. Data: CAPP The update reflects announced changes to product schedules (earlier post),... Read more →

BIRD Foundation Awards TransBioDiesel and Rohm and Haas US$1.5M for Commercializing a Lipase-Based Biodiesel Production Process

The BIRD (Israel-US Binational Industrial Research and Development) has awarded Israel start-up TransBioDiesel and its US partner Rohm and Haas a US$1.5 million award to commercialize its process for using immobilized lipases for the production of biodiesel from different oils, including plant oils, animal fats and recycled greases. Biodiesel is... Read more →

China BAK Battery Li-ion Phosphate EV Project Now Part of 863 Program

China’s Ministry of Science and Technology has selected China BAK Battery, Inc.’s Electric Vehicles Lithium-phosphate Power Battery Industrialization Project as a key project of the National High Technology Research and Development Program (863 Program). Under expected terms of its selection, China BAK will receive a grant of up to $3.1... Read more →

European Automakers Question Aspects of New EU Fuel Quality Directive

The European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) has raised several technical issues with the fuel quality directive adopted by the European Parliament earlier in December as part of the climate change package. Among the elements of the fuel quality directive is a low carbon fuel standard. (Earlier post). ACEA’s technical concerns... Read more →

Stratified Charge Engine With Two-Stage Combustion Mechanism Shows 17% Reduction in Fuel Consumption Without Direct Injection

Two-stage combustion mechanism in twin swirl combustion (1, zone containing pure air; 2, spark plug; 3, turbulizer; and 4, zone containing the fuel-rich mixture). Click to enlarge. Credit: ACS A team of researchers from Istanbul Technical University (ITU) in Turkey has presented a 1.6-liter stratified charge gasoline engine featuring a... Read more →

China’s Ningdong Energy Complex, By The Numbers

China has released estimates of some of the inputs and outputs related to the massive Ningdong Energy and Chemical Industrial Base, currently under construction in Ningdong, which is in Ningxia province. The Chinese government estimated that Ningdong’s 3,500 square kilometers contain 27.3 billion tons of proven coal reserves. The project... Read more →

Report: Nissan, NEC to Invest $1.1B or More to Increase Li-ion Supply for EVs and HEVs

The Nikkei reports that Nissan Motor Co. and NEC Corp. will invest ¥100 billion (US$1.1 billion) or more in their joint venture Automotive Energy Supply Corp. (AESC, earlier post) to boost manufacturing capacity of lithium-ion batteries to supply a total of around 200,000 electric and hybrid vehicles per year by... Read more →

S. Korea Announces Energy Efficiency Initiative; 16.5% Increase in New Vehicle Fuel Economy by 2012

The South Korean government has allocated 18.3 trillion won (about US$14.2 billion) for an energy efficiency initiative that will run until 2012 and save 34.2 million tonnes of oil equivalent (toe). The goal is an 11.3% improvement in energy efficiency by 2012, compared with the level seen in 2007. Among... Read more →

Solid-State Ethanol Fermentation Using Dry Sweet Sorghum Stalk Particles with Active Dry Yeast

Researchers at Shanghai Jiao Tong University have developed a method for the solid-state fermentation (SSF) of sweet sorghum stalk particles with active dry yeast. In a study published online 23 December in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels, they describe an effective method of sweet sorghum stalk storage in dry... Read more →

“Nature Does Not Provide Bailouts”: Tällberg Provocation Calls for Complete Decarbonization of Industrialized Countries by 2050

by Jack Rosebro The Tällberg Foundation has released a discussion paper[1] that proposes a global greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 90% along with a target of 100% “domestic, at-source” reductions coming from industrialized countries by the year 2050, with the objective of avoiding many of the more unpredictable potential... Read more →

Toyota to Show New Lexus Dedicated Hybrid at Detroit Show

In addition to the debut of a new concept electric vehicle, Toyota will unveil the Lexus HS 250h dedicated hybrid at the 2009 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. The HS 250h sedan will become the fourth hybrid in the Lexus line-up. At NAIAS 2008 Toyota president Katsuaki... Read more →

London Bus Design Competition Spawns New Freight/Passenger Concept

Rendering of the Freight*BUS with side elevation drawing showing one possible configuration. Click to enlarge. Earlier in the year, Transport for London (TfL) staged an open design contest for new buses for London. The contest generated more than 700 entries from five continents. Two whole bus designs—from Aston Martin and... Read more →

New Process for Bamboo Ethanol

Manichi Daily News. Researchers at Shizuoka University in Japan have developed a new process enabling the more efficient use of bamboo—a fast-growing woody grass—as a feedstock for fermentative cellulosic ethanol production. The team, led by biochemical engineering professor Kiyohiko Nakasaki, has developed a method of rendering bamboo into an ultra-fine... Read more →

TransCanada Joins TransAlta and Alstom in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Project

TransCanada Pipelines Limited will join TransAlta Corporation in the development of Project Pioneer, Canada’s first fully-integrated carbon capture and storage (CCS) plant. (Earlier post.) TransAlta and Alstom Canada are developing and implementing a proprietary chilled ammonia process that will help store CO2 underground. Click to enlarge. When complete, Project Pioneer... Read more →

China to Provide Incentives for Scrapping Old Vehicles to Stimulate New Car Market

Shanghai Daily. China will offer incentives for scrapping old cars and buying news ones in an effort to re-invigorate the new car market, which declined 3.8% in November, according to an unnamed official with the Ministry of Commerce. In Shanghai, a similar plan has already worked. New car sales rose... Read more →

Japan New Car Sales Likely to Drop Nearly 30% in December; “Dire Days” for Japanese Auto Industry

The Nikkei reports that sales of new cars in Japan are on track to drop almost 30% for a second month in December. Some 161,000 autos, excluding minicars, had been sold through Thursday, down 27% from the same period last year. Few expect a surge of new registrations Friday, the... Read more →

New LCA of Four Different Soybean-Based Fuels Finds Potential for Significant Reduction in Fossil Energy Use and GHG Relative to Petroleum Fuels

Well-to-wheels GHG emissions and emission changes relative to conventional fuels, using five different approaches for co-product allocation: 1, displacement; 2, energy-value-based allocation; 3, market-value-based allocation; 4, hybrid I; 5, hybrid II. Click to enlarge. Credit: ACS A new energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission life-cycle analysis (LCA) by Michael Wang... Read more →

Japan Vehicle Production and Exports Down 20.4% and 18.1% Respectively in November

Vehicle production in Japan dropped 20.4% in November year-on-year. Cars of more than 2.0L displacement suffered the largest drop. Click to enlarge. Data: JAMA Total production of cars, trucks and buses in Japan for domestic sales as well as for export dropped 20.4% in November year-on-year to 854,171 units, according... Read more →

GMAC Financial Services Becomes Bank Holding Company With Access to TARP Funds; Changes to GM and Cerebus Ownership

On 24 December, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System approved an emergency application from GMAC Financial Services to become a bank holding company under the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956. As a bank holding company, GMAC, a global finance company specializing in automotive, real-estate, and commercial... Read more →

Sasol to Build Coal-to-Liquids Facilities in Indonesia with 1.1M Barrels per Day Capacity

Sasol will build coal-to-liquids plants in Indonesia with a targeted combined capacity of 1.1 million barrels per day. Production is expected to begin in 2015, according to Indonesia’s Department of Energy and Mineral Resources. Feasibility studies are currently underway. Although a member of OPEC since 1962, Indonesia became a net... Read more →

smart To Show Electric fortwo at NAIAS 2009

At the upcoming North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, smart will show the electric-powered fortwo introduced earlier this year. (Earlier post.) Smart plans to equip this next-generation smart EV with lithium-ion batteries. Other vehicles joining the list of debuts at NAIAS are the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox, with new... Read more →

Iowa Awards $1.5M for E85 and Biodiesel Infrastructure

Iowa’s Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Program (RFIP) board recently awarded $1.518 million to 43 applicants. Those awards are for E85 and biodiesel dispensers, biodiesel terminals and tank vehicles. The number of awards was the largest the board has approved this year. Over a 3-year period, the RFIP board will allocate $13... Read more →

Researchers Engineer Carbon Nanotube Scaffolds for Higher Density Hydrogen Storage

The procedure expands the geometry of a SWCNT fiber (upper left) and then locks the expanded form into a stable shape with cross linkers (bottom). Click to enlarge. Credit: ACS Researchers at Rice University and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have engineered single-walled carbon nanotube (SWCNT) fibers to become... Read more →

Japan Auto Industry Forecasts Further Domestic Decline in 2009

Passenger car demand in Japan. Click to enlarge. Data: JAMA In its December forecast, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) projects that total sales of passenger cars and commercial vehicles in Japan in calendar 2008 should finish at 5.11 million units, a decline of 4.5% from the previous year. JAMA... Read more →

Biogenic Methane Company Closes $76M Funding Round

Cleantech.com. Luca Technologies, developer of a technology platform that uses microorganisms to reactivate or intensify the production of methane from finite fuels such as coal, shale or oil, has raised $75.9 million in a Series C round led by One Equity Partners and Kleiner Perkins’ Green Growth Fund. (Earlier post.)... Read more →

CAS Researchers Develop Ionothermal Procedure for Mg-Containing Zeolite Fabrication; Good for Hydroisomerization

A research team headed by Prof. Tian Zhi-jian with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics has developed an ionothermal procedure for the synthesis of a magnesium-containing zeolite (MAPO-11) that, with platinum supported onto the structure, shows excellent reactivities in the hydroisomerization of hydrocarbons. Hydroisomerization is... Read more →

Imperial College London and London School of Economics Establish Centre for Synthetic Biology

Imperial College London and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) are establishing a Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation. The Centre is supported by an £8 million (US$11.8 million) grant from the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) as part of EPSRC’s effort to push... Read more →

Chevrolet Project Driveway Nearing 500,000-Mile Mark

Chevrolet’s Project Driveway program&mash;the largest endeavor yet to put fuel cell vehicles on real roads—now has more than 100 vehicles out on the road, and will have logged 500,000 miles of fuel cell driving by Christmas. The Project Driveway program began in Oct 2007 and will run through the end... Read more →

Researchers Modifying Poplar Tree Lignin Structure to Facilitate Processing for Cellulosic Biofuels

Researchers at Penn State University are modifying the structure of lignin—a polymer that is a major component of woody plant material—in poplar trees to facilitate its degradation for the subsequent processing of the woody biomass into liquid fuels. Lignin is woven in with cellulose and provides plants with the strength... Read more →