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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

Chrysler/McMaster lightweight materials project focusing on door side impact beam; Al and Mg casting

June 04, 2014

In October 2013, Chrysler entered a $3.9-million research project supported by the Canadian government to explore ways to leverage the weight-saving properties of aluminum and magnesium alloys for vehicle production. (Earlier post.) The primary academic partner in the project is McMaster University in Ontario, with Ryerson University and CANMET, an agency of Natural Resources Canada, as other partners in the project.

In an update on the progress of the project, Steve Logan, responsible for Advanced Lightweight Programs in Chrysler’s Materials Engineering Group, said that the team is looking at components for body and chassis, and specifically focusing on a door side impact beam.

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NREL initial report on performance of BC Transit fuel cell electric buses

February 17, 2014

Researchers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, commissioned by the California Air Resources Board (ARB), have issued their initial evaluation of the hydrogen fuel cell buses in operation at BC Transit. The report covers two years of revenue service data on the buses from April 2011 through March 2013.

In 2012, NREL developed a guideline for evaluating the technology readiness level (TRL) for fuel cell electric buses (FCEBs). TRLs range from concept design at TRL 1 up to full commercialization and deployment at TRL 9. Using this guide, the NREL team assessed the BC Transit buses to be at TRL 7: full-scale validation in a relevant environment. During the two-year data period analyzed for the report, the FCEB fleet accumulated more than 2.1 million kilometers (1.3 million miles) and more than 156,000 hours on the fuel cell power plants. Overall the FCEBs have an average fuel consumption of 15.48 kilograms of hydrogen per 100 kilometers. This equates to a fuel economy of 4.53 miles per diesel gallon equivalent (mi/DGE). The buses have an average availability of 69%.

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State Department releases Keystone XL Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

February 01, 2014

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Incremental well-to-wheels GHG emissions from WCSB Oil Sands Crudes Compared to Well-to-Wheels GHG Emissions from Displacing Reference Crudes Click to enlarge.

The State Department released the long-anticipated and voluminous Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Final Supplemental EIS) for the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline project. The document is posted on State’s Keystone project site, which it has run since the beginning of the Keystone XL Presidential permit process in 2008.

The analysis in the Final Supplemental EIS builds on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement released on 1 March 2013 (earlier post) as well as the documents released in 2011 as part of the previous Keystone XL Pipeline application. Notable changes since the prior Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement include an expanded analysis of potential oil releases; an expanded climate change analysis; an updated oil market analysis incorporating new economic modeling; and an expanded analysis of rail transport.

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Initial results from first phase of road trials for 40-ft BYD electric bus in Canada

January 25, 2014

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2013 STO-AVT electric bus test results chart: BYD Electric Bus energy consumption (Wh/km) over speed (km/h). Click to enlarge.

The first phase of a ten-month trial for a 40-foot BYD battery-electric bus (which commenced the Summer of 2013) was completed in Gatineau, Québec and Ottawa, Ontario in December. (Although the bus drive is zero-emissions, in frigid weather bus-heating was supplemented with a small diesel heater integrated into the bus).

The evaluation, performed by the Société de transport de l’Outaouais (STO) in conjunction with AVT (the Société de gestion et d’acquisition de véhicules de transport), found that the average speed of drivers on Gatineau and Ottawa routes was 23 km/h (14 mph), and the resulting distance the BYD bus could travel at this average speed was 250 km (155 miles)—the equivalent of 1.3 kWh/km without air-conditioning and 1.5 kWh/km with air-conditioning, and full passenger loads).

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Canada files to define outer limits of expanded Atlantic continental shelf; preliminary filing on Arctic, targeting North Pole

December 10, 2013

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Overview of the outer limits of the expanded Canadian continental shelf in the Atlantic Ocean. Click to enlarge.

On 6 December, Canada filed a submission to define the outer limits of its expanded continental shelf area in the Atlantic Ocean with the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. At the same time, Canada also filed preliminary information concerning the expanded outer limits of its continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean, which could include the North Pole.

In a news conference on the submission, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said that Canada will indeed try to extend its territorial claims to the North Pole. “What we want to do is claim the biggest geographic area possible for Canada.”

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ABMI releases first report on biodiversity in Athabasca Oil Sands Area

December 06, 2013

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Average estimated biodiversity intactness for >350 species in the AOSA. Dark red identifies the quarter sections that are estimated to have the lowest average biodiversity intactness, and dark green identifies quarter sections with the highest intactness. The enlarged area highlights the estimated intactness for quarter sections of land in the mineable region. Source: ABMI. Click to enlarge.

The Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI) released the first comprehensive report on the status of Alberta’s species in the Athabasca Oil Sands Area (AOSA). Found in northeastern Alberta, the AOSA makes up 14% of Alberta’s land area, and is central to Alberta’s economy. Situated within the Boreal Forest Natural Region, the AOSA has a robust forest industry. It also contains the Athabasca oil sands deposit, which represents 77% of Canada’s proven oil reserves and supports a growing energy extraction sector.

The Status of Biodiversity in the Athabasca Oil Sands Area” assessed the current condition of more than 350 species in the entire AOSA; the active in-situ oil sand production sub-region; and the mineable sub-region and found the Biodiversity Intactness Index to be, on average, 94%, 91%, and 86% for each of the regions, respectively.

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Average carbon intensity of oil sands production has dropped ~36% in last 40 years; still 12-24% higher than conventional oil CI

November 21, 2013

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Trends in well-to-wheel pathway-specific CI. In situ production began in 1974, so no value is computable for 1970. Click to enlarge.

The carbon intensity (CI) of Alberta oil sands production has significantly decreased over the last 40 years, according to a new study by a team from Stanford University published as an open access paper in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Relying entirely on public and peer-reviewed data sources for the period from 1970 to 2010 (inclusive), the team found that industry-average full-fuel cycle (well-to-wheels, WTW) CI declined about 36% from 165 gCO2e MJ-1 higher heating value (HHV) of reformulated gasoline (RFG) to 105 (-12, +9) gCO2e MJ-1 HHV RFG. 2010 averages by production pathways are 102 gCO2e MJ-1 for mining and 111 gCO2e MJ-1 for in situ production.

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Study finds biodiesel use in HD trucks in Canada will result in very minimal changes in air quality and health benefits

November 07, 2013

Results of a study by a team from Health Canada and Environment Canada suggest that the use of B5 and B20 biodiesel fuel blends (5% and 20% biodiesel, respectively) compared to ULSD in on-road heavy-duty diesels in Canada will result in very minimal changes in air quality and health benefits/costs across Canada, and that these were likely to diminish over time.

Health Canada is the Canadian Federal department responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health; Environment Canada is the Federal agency tasked with, among other things, protecting the environment. An open-access paper on the study has been accepted for publication in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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Chrysler Group in 5-year, $18.2M partnership with McMaster University to develop advanced electric and hybrid powertrains; funding from Canadian Government

October 25, 2013

Chrysler Group LLC has entered a 5-year, $18.2-million partnership with McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, with funding support from the Canadian government, to develop next-generation, energy-efficient, high-performance electrified powertrains and powertrain components. For McMaster, the project partnership is one of three new partnerships with Chrysler, the federal government and other auto industry leaders worth a combined $24 million.

Chrysler Group will invest $9.25 million in cash and in-kind contributions, with an additional $8.93 million coming from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the lead agency within Automotive Partnership Canada (APC), an initiative that supports industry research at Canadian universities and government laboratories.

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Navigant forecasts 18.6% CAGR for plug-ins in North America to 2022; 2.4% new vehicle share in US

September 10, 2013

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Annual light duty PEV Sales, top 5 states, 2013-2022. Source: Navigant. Click to enlarge.

In an update to its 2012 geographic breakdown of plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) sales in North America, Navigant Research now forecasts that overall sales of will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18.6% between 2013 and 2022. Navigant Research forecasts that PEVs will reach 416,153 annual sales in the United States and 230,479 in Canada by 2022.

The model for North American PEV sales by US state, metropolitan statistical area (MSA), Canadian province, Canadian city, and selected US utility service area has been updated to better align with actual sales data from the first full year of wide availability of PEVs.

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IHS-CERA concludes “no material impact” on US GHG from Keystone XL; heavy crude from Venezuela most likely replacement

August 09, 2013

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline for transporting oilsands-derived crude to Gulf Coast refineries would have “no material impact” on US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to a new Insight report by IHS CERA. In a June speech at Georgetown University, President Barack Obama said that the controversial Keystone XL pipeline would only be built if the project “does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.” (Earlier post.)

In the absence of the pipeline, alternate transportation routes would result in oilsands production growth being more or less unchanged, IHS CERA found. The study also found that any absence of oil sands on the US Gulf Coast would most likely be replaced by imports of heavy crude oil from Venezuela, which has the same carbon footprint as oilsands crude.

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