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April 2012

April 30, 2012

Sandia researcher calculates likely discharge of 4.9-5.8 million barrels of oil from Deepwater Horizon well

Stewart K. Griffiths from Sandia National Laboratories reports in a paper accepted for publication in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology that the likely total discharge from the BP Macondo Prospect well (MC252) during the Deepwater Horizon accident was in the range of 4.9 to 5.8 million barrels. Minimum and maximum credible values of this discharge are 4.6 and 6.2 million barrels.

Calculated cumulative and net oil discharged from MC252. Cumulative discharge over the 86 days is 5.4 mmstb. Net release to the Gulf of Mexico is 4.6 mmstb. Credit: ACS, Griffiths 2012. Click to enlarge.

Griffiths calculated oil flow rates and cumulative discharge using a physically-based model along with wellhead pressures measured at the blowout preventer (BOP) over the 86-day period following the Deepwater Horizon accident. Parameters appearing in the model were determined empirically from pressures measured during well shut-in and from pressures and flow rates measured the preceding day.

According to Griffiths, this methodology rigorously accounts for ill-characterized evolution of the marine riser, installation and removal of collection caps, and any erosion at the wellhead.

The calculated initial flow rate was 67,100 stock-tank barrels per day (stbd), which decays to 54,400 stbd just prior to installation of the capping stack and subsequent shut-in.


  • Stewart K Griffiths (2012) Oil Release from Macondo Well MC252 Following the Deepwater Horizon Accident. Environmental Science & Technology doi: 10.1021/es204569t

April 30, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

DOT issues discussion document on principles for a connected vehicle environment; safety as top priority

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Joint Program Office (JPO) has issued a discussion document expressing a set of working principles intended to guide DOT’s research, demonstration and implementation activities related to a connected vehicle environment. DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expected to issue a rulemaking on Vehicle Communications in 2013.

Connected vehicles refer to the ability of vehicles of all types to communicate wirelessly with other vehicles (V2V) and roadway equipment (V2I), such as traffic signals, to support a range of safety, mobility and environmental applications. Vehicles include light, heavy and transit vehicles. The concept also extends to compatible aftermarket devices brought into vehicles and to pedestrians, motorcycles, cyclists and transit users carrying compatible devices, which could make these vulnerable users more visible to surrounding traffic.

The principles reflect the positions of the FHWA (Federal Highway Administration), NHTSA, and RITA at this time of adoption related to research, demonstration and implementation of a connected vehicle environment. The principles, which are subject to change in the future as the program progresses, include:

Safety. Transportation Safety is the DOT’s top stated priority for the connected vehicle environment. The system must: prevent or mitigate the severity of crashes; minimize driver workload; ensure no increase to driver distraction; encompass all road users; and ensure that mandatory safety applications cannot be turned off or overridden.

Other uses beyond safety applications—especially for mobility and environmental purposes—are permissible and encouraged as long as they do not detract from safety.

Coverage/scale. The system is extensible to all types of connected vehicle systems and applications (safety, mobility, environmental, etc.).

System implementation must be national in scale and extensible across North America. Implementation can start at discrete locations but is envisioned to include all major roadways with timing to coincide with the roll out of technology in vehicles.

User Protections. Stakeholder and operational needs must be met while at the same time protecting consumers appropriately from unwarranted privacy risks. The connected vehicle environment will incorporate appropriate privacy controls: transparency; individual participation and redress; purpose specification; limitations on use of information; data minimization and retention; data quality and integrity; security; and accountability and auditing.

As an example, the environment must provide consumers with appropriate advance notice of and, for opt-in systems, opportunity to provide consent for information collection, use, access, maintenance, security and disposal.

The environment will limit the collection and retention of personally identifiable information to the minimum necessary to support stakeholder and operational needs.

As the federal role and other critical aspects of connected vehicle regulation and/or implementation are further defined, DOT will document publicly the privacy risks and controls applicable to the system and users.

The system itself must be secure to an appropriate level. The system will: ensure secure and trusted information exchange among users; provide protection from hacking and malicious behavior; maintain data integrity.

Implementation and Oversight. An organization will be required to manage and operate the system responsible for ensuring security and other functions associated with the proper operation of the connected vehicle system. This organization can be private, public or a private/public hybrid.

The organization will be governed by rules and methods of operations that ensure compliance with DOT connected vehicle principles and any other rules or requirements that may be established by the DOT with input by stakeholders. All key parties will have a voice.

Consideration should be given to allow applications from sources outside the governance structure on to the system as long as they are in compliance with all established system principles including security and operational requirements.

The system should be implemented to provide ongoing operations. If state and local agencies are involved in system implementation, the system should be designed to be cost-beneficial for state and local transportation agencies in regards to building, operating, and maintaining.

USDOT is receptive to all sustainable financing options that do not violate other principles. In the event that that the only viable financing option relies on financing from participating organizations, companies, or entities, the common operating costs for the system including security, governance and other costs should, to the extent feasible, be shared.

There can be no consumer subscription fees for mandatory safety applications. However, this stated principle does not preclude mandatory universally applicable taxes or fees to finance the system, according to DOT. Subscription or other fees for non-mandatory, opt-in applications are possible.

Subscription fees refer to ongoing fees that a consumer voluntarily chooses to pay for a service. Mandatory universally applicable fees differ in that they are not voluntary and are therefore likely to either be collected by government agencies (such as in conjunction with vehicle registration) or included in the purchase price of the vehicle or equipment.

Technical Functionality. Functionality of the system requires compliance with nationwide, universally accepted non-proprietary communication and performance standards.

Interoperability of equipment, vehicles, and other devices is necessary to enable mandatory safety applications as well as applications supporting mobility, economic competitiveness, and sustainability. Standards must be maintained to ensure technical viability.

The system must be technically adaptable and viable over time, and it must be backward-compatible. The system must also be able to evolve over time as new technologies become available.

Communication technology for safety applications must be secure, low latency, mature, stable, and work at highway speeds. Currently DSRC is the only known viable technology for safety critical applications, according to DOT. DSRC or other communication technologies could be used for safety applications that are not for crash-imminent situations, mobility, and environmental applications.

Use of the spectrum must comply with established requirements for non-interference.

Safety applications take priority over non safety applications and public-sector applications take precedence over commercial applications.

April 30, 2012 in Connected vehicles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

UK planning to trial 80 mph speed limit

The UK Government is planning to trial 80 mph (129 km/h) speed limits on sections of the motorway network.

The Government announced a consultation on motorway speeds in September. At the time, then-Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said that the current limit of 70 mph was out of date and that the higher limit would give the economy a boost. The proposal was immediately criticized by environmental and safety campaigners who said it would lead to higher carbon emissions and more road accidents.

In a Parliamentary answer to a House of Lord’s Question last Autumn, Lord Shutt of Greetland said on behalf of the Government that CO2 emissions increase by around 14% for a vehicle driving at a steady 80 mph compared with a steady 70 mph.

April 30, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Toyota to debut new RAV4 EV at EVS 26

Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc., will debut the new RAV4 EV (earlier post) at the 26th International Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS26) in Los Angeles on 7 May.

TMS unveiled a second-generation Toyota RAV4 EV demonstrator vehicle at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2010. Toyota built 35 of these Phase Zero vehicles—essentially converted RAV4s—for a demonstration and evaluation program through 2011. Tesla Motors is supplying the battery and other related components. (Earlier post.)

The vehicle going on sale this year is a fully re-engineered RAV4 EV (Phase One vehicle), which will be sold to the general public as well as to fleet users. (Earlier post.)

April 30, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Pike forecasts sales of electric two-wheelers in Asia Pacific to reach more than 65M units in 2018; China dominates

Electric two-wheel vehicle sales by country, Asia Pacific: 2012-2018. Source: Pike Research. Click to enlarge.

Pike Research forecasts that annual sales of electric two-wheel vehicles (e-scooters, e-motorcycles, and e-bicycles) will show robust growth and reach more than 65 million units in 2018. Sales will be dominated by China, where annual sales of electric two-wheel vehicles will reach more than 60 million units in 2018 at a CAGR of 6.6%.

On a cumulative basis, forecasts Pike, sales in China will reach more than 355 million units by 2018, with cumulative electric two-wheel vehicle sales in Asia Pacific will reach more than 381 million units in 2018.

Sales of internal combustion engine (ICE) scooters are strong in China, India, and most Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries compared to other regions of the world due to their fuel efficiency and ease of use in congested traffic, Pike Research notes in its report.

Electric and traditional two-wheel vehicle manufacturers are paying attention to rising demand for the vehicles. Since the penetration rates in rural areas are lower than urban areas, rural areas are the main business target for ICE two-wheel vehicle manufacturers in developing countries. Incumbent players are teaming up with supply chain vendors and components suppliers to initiate market leadership. While electric two-wheel vehicle players are likely to focus on their current main consumers in the urban and semi-urban middle income classes, they are also strengthening marketing to the rural segment in the coming years.

Pike finds that lead-acid batteries will be the primary storage technology used in the Asia Pacific electric two-wheel vehicle markets; Li-ion batteries will account for a smaller (but growing) share of the technology used in e-scooters and e-motorcycles.

Lead-acid will remain the battery of choice for most manufacturers in China, according to the report, although growth in Li-ion storage on Chinese e-scooters and e-motorcycles will be driven largely by the reduction in cost of Li-ion cells in China.

In contrast, Japan will show a far different rate of adoption of Li-ion batteries in both e-scooters and e-motorcycle, since there is a high level of consumer expectation for the quality and durability of battery performance. The percentage of e-scooters with Li-ion batteries in Japan will reach 37% in 2018, according to Pike, while the percentage used in e-motorcycles will reach 100% by 2015. In Asia Pacific overall, the use of Li-ion batteries in e-scooters and e-motorcycles is expected to grow at CAGRs of 10.4% and 11.3%, respectively, between 2012 and 2018.

Key findings in electric two-wheel vehicle market opportunities include:

  • E-Scooters. China will make up the vast majority of the Asia Pacific e-scooter market (more than 15.4 million annual sales in 2018), followed by India (more than 1.1 million units in 2018). Taiwan will experience the highest 2012-2018 CAGR (26.7%) in Asia Pacific for e-scooters.

  • E-Motorcycles. The e-motorcycle market in Asia Pacific is expected to be small compared with e-scooters, due to cost.

  • E-Bicycles. Pike expects India to be the second-largest market behind China for e-bicycles by 2018. The country will likely follow demand in China for scooter-style electric bicycles (SSEBs) with sealed lead-acid (SLA) batteries.

April 30, 2012 in China, Electric (Battery), Personal Transit | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Hydrogenics and Enbridge jointly to develop utility-scale renewable energy “storage” via natural gas; “Power-to-Gas”

Hydrogenics Corporation, a developer and manufacturer of hydrogen generation and fuel cell products, recently entered into an agreement with Enbridge Inc. jointly to develop utility-scale energy storage in North America. This relationship also includes an equity investment of CA$5.0 million in Hydrogenics. The collaboration will bring together Hydrogenics’ expertise in water electrolysis with Enbridge’s ownership and operation of natural gas pipeline networks and renewable energy generation.

The parties will work together to develop utility scale energy storage projects within Enbridge’s North American footprint. Hydrogenics will have the opportunity to participate in up to 50% ownership in a build-own-operate model for energy storage services.

With “Power-to-Gas”, the hydrogen produced during periods of excess renewable generation will be injected into the existing natural gas pipeline network, proportionally increasing the renewable energy content in natural gas pipelines for essentially the operating cost of the electrolyzer. Small quantities of hydrogen can be manageable in existing natural gas pipeline networks.

With the significant scale of the natural gas pipeline network, these same quantities of hydrogen have an impact on electricity energy storage potential. The natural gas pipeline network represents a vast energy storage system which already exists. The utility scale energy storage leverages existing natural gas pipeline and storage assets to enable improved operability for the electrical system. Furthermore, the economics are further improved by leveraging existing gas generators to bring this renewable energy back to the electrical grid where, and when, it is needed most, the partners say.

The collaboration between Hydrogenics and Enbridge will initially focus on the deployment of utility scale energy storage in Ontario with the opportunity to expand into Enbridge’s operations elsewhere.

Under the agreement, Enbridge Inc. purchased from Hydrogenics 1,082,251 common shares for an aggregate purchase price of CA$5,000,000 (CA $4.62 per share).

The agreement provides, among other things, that Enbridge will have certain participation rights and, subject to certain ownership requirements, will have the right to appoint one non-voting observer to the board of directors of Hydrogenics.

April 30, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Shell and Iogen abandon project to build large-scale cellulosic ethanol facility in Manitoba

Royal Dutch Shell is abandoning the pursuit of a project with Iogen Corporation to build a larger scale cellulosic ethanol facility in southern Manitoba.

In June 2010, the two companies made a further investment in Iogen Energy, their jointly owned subsidiary, to accelerate the commercial deployment of Iogen Energy’s process for making cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residue. Shell committed to fund research and development activities at Iogen Energy until mid-2012. (Earlier post.)

As a result of the decision, Iogen Energy will “refocus” its strategy and activities. This refocusing will lead to a smaller development program at Iogen Energy and a loss of 150 jobs.

Shell says it will continue to explore multiple pathways to find a commercial solution for the production of advanced biofuels on an industrial scale.

Iogen Corporation will continue to employ approximately 110 people at its Ottawa headquarters and plans to expand its line of offerings with new technology for the production of advanced and cellulosic biofuels.

Iogen Corporation’s industrial enzymes business—solutions to customers in the grain processing, animal feed, pulp and paper and textiles industries—will not be affected by these changes.

April 30, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (24) | TrackBack

Galten Biodiesel to supply jatropha oil to Neste Oil

Globes. Israel-based Galten Biodiesel has signed a NIS 225-million (US$60-million) contract to supply 60,000 of Jatropha oil to Finland-based Neste Oil, the producer of NExBTL renewable fuels, beginning in 2014.

Galten operates its first Jatropha plantation in Ghana.

Galten chairman Doron Levy said, “60% of vehicles in Europe are fuelled by diesel and European regulations require 20% of diesel vehicles to be fuelled by biological fuels by 2020. Forecasts see this year's European biodiesel market worth $40 billion. Signing a letter of intent with a giant Finnish company is a substantial stage in Galten establishing itself as a major supplier of vegetable oil to Europe’s biodiesel industry.”

Galten’s shares rose 1.1% on the TASE on the news.

April 30, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

U. Wisc, GM team extends operation range for gasoline direct-injection compression-ignition using triple-pulse injection

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and General Motors have extended the operation range for a light-duty diesel engine operating on gasoline using extended controllability of the injection process via a triple-pulse injection strategy. (Earlier post.)

In a paper presented at SAE 2012 World Congress, the team reported the use of a triple-pulse injection strategy to extend gasoline direct-injection compression-ignition (GDICI) combustion in a single-cylinder engine to full load (16 bar IMEP, 2500 rpm) while maintaining results achieved earlier with a double-pulse injection strategy (~0.1 g/kg-f of NOx and PM and ~ 173 g/kWh of indicated specific fuel consumption, ISFC).

In that previous work, the team had revealed high sensitivity of GDICI operation to changes in EGR ratio, initial gas temperature and boost pressure, and found the existence of an optimal injection pressure to maximize the extension of the operation map for a given engine load condition.

Although operable ranges in the GDICI engine studied were identified, excessive pressure rise rates still remained as the toughest constraint to meet, which tends to narrow the operable range. This limitation led to a further investigation of possible strategies to attenuate and control PRR, and thus to extend the GDICI operation range using the current advanced injection system technologies.

Triple pulse injection strategy has been employed recently in several experimental studies on diesel engine combustion with gasoline-like fuels mainly to mitigate the combustion rate that would be problematic and mid to high engine load...In the present study, an investigation of high speed GDICI engine combustion using a triple-pulse injection strategy in the LTC [low temperature combustion] regime is presented.

—Ra et al.

In their investigation, the team first used numerical simulations to identify characteristics of GDICI with triple injections, including the sensitivity to engine parameters. Subsequent to the modeling, they performed engine experiments to compare results with the predicted characteristics. Based on the work, they drew the following conclusions:

  • Triple-injection extends GDICI significantly to higher loads, while meeting combustion efficiency, noise and emission level targets.

  • Combustion stability and maximum PRR can be controlled by the second pulse, while the third pulse can control engine operation load.

  • Operation ranges are more confined by the soot lines in the operation maps than the combustion stability lines near the late injection timing boundary. “This is a characteristic difference of triple-pulse injection from double-pulse operation.

  • Controllability of maximum PRR was obtained by triple-pulse injection at the expense of slight increases in ISFC and reduced IMEP.

  • The operation ranges are very sensitive to EGR ratio, initial gas temperature and injection pressure. Decreasing EGR ratio tends to narrow the operating range of the third pulse timing. Increasing initial gas temperature and decreasing EGR rati have similar effects on the operation range variation, byt the CS-line is more affected by initial temperature variation.

  • Increasing injection pressure reduces soot emissions significantly. The soot-line can be retarded to etend the overall operation map.

In future work, they will explore the effects of a triple-pulse injection strategy at lower engine loads.


  • Ra, Y., Loeper, P., Andrie, M., Krieger, R. et al. (2012) Gasoline DICI Engine Operation in the LTC Regime Using Triple-Pulse Injection, SAE Int. J. Engines doi: 10.4271/2012-01-1131

April 30, 2012 in Emissions, Engines, Fuel Efficiency, Low Temperature Combustion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Report: GM, Isuzu to start talks on another capital, business tie-up

The Nikkei reports that General Motors Co. will enter talks with Isuzu Motors Ltd. on a capital and business alliance aimed at launching joint projects for commercial vehicles in Central and South America.

GM is looking to acquire a stake of roughly 10% in Isuzu, according to the report. GM and Isuzu have had an alliance that has waxed and waned since 1971, when GM signed an initial capital agreement with the Japanese company. From 1999-2002, GM owned 49% of the company—a holding that subsequently was reduced.

Toyota bought a 5.9% stake in Isuzu in 2006. (Earlier post.)

Trading house Mitsubishi Corp. is the largest shareholder in the Japanese automaker, with a 9.2% stake, and cooperates with Isuzu in its operations in Thailand. If the talks prove fruitful, GM may become Isuzu’s largest shareholder.

GM approached Isuzu with the tie-up offer. The two automakers are expected to start negotiations in early May and are working on a meeting between Isuzu President Susumu Hosoi and Dan Akerson, GM’s CEO, this summer in hopes of sealing an agreement.

April 30, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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