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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.]

ARB posts discussion draft of new proposed mobile-source emissions reduction strategy through 2030; Advanced Clean Cars 2 regulation

October 02, 2015

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff has published a discussion draft of a proposed strategy for further regulation and reduction of mobile source—cars, trucks, and off-road equipment—emissions. The approach described is designed to meet simultaneously federal air quality standards; achieve greenhouse gas emission reduction targets; reduce petroleum consumption; and decrease health risk from transportation sources through 2030.

ARB staff developed this strategy using a multi-pollutant scenario planning tool (Vision 2.0) that quantifies changes in ozone and PM2.5 precursor emissions; GHG emissions; petroleum usage; and diesel toxics emissions as various technologies become widespread in vehicle and equipment fleets.

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Caltech, JPL designed megasupramolecule fuel additive reduces intensity of post-impact fuel explosions

Researchers at Caltech and JPL used statistical mechanics to design a polymeric fuel additive that can self-assemble into “megasupramolecules” (≥5000 kg/mol) at low concentration (≤0.3 weight percent) and thus can reduce the intensity of post-impact fuel explosions that occur during accidents and terrorist acts.

Furthermore, preliminary results show that the additive can provide this benefit without adversely affecting fuel performance. The work is published in the journal Science.

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VW says complete investigation of emissions scandal will take several months; suspending General Meeting in November; report on solutions next week

In a statement issued following its meeting on 30 September the Executive Committee of Volkswagen AG’s Supervisory Board said that it has concluded that the completion of investigations into the emissions testing scandal will take at least several months.

For this reason, the Executive Committee will propose to the Supervisory Board that the Extraordinary General Meeting scheduled for 9 November should not be held. The Executive Committee Members all agreed that, in view of the time available and the matters to be considered, it would not be realistic to provide well-founded answers which would fulfill the shareholder’s justified expectations.

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Ricardo demonstrates processes for evaluating light-duty diesel emissions under coming Real Driving Emissions (RDE) regs

October 01, 2015

Despite the continuing and significant reductions in the legislated limits of light-duty diesel vehicle NOx emissions under the European Euro 1 through 5 regulations of recent years, many studies have demonstrated that real-world NOx emissions appear not to have been reduced as significantly. The Volkswagen emissions scandal has certainly spotlighted this issue, but more by the intentionality of the cause rather than by the effect.

This divergence between type-approval limits and real world emissions was one of the primary drivers for the proposed introduction of Real Driving Emissions (RDE) (earlier post)—put forward in the European Commission’s CARS 2020 Action Plan (earlier post)—in European Euro 6c legislation as early as 2017. The objective of this proposed regulation is that future vehicles certified to a given type approval threshold for NOx output will, subject an incremental Conformity Factor to be defined in the regulation, not exceed this level in normal on-road driving conditions.

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Volkswagen Group reorganizes North American operations; Prof. Dr. Winfried Vahland new region CEO

September 29, 2015

As part of its restructuring, Volkswagen Group is combining its activities in the US, Mexico and Canada into the newly formed North American Region (NAR). The Supervisory Board has appointed Prof. Dr. Winfried Vahland, since 2010 the CEO of Group company ŠKODA, to take over all responsibility for the North American Region. In this new role as President and CEO of Volkswagen NAR, Prof. Dr. Vahland will be responsible for all Group activities in the newly formed region from 1 November 2015. Michael Horn remains as President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, and will report to Dr. Vahland.

Volkswagen said that the creation of NAR is a further measure in the process of decentralizing managerial responsibility, and creates another pillar in the global structure of the group, in addition to the European and Chinese regions.

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Volkswagen AG to refit diesel vehicles with EA 189 EU5 engines; solution to be presented by end of October

Volkswagen AG announced that it will retrofit the some 11 million vehicles equipped with the 2.0-liter EA 189 Euro 5 diesel tainted by the software emissions defeat device. (Earlier post.) New vehicles with EU6 engines currently available are not affected by the cheat, Volkswagen said.

The scope of the retrofit is not yet clear—e.g., software only, or software and new hardware—but Volkswagen and the other Group brands whose vehicles are affected will present the technical solutions and measures to the responsible authorities in October.

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Norwegian/Finnish studies find Euro 6 cars exceeding NOx and CO2 type limits in real-world conditions; below on PM

Emission measurements conducted by Institute of Transport Economics in Norway, in collaboration with VTT in Finland, show that new Euro 6 cars with diesel engines are struggling with NOx emissions well in excess of regulatory type limits when in real traffic.

Since 2011, TØI and VTT have conducted emission measurements of 12 heavy vehicles with Euro VI engines, and seven Euro 6 diesel cars. In addition, they measured emissions from several gasoline vehicles (Euro 5 and 6) and Euro 5 diesel vehicles. All vehicles were tested in laboratory under conditions that as far as possible should correspond to the actual use of the vehicles.

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Lux: VW “actually in a strong position to innovate their way out of this mess”

September 28, 2015

Reflecting on the implications of the still evolving Volkswagen emissions testing scandal (“a vehicle emissions scandal of unprecedented proportions”), analysts at Lux Research suggest that one outcome of the crisis could be an aggressive push by Volkswagen to accelerate the push towards plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.

VW was slowly moving beyond conventional gasoline and diesel engines anyway, Lux noted, with plans of putting out 20 more plug-in vehicles by 2020 (earlier post)—such as the production version of the Audi e-tron quattro. (Earlier post.) Volkswagen has also invested in next-generation batteries, including lithium-sulfur and solid-state. (Earlier post.)

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Study uncovers role of longer-chain unburned hydrocarbon emissions from diesels in London air pollution; calls for regulatory shift

September 27, 2015

Researchers at the University of York (UK) have found that longer-chain unburned hydrocarbons released from diesel—which are not currently explicitly considered as part of air quality control strategies—represent only 20–30% of the total atmospheric hydrocarbon mixing ratio but contribute more than 50% of the total atmospheric hydrocarbon mass and are a dominant local source of secondary organic aerosols (SOA) in London—and by extension to other developed megacities.

The study found that 60% of the winter primary hydrocarbon hydroxyl radical reactivity in London is from those diesel-related hydrocarbons; the authors predicted that the longer-chain HCs contribute up to 50 % of the ozone production potential in London. The results, they said in an open access paper published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, suggest the need for a shift in policy focus onto gas-phase hydrocarbons released from diesels as this vehicle type continues to displace gasoline world-wide.

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VW: ~5M VW vehicles affected by emissions scandal; working on technical solution; suspension of some employees starting

September 25, 2015

Volkswagen said that an internal assessment following the revelation of cheating on emissions testing in EA 189 2.0L diesels (earlier post) has concluded that approximately five million Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand vehicles are affected worldwide. In the heat of the initial discovery of the emissions testing cheating, Volkswagen had said that up to 11 million vehicles worldwide could be affected. (Earlier post.)

Certain models and model years of these vehicles (such as the sixth generation Volkswagen Golf, the seventh generation Volkswagen Passat and the first generation Volkswagen Tiguan) are equipped exclusively with type EA 189 diesel engines. Also as previously announced, all new Volkswagen Passenger Car brand vehicles that fulfill the EU6 norm valid throughout Europe are not affected. This therefore also includes the current Golf, Passat and Touran models.

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California ARB to begin enhanced testing of modern light-duty diesel engines to detect emissions cheating (updated)

The California Air Resources Board sent a letter to automobile manufacturers notifying them that ARB will begin using enhanced testing procedures for modern light-duty diesel vehicles to determine compliance with emission levels to which they were originally certified.

ARB developed its enhanced screening techniques as it dug into the anomalous emission results from Volkswagen’s 2.0L diesel engine; Volkswagen subsequently admitted its use of the software defeat device on emissions testing, triggering that emission control scandal that erupted exactly one week ago. (Earlier post.)

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BMW: “We don’t cheat”; diesel is needed to hit CO2 targets; call for WLTP and RDE

As the Volkswagen emission testing scandal threatens to spill over onto other automakers, BMW yesterday issued a sharp statement in response to a report in Auto Bild suggesting emissions from an X3 test were out of the norm.

The BMW Group does not manipulate or rig any emissions tests. We observe the legal requirements in each country and fulfill all local testing requirements. In other words, our exhaust treatment systems are active whether rolling on the test bench or driving on the road. Clear, binding specifications and processes are in place through all phases of development at the BMW Group in order to avoid wrongdoing.”

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Testing shows UPM BioVerno renewable diesel reduces harmful tailpipe emissions

September 24, 2015

Testing, which is still ongoing, is showing that Finnish wood-based UPM BioVerno diesel (earlier post) significantly reduces harmful tailpipe emissions. A number of engine and vehicle tests have been carried out across a number of research institutes such as VTT Technical Research Center of Finland Lt;, University of Vaasa in Finland; and at FEV.

UPM BioVerno renewable diesel has already been shown to function just like conventional diesel in all diesel engines, while generating up to 80% fewer greenhouse gas emissions during its lifecycle compared to conventional fossil diesel fuels. The latest test results show that UPM BioVerno also reduces harmful tailpipe emissions.

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VW CEO Winterkorn resigns over crisis; “further personnel consequences” coming; Exec. Committee filing criminal complaint

September 23, 2015

Volkswagen Group CEO Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn resigned today, taking upon himself responsibility for the emissions cheating scandal that has quickly engulfed the company. In a statement, the Executive Committee of Volkswagen AG’s Supervisory Board noted that Dr. Winterkorn had no knowledge of the manipulation of emissions data, and thanked Dr. Winterkorn “for towering contributions in the past decades and for his willingness to take responsibility in this critical phase for the company. This attitude is illustrious.”

The Executive Committee also said it was adamant on taking the necessary steps to ensure a new beginning for the tarnished company. As part of that, it is expecting “further personnel consequences” in the coming days. The company is also voluntarily submitting a complaint to the State Prosecutors’ office in Brunswick. The Executive Committee believes that criminal proceedings may be relevant due to the irregularities. Volkswagen will support the investigations of the State Prosecutor “in all forms.

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Volkswagen: new EU 6 diesels clear of software cheat, but up to 11M EA189 diesels worldwide affected

September 22, 2015

In a statement issued this morning, Volkswagen AG said that new vehicles from the Volkswagen Group with EU 6 diesel engines currently available in the European Union comply with legal requirements and environmental standards. The engine control software in those vehicles does not affect handling, consumption or emissions, the company said.

Although the engine management software that enabled the cheating on NOx targets (earlier post) is installed in other Volkswagen Group vehicles with diesel engines, the company added, for the majority of those engines the software does not have any effect. However, the software “discrepancies” do relate to vehicles with the Type EA189 2.0-liter diesel engines—involving some eleven million vehicles worldwide. (Earlier post.)

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Toyota Land Cruiser in Europe offers new 2.8L diesel; first Toyota SCR NOx aftertreatment system

New D-4D diesel. Click to enlarge.

Toyota’s Land Cruiser off-road 4WD vehicle in Europe is now available with a new 2.8 liter D-4D turbo-diesel. The engine replaces the current 3.0-liter engine, with a focus on improved driveability with better torque delivery, plus lower fuel consumption and reduced CO2 emissions. It delivers 130 kW/177 DIN hp @ 3400 rpm and can be mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox or a new 6-speed automatic transmission.

Available on 3-door and 5-door models, Toyota’s newly developed 2.8 D-4D Global Diesel (GD) engine combines an 11% increase in low speed torque and a 7% increase in maximum torque with a 9% reduction in average fuel consumption. The engine features Toyota’s first urea Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system that can eliminate up to 99% of NOx emissions.

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Study links California regulations, significant declines in cancer risk from exposure to air toxics

A study by a team from the California Air Resources Board (ARB) has found that the collective cancer risk from exposure to seven toxic air contaminant (TACs) has declined 76% during the period from 1990 to 2012, and linked that result from air quality regulations targeting these TACs. The study appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Of the seven TACs, diesel particulate matter (DPM) is the most important; DPM is emitted mainly from trucks and buses and is responsible for most of the airborne cancer risk in California, according to ARB. However, in the study DPM is not measured directly. Based on a novel surrogate method, DPM concentrations declined 68% during the period, even though the state’s population increased 31%; diesel vehicle-miles-traveled increased 81%; and the gross state product (GSP) increased 74%.

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Background on the 2.0L diesel engines at the core of the Volkswagen emissions testing debacle

September 21, 2015

Last Friday, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (ARB) charged that Volkswagen (Jetta, Beetle, Golf, Passat) and Audi (A3) passenger cars equipped with 2.0-liter diesels in the US have used a software defeat device to cheat on the results of NOx testing, and thus have violated the US Clean Air Act. According to the charges, the software, when it detected regulatory testing on a dyno, ran a different, more emissions-stringent engine calibration to meet test requirements than when it detected regular use. (Earlier post.) As a result, real-world NOx emissions increased by a factor of 10 to 40 times above the EPA compliant levels, depending on the drive cycle.

According to the charges, Volkswagen admitted to the software device. Both agencies have launched investigations; Volkswagen—which in addition to recall costs for the approximately 500,000 vehicles affected faces civil penalties and injunctive relief—says that it will fully cooperate and has launched its own external investigation; eager lawyers are ramping up for class action suits against the automaker; Volkswagen AG lost almost one-fifth of its market value on Monday; and some Volkswagen suppliers are also feeling a crunch.

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Volkswagen Group orders external investigation of emissions testing violations, pledges full support to EPA and ARB

September 20, 2015

On Friday, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (ARB) charged that, based on ARB testing, Volkswagen and Audi passenger cars equipped with 2.0L diesels have used a software defeat device to cheat on the results of NOx testing, and thus have violated the US Clean Air Act. (Earlier post.)

On Sunday, Volkswagen Group CEO Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn said that Volkswagen does “not and will not tolerate violations of any kind of our internal rules or of the law”, and said that the company “will cooperate fully with the responsible agencies, with transparency and urgency, to clearly, openly, and completely establish all of the facts of this case.” Volkswagen has ordered an external investigation as well.

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EPA and California ARB charge Volkswagen with using software defeat device to circumvent NOx testing in 4-cylinder 2.0L diesels

September 18, 2015

EPA has issued a notice of violation (NOV) of the Clean Air Act (CAA) to Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (collectively referred to here as Volkswagen). The NOV alleges that Volkswagen and Audi cars from model years 2009-2015 equipped with 2.0-liter, four-cylinder diesels include software (a “defeat device”) that circumvents EPA emissions standards for NOx. California is separately issuing an In-Use Compliance letter to Volkswagen, and EPA and the California Air Resources Board (ARB) have both initiated investigations based on Volkswagen’s alleged actions.

In response, Volkswagen said that it is cooperating with the investigation, and is unable to comment further at this time. VW may be liable for civil penalties and injunctive relief for the violations alleged in the NOV. The allegations cover roughly 482,000 diesel passenger cars sold in the United States since 2008. Affected diesel models include:

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National Academies release third review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership

September 14, 2015

The National Academies have released a third review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership (21CTP); the review follows the Phase 1 and Phase 2 reviews by the National Research Council in 2008 and 2012 (earlier post) and assesses the progress the partnership has made. The report highlights goals that have been achieved and identifies remaining issues that the partnership should continue to address.

The 21st Century Truck Partnership is a cooperative research and development (R&D) partnership comprising four federal agencies and 15 industrial partners. The Partnership aims to “accelerate the introduction of advanced truck and bus technologies that use less fuel, have greater fuel diversity, operate more safely, are more reliable, meet future emissions standards, and are cost effective.” To do so, it supports research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) that can lead to commercially viable products and systems. Its strategic approach includes:

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Ford at Frankfurt: Euro-spec Ford Edge diesels with up to 40.6 mpg; new Ranger pickup with 17% improvement in fuel efficiency

Ford will be introducing the Euro-spec version of its Edge SUV at the IAA in Frankfurt this week. The large SUV will be offered in Europe with a choice of 180PS 2.0-liter TDCi diesel engine with six-speed manual transmission, or 210 PS bi-turbo 2.0‑liter TDCi diesel with six-speed PowerShift automatic transmission. Ford said both powertrains will deliver up to 40.6 mpg US (5.8 l/100 km) fuel efficiency and 149g/km CO2 supported by Auto-Start-Stop technology.

The upscale Edge will join the Ford Kuga medium-sized SUV and EcoSport compact SUV to meet the demands of growing numbers of SUV customers in Europe. Ford expects to sell 200,000 SUVs in Europe in 2016—a 200% increase compared to 2013. (Earlier post.)

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Ford Europe leading project investigating DME and OME1 as low carbon, near zero particulate fuels; power-to-liquids pathways using CO2

September 12, 2015

Ford Motor Company is leading a €3.5-million (US$3.9-million) research project to investigate the use of alternative fuels that could offer customers the power and performance of modern internal combustion engines with environmental benefits comparable to an electric vehicle.

The German government is co-funding the three-year project that will test the first cars to run on dimethyl ether (DME) (earlier post), commonly used as a non-toxic propellant in aerosol spray gas, and monooxymethylene ether (OME1). (OME1 is made from methanol on a commercial scale and has a cetane number of 38; it can be mixed with additives to produce OME1a diesel fuel (CN 48).)

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Ensyn receives EPA regulatory approval for its cellulosic renewable diesel RFDiesel

September 11, 2015

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently granted Ensyn Corporation (earlier post) Part 79 registration for its renewable diesel product, RFDiesel. This registration, pursuant to Title 40 CFR Part 79 of the Clean Air Act, is required for the sale of RFDiesel in the US.

RFDiesel, a drop-in diesel transportation fuel, is created by processing Ensyn’s renewable crude (RFO), a liquid cellulosic feedstock, with customary petroleum feedstocks in conventional petroleum refineries (RFO Coprocessing). There, Ensyn’s RFO is used as a feedstock in Fluid Catalytic Crackers (FCCs). FCC units are found in most refineries worldwide and are used to produce gasoline and diesel from vacuum gas oil (VGO). When RFO is processed alongside VGO in FCC units at VGO displacement rates up to approximately 5%, RFO performs comparably to VGO on a volumetric basis producing spec gasoline and diesel.

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Achates Power proposes EPA/NHTSA medium- and heavy-duty engine standard require 15% decrease in fuel consumption and emissions

September 10, 2015

Achates Power, Inc., the developer of a family of efficient compression-ignition opposed-piston two-stroke (OP2S) engines (earlier post), proposed more stringent engine fuel efficiency and emission standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles at a recent public hearing held by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on “Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles – Phase 2”.

Earlier this year, NHTSA and EPA jointly announced the proposed Phase 2 standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. (Earlier post.) While these vehicles as a whole will have to curb fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by up to 24% between the 2018 and 2027 model years, the agencies are proposing separate engine standards requiring only a 4% decrease.

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Federal-Mogul Powertrain develops new high strength aluminium alloy material for automotive diesel pistons

September 03, 2015

Federal-Mogul Powertrain has developed a new premium diesel piston aluminium alloy: DuraForm-G91. In benchmarking tests, the new alloy—which will be on display at the IAA show later this month—provides between three and five times the component life of established as-cast materials in modern, highly loaded, diesel engines. The increased strength of the new material also supports higher mechanical loads, allowing engines to operate at higher specific power and more efficiently.

The enhanced alloy properties facilitate piston designs with a lower compression height and reduced mass. The resulting benefits of less reciprocating mass and smaller, lighter cylinder blocks contribute to vehicle CO2 emissions reduction.

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DLR-led NEMESIS 2+ project develops compact direct steam reformer for diesel/biodiesel to H2

September 02, 2015

The European NEMESIS 2+ consortium has and successfully tested a pre-commercial on-site system for the production of hydrogen from diesel and biodiesel. The prototype system—the size of a shipping container—can be integrated into existing infrastructure with relative ease.

The prototype, built by the Dutch project partner HyGear, produces 4.4 kilograms of hydrogen from 20 liters of biodiesel per hour—this roughly corresponds to the fuel tank of a B-Class F-cell vehicle. The efficiency of the process, from start to finish, is approximately 70%. (Original project goals were 50 Nm3/h, or 4.5 kg/h with an efficiency >80%.) The EU NEMESIS 2+ project, which ran until June 2015, was coordinated by the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

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UCL, BP team study on combustion and emissions characteristics of a range of fuel molecules from lignocellulosic biomass

September 01, 2015

A team from University College London and BP’s Fuels and Lubricants Research group has investigated the combustion and emissions characteristics of a range of fuel molecules which can be produced from lignocellulosic biomass through a variety of processing routes.

The researchers suggested that their results can be used to aid in selecting at what stage lignocellulose should be chemically modified so as to produce a viable biofuel molecule with optimal combustion characteristics and exhaust gas emissions. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

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Health Effects Institute to release Executive Summary of ACES new-technology diesel results this fall

August 21, 2015

The Health Effects Institute (HEI) it will publish an Executive Summary of the Advanced Collaborative Emissions Study (ACES) this fall. The Summary will be the synopsis and final publication from the program to characterize the emissions and assess the health effects of new-technology diesel exhaust (NTDE) from heavy-duty diesel engines that meet the 2007 and 2010 regulations enacted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (Earlier post.) HEI is an independent, non-profit research institute funded jointly by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the worldwide motor vehicle industry.

To meet new emissions limits, diesel-engine manufacturers developed new exhaust aftertreatment systems and the petroleum industry introduced new ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel needed to allow the new emissions controls to work. HEI—in collaboration with the Coordinating Research Council, a nonprofit organization with extensive expertise in emissions characterization—launched ACES in response to requests to characterize the emissions and health effects of NTDE.

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Propel Fuels expands retail sales of drop-in renewable diesel across Southern California; $2.59/gallon

August 13, 2015

Propel Fuels has expanded its sales of Diesel HPR (High Performance Renewable) to locations across Southern California. Utilizing Neste’s NEXBTL renewable diesel, Propel’s Diesel HPR is a low-carbon, drop-in renewable fuel that meets petroleum diesel specifications and can be used in any diesel engine.

Diesel HPR made its North American debut in March 2015 at 18 Propel stations across Northern California. (Earlier post.) In HPR’s first three months of sales, Propel has seen a 300% increase in gallons sold compared to its former biodiesel product (B20). Propel customers have also provided overwhelmingly positive feedback on the fuel, validating HPR’s performance and value to drivers, according to the company.

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Jeep Cherokee in Europe gains new 2.2L MultiJet II diesel

August 12, 2015

The Jeep Cherokee in Europe is adding a new 2.2-liter MultiJet II diesel engine, available with 185 hp (138 kW) and 200 hp (149 kW) outputs, and offering a significantly wider spread of torque from low rpm, greater power, improved performance and better fuel economy than the out-going two-liter 170 hp automatic engine. The new 2.2-liter Euro 6 compliant engine, appearing on an FCA model for the first time, joins the current 2.0L diesel 140 hp manual version in the Cherokee line-up.

Both power variants are available deliver 440 N·m (325 lb-ft) of peak torque. The 200 hp variant is available on Limited specification while the 185 hp is fitted on Cherokee Longitude and Longitude+ variants only. The engines are available only with Jeep’s segment-first nine-speed automatic gearbox, and are matched to the Active-Drive four-wheel-drive systems.

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UPS announces renewable diesel agreements with Neste, REG and Solazyme; up to 46M gallons over next 3 years

July 29, 2015

UPS announced agreements for up to 46 million gallons of renewable diesel over the next three years, constituting a 15-fold increase over prior contracts and making UPS one of the largest users of renewable diesel in the world.

Neste, Renewable Energy Group (REG) and Solazyme will supply renewable diesel to UPS to help facilitate the company’s shift to move more than 12% of its purchased ground fuel from conventional diesel and gasoline fuel to alternative fuels by the end of 2017. UPS has previously announced a goal of driving one billion miles with our alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles by the end of 2017.

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Chevrolet introduces Colorado Duramax Diesel midsize pickup

July 28, 2015

Chevrolet has introduced the diesel version (earlier post) of its 2016 Colorado midsize pickup truck. (Colorado is the 2015 Motor Trend Truck of the Year and’s Best Pickup Truck of 2015.) With 369 lb-ft of torque (500 N·m) generated by the all-new 2.8L Duramax turbo-diesel, the Colorado’s maximum trailering capacity rises to 7,700 pounds (3,492 kg) on 2WD models, with estimated fuel economy projected by GM to top the already segment-leading efficiency of the gas models (27 mpg (8.7 l/100 km) highway with 2.5L gasoline engine and automatic transmission).

It is also the cleanest diesel truck engine ever produced by General Motors. The new Colorado diesel goes on sales this fall, offered in LT and Z71 Crew Cab models, with 2WD or 4WD. It is priced $3,730 more than a comparably equipped 3.6L V-6 model.

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UMTRI study finds total cost of ownership of diesels in US often much less than gasoline counterparts

July 09, 2015

A comprehensive study of the total cost of ownership (TCO) of light- and medium-duty diesel passenger vehicles in the US has found that the total cost of ownership—depreciation, fuel costs, repairs, maintenance, insurance, and fees and taxes—is often much less for diesel vehicles as compared to gasoline versions of the same vehicles, mostly ranging from $2,000 to $7,000 over three to five years.

Bruce Belzowski, managing director of the U-M Transportation Research Institute's Automotive Futures group, compared thousands of gasoline and diesel versions of the same or nearly identical vehicles sold at auction in 2012-13, including Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen passenger cars and SUVs, and Chevrolet, Ram, Ford and GMC medium-duty pickup trucks.

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European automakers and fuel suppliers argue for diesel as they call on policy makers to accelerate fleet renewal

July 08, 2015

In an open letter to EU policy makers, leading representatives of the automotive and petroleum refining industry in Europe called on policy makers to help accelerate fleet renewal and the introduction of the cleanest vehicles and committed to keep pushing the technical boundaries in order to find ever better ways of combining the customer benefits of diesel—fuel economy and low CO2—with continuously reduced emissions.

The associations pointed out that political measures restricting the rollout of the new generation of diesel technology would undermine existing efforts to cut CO2 emissions.

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Volkswagen 2015 Golf TDI diesel tours all lower 48 states on 101.43 gallons; 81.17 mpg

A 2015 Golf TDI Clean Diesel has set a new Guinness World Records achievement for the “lowest fuel consumption—48 US contiguous States for a non-hybrid car” with an 81.17 mpg (2.9 l/100 km) performance. Traveling 8,233.5 miles (13,251 km) around the US in 16 days on $294.98 of Shell Diesel fuel, the Golf beat the previous mark of 77.99 mpg (3.01 l/100 km) by more than 3 mpg, and also beat the hybrid vehicle record of 74.34 mpg (3.16 l/10 km) by more than 6 mpg. The 2015 Golf TDI carries an EPA-estimated highway fuel economy rating of 45 mpg (5.22 l/100 km).

The record-setting Golf TDI, sporting Volkswagen of America’s 60th anniversary emblem, as well as logos from sponsors Shell, Goodyear, LG, Garmin and Linear-Logic, departed from Volkswagen of America’s headquarters in Herndon, Va., on 22 June. It returned on 7 July, having visited all 48 contiguous states.

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Honda diesel sets new Guinness record for fuel efficiency, averaging 83 mpg US in 8,387-mile drive across 24 EU countries

July 07, 2015

Honda has set a new Guinness World Records title for “Lowest fuel consumption – all 24 contiguous EU countries (all cars)”, recording an average 83 mpg US (2.82 l/100 km) over 8,387 miles (13,498 km), in a 25-day drive across all 24 EU contiguous countries. (Earlier post.) The car achieved an average 932 miles (1,500 km) on each tank of fuel, at a total fuel cost for the whole journey of just £459 (US$716).

Behind the wheel of a Honda Civic Tourer 1.6 i-DTEC for the entire journey were two members of Honda’s European Research & Development (R&D) team, Fergal McGrath and Julian Warren, who took on the challenge to further demonstrate the real-world fuel economy of the Tourer.

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Navigant forecasts global annual sales of LDVs of 122.6M by 2035, up 38% from 2015

July 06, 2015

In a new report, Navigant Research forecasts global annual sales of light duty vehicles will reach 122.6 million by 2035, up 38% from a projected 88.8 million this year, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.6%. Navigant Research expects the number of LDVs in use on roads worldwide to grow by 57.1% from 2015 to 2035 to almost 1.9 billion units.

Navigant expects sales of conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles will fall significantly over the forecast period, experiencing a CAGR of -6.6%. As a result, the share of vehicles in use that are conventional ICE vehicles will fall from more than 91% in 2015 to under 40% by 2035. Navigant expects ICE vehicles will be replaced by start-stop vehicles (SSVs), which will grow from representing more than 4% of vehicles in use in 2015 to nearly 49% in 2035. Hybrids (HEVs) are expected to account for nearly 3%, while PHEVs (plug-in hybrids), BEVs (battery-electric vehicles), NGVs (natural gas vehicles), PAGVs (propane autogas vehicles), and FCV (fuel cell vehicles) s together are projected to add up to more than 9% of the LDVs in use in 2035.

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Mercedes-Benz sets Pikes Peak diesel record with near-production C 300 d

June 30, 2015

Mercedes-Benz has set a new record for the diesels in the Pikes Peak hill-climb race with a near-production C 300 d 4MATIC. Test driver Uwe Nittel completed the 19.99 km (12.4-mile) route—which includes 156 bends with a change in altitude of 1439 meters (4,721 feet)—in just 11.37 minutes.

The 150 kW (204 hp) C 300 d 4MATIC (in Europe known as 250 d) fitted with a 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission competed in the hill-climb race in largely series-production configuration. As is customary for a racing car, the interior was cleared out. The modifications included the safety measures required by the regulations, such as a roll-over cage, racing tank, fire extinguishing system, enhanced brakes and ultra-high-performance tires (UHP).

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Volkswagen announces successful completion of 2-year drop-in renewable diesel evaluation with Solazyme and Amyris

June 29, 2015

Volkswagen of America announced the successful completion of its Renewable Diesel Evaluation Program in collaboration with Solazyme and Amyris. (Earlier post.) Beginning in 2012, Volkswagen measured the environmental impacts from the use of pre-commercial renewable diesel formulas with TDI Clean Diesel technology found in the 2012 Passat TDI (which uses a NOx storage system) and 2012 Jetta TDI (SCR system). Initial analysis found that advanced renewable fuels in the test offered comparable performance to standard crude-based diesel fuel blends while producing less CO2 emissions on average.

During the two-year evaluation, Solazyme’s now commercial Soladiesel RD (100% algae-derived renewable diesel fuel) and the Amyris plant-sugar-derived renewable diesel formula was used for the program with each company testing a 2012 Passat and Jetta TDI. Both fuel producers added additives, which are commonly used today, to meet ASTM D 975 specifications.

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Mercedes-Benz increases engine range for refreshed A Class compact

June 28, 2015

Mercedes-Benz increases engine range for refreshed A Class compact

With the refresh of its A-Class, Mercedes-Benz has increased the range of available engines. The A 160 with 75 kW (102 hp) is the new entry-level model. The new efficiency champion is the 80 kW (109 hp) A 180 d BlueEFFICIENCY Edition with an NEDC fuel consumption of 3.5 l/100 km (67 mpg US) and CO2 emissions of 89 g/km. Also new are the manual transmission versions of the dynamic models A 250 and A 250 Sport.

(Mercedes-Benz is using the A-Class model facelift as the opportunity to introduce the new nomenclature for the drive variants in this model series. While the gasoline models have no suffix, the small letter “d” replaces the previous “CDI”—for example, the A 200 CDI is now called the A 200 d.

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BorgWarner R2S two-stage turbo boosts performance of new top-end Ford 2.0L diesel

June 22, 2015

BorgWarner’s regulated two-stage (R2S) turbocharging technology is improving the performance and fuel economy of Ford’s new 2.0-liter TDCi diesel engine, the first Ford engine for passenger cars equipped with a two-stage turbocharging system. The high-performance engine, being offered in Mondeo, S-MAX and Galaxy models in Europe, achieves an output of 155 kW (210 PS) and a maximum torque of 450 N·m from 2000 rpm and will replace the 2.2-liter TDCi diesel engine.

BorgWarner’s R2S turbocharging technology consists of two turbochargers arranged in series to deliver improved torque and smooth power over the entire engine speed range. One compact KP35 high-pressure turbocharger generates boost pressure at low exhaust gas flow rates for rapid acceleration at low engine speeds without delay or turbo lag. As engine speed increases, the exhaust gas stream is split, and the larger K04 low-pressure turbocharger works in series with the KP35 high-pressure turbocharger.

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Boeing ecoDemonstrator 757 expands testing; green diesel blend, energy harvesting windows, 3D-printed flight deck component

June 20, 2015

Boeing announced the next phase in ecoDemonstrator 757 testing today, including its first flight with US-made “green diesel” (earlier post) and two new environment-related technologies. These developments advance the ecoDemonstrator program's mission to accelerate the testing and use of technologies to improve aviation's environmental performance.

In cooperation with NASA, the 757 flew on 17 June 17 from Seattle to NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., using a blend of 95% petroleum jet fuel and 5% sustainable green diesel, a renewable drop-in bio-hydrocarbon fuel meeting ASTM International’s standard for Diesel Fuel Oils (D-975). Boeing is working with the aviation industry to approve green diesel for commercial aviation by amending the HEFA (Hydroprocessed Esters And Fatty Acids) biojet specification approved in 2011.

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Toyota unveils new diesels with advanced thermal insulation combustion; 15% more fuel efficient, 25% more torque; 44% thermal efficiency

June 19, 2015

2.8-liter 1GD-FTV direct-injection turbo diesel engine. Click to enlarge.

Toyota has introduced a new line of turbodiesel engines with more torque, greater efficiency and lower emissions. The new GD engines feature Toyota’s next-generation advanced thermal insulation diesel combustion to reduce cooling loss significantly.

The use of Thermo Swing Wall Insulation Technology (TSWIN) helps make the 2.8-liter 1GD-FTV engine one of the most thermally efficient, with a maximum thermal efficiency of 44% (measured in-house). Despite smaller engine displacement in comparison to the current KD engine, maximum torque is improved by 25% and low speed torque improved by 11%, while fuel efficiency has received a 15% boost.

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Suzuki to partner with Proton in Malaysia; new 2-cylinder 0.8L diesel for compacts in India

June 16, 2015

Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC) will collaborate with the Malaysian national carmaker Proton Holdings Berhad. As the first step of the collaboration, SMC will supply KD (knocked down) components for a Suzuki model to Proton.

Proton will manufacture the model at its own plant, and distribute and sell the model under the Proton brand through its sales network in Malaysia. The first model will be a compact passenger car, to be manufactured at the PROTON Tanjung Malim plant from around August 2016. Other additional models will be mutually studied by Proton and SMC.

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Audi sets new lap record for diesels on Sachsenring; electric compressor overcomes turbo lag, enhances sprint performance

June 12, 2015

Audi has set a new record time on the Sachsenring for cars with a diesel engine. The Audi RS 5 TDI competition concept rounded the 3.6 km (2.2 mi) race course in a time of 1 minute 35.35 seconds. (According to, that time edges out the 1:35.53 results of a gasoline-fueled 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. The fastest lap on the Sachsenring was set this year by a 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z06 with a time of 1:30.47.)

The diesel technology platform draws its power from a 3.0-liter V6 biturbo TDI with 320 kW (435 hp) of power and 800 N·m (590 lb-ft) of torque. The highlight is an electrically driven compressor. (Earlier post.) The Audi RS 5 TDI competition concept is based on a technical concept car that Audi presented in summer 2014 on the 25th anniversary of the TDI engine. (Earlier post.)

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CMU study compares lifecycle GHGs of natural gas pathways for MHDVs; MD BEVs can deliver large reductions, but diesel hard to beat for Class 8

May 27, 2015

A study by Carnegie Mellon University researchers comparing life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from different natural gas pathways for medium and heavy-duty vehicles (MHDVs) found that the GHG reduction potentials of the pathways vary sharply between non-Class 8 MHDVs (e.g., pick-up trucks, parcel delivery trucks, and box trucks), Class 8 transit buses, and Class 8 MHDVs (e.g., refuse trucks and tractor-trailers).

Battery-electric (BEVs), LPG, and CNG pathways could reduce life cycle GHG emissions for non-Class 8 MHDVs compared to the baseline petroleum fuels. Similarly, BEVs achieve emission reductions for transit buses. On the other hand, none of natural gas pathways, CNG, LNG, and F-T liquids, achieve any emission reductions per unit of freight-distance moved for Class 8 trucks compared to conventional diesel. The study is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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Lifecycle study finds fuel switching from diesel to natural gas could produce net climate damage absent reductions in CH4 emissions and improved vehicle efficiency

May 20, 2015

A study by a team from the Environmental Defense Fund, in collaboration with a colleague from the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy at Columbia University has found that while switching a heavy-duty truck fleet from diesel to natural gas has the potential to produce climate benefits, realizing that potential would require a combination of significant reductions well-to-wheels methane emissions (i.e., addressing leakage) and efficiency improvements in the natural gas vehicles themselves. Otherwise, fuel switching can produce net climate damages (more radiative forcing) for decades.

The results, published in an open access paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, suggest that policymakers wishing to address climate change should use caution before promoting fuel switching to natural gas, the authors concluded.

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Volkswagen introduces new generation of EU6 TDI diesels for light-duty vehicles; 2.0 TDI BiTurbo offers avg. 14% reduction in fuel consumption

May 08, 2015

At the Vienna Motor Symposium, Jörn Kahrstedt, Head of Diesel Engine Development for the Volkswagen brand, presented the new EU6 TDI engine family for light-duty vehicles. The newly developed 2.0 TDI 4V engine, based on the modular diesel component system (MDB) (earlier post), makes its debut with the market launch of the new Multivan and Transporter models from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. The new family of engines is tailored to the requirements of commercial vehicles, while also extending the power range.

During development the focus was on a significant reduction in fuel consumption (by 14%, on average) while simultaneously meeting the EU6 emission limits, as well as a traction capacity oriented torque curve with a noticeable increase in driving performance for the customer. The top-of-the-range engine features a newly developed dual-stage turbocharger layout.

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Jaguar bringing XE diesel to US in 2016

April 29, 2015

The Jaguar US lineup will expand in 2016 with the addition of the all new, aluminum-intensive Jaguar XE compact sports sedan in 20d (diesel) and 35t models each in Premium, Prestige and R-Sport trim levels and available in RWD or AWD. The Jaguar XE will be offered with a lighter version of the ZF 8-speed automatic used in the rest of the Jaguar range.

The fuel economy leader will be the Jaguar XE 20d, powered by the company’s new Ingenium 2.0 liter diesel (earlier post) delivering 180 hp (134 kW) and 318 lb-ft (431 N·m) of torque. Mated with the eight-speed automatic transmission, the Jaguar XE 20d will be the brand’s most fuel efficient model (EPA figures to be released at later date).

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First integrated assessment of quality and yield of hydrocarbon blendstocks via biomass fast pyrolysis and hydrotreating

April 27, 2015

Researchers from three US national labs—Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)—have performed the first, fully integrated assessment of the quality and yield of common feedstocks from the field to hydrocarbon blendstock production using the fast pyrolysis-hydrotreating pathway. A paper describing the results is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

Among their findings was that the compositional parameters of the biomass feedstock affects both the bio-oil generated by fast pyrolysis as well as the final quantity and quality of the upgraded fuel blendstock. While some feedstocks—such as tulip poplar—generate a high yield of bio-oil, the bio-oil does not necessarily exhibit a high yield in the hydrotreater. Thus, the product yields and qualities of both fast pyrolysis and hydrotreating must be considered in comparing the conversion performance of different biofuel feedstock materials.

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Achates Power testing shows transient capabilities of opposed piston engine

Initial test results of the transient control and exhaust temperature management capability of Achates Power’s opposed piston (OP) two-stroke diesel engine show that under a typical transient maneuver—25% to 100% load step at low and constant engine speed—the engine can control both NOx and soot with a minimal torque lag. Test results also showed that the air system control flexibility and robust combustion system that Achates Power developed for the OP engine can be used to achieve high exhaust gas temperatures for a diesel engine at idle-like speeds and load, thereby assisting catalyst light-off.

The results follow a paper published earlier this year detailing steady-state testing results that showed the research 4.9L three-cylinder engine was able to achieve 43% brake thermal efficiency at the best point and almost 42% on average over the modes of the SET (Supplemental Emission Test) cycle. The results from this test confirmed the modeling predictions and pointed to a 48% best BTE and 46.6% average over the cycle for a production design of this engine, the Achates team concluded. With the latest paper Achates Power is exploring other critical attributes necessary to deliver a successful engine to the industry.

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Research facility in Dresden produces first batch of Audi e-diesel; sunfire’s power-to-liquid technology

April 21, 2015

A pilot plant in Dresden has started production of the synthetic fuel Audi e-diesel using water, CO2 and green power—i.e., power-to-liquid (PtL). After a commissioning phase of just four months, the research facility in Dresden started producing its first batches of high‑quality diesel fuel a few days ago. (Earlier post.)

The energy technology company sunfire is Audi’s project partner and the plant operator. The CO2 used is currently supplied by a biogas facility. In addition, initially a portion of the CO2 needed is extracted from the ambient air by means of direct air capturing, a technology of Audi’s Zurich‑based partner Climeworks.

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Jaguar introduces Gen 2, aluminum-intensive XF; up to 60 mpg US with diesel Ingenium engine

April 02, 2015

Jaguar has unveiled the second-generation, all-new Jaguar XF at the New York International Auto Show. The coupé-like design uses Jaguar’s aluminum-intensive (75% aluminum) architecture (earlier post) to enable weight savings of up to 190 kg (419 lbs)—making the 163PS diesel model 80 kg (176 lbs) lighter than the nearest competitor—plus an increase in torsional stiffness of up to 28%. The architecture also delivers improvements in packaging and proportions.

The powertrain range will consist of: 163PS (161 hp, 120 kW) and 180PS (178 hp, 132 kW) 2.0-liter diesel manual and automatic; RWD, 240PS (237 hp, 177 kW) 2.0-liter gasoline automatic; RWD, 300PS (296 hp, 221 kW) 3.0-liter diesel automatic; RWD and AWD, 340PS (335 hp, 250 kW) and 380PS (375 hp, 279 kW) 3.0-liter gasoline automatic. With fuel economy as low as 60 mpg US (3.94 l/100 km) (104 g/km CO2) on the European combined cycle from the Ingenium diesel (earlier post), the all-new XF delivers an improvement of almost 20% compared to its predecessor.

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Achates Power awarded $14M military single-cylinder engine project; partnering with Cummins

March 31, 2015

Achates Power, Inc., the developer of a family of two-stroke compression-ignition opposed-piston engines (earlier post), has been awarded a $14-million project by the National Advanced Mobility Consortium to support research and development work of the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC). The project is the Single Cylinder Advanced Combat Engine Technology Demonstrator, part of the Army’s 30-year strategy to modernize tactical and combat vehicles.

Achates has partnered with Cummins Inc. for the project. Together, their technologies will be used to further refine the opposed-piston engine for lower heat rejection, greater fuel efficiency, increased power density and the ability to operate on various fuels. The end goal is to deliver a product that improves the mobility and performance of combat vehicles.

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Cummins ATLAS light-duty diesel surpasses fuel economy targets, with criteria emissions lower than Tier 2/Bin 2

March 26, 2015

Cummins Inc. is showcasing the results of a four-year joint program with the US Department of Energy (DOE) at the Mid-America Trucking Show. The Advanced Technology Light Automotive Systems (ATLAS) program (earlier post) was initiated to develop a commercially viable diesel engine for the half-ton pickup truck market that is capable of meeting future Tier 2 Bin 2 emissions regulations and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and stringent greenhouse gas (GHG) requirements out to the year 2025.

The Cummins team not only surpassed all fuel-economy targets, but also achieved criteria emissions lower than the stringent Tier 2/Bin 2 levels.

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Audi revamps 2015 R18 e-tron quattro Le Mans diesel hybrid racer; 4MJ class

March 23, 2015

In the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and in the Le Mans 24 Hours as the season’s pinnacle event, Audi will compete with a thoroughly revised R18 e-tron quattro diesel hybrid racer in the 4-megajoule class. (Earlier post.) A two-fold quantity of hybrid energy, fundamentally revised aerodynamics, the next step in lightweight design and detailed optimization work characterize the fifth generation of the Audi R18.

Audi, the only manufacturer to date to have won the Le Mans 24 Hours with hybrid racers, has doubled the amount of energy recovered per race lap from 2 to 4 megajoules (MJ). During braking, energy is recovered which the system subsequently feeds back to the front axle on acceleration. The electrical machine that performs this task now delivers an output of more than 200 kW (272 hp)—a significant increase compared to last year. Therefore, Audi has increased the capacity of the energy storage system as well.

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EPA awards $8M in FY2014 clean diesel grants in 21 states, Puerto Rico

March 20, 2015

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $8 million to communities in 21 states and Puerto Rico to reduce emissions from the nation’s existing fleet of diesel engines through the agency’s Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) program. The grants will fund projects such as retrofitting older school buses to improve air quality for children riding to school, upgrading marine propulsion and agriculture engines, and replacing long haul truck engines.

The twenty-one projects will receive funding through the EPA’s DERA Fiscal Year 2014 allocation. The selected projects are cost-effective and will impact fleets operating in areas that will benefit from additional steps to protect air quality and public health.

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Cummins Emission Solutions introduces next-gen aftertreatment system EcoFit Single Module

March 19, 2015

EcoFit Single Module. Click to enlarge.

Cummins Emission Solutions, a subsidiary of Cummins Inc., will introduce the first of its next generation of ultra-high efficiency aftertreatment systems, the EcoFit Single Module, at the Mid America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky on 26 March.

The EcoFit Single Module is designed to be up to 60% smaller and 40% lighter compared to the EPA 2013 solution it supersedes, all while improving emissions reduction performance. The smaller size enables better heat management and retention for improved fuel economy capability, while the simple single-pass exhaust flow design delivers low back pressure, meeting the needs of end-user customers.

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First drive: Volkswagen 2015 Golf SportWagen

March 10, 2015

2015 Golf SportWagen. Click to enlarge.

With the entry of the new 2015 Golf SportWagen, Volkswagen of America is bringing some dynamic and reasonably priced fuel-efficient verve to the non-luxury wagon segment in the US. The Golf SportWagen replaces the Jetta SportWagen with a slightly larger, definitely sportier and more dynamic vehicle that is a clear member of Volkswagen’s award-winning Golf family. Equipped with the new EA288 2.0L TDI diesel, the SportWagen can offer up to 43 mpg (5.47 l/100 km) on the highway—matching the fuel economy rating of the 2015 BMW 328d xDrive Sports Wagon, currently the highway fuel economy leader among the wagon segment, according to

VW of America is hosting a media drive in a rainy Austin, Texas this week to introduce the new model. (Earlier post.) Although currently only offered with FWD (an AWD version is slated for next year, according to Volkswagen), the Golf SportWagen stayed glued to the rain-slick roads in the hills around Austin even through climbing and dipping curves at speeds well exceeding posted limits. The lower profile and center of gravity compared to an SUV, combined with the powertrain, suspension and chassis, give the SportWagen a nimble and secure feel even in nasty weather.

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Navy researchers produce 100% bio-derived high-density renewable diesel and jet by blending sesquiterpanes with synthetic paraffinic kerosene

March 06, 2015

A team at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD) at China Lake has produced 100% bio-derived high-density renewable diesel and jet fuels by blending multicyclic sesquiterpanes with a synthetic paraffinic kerosene (5-methylundecane). The resulting renewable fuels have densities and net heats of combustion higher than petroleum-based fuels while maintaining cetane numbers high enough (between 45 and 57) for use in conventional diesel engines.

The team said that its results show that full-performance and even ultra-performance fuels can be generated by combining bio-derived sesquiterpanes and paraffins. All components can be generated from biomass sugars by a combination of fermentation and chemical catalysis which may allow for their production at industrially relevant scale, they noted. An open access paper on the work has been accepted for publication in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

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Neste Oil now the world’s largest producer of renewable fuels from waste and residues

March 05, 2015

Over the last few years, Neste Oil has become the world’s largest producer of renewable fuels from waste and residues. In 2014, the company produced nearly 1.3 million tonnes (1.6 billion liters, 423 million gallons US) of renewable fuel from waste and residues. In practical terms, this is enough to power for two years all the 650,000 diesel-powered passenger cars in Finland with NEXBTL renewable diesel manufactured from waste and residues.

Examples of Neste Oil’s waste and residue-based raw materials include animal and fish fats; used cooking oil; and various residues generated during vegetable oil refining such as palm fatty acid distillate (PFAD) and technical corn oil. These raw materials accounted for 62% of Neste Oil’s renewable inputs in 2014 (52% in 2013, 35% in 2012).

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Toyota introduces facelifted Auris; revamped powertrains including new Otto/Atkinson 1.2L gasoline engine

March 04, 2015

At the Geneva Motor Show, Toyota introduced the facelifted Auris. With the launch of the Auris Hybrid in 2010, Toyota became the first manufacturer to offer a choice of three powertrains (gasoline, gasoline-electric hybrid, and diesel) in the C-segment.

Reflecting both changes in the highly-competitive C-segment market and Toyota customer feedback, the 2015 Auris range features significant improvements in five key areas: Design; Sensory Quality; the Hybrid model; Safety; and, improving the model’s segment coverage by some 40%, Powertrains. As part of the change, an all-new, 1.2 liter direct injection turbocharged engine from Toyota’s new family of efficient engines announced last year (earlier post) joins the existing gasoline line-up.

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Audi introduces Q7 e-tron quattro diesel PHEV SUV at Geneva; 138 mpg US

March 02, 2015

Audi introduced the Q7 e-tron quattro plug-in hybrid (earlier post) at the Geneva show. The Q7 e‑tron quattro is Audi’s second vehicle featuring a plug‑in hybrid drive system, and the first diesel plug-in hybrid with quattro drive in its segment.

Powered by the 17.3 kWh, liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack, the large SUV covers up to 56 kilometers (34.8 mi) on electric power alone. Together with the diesel engine, the car can cover a total distance of 1,410 kilometers (876.1 miles). According to the ECE standard for plug‑in hybrid vehicles, the Audi Q7 e‑tron quattro needs only 1.7 liters of diesel fuel per 100 kilometers (138.4 US mpg) and has a CO2 emission level of less than 50 grams per kilometer (80.5 g/mi).

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California approves sale of DME as compression-ignition engine fuel

February 27, 2015

The California Department of Food and Agriculture has approved specifications for dimethyl ether (DME) used as fuel in compression ignition engines. (The Department of Food and Agriculture Division of Measurement Standards has the responsibility for establishing and enforcing the quality standards for spark- and compression-ignition engine fuels sold in California. These include gasoline, diesel fuel, and other fuels such as biodiesel and hydrogen.)

This latest approval builds on earlier approvals and ongoing work by other regulatory bodies, including the US Environmental Protection Agency, the California Air Resources Board, and ASTM International, and will help accelerate commercial adoption of this low carbon fuel, commented Oberon Fuels, a California-based company that is the first to produce fuel-grade DME in North America. (Earlier post.)

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Audi introducing Audi prologue Avant diesel plug-in hybrid show car at Geneva; 147 mpg, wireless charging

February 25, 2015

At the Los Angeles Auto Show, Audi presented the Audi prologue concept car, featuring a mild hybrid powertrain with a 48V electrical subsystem. (Earlier post.) At the upcoming Geneva show, Audi will show a new variant of the prologue—the Audi prologue Avant—featuring a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Both prologue variants provide a view into coming Audi design language, as well as the technology experience inside and outside.

The Audi prologue Avant uses technology which is close to series production. It is equipped with the plug‑in diesel hybrid drive from the Audi Q7 e‑tron quattro (earlier post)—which achieves even higher performance in the show car.

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New 2016 Range Rover Evoque with new Ingenium diesel will deliver up to 56 mpg; Geneva debut

February 23, 2015

Land Rover will stage the world debut of the MY 2016 Range Rover Evoque. Equipped with the EU6-compliant, four-cylinder Ingenium diesel (earlier post), the new Evoque will be the most efficient production Land Rover yet, with fuel consumption as low as 4.2 l/100 km (56 mpg US) and CO2 emissions of 109 g/km.

The all-aluminium 2.0-liter Ingenium TD4 engine, 20-30 kg (44-66 lbs) lighter than its predecessor with stiff cylinder blocks and decoupled injectors ensuring low levels of vibration and noise intrusion, is available in two power outputs: 150 PS (148 hp, 110 kW) (eD4 2WD) offering the 4.2 l/100km fuel consumption level, while the 180 PS (178 hp, 132 kW) unit offers 4.8 l/100km (49 mpg US) and CO2 emissions from 125g/km. The 150PS unit is 18% more fuel efficient compared to the Evoque’s previous diesel engines.

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Study: natural gas heavy-duty trucking fleet could benefit economy, but has mixed environmental effects

February 20, 2015

Switching from diesel fuel to natural gas may hold advantages for the US heavy-duty trucking fleet, but more needs to be done to reach the full environmental benefits, according to a new white paper released by the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, and Rice University.

The recent shale-driven emergence of natural gas as an abundant, inexpensive fuel in the US has raised the possibility of a “momentous shift” in the level of natural gas used in transportation. The cost advantage of natural gas over diesel fuel is particularly appealing for vehicles with a high intensity of travel and thus fuel use. In the paper, the team investigated the possibility that natural gas could be utilized to provide fuel cost savings, geographic supply diversity and environmental benefits for the heavy-duty trucking sector—and whether it can enable a transition to lower carbon transport fuels.

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ICCT reviews real-world tractor-trailer fuel economy in US, China and Europe

February 15, 2015

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has published a new paper reviewing and summarizing data on commercial vehicle sales and real-world fuel consumption for heavy-duty tractor-trailers in the three key markets of the US, China and Europe, which together account for more than 70% of HDV sales worldwide.

The review found that in the US, average tractor-trailer fuel consumption rates for the entire fleet are approximately 39 L/100 km (6 mpg). For the newest US models, fuel consumption is typically between 33 and 36 L/100 km (6.5–7 mpg). A fleet-wide analysis done for the European Commission estimates tractor-trailer fuel consumption at roughly 31 L/100 km (7.6 mpg), while tests of individual vehicles done by trucking magazines suggest somewhat higher average rates of consumption at approximately 36 to 38 L/100 km (6.5 to 6.2 mpg). Chassis dynamometer testing performed as part of the regulatory development process in China reveals that tractor-trailers seem to have much higher fuel consumption rates, on average, than in the US and the EU, with laboratory results yielding an average of 44 L/100 km (5.4 mpg).

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BMW introduces 2 Series Gran Tourer; up to 60 mpg US

February 12, 2015

BMW has introduced the new BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer, a premium compact model. At 4,556 millimeters long, 1,800 mm wide and 1,608 mm high, the 2 Series Gran Tourer accommodates up to seven people while additionally offering a load compartment that extends from 645 to 1,905 liters in the five-seater and from 560 to 1,820 liters in the seven-seater variant.

Five three- and four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines will be available from market launch of the new BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer, all featuring the latest BMW TwinPower Turbo technology. In addition to the four-cylinder liter gasoline engine in the BMW 220i Gran Tourer and the three-cylinder in the BMW 218i Gran Tourer, three diesel units round off the engine portfolio available at market launch. They include the four-cylinder diesel in the BMW 220d xDrive and BMW 218d Gran Tourer as well as the three-cylinder diesel in the BMW 216d Gran Tourer.

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New Opel Corsa diesel with only 82 g/km CO2, 75.8 mpg

January 28, 2015

1.3 CDTI four-cylinder only uses 3.1 l/100 km. Click to enlarge.

Opel’s new Corsa three-door equipped with 70 kW/95 hp 1.3 CDTI ecoFlex diesel with Start/Stop technology fitted as standard, braking energy recuperation and low-rolling-resistance tires combined with the new Easytronic 3.0 transmission can reduce CO2 emissions to 82 grams per kilometer.

Fuel consumption is down to 3.1 liters per 100 kilometers (75.8 mpg US) for the combined cycle, making the new Corsa the most economical Opel presently on the market and the most economical diesel available. Sales in Germany begin in March.

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HEI ACES study of lifetime animal exposure to New Technology Diesel Engine exhaust finds no lung cancer

January 27, 2015

The first study to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of lifetime exposure to new technology diesel exhaust (NTDE)—i.e., exhaust from heavy-duty diesel engines meeting EPA 2007 and later emissions requirements—has found no evidence of carcinogenic lung tumors. The Advanced Collaborative Emissions Study (ACES), released today by the Health Effects Institute (HEI), also confirmed that the concentrations of particulate matter and toxic air pollutants emitted from NTDE are more than 90% lower than emissions from traditional older diesel engines (TDE). (Earlier post.) HEI is an independent, non-profit research institute funded jointly by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the worldwide motor vehicle industry.

The study exposed laboratory rats 80 hours a week, for up to 30 months, to emissions from a heavy-duty diesel engine meeting 2007 US EPA standards using new filters and other control technology. The study evaluated the long-term effects of multiple concentrations of inhaled NTDE in male and female rats on more than 100 different biologic endpoints, including tumor development, and compared the results with biologic effects seen in earlier studies in rats after exposure to TDE.

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DOE to award $55.8M for advanced vehicle technologies; $35M for fuel cell and hydrogen

January 22, 2015

US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced a new Vehicle Technologie program-wide funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001201) for $55.8 million. DOE also announced up to $35 million to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies, including enabling the early adoption of fuel cell applications, such as light duty fuel cell electric vehicles. This new funding opportunity announcement will be available in early February.

The Vehicle Technologies funding is targeted at a wide range of research, development, and demonstration projects that aim to reduce the price and improve the efficiency of plug-in electric, alternative fuel, and conventional vehicles. Topics addressed include: advanced batteries (including manufacturing processes) and electric drive R&D; Lightweight materials; Advanced combustion engine and enabling technologies R&D; and Fuels technologies (dedicated or dual-fuel natural gas engine technologies).

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New Opel diesels for Mokka and Insignia

1.6 CDTI with 100 kW/136 hp for Opel Mokka. Click to enlarge.

Opel is introducing two new generation four-cylinder Opel diesels for Mokka and Insignia: the 1.6-liter CDTI (also seen in Astra and Meriva) in the Mokka and a 125 kW/170 hp 2.0-liter CDTI in the Insignia. The engines, which already meet the Euro 6 standards that will be compulsory from September, are another important step in the roll-out of Opel’s new powertrain portfolio.

The all-aluminum 1.6-liter CDTI for the Mokka sub-compact SUV will replace the 1.7 CDTI. The new engine gives more power and torque—up 6 hp and 20 N·m, respectively—from a smaller displacement, as well as significantly lower fuel consumption. The 1.6 CDTI in the 100 kW/136 hp version reaches 85 hp per liter—unrivaled in its displacement class, according to Opel—and delivers torque of 320 N·m.

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BMW and Total begin field tests of AdBlue pumps in Germany

January 21, 2015

In Germany, BMW and Total have officially begun the field testing of AdBlue pumps installed at three fueling stations in Munich and Berlin. AdBlue, used in Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) NOx aftertreatment systems for modern diesels, is stored in an auxiliary tank in the car. The AdBlue filler neck is found underneath the fuel filler flap or in the engine compartment, depending on the BMW diesel model.

The pump is in lieu of a separate hand-held container of AdBlue, as currently used. Both parties expect to gain new insights into the practice of fueling the auxiliary AdBlue tanks from the field tests—especially from a customer perspective. The experience from the field trial will be used further to develop the AdBlue dispenser technology and to ensure the best user experience, the companies said.

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Cummins 5.0L V8 Turbo Diesel debuts in new 2016 Nissan Titan XD pickup

January 12, 2015

2016 Nissan Titan XD Cummins 5.0L V8 Turbo Diesel. Click to enlarge.

Nissan’s new 2016 Titan XD full-size pickup, which made its debut at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, was also the platform for the debut of the first vehicle installation of the all-new Cummins 5.0L V8 Turbo Diesel engine. Nissan and Cummins have worked together on optimizing a calibration and specific hardware for the Cummins 5.0L V8 Turbo Diesel since the partnership began in 2007. (Earlier post.)

The next-generation Nissan TITAN expands Cummins presence in the North American pickup market from heavy-duty trucks to now extending to serve the light-duty segment. The new TITAN XD engine features more than 70% parts commonality with the commercial variant of the Cummins ISV5.0 engine family, which includes vehicles with 30,000-pound gross vehicle weight ratings. The 5.0L V8 Turbo Diesel stands alone between the smaller and larger diesel offerings in the pickup market.

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Land Rover bringing two diesel SUVs to N. America; 32% better combined fuel economy, up to 28 mpg on highway; LEV 3

January 11, 2015

Land Rover will offer the option of diesel powertrains in two 2016 model year luxury SUVs: the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. The Range Rover Td6 and Range Rover Sport Td6 SUVs will deliver 25 mpg (9.4 l/100 km) combined, a 32% improvement over the supercharged V6, and reach a high of 28 mpg (8.4 l/100 km) on the highway. The two new luxury diesel SUVs are making their debut at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit and go on sale Fall 2015.

The 3.0-liter Td6 turbocharged V6 diesel engine delivers 254 horsepower (189 kW) and a low-end torque output of 440 lb-ft (597 N·m). Peak torque arrives at 1,750 rpm in the Td6 while the gasoline V6 produces its 332 lb-ft (450 N·m) at 3,500 rpm. This high torque output at low RPM makes the diesel Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models particularly well suited to towing heavy loads and off-roading where reaching maximum torque at low RPM is extremely beneficial.

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UBC study associates exposure to diesel exhaust with changes in DNA methylation

January 09, 2015

As an organism lives and grows, chemical reactions activate and deactivate parts of its genome at strategic times and in specific location. (Epigenetics is the study of these reactions.) DNA methylation—a chemical process in which a methyl group is added to cytosine primarily in the context of a cytosine-guanine dinucleotide (CpG)—is one of several epigenetic mechanisms that cells use to control gene expression.

While changes in DNA methylation have been associated with traffic-related air pollution in observational studies, the specific mechanisms have not been explored in a controlled study of asthmatics. In an open access study published in the journal Particle and Fibre Toxicology, a team from the University of British Columbia investigated the short-term effects of diesel exhaust inhalation on DNA methylation levels at CpG sites across the genome in circulating blood in asthmatics.

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Advanced furoate esters biofuel company xF Technologies appoints Tom Stephens to board

January 07, 2015

xF Technologies Inc., developer of a family of low cost, renewable furoate esters (xF) for use as oxygenating blend components (5%-20%) in both gasoline and diesel fuels, as well as heating oil and other specialty applications, has appointed former GM Vice Chairman and Chief Technology Officer Tom Stephens as an independent director of the Company, effective immediately. (xF calls its family of molecules “408”—a phonetic play on furoate.)

xF’s continuous production technology uses common materials (steel and plastic) at moderate operating conditions to convert a biomass feedstock into a chemical intermediate that is subsequently combined with an alcohol to form the furoate ester product. The technology allows the production of numerous products depending on the type of or mixture of alcohols. These products exhibit fuel properties similar to each other and are named for the primary alcohol used in their production. For the four smallest chain alcohols, the resultant products are called Methyl 408, Ethyl 408, Isopropyl 408 and Butyl 408.

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ORNL study finds multi-mode RCCI can offer 15%+ fuel economy improvements across multiple light-duty driving cycles

January 05, 2015

Drive cycle fuel economy for PFI, CDC, and multi-mode RCCI operation. Credit: Curran et al. Click to enlarge.

A team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has added to the growing body of work exploring the applications and benefits of reactivity-controlled compression ignition (RCCI) by simulating the fuel economy and emissions for a multi-mode RCCI–enabled vehicle operating over a variety of US drive cycles using experimental engine maps for multi-mode RCCI; conventional diesel combustion; and a 2009 port-fuel injected gasoline engine. Their paper is published in the International Journal of Engine Research.

Among their findings were that multi-mode RCCI has the potential to offer greater than 15% fuel economy improvement over a 2009 gasoline PFI baseline over many light-duty driving cycles, despite the lack of complete drive cycle coverage for RCCI mode. Fuel usage over the drive cycles showed that nearly equal amounts of gasoline and diesel fuel would most likely need to be carried on board for RCCI multi-mode operation, which requires two fuels. During RCCI-only operation, fuel usage was found to be between 57 and 69% gasoline.

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Volvo’s new Electric Hybrid (PHEV) buses with overhead fast charging enter scheduled service in Hamburg for first time; Innovation Route 109

December 19, 2014

New Volvo Bus 7900 Electric Hybrid (plug-in hybrid) buses (earlier post) began scheduled operation in Hamburg on 18 December, coinciding with the opening of the Innovation Route 109. The public transport company in Hamburg, the Hamburger Hochbahn AG, is using the route to run comparative tests of innovative drive technologies under the strict everyday conditions of scheduled services. The city of Hamburg intends to acquire only emission-free buses from 2020 on.

Alongside three Volvo 7900 Electric Hybrid buses, Volvo’s diesel hybrid buses in both 18 m articulated and 12 m versions will also be tested on the route, as well as battery fuel cell buses and fuel cell buses from other manufacturers.

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CCFA counters Paris mayor’s proposed total diesel ban with suggestion to focus on legacy fleet

December 16, 2014

The Comité des Constructeurs Français d’Automobiles (CCFA) (the French automobile manufacturers association) characterized the recent declaration by Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, that she wished to eliminate diesel vehicles in the city by 2020 as lacking realism, and suggested that the best solution to improve urban air quality requires taking action on the more heavily polluting legacy fleet.

Mayor Hidalgo described her anti-pollution plan, which will be considered by the Conseil de Paris (the assembly governing the city) on 9 February, to the weekly Le Journal du Dimanche (leJDD) on 6 December. Among the elements of the plan are a total ban on diesel in Paris in 2020; the Rue de Rivoli and the Champs-Élysées to be dedicated to ultra-low emission clean vehicles; and the four districts of the center to be transformed into vast semi-pedestrian areas.

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Renault & partners show research prototypes: 2-cyl. 2-stroke diesel, 48V mild-hybrid diesel, delivery EV

December 13, 2014

POWERFUL two-cylinder, two-stroke diesel. Click to enlarge.

At its recent Innovations@Renault event, the France-based automaker presented three research prototypes developed in tandem with its partners as cooperative projects: a mild-hybrid diesel produced as part of the HYDIVU (Hybrid Diesel for LCVs); a two-cylinder, two-stroke diesel from the POWERFUL (POWERtrain for FUture Light-duty vehicles) project (earlier post); and an electric light commercial van developed as part of the du VELUD (Electric Vehicle for Sustainable Urban Logistics) project.

HYDIVU is a 48V mild-hybrid diesel solution to bring down consumption and emissions in LCVs. The objective of this project is to reduce the consumption of LCVs for business customers who travel long distances. Developed on the base of the Renault Master, this prototype is fitted with a powertrain that integrates an electric motor (mild hybridization), Twin-turbo technology and a downspeeding design. The combination of these three technologies results in a in a fuel consumption saving of up to 10% when used over long distances.

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Audi introducing 2nd-gen Q7 SUV at NAIAS; e-tron quattro diesel PHEV model; 2nd gen MLB

December 12, 2014

The new Q7. Click to enlarge.

Audi will present the new second-generation Audi Q7 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. In addition to other advances in drivetrain, chassis, lightweight construction, assistance systems and infotainment systems, the new Q7 will also offer an e-tron quattro version: the first plug-in hybrid with a six-cylinder diesel engine and quattro all-wheel drive. The new Audi Q7 also marks the debut of the second-generation modular longitudinal platform (MLB), the Audi technology matrix for models with longitudinally mounted engines, said Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi Board Member for Technical Development.

The Audi Q7 e-tron quattro all-wheel drive diesel plug-in hybrid will consume just 1.7 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (138.4 mpg US), corresponding to less than 50 grams CO2 per kilometer (80.5 g/mi). The lithium-ion battery pack in the Q7 e-tron quattro stores 17.3 kWh of energy, enabling a range of up to 56 kilometers (34.8 mi) in all-electric mode.

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Achates Power secures fifth OEM contract for opposed-piston 2-stroke CI engines; 3-cylinder configurations under test

December 09, 2014

Achates Power, Inc., the developer of a family of efficient compression-ignition opposed-piston two-stroke (OP2S) engines (earlier post) has secured another contract with a leading global OEM. With this contract, the company has five concurrent customers the contracts for which encompass five different engine applications: passenger vehicle, light commercial vehicle, heavy commercial vehicle, military and marine/stationary power.

Achates Power’s engine allows OEMs to achieve the most stringent current and future fuel efficiency and emissions standards—including EPA 2010, Euro 6 and Tier 3/LEV 3—without additional cost or complexity. During 2014, Achates Power’s annual revenue has increased by more than 300%. The company has customers located in the US, Japan, Europe, China and India and its current engine programs range from 45 hp to more than 5,000 hp.

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Haldor Topsøe ECO-Jet wins award; reducing soot, HC and heavy metal emissions from ships powered by bunker fuel

December 05, 2014

Haldor Topsøe A/S has won the Danish Engineering Product Award 2014 (in Danish Ingeniørens Produktpris 2014) for its new ECO-Jet solution. The product is a newly developed catalytic process capable of reducing emission of harmful substances such as soot, hydrocarbons and heavy metals from ships powered by bunker fuel, also known as fuel oil.

Particulate filter systems are developed for diesel engine exhaust with a relatively low sulfur and ash content. These systems can not be employed for maritime engines fueled with bunker oil, which contains very heavy hydrocarbons and polyaromatic compounds and is heavily contaminated with compounds which do not burn and end up as ash in the exhaust.

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Boeing conducts world’s first flight with 15% blend of NExBTL renewable diesel as aviation biofuel

December 04, 2014

Boeing has completed the world’s first flight using “green diesel,” a renewable, drop-in hydrocarbon biofuel that is widely available and used in ground transportation. The company powered its ecoDemonstrator 787 flight test airplane with a blend of 15% NExBTL renewable diesel from Neste Oil and 85% petroleum jet fuel in the left engine. (Neste Oil can also produce a NExBTL synthetic paraffinic kerosene as a discrete, and already approved, commercial aviation fuel.)

Boeing previously found that renewable diesel is chemically similar to HEFA (hydro-processed esters and fatty acids) aviation biofuel approved in 2011. With a renewable diesel production capacity of 800 million gallons (3 billion liters) in the US, Europe and Asia, the on-road fuel could rapidly supply as much as 1% of global jet fuel demand. With a wholesale cost of about $3 per gallon, inclusive of US government incentives, green diesel approaches price parity with petroleum jet fuel.

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Toyota Motor to consolidate development and production of diesel engines under TICO; manual transmissions under Aisin Seiki; brake systems under Advics

November 29, 2014

Toyota Industries Corporation (TICO) and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) will consolidate their joint diesel engine development and production under the control of TICO. The purpose of this decision is to strengthen the competitiveness of both companies by bringing the development and production of diesel engines under one roof and enabling more efficient allocation of resources.

Further, Toyota is consolidating development and Japanese production of manual transmissions under Aisin Seiki subsidiary Aisin AI Co., Ltd. and will accelerate the consolidation of brake system engineering, manufacturing and sales under Advics, which was founded in July 2001 by Aisin Seiki, Denso, Sumitomo Electric, and TMC. (TMC, TICO, Aisin Seiki and Denso are part of the Toyota Group.)

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New Mercedes-Benz compact CLA Shooting Brake; up to 60 mpg

November 26, 2014

Mercedes-Benz is introducing a Shooting Brake version of its CLA compact coupé. The CLA Shooting Brake (length/width/height: 4630/1777/1435 mm) will initially be available with a choice of two diesel and three gasoline engines—all equipped as standard with the ECO start/stop function and Euro 6-compliant—as well as with 4MATIC all-wheel drive. It goes on sale in January 2015, with the first models going to customers towards the end of March 2015.

Two years ago, with the CLS Shooting Brake, Mercedes-Benz created a sports car with five seats and a large tailgate. (Earlier post.) The CLA Shooting Brake takes the elegant Shooting Brake design into a smaller model. The new CLA Shooting Brake is the latest member of Mercedes’ successful compact range, which now includes five models. A total of 375,000 A-, B-, CLA- and GLA-Class vehicles were sold in the first ten months of 2014.

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Tsinghua team devises in-cycle control method for diesel LTC using detection of Start of Combustion

November 25, 2014

Low temperature combustion (LTC) refers to a broad range of in-cylinder combustion strategies for the reduction of NOx emissions from diesel combustion; NOx is formed primarily by a thermal mechanism, which production rates increasing exponentially with temperature. LTC strategies reduce combustion temperatures by the dilution of the in-cylinder combustible mixtures, either with excess charge gas to create more fuel-lean mixtures, or with moderate to high levels of EGR.

However, challenges remain in diesel low temperature combustion implementation due to combustion inconsistency or instability. To address this, a team from Tsinghua University has devised an in-cycle combustion feedback control method based on the detection of the Start of Combustion (SOC) in diesel LTC. A paper describing their method is published in the journal Applied Energy.

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Audi offers two new 3-cylinder engines in refreshed A1: 1.0 TFSI and MDB 1.4 TDI diesel for A1 ultra

November 14, 2014

Audi A1. Click to enlarge.

Since their introduction on the market in 2010, the Audi A1 and A1 Sportback have sold more than 500,000 units worldwide. Audi is now refreshing its A1 models, including the offer of six engines—gasoline and diesel—that are new or that have been intensively further developed.

For the first time, Audi is offering completely new three-cylinder engines: the 1.0 TFSI gasoline engine and the 1.4 TDI diesel. The 1.4 TDI follows the 2.0L 4-cylinder engine as the second engine in the Volkswagen Group’s modular diesel engine platform (MDB). (Earlier post.) Power output—ranging from from 66 kW (90 hp) to 141 kW (192 hp)—has been increased in most engines, while fuel economy has been reduced by as much as 10% percent. The seven-speed S tronic is available for all engines, either optional or standard (with the 1.8 TFSI).

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Ensyn begins generation & sale of cellulosic biofuel RINs under RFS2

November 09, 2014

Ensyn has initiated the generation and sale of its first RINs (Renewable Identification Numbers) under the US Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) (earlier post); Ensyn’s D7 cellulosic RINs have received QAP certification. Ensyn is the first company to generate cellulosic RINs under the US Environmental Protection Agency’s expanded definition of Heating Oil under RFS2, which became effective in December 2013. Ensyn believes it is now the leading producer of cellulosic D7 RINs in 2014.

D7 RINs are generated by Ensyn by displacing petroleum heating fuels (including #6, #4 or #2 diesel fuel oil) in customers’ boilers with Ensyn’s RFO (Renewable Fuel Oil) produced via Ensyn’s RTP (Rapid Thermal Processing) fast pyrolysis technology. (Earlier post.) RFO is a cellulosic biofuel produced from non-food solid biomass including forest residues. RFO is used to displace petroleum fuels in heating operations and is also a renewable feedstock for conventional petroleum refineries for the production of gasoline and diesel.

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Researchers in POWERFUL develop new two-stroke diesel featuring low consumption and low criteria emissions

November 04, 2014

Two-stroke diesel in test car. Click to enlarge.

A European project led by Renault, in collaboration with the Czech Technical University in Prague, IFP Energies Nouvelles, Delphi, Le Moteur Moderne (LMM) and Universitat Politècnica de València have developed an advanced two-cylinder, two-stroke compression ignition (CI) engine integrating LTHC (low temperature homogeneous combustion) as part of the European project POWERFUL (POWERtrain for FUture Light-duty vehicles).

The €25-million (US$31-million) FP7 project, which ended in June, also supported two other engine projects: an advanced four-stroke two-cylinder SI engine concept characterized by low-cost / low emissions; and an advanced four-stroke, three-cylinder CI engine concept able to run also on new tailored fuels and integrating the LTC (low temperature combustion) mode in the CI combustion system.

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Neste Oil seeking California LCFS approval for gutter oil to renewable diesel pathway

October 26, 2014

Among four new California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) fuel pathway applications is a used cooking oil (gutter oil) to renewable diesel (NExBTL) pathway from Neste Oil at its Singapore plant. (Boeing and COMAC are opening a demonstration facility in China to convert gutter oil to renewable aviation fuel. Earlier post.)

Neste Oil Singapore Pte Ltd. produces approximately 250 million gallons annually of drop-in renewable diesel (RD)—i.e., not biodiesel—using a hydrogenation process and multiple oil and fat feedstocks. Neste has also filed applications for renewable diesel pathways for California (all from its Singapore plant) using Southeast Asian rendered fish oil (earlier post); New Zealand tallow (earlier post); North American tallow (earlier post), and Australian tallow (earlier post). Of the five RD pathways proposed so far, the gutter oil pathway has the lowest carbon intensity.

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EPA researchers find widespread use of nano cerium diesel fuel additives could have measurable impact on air quality

October 21, 2014

Predicted surface-level concentrations of cerium due to use of nCe diesel fuel additives. Credit: ACS, Erdakos et al. Click to enlarge.

Results of a modeling study by researchers from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggest that widespread use of nanoparticulate cerium (nCe) diesel fuel additives across the US would have a measurable effect on regional air quality.

The model calculations suggest modest decreases of average PM2.5 concentrations and relatively larger decreases in particulate elemental carbon (EC). On average, across the 14-day winter and summer periods modeled, the percent change in EC exceeds that of PM2.5 by a factor of 5 in urban areas. As EC is a short-lived climate forcer, the reduction in EC concentrations has potential policy implications.

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Ford investing $306M more at Dagenham for new generation of 2.0L diesels; LCVs from 2016 and cars from 2018

October 20, 2014

Ford is investing an additional £190 million (US$306 million) at its Dagenham London site to produce a family of all-new advanced 2.0-liter diesel engines (code-named Panther) in a wide range of outputs due to be applied in commercial vehicles starting in 2016 and in cars starting in 2018. (Earlier post.) This investment includes £8.9 million (US$14.3 million) from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund. Ford is creating 318 new jobs connected with this investment.

The announcement confirms the second phase of investment in the new engine program following the original investment of £287 million (US$462.3 million) for phase one with support from the UK Government’s Regional Growth Fund. The first phase of investment relates to the production of low-carbon 2.0-liter diesel engines for Ford commercial vehicles (CVs) globally. The second phase is for low-carbon, 2.0-liter diesel engines for passenger cars.

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ICCT study finds real-world NOx emissions from Euro 6 diesels ~7x higher than Euro 6 regulatory levels

October 12, 2014

On-road NOxemission levels of Euro 6 diesel cars in Europe are on average about seven times higher than the NOx limit set by the Euro 6 emission standard, according to a new report published in Berlin by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). The study follows another recent ICCT report showing that the gap between official and real-world fuel-economy figures in Europe has risen to about 38%. (Earlier post.)

The latest study—the most comprehensive report on the real-world behavior of the latest generation of diesel cars published to date—found “remarkable” differences among individual vehicle models, indicating that technologies for real-world clean diesels already exist but are not being employed consistently by different vehicle manufacturers.

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2015 VW Jetta TDI: a more refined, powerful and efficient diesel within a nicely redesigned model line

October 07, 2014

2015 Jetta TDI Static 1
2015 Jetta TDI. Click to enlarge.

The Jetta is Volkswagen’s current best selling car in the US; total 2014 Jetta sales through September were 115,055 units, or 42.5% of Volkswagen USA total sales. In addition, its diesel version is the top selling passenger car diesel in the market here, with about 29% share, according to figures compiled by Baum & Associates and

For 2015, Volkswagen has refined the entire sixth-generation Jetta lineup, endowing the compact with a crisper exterior design which also improves aerodynamics; an updated interior; a number of newly available driver assistance systems; and, significantly for the diesel model, the new 2.0T TDI Clean Diesel EA288 engine (earlier post) with an EPA-rated highway fuel economy rating of 46 mpg with the manual transmission (45 mpg automatic). Volkswagen’s refreshed 2015 Jetta is now in showrooms in the US.

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Neste Oil de-emphasizing microbial oil R&D for renewable diesel; seeking other uses for cellulosic biomass

Neste Oil, the producer of NExBTL renewable diesel, is realigning its long-term R&D and switching from an emphasis on research into the production of microbial oil as a feedstock for NExBTL renewable diesel and renewable jet fuel (earlier post) to other areas of technology for using cellulosic forestry and agricultural waste, due in part to feedstock cost issues.

Despite the decision to de-emphasize microbial oil, Neste Oil emphasized that cellulosic waste will continue to play an important role in its research strategy, adding that it remains committed to its goal of further extending its feedstock base and making greater use of waste and residues in this area in particular.

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Swedish Energy Agency grants PowerCell $1.4M loan for the development of next-generation fuel cell APU system

October 06, 2014

The Swedish Energy Agency has granted fuel cell technology company PowerCell, a spinout from the Volvo Group (earlier post), a loan of SEK 10 million (US$1.385 million) for the development of the next generation PowerPac APU (auxiliary power unit) system, which converts diesel fuel into electricity via a system comprising a catalytic reformer and fuel cells. The next-generation unit covers a larger power range up to 25 kW and maintains the same tolerance towards CO and reformate gas as the present platform.

The PowerCell system comprises three modules: the fuel reformer; the fuel cell stack; and the power electronics. PowerCell selected an Auto Thermal Reactor (ATR) technology to evaporate (not combust) the diesel and extract hydrogen-rich gas with gas purity well within the limits of what a low temperature PEM fuel cell can support in terms of CO.

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