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December 2011

December 31, 2011

Boston College team demonstrates nanonet-based heterostructure strategy for high-performance Li-ion cathode materials; high-power and high-capacity vanadium oxide electrode

Schematic illustrations of the TiSi2/V2O5 heteronanostructure design. The TiSi2 nanonet is directly grown on a current collector; V2O5 is deposited onto TiSi2 by a hydrolysis process. Upon annealing at 500 °C in O2, V2O5 nanoparticles form. Credit: ACS, Zhou et al. Click to enlarge.

Using a highly conductive two-dimensional TiSi2 nanonet technology they had earlier developed, a team from Boston College has synthesized a vanadium oxide (V2O5)-based cathode material that demonstrates a specific capacity of 350 mAh/g, a power rate of 14.5 kW/kg, and capacity retention of 78% after 9,800 cycles of repeated charge/discharge. In a paper published in the journal ACS Nano, they note that these results demonstrate “a cathode material significantly better than V2O5 of other morphologies.”

The strategy of having multiple components at the nanoscale—heteronanostructures—offers a critical advantage of achieving desired electronic and ionic properties on the same material by tailoring the constituent components, the team suggests in its paper.

Nanoscale materials are expected to contribute significantly to realizing an important goal in the lithium ion battery research of achieving high capacity and power rate and long cycle lifetime simultaneously...How to solve these issues in a concerted fashion, however, remains a challenge because they are intricately correlated at relevant length scales (e.g., charge and ionic behaviors at the nanoscale). Here we present a strategy that has the potential to meet this challenge.

...The key to our design is the capability to control the features of materials on multiple levels concurrently. At the atomic scale, we use Ti-doping to stabilize V2O5 upon lithiation and delithiation, which dramatically improves the cycle lifetime. At the nanoscale, the material is composed of more than one component, each designed for a specific function, the TiSi2 nanonet for charge transport, the Ti-doped V2O5 nanoparticle as the ionic host, and the SiO2 coating as a protection to prevent Li+ from reacting with TiSi2, which otherwise would lead to the destruction of the nanostructures. The strategy of having multiple components at the nanoscale offers a critical advantage of achieving desired electronic and ionic properties on the same material by tailoring the constituent components.

—Zhou et al.

Zhou et al. say that their work, compared to other work using nanostructures, is distinguished by at least three features:

  1. The two-dimensional TiSi2 nanonet inorganic framework is highly unique. The combination of mechanical strength and flexibility exhibited by the nanonet may be ideal for energy storage applications, they suggest.

  2. The seemingly complex design is realized through simple chemical synthesis, without the involvement of catalysts or templates.

  3. The combined power rate, specific capacity, and cycle lifetime render the nanonet-based nanostructure one of the highest performing cathode materials.

They used V2O5 to demonstrate the design principle because the addition of the conductive framework (TiSi2 nanonets) “is particularly useful to solve the key issues of poor conductivity and slow Li+ diffusion that limit the performance of V2O.

Charge capacity and Coulombic efficiency TiSi2/V2O5 heteronanostructures. (a) After the initial decay during the first 40 cycles, the heteronanostructure exhibits stability for up to 600 cycles, fading only 12% (rate: 300 mA/g). The reversible decrease of capacity between the 180th and 210th cycles (14 mAh/g, or 4.4%) are the result of controlled temperature change from 30.0 to 28.0 °C. One data point for every 10 cycles is shown. (b) The rate-dependent specific capacities. 1C: 350 mA/g. Credit: ACS, Zhou et al. Click to enlarge.

Ti-doping stabilizes V2O5, and the SiO2 layer shields TiSi2 from the electrolyte. More critically, Zhou et al. concluded, the unique two-dimensional nanonet platform bridges different length scales from the nanoscale to the micro/macro scale.

By introducing a dedicated charge transporter, we were able to separate charge and ionic behaviors and thereby obtain unprecedented high power and high capacity on a cathode material that can be cycled extensively. We emphasize our strategy is highly modular, and other high performance cathode compounds (such as LiFePO4) should be readily integrated into the nanonet-based design. Our results demonstrated that advanced functional materials can be obtained by simple chemical synthesis. This approach should be highly complementary to existing efforts of finding highly performing compounds as battery electrode materials.

—Zhou et al.


  • Sa Zhou, Xiaogang Yang, Yongjing Lin, Jin Xie, and Dunwei Wang (2011) A Nanonet-Enabled Li Ion Battery Cathode Material with High Power Rate, High Capacity, and Long Cycle Lifetime. ACS Nano doi: 10.1021/nn204479n

December 31, 2011 in Batteries | Permalink | Comments (30) | TrackBack

US EIA reminder: Strait of Hormuz world’s most important oil chokepoint; almost 20% of oil traded worldwide

With Iran’s current threat to close the Strait of Hormuz in response to sanctions as a backdrop, the US Energy Information Agency issued an update to its “World Oil Transit Chokepoint” brief (earlier post), noting that “Hormuz is the world’s most important oil chokepoint due to its daily oil flow of almost 17 million barrels in 2011, up from between 15.5-16.0 million bbl/d in 2009-2010. Flows through the Strait in 2011 were roughly 35 percent of all seaborne traded oil, or almost 20 percent of oil traded worldwide.

Chokepoints are narrow channels along widely used global sea routes, some so narrow that restrictions are placed on the size of vessel that can navigate through them. They are a critical part of global energy security due to the high volume of oil traded through their narrow straits.

More than 85% of the crude oil exports flowing through the Strait went to Asian markets, with Japan, India, South Korea, and China representing the largest destinations, EIA said.

The Strait is located between Oman and Iran, and connects the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. At its narrowest point, the Strait is 21 miles wide, but the width of the shipping lane in either direction is only two miles, separated by a two-mile buffer zone.

The Strait is deep and wide enough to handle the largest crude oil tankers, with about two-thirds of oil shipments carried by tankers in excess of 150,000 deadweight tons.

The Strait of Hormuz and alternate routes (pipelines). Source: EIA. Click to enlarge.

Alternate routes to the Strait include:

  • The 745-mile long Petroline, also known as the East-West Pipeline, across Saudi Arabia from Abqaiq to the Red Sea. The East-West Pipeline has a nameplate capacity of about 5 million bbl/d.

  • The Abqaiq-Yanbu natural gas liquids pipeline, which runs parallel to the Petroline to the Red Sea, has a 290,000-bbl/d capacity.

  • Additional oil could also be pumped north via the Iraq-Turkey pipeline to the port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean Sea, but volumes have been limited by the closure of the Strategic pipeline linking north and south Iraq.

  • The United Arab Emirates is also completing the 1.5 million bbl/d Abu Dhabi Crude Oil Pipeline pipeline that will cross the emirate of Abu Dhabi and end at the port of Fujairah just south of the Strait.

  • Other alternate routes could include the deactivated 1.65-million bbl/d Iraqi Pipeline across Saudi Arabia (IPSA), and the deactivated 0.5 million-bbl/d Tapline to Lebanon.

Use of the alternate routes would increase the cost of transportation.

Other critical chokepoints highlighted in the brief include:

  • The Strait of Malacca, located between Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, which links the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea and Pacific Ocean. Malacca is the shortest sea route between Persian Gulf suppliers and the Asian markets. Malacca is the key chokepoint in Asia with an estimated 13.6 million bbl/d flow in 2009, down slightly from its peak of 14 million bbl/d in 2007.

  • Suez Canal/SUMED Pipeline. Closure of the Suez Canal and SUMED Pipeline would add an estimated 6,000 miles of transit around the continent of Africa. The Suez Canal is located in Egypt, and connects the Red Sea and Gulf of Suez with the Mediterranean Sea, spanning 120 miles.

  • The Strait of Bab el-Mandab is a chokepoint between the horn of Africa and the Middle East, and a strategic link between the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean. It is located between Yemen, Djibouti, and Eritrea, and connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. Most exports from the Persian Gulf that transit the Suez Canal and SUMED pipeline also pass through the Bab el-Mandab.

  • The Bosporus and Dardanelles comprise the Turkish Straits and divide Asia from Europe. The Bosporus connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles links the Sea of Marmara with the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. The 17-mile long waterway located in Turkey supplies Western and Southern Europe with oil from the Caspian Sea Region. An estimated 2.9 million bbl/d flowed through this passageway in 2009, of which more than 2.5 million bbl/d was crude oil.

  • Panama Canal. The United States is the primary country of origin and destination for all commodities transiting through the Panama Canal, however, it is not a significant route for US petroleum trade. The Panama Canal is an important route connecting the Pacific Ocean with the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. The Canal is 50 miles long, and only 110 feet wide at its narrowest point called Culebra Cut on the Continental Divide. Closure of the Panama Canal would greatly increase transit times and costs adding more than 8,000 miles of travel. Vessels would have to reroute around the Straits of Magellan, Cape Horn and Drake Passage over the tip of South America.

  • The Trans-Panama Pipeline (TPP - Petroterminal de Panama, S.A.) is located outside the former Canal Zone near the Costa Rican border and runs from the port of Charco Azul on the Pacific Coast to the port of Chiriquie Grande, Bocas del Toro on the Caribbean. The pipeline was built in 1982, with the original purpose being to facilitate crude oil shipments from Alaska’s North Slope to refineries in the Caribbean and the US Gulf Coast. However, in 1996, the TPP was shut down as oil companies began shipping Alaskan crude along alternative routes. Since 1996, there were intermittent requests and proposals to utilize the TPP. In August 2009, TPP completed a project to reverse its flows in order to enable it to carry oil from the Caribbean to the Pacific.

  • The Danish Straits are becoming an increasingly important route for Russian oil exports to Europe. An estimated 3.3 million bbl/d flowed westward through this waterway in 2009 to European markets, up from 2.4 million bbl/d in 2005. Russia has increasingly been shifting its crude oil exports to its Baltic ports, especially the relatively new port of Primorsk, which accounted for half of the exports through the Straits. An additional 0.3 million bbl/d of crude oil, primarily from Norway, flows eastward to Scandinavian markets.

December 31, 2011 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (15) | TrackBack

China’s State Grid and BYD launch 36 MWh battery system for grid energy storage

BYD and the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) have finished construction on what may be the world’s largest battery energy storage station. This large utility-scale project, located in Zhangbei, Hebei Province, combines 140 MW of renewable energy generation (both wind and solar), 36 MWh of energy storage and a smart power transmission system.

While there are renewable generation systems of this scale in service today, there are no battery systems of this size, the partners noted. The State Grid system is demonstrating a stable solution for transferring vast amounts of renewable electricity safely to the grid on an unprecedented scale. Although BYD manufactures 1GW of solar panels annually, their role in this project was primarily providing energy storage batteries in arrays larger than a football field.

SGCC chose BYD’s Iron-Phosphate battery technology because of its superior service life (more than 20 years) and also used BYD’s “peak shaving & load leveling” charge and discharge methodologies. BYD’s announcement on 30 September 30 2011, “China’s Largest and First Environmentally-friendly Battery Storage Station,” was the first of many MW-level cooperative projects with China’s Southern Power Grid (CSG). This new project with the State Grid has outpaced other grid projects in China and, though independently designed by SGCC, is part of the national “Golden Sun” program. The first phase investment with 100 MW of Wind, 40MW of Solar and 36MWh of Battery is worth more than US$500 million (~3.3 billion RMB).

The large-scale implementation of clean and green energy, such as wind and solar power, can only be realized when the technical difficulties of this new energy application in the utility system are resolved. This State Grid project demonstrates a solution and will be the model of development for China’s new energy resources.

—Xiu Binglin, Deputy Director of the National Energy Administration

December 31, 2011 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

California gasoline consumption declined 2.1% in September, 2.0% in Q3; diesel consumption Up 7.0% in September and 6.6% in Q3

In California, gasoline consumption decreased 2.0% in the third quarter 2011 and declined 2.1% in September, according to figures from the state Board of Equalization. Diesel fuel consumption increased 6.6% in the third quarter and rose 7.0% in September compared to last year.

In third quarter 2011, California’s gasoline consumption declined 2.0%, with a total of 3.727 billion gallons of gasoline compared to 3.803 billion gallons of gasoline in the third quarter last year. In California, the average price of gasoline per gallon rose 74 cents to $3.88 in third quarter 2011, a 24% increase over third quarter 2010’s average price of $3.14 per gallon. Nationally, the average price of gasoline rose 92 cents to $3.69 in third quarter 2011, a 33% increase over last year’s US average price of $2.77 per gallon of gasoline in third quarter 2010.

In September 2011, California’s gasoline consumption decreased 2.1% to 1.211 billion gallons of gasoline compared to last year when 1.238 billion gallons of gasoline were consumed. September’s average price for a gallon of gasoline in California rose 91 cents to $3.97, a 30% increase compared to last September when the average price was $3.06 per gallon of gasoline. Nationally, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in September was up 91 cents to $3.67 per gallon, a 33% increase over the average price of a gallon of gasoline of $2.76 last year in September.

In the third quarter 2011, diesel consumption increased 6.6% to 713 million gallons compared to 669 million gallons in the third quarter 2010. In California, the average price of diesel fuel in third quarter 2011 increased 92 cents to $4.06, a 29% increase compared to $3.14 price per gallon of diesel in third quarter 2010. Nationally, the average price of diesel fuel in third quarter 2011 was up 93 cents to $3.87, a 32% increase over third quarter 2010’s average US price of $2.94 per gallon of diesel.

In September 2011, diesel consumption increased 7.0% for a total 261.9 million gallons compared to the total of 244.8 million gallons of diesel in September 2010. In California, the average price of a gallon of diesel fuel was up 92 cents to $4.06 per gallon in September 2011, a 29% increase over the average price of a gallon of diesel of $3.14 in September 2010. Nationally, the average price of a gallon of diesel was up 89 cents to $3.84 in September 2011, a 30% increase over the average US price of a gallon of diesel of $2.95 in September 2010.

Gasoline and diesel fuel figures are net consumption that includes the California State Board of Equalization’s audit assessments, refunds, amended and late tax returns and the California State Controller’s Office refunds. The State Board of Equalization is able to monitor gallons through tax receipts paid by fuel distributors in California. Figures for October 2011 are scheduled to be available at the end of January 2012. Figures for fourth quarter 2011 will be available at the end of March 2012.

December 31, 2011 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

California ARB witholding enforcement of LCFS post Federal Court injunction; appealing and seeking stay of injunction; Judge O’Neill’s 3 rulings

On Thursday (29 December 2011), Judge Lawrence O’Neill of the US District Court for the Eastern District of California issued three separate rulings in a set of federal lawsuits challenging the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) (Rocky Mountain Farmers Union et al v. Goldstene). (Earlier post.) One of the court’s rulings preliminarily enjoins the California Air Resources Board (ARB) from enforcing the LCFS regulation during the pendency of the litigation.

On Friday (30 December), ARB issued a short statement that it intends to appeal these rulings and will seek an order staying the preliminary injunction. However, as long as the injunction remains in effect, ARB will withhold enforcement of the LCFS requirements, including enforcement of requirements described in a newly issued supplemental regulatory advisory.

In seeking a stay of the preliminary injunction, ARB will request an order that all requirements of the LCFS in 2011 and 2012 are enforceable for the entire period. Thus, ARB said, to the extent that existing guidance it issued is expiring or stakeholders or the Board has requested modifications to the regulation (earlier post), ARB will continue its stakeholder and rulemaking processes.

The new Supplemental Regulatory Advisory 10-04B (Supplemental Advisory 10 04B), which goes into effect 1 January 2012, to provide further guidance to stakeholders on the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) regulation. This Supplemental Advisory 10-04B further elaborates on the guidance provided in Supplemental Advisory 10 04A. This Supplemental Advisory 10-04B will remain in effect through December 31, 2012, unless superseded by a subsequent ARB advisory, notice, or rulemaking.

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union et al v. Goldstene and O’Neill’s rulings

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union et al v. Goldstene is a consolidated action, combining several lawsuits arguing similar points. Plaintiffs in the consolidated action are Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU); Redwood County Minnesota Corn and Soybean Growers; Penny Newman Grain, Inc.; Growth Energy; Renewable Fuels Association; Red Nederend; Fresno County Farm Bureau; Nisei Farmers League; California Dairy Campaign; National Petrochemical & Refiners Association; American Trucking Association; Center for North American Energy Security; and the Consumer Energy Alliance—essentially the corn ethanol industry, the refining industry, truckers, and supporters.

The defendants in the action were James N. Goldstene, in his official capacity as Executive Director of ARB; Mary D. Nichols, Daniel Sperling, Ken Yeager, Dorene D’Adamo, Barbara Riordan, John R. Balmes, Lydia H. Kennard, Sandra Berg, Ron Roberts, John G. Telles and Ronald O. Loveridge in their official capacities as members of ARB; Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his official capacity as Governor of the State of California, and Edmund G. Brown, Jr., in his official capacity as California Attorney General. Defendant-intervenors were the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, and the Conservation Law Foundation.

The plaintiffs basically asserted that the LCFS is prohibited by the dormant Commerce Clause of the US Constitution, and is preempted by federal law. The Commerce Clause gives Congress the power to regulate commerce “among the several States”. The defendants (ARB) moved to seek summary judgment that the LCFS is an authorized control of a motor vehicle fuel that is insulated from preemption and Commerce Clause challenges.

First ruling: ARB not insulated from Commerce Clause scrutiny. In his first ruling, Judge O’Neill addressed the summary judgment motion, as a finding in favor of the defendants would have resolved the entire action. O’Neill found that while the LCFS is an authorized regulation as defined by the federal Clean Air Act, California’s authority “is not unfettered”. California regulations must still be considered according to ordinary conflict preemption principles. In addition, he wrote, contrary to the repeated assertions by ARB, ARB is not insulated from dormant Commerce Clause scrutiny.

Second ruling: LCFS impermissibly discriminates against out-of-state corn ethanol and impermissibly regulates extraterritorially in violation of the Commerce Clause. RMFU et al. argued that the LCFS violates the Commerce Clause of the US and is preempted by federal law. RMFU argued that the LCFS fails as a matter of law because it: (1) impermissibly discriminates against out-of-state corn ethanol; (2) impermissibly regulates commerce and the channels of interstate commerce; (3) excessively burdens interstate commerce without producing local benefits; and (4) is preempted by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (“EISA”).

The final consideration in the strict scrutiny analysis is whether California has established that the goal of reducing global warming cannot be adequately served by nondiscriminatory alternatives. California has failed to establish this fact. While this Court recognizes that the lifecycle analysis is a widely-accepted approach nationally and internationally to reduce GHG emissions, Defendants have failed to establish that they could not achieve this goal through other nondiscriminatory means.

The Rocky Mountain Plaintiffs suggest several nondiscriminatory alternatives. For example, an LCFS that does not contain the discriminatory components may be effective in reducing GHG emissions. In addition, Defendants’ expert concedes that California could “adopt a tax on fossil fuels” to “reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with California’s transportation sector.”

Addressing another alternative—regulating only tailpipe GHG emissions in California—Defendants speculate that it “may result in greater emissions overall,” though CARB stated that GHG emissions could be reduced by “increasing vehicle efficiency” or “reducing the number of vehicle miles traveled.” Although these approaches may be less desirable, for a number of reasons, Defendants have failed to establish there are no nondiscriminatory means by which California could serve its purpose of combating global warming through the reduction of GHG emissions.

—Judge O’Neill

In this area, O’Neill found that the LCFS impermissibly discriminates against out-of-state corn ethanol and impermissibly regulates extraterritorially in violation of the dormant Commerce Clause and its jurisprudence. He granted the Rocky Mountain Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction and enjoined ARB from further enforcing the LCFS during the pendency of this litigation.

Third ruling: LCFS discriminates against out-of-state and foreign crude oil while giving an economic advantage to California crude oil. The NPRA and its co-plaintiffs contended that the LCFS violates the dormant Commerce Clause because it: (1) impermissibly discriminates in favor of California corn ethanol and against Midwest corn ethanol; (2) impermissibly discriminates in favor of California crude oil and against crude oils from outside of California (specifically that high carbon intensity crude oils—HCICO— from California were preferred to HCICO from out-of-state); and (3) impermissibly regulates interstate and foreign commerce based on a fuel’s “pathway,”—i.e., its production and transport—that occurs outside of California.

The National Petrochemical Plaintiffs explain that there is no dispute that application of the “two factors” identified by Defendants results in the following: (1) California’s HCICO is assigned a CI [carbon intensity] value with less than half of the GHG emissions associated with its production and transport; (2) California’s HCICO is the only HCICO to qualify for this favorable treatment; and (3) All HCICOs from outside of California are required to account for all of the GHG emissions associated with their production and transportation.

Defendants admit that the only “HCICO that qualifies for the default carbon intensity values,” i.e. favorable treatment, “is California crude oil produced using TEOR.” The National Petrochemical Plaintiffs argue that Defendants “gerrymandered the criteria to reach this outcome,” which establishes that the purpose and design of the LCFS is to discriminate against out-of-state and foreign HCICOs.

—Judge O’Neill

ARB opposed this by arguing that the LCFS applies evenhandedly to all ethanol pathways; does not discriminate in the crude oil market; and does not regulate extraterritorial activity directly. In addition, ARB contended that “certain arguments are unripe for adjudication”.

O’Neill ruled that the LCFS discriminates against out-of-state and foreign crude oil while giving an economic advantage to in-state crude oil.

California’s LCFS gives an economic advantage to California TEOR [thermal enhanced oil recovery processes] over foreign HCICOs and assigns a mandatory economic disadvantage to out-of-state and foreign existing crude sources. While regulating GHG emissions to combat global warming may be a legitimate end, California may not do so through the use of invalid legislative means. See Or. Waste Sys. Inc. v. Dep’t of Envtl. Quality of Or., 511 U.S. 93, 100 (1994) (The “purpose of, or justification for, a law has no bearing on whether it is facially discriminatory.”). Moreover, the discrimination implicates foreign commerce, which makes it the subject of a more rigorous scrutiny. Because Defendants have failed to establish that no alternative, nondiscriminatory means exist to address their legitimate purpose, this Court finds that the LCFS violates the dormant Commerce Clause.

—Judge O’Neill


December 31, 2011 in Climate Change, Emissions, Fuels, LCFS, Lifecycle analysis, Policy | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 30, 2011

UK awards 46 new licenses to explore for oil and gas in North Sea

UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry set out his hopes for a “prosperous 2012” in the oil and gas sector, as he awarded 46 new licences to explore for oil and gas in the North Sea.

These awards represented the second tranche of licenses from the 26th Seaward Licensing Round, which closed on 28 April 2010. The first tranche offered awards of 144 licences to extract oil and gas from UK waters covering 268 blocks. This offer of awards was announced on the 27th October 2010. These offers in the second tranche were previously held back pending the need for further assessment on Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs).

Oil and gas remains crucial to the UK economy—contributing around 2% to the country’s GDP. Our innovative licensing system continues to make the UK one of the most attractive places to do business. These further licences have been subject to rigorous examination, and we are now satisfied that initial exploration can go ahead. These continued high levels of interest, and the award today of these licences, gives me yet more reason to be optimistic for a prosperous 2012 for the UK oil and gas sector.

—Charles Hendry, Minister for Energy

December 30, 2011 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Shanghai OnStar launches Mobile Application II for smartphone-based turn-by-turn navigation

Shanghai OnStar unveiled Mobile Application II – Turn-by-Turn Navigation. The cloud-based mobile application enables OnStar subscribers across China to access the instant remote vehicle navigation service via their smart phones.The new application allows users to locate a point of interest on their mobile phones and then send it directly to their vehicles, where OnStar’s voice-operated navigation will be automatically activated.

The new mobile application has a three-step process:

  1. Destination Search: The application provides two search options: Local Search and Search by Name. Subscribers can search through fuzzy or precise mode until their desired destination is set. The destination information will then appear on their mobile phones in the form of text and a map.

  2. Send to Vehicle: After the destination is set, subscribers can send the information to their vehicles from their mobile phones with a single click. An accurate navigation path will be generated automatically as soon as the command is received, allowing vehicle owners to remotely use the navigation service anytime, anywhere.

  3. Hands-Free Navigation: When users leave for their destination, they will hear an automatic audio cue from OnStar that will guide them on their journey. By not having to take their hands off the steering wheel, they will be able to focus on driving and the road ahead without distractions. The navigation path can be saved into History or Favorites and be used again on later trips.

OnStar subscribers in China can visit Shanghai OnStar’s official website and click on My OnStar to register and download Mobile Application II – Turn-by-Turn Navigation as well as other OnStar mobile applications for free. Those who have previously downloaded mobile applications can upgrade their applications by following the instructions on their mobile phones to access the new feature.

December 30, 2011 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BOEM completes draft environmental review for Central and Western Gulf of Mexico oil and gas lease sales

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has completed a draft environmental impact statement regarding multiple oil and gas lease sales tentatively scheduled between 2012 and 2017 in the Western and Central Gulf of Mexico planning areas, offshore the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The proposed Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program: 2012-2017 schedules five annual area-wide lease sales in the Western Gulf and five in the Central Gulf.

BOEM says that the Proposed Program is informed by lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon disaster and that reforms that have been implemented to make offshore drilling safer and more environmentally responsible, and to ensure better preparation in case a blowout or oil spill occurs.

The draft environmental impact statement evaluates baseline conditions and potential environmental effects of oil and natural gas leasing, exploration, development and production in the Western and Central Gulf. It is an important step toward implementing the Gulf of Mexico lease sales proposed in the next five-year program, and I strongly encourage the public to provide input on this document.

—BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau

The environmental impact statement will be available for review online at http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/public-inspection/index.html. BOEM will begin accepting comments on the environmental impact statement following the publication date of the Notice of Availability in the Federal Register.

BOEM will hold public hearings to provide an opportunity to comment on the environmental impact statement. These meetings will provide BOEM an opportunity to solicit comments from interested citizens and organizations. Comments will be used to prepare the final environmental impact statement for proposed Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas lease sales offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

December 30, 2011 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Ford targeting 30% reduction in water used per vehicle by 2015

Ford plans to cut the amount of water used to make each vehicle 30% globally by 2015, compared with the amount of water used per vehicle in 2009. If Ford meets the 30% goal, the amount of water used to make a vehicle will have dropped from 9.5 m3 (2,510 gallons US) in 2000 to approximately 3.5 m3 (925 gallons US) in 2015.

Ford is also developing year-over-year efficiency targets as part of its annual environmental business planning process and has established a cross-functional team spanning several divisions to review water usage more holistically.

Water remains one of our top environmental priorities and our aggressive reduction target helps ensure continued focus on this critical resource.

—Sue Cischke, group vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering

Ford’s latest water reduction initiatives are designed to build on the success the company has had with its Global Water Management Initiative that launched in 2000. Between 2000 and 2010, Ford reduced its global water use by 62%, or 10.5 billion gallons (the equivalent of how much water 105,000 average American residences use annually, based on figures from the US Environmental Protection Agency).

Reducing water use. Ford’s Hermosillo Stamping and Assembly Plant in Mexico produces the Ford Fusion, Fusion Hybrid and Lincoln MKZ. Production at Hermosillo Stamping and Assembly Plant doubled between 2000 and 2010. However, water usage at the plant dropped during the same period by 40%.

To reduce water use, a membrane biological reactor—a biological water treatment system—was installed. The complex system is able to make up to 65% of the plant’s wastewater suitable for high-quality reuse elsewhere in the facility or for irrigation. The water treatment system also is being used at Ford plants in Chennai, India and Chongqing, China.

Another approach Ford is using is to cut the amount of water necessary to complete a task. For example, several of Ford’s engine plants around the world are using Minimum Quantity Lubrication (MQL) machining, also known as dry-machining.

As we invest in new and existing facilities globally, our water strategy prioritizes sustainable manufacturing technologies. This disciplined approach allows us to make significant progress in water reduction and other environmental efforts over time.

—John Fleming, executive vice president, Global Manufacturing and Labor Affairs

This technology lubricates the cutting tool with a very small amount of oil sprayed directly on the tip in a finely atomized mist, instead of with a large quantity of coolant/water mixture. The process saves hundreds of thousands of gallons of water and oil per year. By eliminating the coolant/water mixture, dry-machining eliminates the need to treat and dispose of an oily waste stream.

Dry-machining also is delivering significant benefits in energy use, waste production, quality, working conditions and costs. For a typical 450,000-unit line, more than 280,000 gallons of water can be saved annually.

In the US, the dry-machining system has been implemented at Ford’s Livonia Transmission Plant, Van Dyke Transmission Plant and Romeo Engine Plant. Ford also has implemented the system at a number of transmission and engine plants in Europe and applications in other plants around the world currently are being considered.

Measuring and tracking. Before Ford launched the Global Water Management Initiative in 2000, many facilities had little ability to even track water usage. When the initiative started, Ford engineers developed software to predict water usage. Another kind of software was developed to track water use at each facility and generate a monthly report so successes and potential opportunities for improvement could be identified.

Also, water reduction actions are built into Ford’s Environmental Operating System (EOS), which provides a standardized, streamlined approach to meeting all environmental requirements, including sustainability objectives and targets within each of Ford’s plants around the world.

EOS allows Ford to track its plants’ performance of fundamental water reduction actions such as leak identification and repair, and cooling tower optimization at every manufacturing site worldwide.

Further, Ford’s progress against its water reduction target will be communicated in the company’s annual sustainability report and through participation in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Water Disclosure, which Ford joined in 2010—the first automaker to do so.

CDP Water Disclosure serves as a central clearinghouse for Ford and other participating companies to report on water usage, water risks and water management plans of company operations and their supply chains.

December 30, 2011 in Manufacturing, Sustainability, Water | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Ford brand US sales top 2 million for first time since 2007

US sales of the Ford brand this week topped 2 million vehicles for the first time since 2007. The milestone makes Ford the best-selling brand in America and the first automotive brand to hit the 2 million mark in the US since 2007. In 2010, Ford brand sales reached 1,756,439 units, up 21.5% from 2009. Total Ford Motor Company sales (Ford, Lincoln and Mercury) in 2010 totalled 1.935 million, up 19.4% versus 2009.

At the end of November 2011, Ford reported 1,861,178 Ford brand units sold. Of those, 33.4% (621,971) were cars; 28% (521,638) were utilities; and 38.6% (717,569) were trucks. Year-to-date Ford brand car sales have grown 16% compared to the same period in 2010.

Utility sales have grown 32.1%, and truck sales have grown 10.3%. Overall, Ford brand small cars are on pace to post an increase of more than 20% for the full year. Ford brand utilities are tracking to post more than a 30% gain.

Sales of the Ford Escape Hybrid for the first 11 months of 2011 were down 12.6% to 9,009 units compared to the same period in 2010, while sales of the Ford Fusion Hybrid were down 46.2% to 10,398 units. Total Ford brand hybrid sales for the first 11 months of 2011 thus represented slightly more than 1% of total Ford brand sales.

Ford expects overall sales of the midsize Fusion sedan to reach 240,000 by year-end, making 2011 its best-selling year ever and Fusion Ford’s best-selling car.

Since its first full year of sales in 2006 through 2010, the Ford Fusion has expanded share of the midsize segment by 5.2 percentage points. In 2006, Fusion had sales of 142,502 and 6.7% of segment share. By 2010, Fusion sales had risen to 219,219 for an 11.9% share, representing an increase in sales of 54 percent over that period. By comparison, Toyota Camry experienced a 27% decline while Honda Accord sales saw a 20% drop.

The majority of Fusions sold are highly equipped models, Ford says. Fusion has also been a linchpin in Ford’s eastern and western regional sales success, both markets that traditionally prefer imported midsize sedans. Fusion’s share has increased from 4.5% in 2007 to 8.2% in 2011 in the east, while in the west it has increased from 4.3% to 7.3% over the same period.

Ford will reveal an all-new Fusion model during the North American International Auto Show in January.

December 30, 2011 in Sales | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

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