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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.]

EIA Annual Energy Outlook explores implications of behavior and demographics on light-duty vehicle energy demand

April 18, 2014

Light-duty VMT is beginning to decouple from traditional drivers. Source: EIA. economic Click to enlarge.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) is in the process of staging the release of the full Annual Energy Outlook 2014 (AEO2014), its annual report on projected energy use and analysis of select energy topics. The roll-out began on 7 April and will conclude on 30 April. Included in AEO2014 is a set of eight “Issues in Focus” articles, exploring topics of special significance, including changes in assumptions and recent developments in technologies for energy production and consumption.

The most recent of these In Focus articles explores the impact of demographics and behavior on light-duty vehicle (LDV) energy demand. LDVs accounted for 61% of all transportation energy consumption in the United States in 2012—8.4 million barrels of of oil equivalent per day—and represented nearly 10% of world petroleum liquids consumption. LDV energy use is driven by both LDV fuel economy and travel behavior, as measured by vehicle miles traveled (VMT). LDV VMT per licensed driver peaked in 2007 at 12,900 miles per year and has since decreased to 12,500 miles in 2012.

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EPA: US greenhouse gases dropped 3.4% in 2012 from 2011; down 10% from 2005 levels

April 16, 2014

US greenhouse gas emissions by gas. Source: EPA. Click to enlarge.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its 19th annual report of overall US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, showing a 3.4% decrease in 2012 from 2011. The Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, which is submitted annually to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, presents a national-level overview of annual greenhouse gas emissions since 1990.

Total emissions of the six main greenhouse gases in 2012 were equivalent to 6,526 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. These gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride. According to the report, GHG emissions in 2012 showed a 10% drop below 2005 levels, and were only slightly above the emissions in 1994 (6,520 million metric tons).

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2015 VW Jetta to debut at New York Show; new EA288 diesel version already LEV3/Tier 3 compliant

April 14, 2014

2015 Jetta. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen is presenting the world premiere of the redesigned 2015 Jetta sedan at the 2014 New York International Auto Show. In addition to its three four-cylinder gasoline engines (2.0-liter naturally aspirated and 1.8T and 2.0T TSI Gen 3 turbocharged EA888 engines) and the a 1.4-liter turbocharged full hybrid version, the new Jetta offers the new EA288 2.0-liter diesel (earlier post).

The 2.0-liter 150-horsepower (112 kW) EA288 TDI Clean Diesel engine offered in the 2015 Jetta already conforms to the upcoming LEV3/Tier 3 emissions standard (earlier post) in the USA. Compared to the previous engine, the efficiency of this new generation TDI was improved by another 8%. The Jetta TDI Clean Diesel with a manual transmission delivers a manufacturer-estimated 32 city/45 highway mpg (7.35/5.23 l/100 km); its combined fuel economy is projected to be around 37 mpg (6.36 l/100 km).

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World Bank/ICCT report provides guidance to reducing black carbon emissions from diesels in developing countries

Historical Trends in Black Carbon Emissions from Surface Transportation (teragrams of black carbon per year). Source: Minjares et al. Click to enlarge.

The World Bank has published a report, undertaken by a team from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), intended to inform efforts to control black carbon emissions from diesel-based transportation in developing countries. The report proposes approaches for integrating black carbon emission reduction considerations in cost-benefit assessment and applies an analytic framework to four simulated projects to illustrate the associated opportunities and challenges at a project level.

The transportation sector accounted for approximately 19% of global black carbon emissions in the year 2000, according to the report. Road transportation accounted for 9% of global black carbon, with diesel engines responsible for nearly 99% of those emissions. In the near term, black carbon emissions from mobile engines are projected to decline as a consequence of policies implemented in the US, Canada, Europe, and Japan. However, black carbon emissions are projected to increase in the next decade as vehicle activity increases, particularly in East and South Asia.

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IPCC: GHG emissions accelerating despite mitigation efforts; major institutional and technological change required to keep the heat down

April 13, 2014

Decomposition of the decadal change in total global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion by four driving factors; population, income (GDP) per capita, energy intensity of GDP and carbon intensity of energy. WG III Summary for Policymakers. Click to enlarge.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a policymaker’s summary of Working Group III’s (WG III) latest report showing that despite a growing number of climate change mitigation policies, annual anthropogenic GHG emissions grew on average by 1.0 giga tonne carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2eq) (2.2%) per year from 2000 to 2010 compared to 0.4 GtCO2eq (1.3%) per year from 1970 to 2000. Total anthropogenic GHG emissions were the highest in human history from 2000 to 2010 and reached 49 (±4.5) GtCO2eq/yr in 2010. The global economic crisis 2007/2008 only temporarily reduced emissions.

The increase in anthropogenic emissions comes directly from energy supply (47%); industry (30%); transport (11%); and buildings (3%) sectors, the WG reported with medium confidence. Globally, economic and population growth continue to be the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion.

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LMU study finds 20% of gases from combustion of R1234yf MAC refrigerant consist of highly toxic carbonyl fluoride (correction and update)

April 11, 2014

Chemists at Ludwig Maximilians Universität München report that 20% of the gases produced by the combustion of R1234yf—the approved low global warming potential refrigerant for mobile air conditioning (MAC) systems, the adoption of which has met with resistance from German automakers (earlier post)—consist of the highly toxic chemical carbonyl fluoride.

Carbonyl fluoride is structurally related to phosgene (which contains chlorine in place of fluorine), which was used as a chemical weapon during the First World War. Kornath and his co-workers have just published the results of their investigation in the journal Zeitschrift für Naturforschung B.

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European Court of Auditors finds 2/3 of EU-funded transportation projects underutilized

A report published by the European Court of Auditors (ECA)—the official institution that audits EU finances—found that two-thirds of urban transport projects co-financed by EU structural funds are underutilized. Weaknesses in project design and inadequate mobility policy were two of the main contributory factors identified.

The EU auditors analysed the performance of 26 public urban transport projects in 11 cities in five Member States. For each project, the audit team met the relevant stakeholders involved in implementing the audited projects. The auditors also physically visited the co-financed facilities, and the operating and maintenance centres. They found that overestimation of users and the lack of coordination between modes of transport, parking policy and the absence of urban mobility plans contributed to underutilization.

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ERTRAC publishes roadmap on energy carriers and powertrains; role for power-to-gas

April 07, 2014

Main technology trends and the vision share of engines in Europe. [ERTRAC / EUCAR] Click to enlarge.

The European Road Transport Research Advisory Council (ERTRAC) has published a new roadmap assessing energy carriers and powertrains in the context of the European target to achieve a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions from transport by 2050. ERTRAC is the European Technology Platform (ETP) for Road Transport recognized and supported by the European Commission. ERTRAC has more than 50 members, representing all the actors of the Road Transport System: transport industry, European associations, EU Member States, local authorities, European Commission services, etc.

The analysis concludes that while the goal is challenging, it is also realizable; however the overall high-level goals need to be segmented into precise targets for the different industries and stakeholders. For the topic of future road mobility these are the development of alternative and decarbonized fuels and energy carriers; and higher powertrain efficiency leading to cleaner mobility and reduction in resource demand.

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NRC report offers guidance on development of Phase 2 rules to reduce fuel consumption and GHG from medium-and heavy-duty vehicles; more natural gas and aerodyanamics, expanded lifecycle considerations

April 03, 2014

Expanding the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel and greater use of aerodynamic devices on trailers are among the 17 overarching strategies recommended by a new National Research Council report for reducing fuel consumption by tractor-trailers, transit buses, commercial vehicles, trucks, and other medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (MHDVs).

The report follows a 2010 Research Council report the findings and recommendations of which informed the “Phase I Rule” on fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles issued jointly by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and US Environmental Protection Agency. (Earlier post.) The new report offers guidance for the “Phase II Rule” under development, which is directed at technologies and programs in the post-2018 time frame. (Earlier post.) The committee will expand upon this new work and issue a final report in 2016 that will cover a broader range of technologies and approaches that address the 2025-2030 time frame.

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Full lifecycle CO2 of new Mercedes C-Class 10% less than outgoing model

March 31, 2014

CO2 emissions of the C 180 in comparison to its predecessor [t/car]. Source: Mercedes-Benz. Click to enlarge.

Over the course of its entire life cycle—from its manufacture through 200,000 kilometer of driving to its recycling—the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class (earlier post) produces around 10% fewer CO2 emissions than its predecessor at the time of its market exit (compared to the time of its launch in 2007 the improvement is much higher, at around 28%). The C 180 (115 kW) with manual transmission was taken as the base variant of the new C-Class at market launch for the lifecycle analysis; it was compared with the corresponding preceding model. The analysis was validated by TÜV SÜD Management Service GmbH.

Over the entire lifecycle of the C 180, the lifecycle analysis yields a primary energy consumption of 521 gigajoules (corresponding to the energy content of around 16,000 liters of gasoline); an environmental input of approx. 35 tonnes of CO2; around 19 kilograms of non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC); around 25 kilograms of nitrogen oxides (NOx); and 37 kilograms of sulfur dioxide (SO2). For CO2 emissions—and likewise for primary energy consumption—the use phase dominates with a share of 78 and 74% respectively.

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DOE awards $17M to FY 2014 SBIR Phase II projects; includes Si/graphene anodes, motor windings, exhaust treatments

The US DOE recently awarded $17 million to 17 FY 2014 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II projects to further develop Phase I projects and to produce a prototype or equivalent within two years. The selected 17 awards represent the best of nearly 1,000 ideas submitted for the FY 2012/13 Broad Based Topic Solicitation, DOE said.

The selected projects include 6 vehicle-related technologies and 2 hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, as well as new hydropower, heat pump, solar and manufacturing technologies. Vehicle technologies span a range from new Si/graphene Li-ion anode materials and composites for motor windings to diesel aftertreatment and advanced lubricants. Selected vehicle and hydrogen technology projects are:

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Engine testing shows environmental and performance benefits of hydrotreated vegetable oil as renewable diesel fuel

March 25, 2014

Comparison of power loss and fuel consumption among BD, HVO and iso-HVO. Source: Kim et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers in South Korea from SK Innovation and Chungbuk National University compared the engine and emissions performance of 16 different blends of petro-diesel, biodiesel (BD), hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO, i.e., drop-in renewable diesel); and iso-HVO (isomerized-hydrotreated vegetable oil) on an engine dynamometer and chassis dynamometer with a 1.5-liter diesel engine and passenger car.

The results, reported in a paper in the journal Fuel, show that iso-HVO has much better engine performance than BD and slightly better than HVO, but slightly worse than petro-diesel. On the emissions side, iso-HVO and HVO blended diesel emit less THC and CO than BD, even though iso-HVO blended diesel emits similar level of NOx and PM to blended BD. All three kinds biofuels at 50% blend ratios showed a decrease of particle concentrations at all size ranges compared to petro-diesel.

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WHO links 7 million premature deaths annually to air pollution; 12.5% of total global deaths

The World Health Organization now estimates that in 2012 around 7 million people died—one in eight (12.5%) of total global deaths—as a result of air pollution exposure. This new estimate more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk, according to WHO, which is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system.

WHO says that the new data reveal a stronger link between both indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure and cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and ischemic heart disease (an insufficient supply of blood—and thus oxygen—to the heart), as well as between air pollution and cancer. This is in addition to air pollution’s role in the development of respiratory diseases, including acute respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.

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Study finds lubricating oil the dominant source of primary organic aerosol from both diesel and gasoline vehicles

March 20, 2014

Comparison plot showing mass fractions (Fm) of chemically characterized components of lubricating oils and POA. Credit: ACS, Worton et al. Click to enlarge.

Findings from a study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and Berkeley National Laboratory suggest that lubricating oil is the dominant source of primary organic aerosol (POA) from both gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. Unburned diesel fuel makes an additional smaller contribution, with an additional smaller contribution from unburned gasoline. A paper on the work is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Motor vehicles are major sources of organic carbon emissions, with implications for human health and air quality, especially in urban areas. The emitted organic carbon is in the form of both primary particulate matter (PM) and gas phase organic compounds of a wide range of volatilities that can be oxidized in the atmosphere to form secondary organic aerosol (SOA). (Earlier post.) The majority of fine PM from vehicles is carbonaceous in the form of either black (BC) or organic carbon, the latter of which is directly emitted as primary organic aerosol (POA).

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Joint Research Centre review concludes no serious risk in use of R1234yf MAC refrigerant under normal and foreseeable conditions

March 07, 2014

A scientific review of research regarding the safety aspects of the use of refrigerant R1234yf in Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) systems, published by the European Commission, concludes that there is no evidence of a serious risk in the use of this refrigerant in MAC systems under normal and foreseeable conditions of use.

The review, carried out by Europe’s Joint Research Centre, provided an in-depth analysis of testing and a subsequent report on the refrigerant’s safety by KBA (Kraftfahrt Bundesamt, the German authority responsible for market surveillance and product safety for road vehicles) in order to ascertain whether the results stemming from the tests were well founded and supported by a rigorous and scientific methodology.

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EPA finalizes Tier 3 fuel and emissions standards

March 03, 2014

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its Tier 3 emission standards for gasoline sulfur content; evaporative emissions; and tailpipe emissions from passenger cars, light-duty trucks, medium-duty passenger vehicles, and some heavy-duty vehicles. EPA had issued the proposed standards last March. (Earlier post.)

The Tier 3 standards, which come into effect starting in 2017, consider the vehicle and its fuel as an integrated system. The gasoline sulfur standard will make emission control systems more effective for both existing and new vehicles, and will enable more stringent vehicle emissions standards since removing sulfur allows the vehicle’s catalyst to work more efficiently. The Tier 3 standards are also closely coordinated with California’s LEV III standards as well as with EPA’s and California’s programs for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from light-duty vehicles.

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KSPG awarded $342M in contracts for new compact EGR valve

February 26, 2014

Compact EGR valve. Click to enlarge.

Pierburg GmbH, a member of the KSPG Group, has been awarded contracts worth a lifetime total of €250 million (US$342 million) for a newly developed compact exhaust-gas recirculation valve. (Earlier post.) Ordered by European and North American automakers, the valve will be installed in engines designed to comply with the Euro 6 emission norm.

The valve recently became a standard feature from a German premium carmaker. The other valves ordered will be installed in 2014 and 2015 when certain new engines go into production at the European and US plants of further manufacturers. With its comparatively compact footprint, the valve takes into account the continuous shrinkage of engine space on present car ranges.

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Obama directs EPA and DOT to develop and issue next phase of fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by March 2016

February 18, 2014

President Obama has directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) to develop and to issue the next phase of medium- and heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards by March 2016. Under this timeline, the agencies would issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) by March 2015.

This second round of fuel efficiency standards will build on the phase 1 standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (model years 2014 through 2018) issued in 2011. (Earlier post.) Under the phase 1 program, trucks and buses built in 2014 through 2018 will reduce oil consumption by a projected 530 million barrels and greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution by approximately 270 million metric tons.

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Study concludes that NG leakage higher than reflected in inventories; transportation fuel climate benefits questioned

February 14, 2014

A review of 20 years of technical literature on natural gas (NG) emissions in the United States and Canada comprising more than 200 papers has concluded that official inventories consistently underestimate actual CH4 emissions due to leakage from the natural gas system. “Atmospheric tests covering the entire country indicate emissions around 50 percent more than EPA estimates,” said lead author Adam Brandt at Stanford University. The study, which is authored by researchers from seven universities, several national laboratories and federal government bodies and other organizations, is published in the journal Science.

Among the other high-level findings of the review are that (i) the natural gas and oil sectors are important contributors to the leakage; (ii) many independent experiments suggest that a small number of “superemitters” could be responsible for a large fraction of leakage; (iii) recent regional atmospheric studies with very high emissions rates are unlikely to be representative of typical natural gas system leakage rates; and (iv) assessments using 100-year impact indicators show system-wide leakage is unlikely to be large enough to negate climate benefits of coal-to-NG substitution.

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Chevy buying carbon credits from US colleges; new formula helps fund campus energy-efficient projects

February 12, 2014

Chevrolet is investing in clean energy efficiency initiatives of US colleges and universities through its voluntary carbon-reduction initiative. The funding opportunity is open to all US universities and colleges; a campus determines whether its performance in reducing carbon emissions will qualify based on new methodologies that Chevrolet developed through the Verified Carbon Standard.

To develop the new methodologies, Chevrolet worked with an advisory team led by the Climate Neutral Business Network with support from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, the US Green Building Council and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

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Calif. ARB releases GHG scoping plan update; more ZEVs, “LEV IV”, MD and HD regulations; ZEV for trucks; more LCFS

February 11, 2014

The California Air Resources Board released the draft proposed first update to the AB 32 Scoping Plan, which guides development and implementation of California’s greenhouse gas emission reduction programs. The Air Resources Board is required to update the Scoping Plan every five years.

Among the actions proposed or considered in the transportation sector include aggressive implementation of the light-duty Zero Emission Vehicle standard; LEV IV emissions regulations for the light-duty fleet post-2025 (GHG reductions of about 5% per year); Phase 2 GHG regulations for medium and heavy-duty (MD and HD) vehicles; a possible ZEV regulation for trucks; more stringent carbon reduction targets for the Low Carbon Fuel Standard; and others.

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Brunel engineers optimizing CAI combustion in 2-stroke camless gasoline DI engine

February 10, 2014

Operating range of 2-stroke CAI fueled with gasoline, E10 and E85. Zhang et al. (2013a) Click to enlarge.

Researchers at Brunel University in the UK, led by Professor Hua Zhao, Head of Mechanical Engineering and Director, Centre for Advanced Powertrain and Fuels (CAPF), are investigating optimizing the performance of controlled autoignition (CAI) combustion in a four-valve camless gasoline direct injection engine running in a two-stroke cycle. Most recently, this has entailed an exploration of boosting strategies, as described in a new paper published in the International Journal of Engine Research, as well as an exploration of the effects of ethanol blends.

Controlled autoignition (e.g., homogeneous charge compression ignition, HCCI) combustion processes offer the promise of simultaneously reducing fuel consumption and NOx emissions. Accordingly, the processes have been extensively researched over the last decade and adopted on prototype gasoline engines (e.g., GM’s ongoing work, earlier post).

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New study suggests reported PAH emissions in oil sands region greatly underestimated

February 04, 2014

Results from a new modeling assessment of contamination in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region (AOSR) suggest that officially reported emissions of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in that region have been greatly underestimated.

The study, which was carried out by University of Toronto Scarborough Environmental Chemistry professor Frank Wania and his PhD candidate Abha Parajulee, is published as an open access paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

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State Department releases Keystone XL Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

February 01, 2014

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

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

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

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Study finds butanol-gasoline blends effective to control soot from CI engines under Low Temperature Combustion

January 31, 2014

(Left) Thermal efficiency and (right) soot from different gasoline-butanol blends at different EGR rates. Yang et al. Click to enlarge.

A study by a team at Tianjin University found that the addition of n-butanol to gasoline for use in a compression ignition engine (CI) under Low Temperature Combustion (LTC) conditions has a significant effect on soot reduction. The peak soot value of a 30% butanol blend (B30) was 85% lower than that of pure gasoline; the EGR rate that corresponds to the peak value of soot is also decreased with the higher n-butanol fraction. Their study is published in the journal Fuel.

Partially Premixed Combustion involving the injection of gasoline fuel into CI engines is being explored by other researchers as a means to reducing simultaneously NOxand soot emissions. High octane fuels such as gasoline are preferred for high-efficiency and clean combustion at high engine loads, the Tianjin researchers note.

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DNV GL paper suggests near-term success for LNG in shipping; alternative fuel mix to diversify over time

January 29, 2014

Well-to-Propeller GHG emissions results for marine alternative fuels. Source: DNV GL. Click to enlarge.

DNV GL has released a position paper on the future alternative fuel mix for global shipping. While LNG is expected to be an early success, the picture becomes more diversified over time, as more than 20% of shipping could adopt hybrid propulsion solutions featuring batteries or other energy storage technologies, according to the paper.

DNV and GL merged in September 2013 to form DNV GL—the world’s largest ship and offshore classification society, the leading technical advisor to the global oil and gas industry, and a leading expert for the energy value chain including renewables and energy efficiency. According to DNV GL, the main drivers for the use of alternative fuels in shipping in the future can be classified in two broad categories: (a) Regulatory requirements and environmental concerns, and (b) availability of fossil fuels, cost and energy security.

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New ceramic hollow fiber substrate for catalytic converters cuts fuel consumption, size and manufacturing costs

January 28, 2014

A new ceramic hollow fiber substrate for catalytic converters designed by Dr. Benjamin Kingsbury and colleagues at Imperial College London could cut the size and precious metal loading of the devices in automobiles while reducing fuel consumption and and manufacturing costs. Kingsbury has founded MicroTech Ceramics Ltd. as a spin-out to commercialize the technology.

The new structure can achieve a 2-3% fuel saving in engines (through the elimination of backpressure), or offer high performance cars an equivalent increase in engine power. It also enables the size of catalytic convertors to be reduced by around 50%, offering engine and exhaust system designers greater freedom. The new substrate can use up to 80% less rare metal, a development that could significantly reduce costs for vehicle manufacturers.

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Report argues advanced HD natural gas vehicles foundational for California to hit air and climate goals; near zero-emission potential

Five technology paths for very-low-NOx and GHG emissions from heavy-duty natural gas engines. Click to enlarge.

Gladstein, Neandross & Associates (GNA), a consulting firm specializing in market development for low emission and alternative fuel vehicle technologies, infrastructure, and fuels for both on- and off-road applications, released a report examining the critical role that ultra-low-emission heavy-duty (HD) natural gas engines can play in helping California achieve its air quality, climate protection and petroleum-displacement goals.

The “Pathways to Near-Zero-Emission Natural Gas Heavy Duty Vehicles” report, authored by GNA on behalf of Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas), showcases the technologies currently under development that could deliver near-zero-emission heavy-duty natural gas engines by the end of this decade.

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DOE to award $49.4M for advanced vehicle technologies research; meeting Tier 3 emissions

January 22, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award $49.4 million to projects to to accelerate research and development of new vehicle technologies. The new program-wide funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0000991) (earlier post), was announced by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz at the Washington Auto Show.

The funding opportunity will contains a total of 13 areas of interest in the general areas of advanced light-weighting; advanced battery development; power electronics; advanced heating, ventilation, air conditioning systems; advanced powertrains (including the ability to meet proposed EPA Tier 3 tailpipe emissions standards); and fuels and lubricants. These areas of interest apply to light, medium and heavy duty on-road vehicles.

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Study first to quantify amount of US pollution resulting from Chinese manufacturing for exports

January 21, 2014

Average annual percentage of black carbon pollution related to Chinese exports. Credit: Lin et al. Click to enlarge.

Chinese air pollution blowing across the Pacific Ocean is often caused by the manufacturing of goods there for export to the US and Europe, according to findings of a new study to be published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

China is responsible for only a small percentage of the annual pollution in the US, but powerful global winds known as “westerlies” can push airborne chemicals across the ocean in days, particularly during the spring, causing dangerous spikes in contaminants. Dust, ozone and carbon can accumulate in valleys and basins in California and other Western states.

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Study finds engines emit exhaust nanoparticles even when not fueled during engine braking

January 19, 2014

Exhaust particle size distributions measured by ELPI (color map) and particle concentration measured by CPC (white line) during individual engine braking conditions (speed change from 32 km/h to 0 km/h). The starting point of engine braking is marked by a vertical green line, and the end point is marked by a vertical red line. The exhaust sample was taken from the exhaust manifold. Credit: ACS, Rönkkö et al. Click to enlarge.

A new study finds that as much as 20–30% of the number of vehicle engine exhaust particles larger than 3 nm may be formed during engine braking conditions—i.e., during decelerations and downhill driving while the engine is not fueled. However, the authors note, these particles have not been taken into account in emission regulations and in the assessment of associated health risks.

The study by researchers in Finland and Greece, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, suggests that both the characteristics of these particles and the mechanism by which they form seem to differ significantly from those of soot and nucleation particles. The study also indicates that the particles were non-volatile, formed before the catalyst, and originating from engine oil. Results thus indicate that the emissions of engine braking particles can be reduced using exhaust particle filtration systems.

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Dearman liquid air engine moving into performance mapping, in-vehicle trials; diesel hybrid potential

January 17, 2014

The Dearman liquid air engine—an innovative heat engine that uses liquid air (or liquid nitrogen) as a “fuel” and emits cold air as exhaust (earlier post)—completed its shakedown testing milestone at the end of 2013 at Imperial College, London, and is moving into a three-month program of tests and performance mapping.

The developer, Dearman Engine Company (DEC), confirms that the engine remains on track for integration and installation on a vehicle by MIRA (Motor Industry Research Association) in the first half of this year. The project—in partnership with MIRA, Air Products and Loughborough University and jointly funded by the consortium partners and the UK Government (IDP8)—will demonstrate and test the Dearman Engine on a refrigerated truck providing zero-emission cooling and power during 2014, before moving to full on-road field trials.

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Mayor of London: all new London taxis will need to be zero-emission capable from 2018

January 16, 2014

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced plans that would require all new taxis presented for licensing in the capital to be zero-emission capable from 1 January 2018, with the expectation that they will automatically operate in zero-emission mode while in areas where the capital’s air quality is at its worst—such as parts of central London.

The Mayor confirmed his plan at Transport for London’s (TfL’s) “New Taxis for London” event, at which he met five manufacturers developing zero emission capable taxis—Frazer-Nash, Nissan, Karsan, London Taxi Company and Mercedes-Benz. The new zero-emission capable taxis being developed include both plug-in full series hybrid vehicles and full electric models.

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Comprehensive modeling study finds electric drive vehicle deployment has little observed effect on US system-wide emissions

January 15, 2014

The results of a new, comprehensive modeling study characterizing light-duty electric drive vehicle (EDV) deployment in the US over 108 discrete scenarios do not demonstrate a clear and consistent trend toward lower system-wide emissions of CO2, SO2, and NOx as EDV deployment increases.

As explained in their paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, the researchers from North Carolina State Univesity and the University of Minnesota found that, while the scenario parameters can influence EDV deployment—even to a most extreme scenario of adoption—this EDV deployment does not in turn produce a discernible effect on total system-wide emissions. There are three reasons for this lack of observed effect, they concluded: (1) at present the overall share of emissions from the LDV sector is only 20% of US CO2 emissions; (2) EDV charging can still produce comparable emissions to conventional vehicles depending on the grid mix; and (3) the effect of other sectors on emissions is significant.

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Audi using supplementary port fuel injection to address particulates from gasoline direct injection

January 14, 2014

Elements of the dual injection system. Red is for the high-pressure direct injection system, blue for the low pressure MPI system. Credit: Audi. Click to enlarge.

The 2.0-liter EA888 Gen3 engine featured in Audi’s all-road shooting brake plug-in hybrid concept unveiled at the North American International Auto Show this week (earlier post) features—as does its production ilk—a dual injection system that combines direct injection with indirect injection into the intake manifold. In part-load operation, the indirect injection supplements direct gasoline injection to improve fuel economy and to reduce the output of particulates from the engine. (Earlier post.)

Audi says the approach is sufficient to meet Euro 6 particle limits without the use of a particulate filter. (Earlier post.) The EU has set a standard for 6 × 1012 number/km limits between 2014 and 2017, tightening to 6 × 1011 number/km. (Earlier post.)

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FTA to award up to $24.9M to low- or no-emissions transit bus projects

January 10, 2014

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the availability of $24.9 million of Fiscal Year 2013 funds (FTA-2014-001-TRI) for the deployment of low- or no-emission (LoNo) transit buses. Of that amount, $21.6 million is available for buses and $3.3 million is available for supporting facilities and related equipment.

The LoNo Program provides funding for transit agencies for capital acquisitions and leases of zero emission and low-emission transit buses, including acquisition, construction, and leasing of required supporting facilities such as recharging, refueling, and maintenance facilities.

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Study finds that suburban sprawl cancels carbon-footprint savings of dense urban cores in US

January 07, 2014

East Coast metropolitan statistical areas (J), with a larger map of New York metropolitan area (K, outer line) and New York City (K, inner line) highlight the consistent pattern of relatively low GHG urban core cities and high GHG suburbs. Credit: ACS, Jones and Kammen. Click to enlarge.

Although population-dense cities contribute less greenhouse-gas emissions per person than other areas of the country, these cities’ extensive suburbs essentially wipe out the climate benefits, according to a new study by Christopher Jones and Daniel Kammen at UC Berkeley. The average carbon footprint of households living in the center of large, population-dense urban cities is about 50% below average, while households in distant suburbs are up to twice the average.

The study, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T), used local census, weather and other data—37 variables in total—to approximate greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the energy, transportation, food, goods and services consumed by US households. A key finding is that suburbs account for half of all household greenhouse gas emissions, even though they account for less than half the US population.

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Researchers identify new nitrated PAH compounds from combustion that are hundreds of times more mutagenic than parent PAHs

January 06, 2014

A team led by researchers at Oregon State University has discovered novel nitrated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (NPAH) compounds produced by combustion sources or formed in the atmosphere that are hundreds of times more mutagenic than their parent PAHs, which are known carcinogens. The findings were published in the ACS journal Environmental Science and Technology.

These new compounds were not previously known to exist, and raise additional concerns about the health impacts of heavily-polluted urban air or dietary exposure. It has not yet been determined in what level the new compounds might be present, and no health standards now exist for them.

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Study finds light-duty gasoline vehicles responsible for about half of PM2.5 mass, 14% of PM10 in road tunnel

December 24, 2013

Contributions of various primary sources to tunnel PM mass. Credit: ACS, Bozlaker et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers led by a team from the University of Houston have characterized the platinum group elemental composition of PM2.5 and PM10 emissions—mainly from gasoline-fueled light-duty vehicles (LDVs)—in the Washburn Tunnel in Houston Texas as a mechanism for better determining the contribution of LDVs to particulate emissions.

In a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they noted that previous investigations of the metals content in airborne tunnel PM have focused on non-platinum group elements. However, because these elements are also emitted by many other natural and anthropogenic sources, isolating the vehicular sources in urban environments is complicated. By quantifying Rh, Pd, and Pt in addition to these elements, they can facilitate more accurate estimates of LDVs’ contributions to ambient PM—the presence of these elements in tailpipe emissions is attributed to the three-way catalytic converters commonly used in gasoline-driven automobile emission control systems.

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Ford researchers report detailed study of the effect of different ethanol blend levels on emissions from FFVs

December 23, 2013

FTP cycle-weighted tailpipe emissions of N2O, NOx, and the sum of NMOG and NOx. The minimum in NOx and NMOG emissions for midlevel ethanol blends points to future opportunities for emission reductions from FFVs. Credit: ACS, Hubbard et al. Click to enlarge.

A team at Ford Motor Company’s Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn conducted a detailed study of the effect of ethanol blend level in emissions, using a 2006 model Mercury Grand Marquis flexible fuel vehicle (FFV) operating on E0, E10, E20, E30, E40, E55, and E80 on a chassis dynamometer. The study thus included the current predominant market fuel (E10); a range of possible future midlevel ethanol blends (E20−E40); and the new range for high-level ethanol blends (E55, E80).

The number of blends they studied is about twice that of previous studies, and delivers a more detailed picture of the effect of ethanol blend level on emissions. Further, they reported data for engine-out emissions and tailpipe emissions; operating temperatures (engine-out and catalyst); and ethanol concentrations used in the engine control strategy. Comparing these data allows for differentiation between fuel chemistry and engine calibration effects—the two general mechanisms by which increased ethanol content in fuel affects the emissions.

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DOE awards $98M in tax credits to automakers and suppliers for clean technology manufacturing

December 12, 2013

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced $150 million in clean energy tax credits to 12 businesses to build US capabilities in clean energy manufacturing; $98 million of that goes to five automakers and suppliers towards investments in domestic manufacturing equipment. The awards are made through the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit program (48C Program).

The Departments of Energy and the Treasury worked in partnership to develop, launch, and award the funds for this program. The Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit authorized Treasury to provide developers with an investment tax credit of 30% for the manufacture of particular types of energy equipment. Funded at $2.3 billion, the tax credit was made available to 183 domestic clean energy manufacturing facilities during Phase I of the program.

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Honeywell and suppliers to invest ~$300M to boost production of HFO-1234yf low GWP MAC coolant

December 10, 2013

Honeywell and key suppliers will invest approximately $300 million to increase production capacity for HFO-1234yf, its low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerant for mobile air conditioning (MAC) systems in automobiles. (Earlier post.) GWP is a relative measure of how much heat a greenhouse gas traps in the atmosphere, with carbon dioxide setting the comparison with a GWP of 1. HFO-1234yf’s GWP is 99.9% lower than that of HFC-134a, the current refrigerant in use (GWP = 1,300).

Among these investments, Honeywell will construct a high-volume manufacturing plant using new process technology at the company’s existing Geismar, Louisiana, refrigerants manufacturing site, which is expected to be fully operational in 2016. The exact size of the plant will depend on supply agreements that Honeywell is putting in place with major customers.

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Ricardo report finds hybrid buses have higher regulated emission intensities than conventional buses; need for whole vehicle testing

December 09, 2013

While technologies for low carbon buses such as hybridization offer the prospect of significant reductions in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions compared to conventionally powered vehicles, the improvement in terms of regulated emissions (criteria pollutants) may not be as great, according to a new report by Ricardo. Local emissions from buses are of particular significance, as the vehicles mainly operate in urban areas.

The UK’s Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) commissioned the review of the air quality impacts arising from the recent rapid increase in the number of low carbon buses in the UK, a result of subsidies provided through the Government’s Green Bus Funds. The UK now has around 1,300 low carbon buses in operation. The new report recommends that the legislation needs to consider hybrid technology impacts in the test processes to avoid potential unintended consequences in terms of local emissions.

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U Wisc.-Ford team develops more realistic multi-component surrogate diesel models for modeling of low temperature combustion

December 07, 2013

A team from the Engine Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ford Motor, and Ford Forschungszentrum Aachen have developed new multi-component surrogate models for three different diesel fuels, and then examined their fidelity in capturing the characteristics of a diesel engine operated under various conditions, including conventional and low-temperature combustion (LTC) modes.

Fuel and EGR effects were also explored in the two different combustion modes using the developed surrogate models. In a paper published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels, they reported that the results showed that the combustion trends in conventional combustion are less affected by fuel or EGR changes, while LTC conditions exhibit a much higher sensitivity, thus demanding more realistic fuel models precisely to describe advanced combustion modes.

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CRC ACES Phase 2 report finds emissions from modern heavy-duty diesels well below required levels

December 04, 2013

2010 engines emissions reduction relative to 2010, 2007, and 2004 US emission standards. Source: CRC. Click to enlarge.

A rigorous emissions testing of modern heavy-duty diesel engines in the US has demonstrated a greater than 94% reduction in the levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2 - an important contributor to ozone smog), and substantial reductions in all other pollutants, even when compared to engines first marketed to meet 2007 standards, according to a study released today by the Coordinating Research Council (CRC).

For a number of the most important pollutants, levels were substantially lower than required by regulations. The study, the Phase 2 Report of the comprehensive Advanced Collaborative Emissions Study (ACES) (earlier post), found that emissions of NO2 and other nitrogen oxides—which can have direct health effects and contribute to the formation of smog—were approximately 61% below the 2010 EPA standard and 99% lower than in 2004 engines. These reductions came while emissions of fine particles were also 92% lower than the 2010 standard 99% lower than 2004 emissions.

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Shell develops lead-free aviation gasoline

Shell has developed a lead-free replacement for aviation gasoline (Avgas 100 and 100LL); the replacement fuel will now begin a strict regulatory approvals process. Shell is the first major oil company to do so. The new lead-free formulation comes after 10 years of R&D, as well as successful initial testing, carried out in the last two months by two original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

Avgas is one of the last common transportation fuels—and the only fuel in the US—to contain the additive tetraethyl lead (TEL); avgas is used by light aircraft and helicopters. (Leaded gasoline for automobiles was phased out of use in the US by 1995 due to its environmental and health impact.) Avgas includes lead in its formulation to meet fuel specifications, to boost combustion performance, and to prevent knock.

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Analysis finds air-quality justification for CNG vehicle conversion in developing cities, despite negative climate impact

December 03, 2013

Impact pathway approach for modeling policy interventions in (a) air quality and (b) climate impacts. Credit: ACS, Zia and Tanzila. Click to enlarge.

An analysis by a team in Bangladesh found large air quality and associated health benefits accruing to the residents of Dhaka (the capital of Bangladesh) as a result of the rapid conversion of the motor vehicle fleet to CNG. Around 2,045 avoided premature deaths in greater Dhaka can be attributed to air quality improvements from the CNG conversion policy in 2010, resulting in a saving of around US$400 million, they found.

However, CNG conversion was apparently detrimental from a climate change perspective, as CH4 emissions increased. (There is some uncertainty over the impact of ultrafine particulates.) As the greenhouse gas impacts (costs or benefits) are much smaller than the health benefits, the conversion of petroleum vehicles to CNG can be justified on the basis of local air pollution benefits alone, they concluded. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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Study estimates 6% of lung cancer deaths in US and UK attributable to diesel exhaust

November 28, 2013

In 2012, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO), classified diesel engine exhaust (DEE) as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1). (Earlier post.)

Now, a study by researchers from the Netherlands, the US, and France estimates that approximately 6% of annual lung cancer deaths in the US and UK—combining both environmental and occupational exposures—may be due to DEE exposure. This translates to about 9,000 annual lung cancer deaths in the US and about 2,000 annual lung cancer deaths in the UK that may be attributable to DEE.

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UC Berkeley study quantifies LD gasoline on-road emissions

November 27, 2013

Based on on-road measurements in their study, a team from the University of California Berkeley has estimated that, as of 2010, light-duty (LD) gasoline vehicles were responsible for 85% of CO; 18% of NOx; 18% of organic aerosol (OA); and 6% of black carbon (BC) emissions from on-road motor vehicles in the United States. Correspondingly, the study, reported in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, also concluded that, as of 2010, diesel engines were the dominant on-road source of BC, OA, and NOx.

The researchers measured vehicle emissions of NOx, CO, fine particulate matter (PM2.5), OA and BC in bore 2 of the Caldecott tunnel in the San Francisco Bay Area. In bore 2, light-duty (LD) vehicles accounted for more than 99% of total traffic; heavy-duty trucks were not allowed.

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EU agreement pushes full implementation of 95 g/km CO2 target for cars back 1 year to 2021, expands use of supercredits

The European Parliament (EP) and member state negotiators reached an informal agreement on new rules to achieve the 2020 CO2 emission target of 95 g/km for new cars. Under the new agreement, which must be approved by both the European Parliament and Council to enter into force, 95% of new cars must meet the 95 g/km mandatory target by 2020, and 100% by 2021.

An earlier agreement (earlier post), set aside after EU ministers failed to endorse a previous informal deal on it with Parliament, had envisioned full implementation of the 95-gram target in 2020. Additionally, the new agreement significantly expands the use of supercredits—favorable weightings to cars that emit less than 50 g/km of CO2 within a manufacturer’s range.

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NREL study probes emissions impact of butanol-gasoline blends in light-duty vehicles

November 26, 2013

Summary of significant emissions results from the fuel testing. Credit: ACS, Ratcliff et al. Click to enlarge.

Results of a study led by a team from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on the impact of butanol-gasoline blends on light-duty vehicle emissions suggest that widespread deployment of n-butanol or i-butanol in the gasoline pool could result in changes to the estimated emissions of alcohols and carbonyls in the emissions inventory. Given equivalent deployment of butanols and ethanol, the results suggest emissions of unburned alcohols would decrease, but carbonyl emissions would increase; some of these compounds have poorly understood health effects, they note.

The carbonyls acetaldehyde and formaldehyde are classified as carcinogens or probable carcinogens by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the EPA. NIOSH considers butyraldehyde to have similar reactivity and mutagenicity to acetaldehyde.

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Global Commercial Vehicle Industry Meeting endorses harmonized global approach to improve fuel efficiency and reduce GHGs

November 09, 2013

Leading global manufacturers of heavy-duty commercial trucks and engines gathering at the annual Global Commercial Vehicle Industry Meeting endorsed a harmonized global approach as an effective pathway to further improve energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from commercial vehicles. The manufacturers have been pursuing policy cooperation for a number of years. (Earlier post.)

Meeting in Chicago, the chief executives of commercial vehicle and engine manufacturers in Europe, Japan, and the United States discussed fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions reductions, diesel fuel specifications, and topics related to heavy-duty engine and vehicle regulation and certification.

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

November 07, 2013

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

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

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ICCT report finds global implementation of advanced emissions and fuel-quality regs could cut early deaths from vehicle emissions by 75% in 2030

November 06, 2013

Global trends in vehicle-kilometers traveled (VKT) and early deaths from vehicle-related fine particle exposure (2000–2030). Chambliss et al. Click to enlarge.

Although many countries have adopted emission control regulations patterned on the European regulations, the significant majority of these have not implemented the latest and most stringent Euro 6/VI stage. A study by a team at the the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) finds that if that lag persists and present trends in vehicle activity continue, early deaths from vehicle-related PM2.5 exposure in urban areas will increase 50% by 2030, compared to 2013.

Conversely, the report finds, if all countries were to follow an accelerated roadmap to Euro 6/VI-level regulations, in tandem with fuel-quality regulations limiting sulfur content to 10 to 15 parts per million (ppm), early deaths globally from road vehicle emissions would fall by 75% (200,000) in the year 2030, representing a cumulative savings of 25 million additional years of life.

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Berkeley Lab modeling study finds California will not meet 2050 GHG targets without additional policy measures

November 05, 2013

Comparison of GHG emissions by study scenario, along with historical and “straight-line” connections between 2020 and 2050 policy targets. 85 MtCO2/yr (red square) is the 2050 target. Greenblatt 2013. Click to enlarge.

California will attain its 2020 statewide greenhouse gas reduction targets, according to a new modeling study by Jeffery Greenblatt at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

However, while all of the three scenarios developed for the study achieved the 2020 target, none were able to achieve the 2050 GHG target of 85 MtCO2/yr, instead yielding emissions ranging from 188 to 444 MtCO2/yr. Therefore, Greenblatt concluded, additional policies will need to be developed for California to meet this stringent future target.

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Brookings analysts recommend against repeating cash for clunkers program in future recession

November 03, 2013

According to a new paper and policy brief by Brookings, the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) or “cash for clunkers” program, launched during the height of the recession with the intention of stimulating the economy and reducing emissions, actually resulted in only a small and short-lived impact on GDP; a higher implied cost per job created than alternative fiscal stimulus programs; and a higher cost per ton of CO2 reduced than what would be achieved through a policy such as a carbon tax or cap-and-trade.

However, the cost of CO2 reduced was comparable or lower than that achieved through less cost-effective policies such as the tax subsidy for electric vehicles, the analysis concluded. In terms of distributional effects, compared to households that purchased a new or used vehicle in 2009 without a voucher, CARS program participants had a higher before-tax income, were older, more likely to be white, more likely to own a home, and more likely to have a high-school and a college degree.

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Pinnacle’s opposed-piston scooter engine can meet NOx target with lean operation and ignition delay; little fuel economy hit

November 01, 2013

In a paper presented at the recent Small Engine Technology Conference organized by JSAE and SAE International, Michael (Tony) Willcox from Pinnacle Engines reported that the 110cc version of the 4-stroke, spark-ignited (SI), opposed-piston, sleeve-valve architecture engine (earlier post) can use lean operation and ignition delay to meet Euro 4 NOx emission targets without aftertreatment and with only a negligible impact (< 1.5%) on the fuel consumption benefits of the engine (about 25-27% better than a comparable conventional engine in the relevant drivecycle).

Further, Pinnacle noted, recently developed hardware designed for additional lean limit extension is under test. The new hardware is anticipated to leave margin with Euro 5/6 NOx regulations using an oxidation-only catalyst for aftertreatment.

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Fairbanks Morse Engine and Achates Power team up on opposed-piston engines

October 31, 2013

Fairbanks Morse Model 38 opposed-piston engine. Click to enlarge.

The leading manufacturer of opposed-piston engines, Fairbanks Morse Engine (FME), an EnPro Industries company, has signed a joint development and licensing agreement with Achates Power, Inc., the developer of a family of two-stroke compression-ignition opposed-piston engines (earlier post), to reduce emissions and fuel consumption of Fairbanks Morse proprietary diesel and dual-fuel opposed-piston engines.

The Fairbanks Morse Model 38 opposed-piston engine was designed and developed for a wide array of electrical power generation and heavy industrial applications. OP engines are propelling ships, driving locomotives, powering natural gas compressors, running chillers and pump drives, and producing electricity in a variety of marine and stationary applications.

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EEA: All major car manufacturers in Europe met 2012 CO2 targets; 9 already meet 2015 targets

Distance to 2012 target by individual manufacturer. Source: EEA. Click to enlarge.

Based on emission levels recorded in vehicle tests, car registration data analyzed by the European Environment Agency (EEA) in the report “CO2 emissions performance of car manufacturers in 2012” shows that in 2012 all major car manufacturers met their targets for their fleet. Nine of the larger manufacturers (Audi AG, BMW AG, Automobiles Citroën, Fiat group, Ford-Werke, Adam Opel, Automobiles Peugeot, Seat, Toyota Motor Europe, and Volvo Car) were already compliant with 2015 targets in 2012.

Carbon emissions of the average car sold in the EU fell 2.6% between 2011 and 2012, cutting the EU average to 132.2 grams of CO2 per kilometer—close to the 130 g target for the average new car sold in 2015.

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Canada awards $30M to 10 automotive R&D projects; from electrified powertrains to hot stamping

October 28, 2013

The Government of Canada has awarded C$30 million (US$29 million) through the Automotive Partnership Canada (APC) initiative to 10 university-industry partnerships to advance innovative automotive technologies. With a total project value of more than C$52 million (US$50 million), the funding includes some $22 million from industry and other partners.

The largest award from APC is $8,928,200 to the McMaster University-Chrysler partnership (earlier post) for the development of next generation electrified powertrains. (Earlier post.) However, the selected projects include a range of technologies from hot stamping of parts to hydrogen fuel cell stacks.

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UCR CE-CERT testing of hybrid construction equipment finds reduction in fuel consumption, but increase in NOx emissions

October 22, 2013

Summary of comparison of NOx emissions and fuel consumption of hybrid (D7E) and conventional (D6) dozers. Negative values mean hybrid benefit and positive values mean dis-benefit. PM, THC, and CO emission rates were very low for both the D7E and D6T and thus were not able to be quantified as a hybrid benefit or dis-benefit. Idle emissions showed a similar trend, with the hybrid emitting less CO2 (-15%) and more NOx (+15%). Johnson et al. Click to enlarge.

A study of hybrid excavators and dozers in use in public and private fleets found that while the use of hybrid equipment could decrease fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 28%, depending upon the type of work being done, NOx emissions could increase by up to 21%.

In the study, researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) completed activity characterization; sequence of operations/test cycle development; and in-use emissions testing on three hybrid Komatsu HB215-LC-1 excavators and three hybrid Caterpillar D7E dozers.

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U. Calgary analysis of energy balances and emissions of SAGD oil sands production finds need for improved processes; some operations not thermally efficient or net generators of energy

October 19, 2013

Plot of cumulative steam-to-oil ratio (cSOR) vs. ratio of energy produced in form of chemical energy contained in bitumen if combusted to energy injected in form of steam (75% efficient steam generation). From Gates and Larter (2013). Click to enlarge.

A team at the University of Calgary has assessed the thermal efficiencies, energy balances, and emissions of Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD)—both theoretically and as deployed at scale, using field data from the ERCB—for the production of bitumen from Athabasca oil sands reservoirs. In a paper in the journal Fuel, they report that current SAGD projects in Alberta show a very wide range of field performance.

Although optimized SAGD can yield “reasonably high” recovery factors, they found, the economic and environmental costs can be large given the amount of steam required. The data suggests that at the extreme, some operations are actually not net energy generating—i.e., the energy injected via steam exceeds the recovered chemical energy in the retrieved bitumen. The results suggest that in situ bitumen recovery processes need to advance well beyond current capabilities “if practical and sustainable energy balance and emissions scenarios are to be achieved,” they said.

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Ford study suggests GDI engines can meet coming California and US PM emissions standards over 150k miles; more work to be done

October 16, 2013

PM mass emissions rates for the FTP and US06 drive cycles as function of vehicle mileage. Credit: ACS, Maricq et al. Click to enlarge.

A team from Ford’s Research and Advanced Engineering group in Dearborn examined how emissions of particulate matter (PM) from two gasoline direct injection engines—a very small set and not representative of the wide variety of gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines currently in production or under future development, they noted—changed over time.

As reported in a paper in ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, the results showed that GDI technology has the potential to meet the upcoming California LEV III and US EPA Tier 3 PM mass standard of 3 mg/mi (phasing in over MY2017−2021) over a 150,000-mile vehicle lifetime, but that further work must be done to address achieving the more stringent 1 mg/mi target (LEV III in 2025).

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NREL review of E15 effects on MY2001 and later cars finds no meaningful differences with E10

October 13, 2013

A review of 43 studies of the effects of E15 (15% ethanol blends) on Model Year 2001 and newer cars by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that the studies reviewed showed no meaningful differences between E15 and E10 in any performance category.

The NREL study, commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association, included 33 unique research studies, as well as 10 related reviews. The study does not address engines that EPA has not approved for use with E15, such as pre-2001 cars, marine, snowmobile, motorcycle, and small non-road engines.

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UC Irvine study finds organic constituents of UFP play important role in heart disease; suggestions for more effective emission control

October 12, 2013

Particle scale. Inset: 4 polydisperse modes of traffic-related ambient particulate matter span approximately 4 orders of magnitude from below 1 nm to above 10 μm. Source: Kleinman presentation. Click to enlarge.

Results of a study funded and released by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) suggest that the organic constituents of ultrafine PM (UFP, particles ≤ 0.18 μm aerodynamic diameter) resulting from internal-combustion engine exhaust and from chemical reactions in the air play an important role in the progression of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the US. The findings thus suggest a direction for mor effective emission control measures—i.e., technology for the removal of the organic constituents as well as the reduction of the number of particles.

Led by Dr. Michael T. Kleinman of the University of California Irvine, the new study used a novel approach to determine whether or not the toxicity of UFP particles depends on the concentration and composition of semi-volatile and non-volatile fractions of the PM.

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Study finds biodiesel blend reduces total particle mass in emissions but may have greater adverse health effect per mass than diesel

October 10, 2013

Findings from a study by researchers from the Department of Medicine and the School of Engineering at the University of Vermont suggest that the addition of biodiesel to diesel fuels will reduce the total particle mass of PM emissions—but that the biodiesel blend particles may contribute to greater biological effects per mass than B0, leading to potentially greater health risks.

As reported in a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, the team first characterized exhaust particles produced by combustion of pure petrodiesel (B0) and B20 (20% soy biodiesel/ 80% B0) fuels using the same engine and running conditions, and then conducted experiments in two human cell lines representing bronchial epithelial cells and macrophages as well as in female mice. (Studies in cells alone do not necessarily reflect the integrated response of a whole animal, they noted.)

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Ricardo and Doosan DL06 diesel with TVCS achieves Tier 4f emissions without need for DPF

October 09, 2013

Ricardo’sTwin Vortex Combustion System (TVCS) reduces soot by 45- 50% compared to a conventional approach. Source: Ricardo. Click to enlarge.

Ricardo and Korea-based Doosan Infracore presented details of the latest DL06 engine at the 22nd Aachen Colloquium on automobile and engine technology in Germany.

The Doosan DL06 engine is a turbocharged and intercooled 5.9-liter, in-line 6-cylinder diesel engine used in both on-highway and off-highway applications. The new US Tier 4 Final (Tier 4f) version of the DL06 includes an ultra-low particulate combustion system featuring the Ricardo Twin Vortex Combustion System (TVCS) (earlier post); the engine achieves compliance with Tier 4 Final particulate emissions levels without requiring a DPF—thereby providing a cost-effective solution.

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Italian study finds raised levels of PM10, even below current Euro limits, associated with increased acute cardiac events

Results of a study by a research team from Brescia and Parma, Italy, to be presented at the Acute Cardiac Care Congress 2013 by Dr. Savina Nodari from Spedali Civili Hospital of Brescia, support the hypothesis that raised levels of PM10—even below the current limits set by the European Environmental Protection Agency—are associated with increased admission rates for acute cardiac events, especially in males, older patients and those with previous cardiovascular hospitalizations.

The study evaluated the rate of hospitalizations for acute coronary syndrome (ACS); acute heart failure (AHF); malignant ventricular arrhythmias (MVA); and atrial fibrillation (AF) and the average daily concentrations of PM10 in Brescia over the period 2004-2007. The associations between average levels of PM10 and daily hospitalization for acute cardiovascular (CV) events were analyzed by a generalized linear model.

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CARB draft of updated AB 32 Scoping Plan for climate change actions post-2020; pushing for greater transportation reductions

October 02, 2013

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has released the public discussion draft of the required update to the AB 32 Scoping Plan. (Earlier post.) The Scoping Plan describes the comprehensive range of efforts California must take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and meet the state’s long-term goals to combat climate change.

AB 32 requires the Scoping Plan to be updated every five years. The original Plan, first released in 2008, was developed on the principle that a balanced mix of strategies is the best way to cut emissions and grow California’s economy in a clean and sustainable direction. This draft update continues with that approach and focuses on three questions:

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ACEEE recommends steps for enhanced data gathering and analysis essential to developing next phase of heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency and GHG regs

September 27, 2013

A newly released working paper from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) outlines the organization’s recommendations to policymakers for developing the next phase of fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles in the United States expected in 2015.

The focus of the paper is less on the range of technologies that might be applied to deliver the requisite reductions (ACEEE also published a short fact sheet briefly touching on technology approaches) and more on enhanced and improved data gathering, analysis and dissemination that will be required to inform the development of the next phase of the standards.

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U-Mich researcher’s first-principles analysis challenges conventional carbon accounting for biofuels; implications for climate policy

September 24, 2013

System boundaries (red line) schematic for liquid fuel carbon balance. For biofuels, because biogenic carbon is automatically credited within a product lifecycle, the boundary effectively excludes vehicle end-use CO2 emissions. DeCicco 2013. Click to enlarge.

In a paper that could have a significant impact on climate policies for transportation fuels, Dr. John M. DeCicco of the Energy Institute at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor presents a rigorous first-principles analysis that undermines the common “biofuels recycle carbon” argument.

Published in the journal Climactic Change, the open access paper shows that while the carbon mitigation challenge for liquid fuels has been seen—incorrectly—as a fuel synthesis and substitution problem, it is in reality a net carbon uptake problem. Accordingly, DeCicco concludes, strategies should move away from a downstream focus on replacing fuel products to an upstream focus on achieving additional CO2 uptake through the most cost-effective and least damaging means possible. “All parties with an interest in the issue are advised to rethink their priorities accordingly,” he finishes.

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ORNL study finds aluminum-intensive vehicles can deliver up to 29% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to typical steel-bodied vehicle

September 20, 2013

Lifecycle energy findings. Source: Sujit Das, ORNL. Click to enlarge.

A lifecycle study of aluminum-intensive vehicles by Sujit Das at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) found that an aluminum-intensive vehicle can achieve up to a 32% reduction in total lifecycle energy consumption, and up to a 29% reduction in CO2 emissions, compared to a typical vehicle on the road today which uses traditional and high-strength steel in the body construction.

The study, underwritten by The Aluminum Association, performed a full cradle-to-grave analysis (primary metal production; autoparts manufacturing and assembly; use; semi-fabrication material production; transportation; and end-of-life metals recycling) on three modeled vehicle types: a baseline steel vehicle; a lightweight steel vehicle (LWSV); and an aluminum intensive vehicle (AIV).

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EPA proposes CO2 emission standards for new fossil fuel-fired power plants

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed Clean Air Act standards to reduce CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel fired power plants (electric utility generating units, EGUs). For purposes of this rule, fossil fuel-fired EGUs include utility boilers, IGCC units and certain natural gas-fired stationary combustion turbine EGUs that generate electricity for sale and are larger than 25 megawatts (MW). In addition, EPA said it is working with state, tribal, and local governments, industry and labor leaders, non-profits, and others to establish CO2 standards for existing power plants.

The proposed rulemaking establishes separate standards for natural gas and coal plants. The proposed limits for natural gas units are based on the performance of modern natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) units. New large (>850 mmBtu/h) natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, while new small (≤850mmBtu/h) natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour.

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New hybrid plasma-catalyst aftertreatment system feasible for low-temperature combustion engines

September 17, 2013

Schematic diagram of the plasma−catalyst reactor. Credit: ACS, Kang et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers at the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM) have developed a new hybrid reactor for automotive exhaust aftertreatment that combines plasma and a honeycomb-structured monolith catalyst resulting in an enhanced synergistic effect of low-temperature catalytic activity.

As reported in a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, the plasma−catalyst synergistic reaction is more effective at low temperatures; the hybrid reaction reduces the temperature required to achieve the same level of DRE (destruction and removal efficiency) for hydrocarbon (HC) pollutants when compared to the temperature of the reaction under the influence of the catalyst alone. As a result of their work, the authors suggest that the plasma−catalyst technology is feasible to control exhaust emissions from next-generation low-temperature combustion (LTC) diesel engines.

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UT Austin team and partners report on extensive measurements of methane emissions during natural gas production

Estimated inventories of methane emissions from the natural gas production sector, excluding processing and transmission. The findings of the new study are represented in the yellow bar at right, and are similar overall to EPA’s latest inventory. The relative contributions of different production components differ, however. Source: UT Austin. Click to enlarge.

A new study from The University of Texas at Austin, published as an open access paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports on extensive measurements of methane emissions—including the first measurements for methane emissions taken directly at the well pad—during completion operations for hydraulically fractured wells (“fracked”).

Broadly, the study found that completion emissions are significantly lower than previously estimated; emissions from pneumatic controllers and equipment leaks are higher than EPA national emission projections; and estimates of total emissions (957 Gg ± 200 Gg) are similar to the most recent EPA national inventory of methane emissions from natural gas production (~1200 Gg). The 957 Gg in emissions for completion flowbacks, pneumatics and equipment leaks, coupled with EPA national inventory estimates for other categories, leads to an estimated 2,300 Gg of methane emissions from natural gas production (0.42% of gross gas production).

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USC researchers find car ventilation setting critical to in-cabin exposure to particulate pollutants; new model for aiding exposure assessments

September 15, 2013

In-vehicle-to-outside (I/O) ratios for four pollutants under different ventilation settings. Credit: ACS, Hudda and Fruin (2013). Click to enlarge.

Researchers at USC have found that using recirculation rather than outside air ventilation in a car can effectively reduce in-cabin exposure to on-road particle pollution. In a study published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they also report that in addition to the benefits of recirculation settings, exposures are lower in newer cars; at slower speeds; and on arterial roads, where pollutant concentrations are lower than on freeways.

Scott Fruin, assistant professor of preventive medicine, and Neelakshi Hudda, research associate in environmental health, both of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, performed a systematic study of in-vehicle exposure to include a full range of car types and operating conditions, as well as all types of particulate pollution. According to the researchers, concentrations of particle pollutants on freeways are often five to 10 times higher than elsewhere.

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Nissan project in Beijing demonstrates Dynamic Route Guidance reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

September 13, 2013

Results from Nissan’s New Traffic Information System Model Project in Beijing (earlier post) have demonstrated that Dynamic Route Guidance System (DRGS) can help alleviate traffic congestion and reduce fuel consumption. A simulation based on the project results suggested that when 10% of all traffic in Beijing used DRGS, due to reduced traffic congestion, travel speed throughout the city would increase by approximately 10% and both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions would decrease by approximately 10%.

DRDS distributes real-time traffic information from the traffic information center to onboard devices via telematics; the onboard devices show drivers the fastest route on the display. This large-scale project, involving 12,000 vehicles, is the first to demonstrate and measure traffic dispersion effects in a real setting.

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PNNL team finds correlation between reaction mechanism for zeolite SCR catalyst for NOx aftertreatment and bacterial enzyme catalysis

September 11, 2013

Computer model of Cu-SSZ-13 shows nitric oxide (ball-and-stick) interacting with a positively charged copper ion (copper ball) at an unexpected angle (red dotted lines). Photo courtesy of Kwak et al. Click to enlarge.

A team of researchers in the Institute for Integrated Catalysis at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory led by chemist János Szanyi has proposed a reaction mechanism for a highly active zeolite catalyst (Cu-SSZ-13) used in selective catalytic reduction (SCR) NOx aftertreatment systems for diesel emissions. A paper on their work is published in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

Although the catalyst is in use, exactly how it converts NOx to nitrogen and water with the help of ammonia (urea) hasn’t been entirely clear. The new research finds that the catalyst works much the same way that similar bacterial enzymes do: by coming at the target from the side rather than head on. The finding provides insight into how to make better catalytic converters.

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Georgia Tech study suggests unlinking EVs from CAFE and coordinating with power sector for low-cost benefits

September 08, 2013

Change in total consumer expenditure for EVs and conventional vehicles (CVs) purchased in 2030 over the vehicle lifetime for 20% and 100% EV adoption scenarios. A negative value means the case has a lower TCE than the reference case. Credit: ACS, Choi et al. Click to enlarge.

A team from Georgia Tech suggests, based on their modeling of electric vehicle (EV) adoption scenarios in each of six regions of the Eastern Interconnection (containing 70% of the US population), that coordinating EV adoption with the adoption of controlled EV charging, unlinking EVs from consideration in the CAFE fuel economy regulations; and implementing renewable electricity standards would deliver low-cost reductions in emissions and gasoline usage. (For the study, they define EVs as including both battery-electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) vehicles.

Only in the case of high EV market share and a high renewable electricity standard (RES) do EVs make a material contribution to greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions, they found. However, managed EV adoption can reduce the cost of achieving GHG reductions through a RES, they concluded in their paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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UK launches new ultra low emission vehicles strategy; focus on nurturing the industry

September 05, 2013

UK Transport Minister Norman Baker launched the government’s latest strategy—Driving the Future Today: A strategy for ultra low emission vehicles in the UK—to advance the ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs) industry with a focus on economic development in the UK. The government’s vision, said Minister Baker, “is that by 2050 almost every car and van will be an ultra low emission vehicle with the UK at the forefront of their design, development and manufacture. This strategy moves us up a gear in pursuing that vision.

The principles behind the strategy include focusing on inward investment and the supply chain; technological neutrality, i.e., specifying the bulk of policies in output rather than technology terms; and addressing market failure. Accordingly, a great deal of effort and funding will flow to programs to incent adoption and to establish plug-in charging and hydrogen refueling infrastructures.

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Researchers identify new pathways in low-temp oxidation of hydrocarbons; important to fuel combustion, atmospheric chemistry and biochemistry

The diagram illustrates the newly-described reaction that transforms molecules of ketohydroperoxide into acids and carbonyl molecules, after going through intermediate stages. Credit: ACS, Jalan et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers at MIT, with colleagues at the University of Minnesota, have provided evidence and theoretical rate coefficients for new pathways in the low-temperature oxidation of hydrocarbons. Their paper is published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The newly explained reaction—the basic outlines of which had been first hypothesized by Korcek and co-workers more than 30 years ago but the workings of which had never been understood in detail—is an important part of atmospheric reactions that lead to the formation of climate-affecting aerosols; biochemical reactions that may be important for human physiology; and combustion reactions in engines. The new study provides theoretical confirmation of Korcek’s hypothesis that ketohydroperoxide molecules (KHPs) are precursors to carboxylic acid formation.

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DOE and Air Force issue RFI on Mil-Spec jet fuel production using coal-to-liquid technologies

The US Department of Energy (DOE) in partnership with the US Air Force has issued a request for information (RFI)—DE-FOA-0000981—on research & development aimed at greenhouse gas emissions reductions and cost competitiveness of Mil-Spec jet fuel production using coal-to-liquid (CTL) fuel technologies.

The DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), on behalf of the US Air Force, intends to issue a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) in 2013 that would solicit for the most promising research and development projects on advanced concepts for and/or unit operations within a CTL fuels plant; the areas of interest may be developed based in part on the responses to the RFI. The DOE and US Air Force anticipate the need for projects of no less than $3 million and that would have duration of not more than 3 years.

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World Bank to focus on reducing short-lived climate pollutants; transport projects

September 04, 2013

Aggregation of SLCP project activities into typologies. Click to enlarge.

A new report prepared by the World Bank at the request of the G8 identifies ways that the World Bank can do more through its projects to reduce the emission of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs): black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone, and fluorinated gases known as HFCs.

The review, “Integration of Short-Lived Climate Pollutants in World Bank Activities,” highlights ways the Bank’s investments are already reducing SLCPs and shows where potential exists for even greater reduction. It discusses a wide range of SLCP-reducing activities, including:

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MIT study says combustion emissions cause ~200,000 premature deaths/year in US; vehicles and power generation top sources

August 29, 2013

Annual average concentrations of fine particulates from US sources of combustion emissions from (a) electric power generation; (b) industry; (c) commercial and residential sources; (d) road transportation; (e) marine transportation; (f) rail transportation; (g) sum of all combustion sources; (h) all sources. Source: MIT. Click to enlarge.

Researchers from MIT’s Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment have concluded that ground-level PM2.5 emissions from combustion sources such as industrial smokestacks, vehicle tailpipes, marine and rail operations, and commercial and residential heating throughout the United States cause about 200,000 (90% CI: 90,000–362,000) premature deaths each year, with another 10,000 (90% CI: −1,000 to 21,000) deaths due to changes in ozone concentrations.

Emissions from road transportation are the most significant contributor, causing ∼53,000 (90% CI: 24,000–95,000) PM2.5-related premature deaths and ∼5,000 (90% CI: −900 to 11,000) ozone-related early deaths per year. Power generation follows closely, causing ∼52,000 (90% CI: 23,000–94,000) PM2.5-related and ∼2,000 (90% CI: −300 to 4,000) ozone-related premature mortalities per year. Industrial emissions contribute to ∼41,000 (90% CI: 18,000–74,000) early deaths from PM2.5 and ∼2000 (90% CI: 0–4,000) early deaths from ozone, according to the study.

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Using ozone injection to control HCCI combustion

August 28, 2013

In-cylinder pressure (on the left) and heat release rate (on the right) as a function of the CAD and ozone concentration injected in the intake of the engine for PRF40. The results show that ozone seeding improves combustion and advances phasing. The same trends were observed for the other fuels studied. Credit: ACS, Masurier et al. Click to enlarge.

HCCI (homogeneous charge compression ignition) has been extensively studied in recent years due to its potential to maintain strong efficiency similar to compression ignition (CI) engines but also to produce very low emissions of NOx and particulate matter. Control of HCCI autoignition and combustion phasing is challenging, however. Unlike CI and spark ignition (SI) engines, HCCI cannot be easily controlled by external means (e.g., injectors or spark plugs), because the process is mainly governed by chemical kinetics.

Accordingly, many strategies have been studied to control combustion. Now, researchers in France have added to that body of work by showing that ozone seeding in the intake of an HCCI engine can control HCCI combustion.

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New FOX method estimates black carbon emissions from civil aviation ~2.7 times higher than standard estimates

August 26, 2013

Comparison between estimated EIBC and measured EIBC derived FOA3 (black open box), the FOA3 approach with the updated SN-CI correlation (blue triangle), and estimates obtained from the new FOX method (red circle) that are not dependent on SN. Credit: ACS, Stettler et al. Click to enlarge.

Using an alternative approach to determine the amount of black carbon (BC) emissions from civil aviation, researchers from the University of Cambridge, MIT, and Forschungszentrum Jülich have estimated that in 2005, total BC emissions from this sector were 16.9 Gg/year, with a fleet average emissions index (EIBC, the mass of BC emitted per kg of fuel burned) of 0.093 g/kg-fuel. These are a factor of ∼2.7 higher than estimates obtained using standard methods (6.3 Gg/year and 0.035 g/kg-fuel).

The new method, Formation OXidation (FOX), is an empirical method, independent of smoke number (SN), that the team developed to obtain EIBC for all engines in the fleet using only data available in the ICAO engine emissions databank (EDB) representing the physical mechanisms (with significant simplification) by which soot is formed and oxidized. A paper describing the method and the results is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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Study finds power law scaling relationship between urban population and NO2 pollution

August 25, 2013

Log−log relationship between NO2 mixing ratios and the total population of urban areas for the four regions. The approximate linear relationship for each region is notable, suggesting that the dependence of urban NO2 pollution upon population follows a power law scaling with population. Credit: ACS, Lamsal et al. Click to enlarge.

A study by NASA scientists and their colleagues at Dalhousie University (Canada) and NOAA based on satellite data has found a significant correlation of surface nitrogen dioxide (NO2) with population in the three countries and one continent examined: United States (r = 0.71), Europe (r = 0.67), China (r = 0.69), and India (r = 0.59). These regions contain two-thirds of total global anthropogenic NOx emissions. NO2 is released primarily from combustion processes, such as traffic, is a short-lived atmospheric pollutant that serves as an air-quality indicator, and is itself a health concern.

Urban NO2 pollution, they found, like other urban properties, is a power law scaling function of the population size: NO2 concentration increases proportional to population raised to an exponent. (Even though larger cities are typically more energy efficient with lower per-capita emissions, more people still translates to more pollution.) The value of the exponent varies by region from 0.36 for India to 0.66 for China, reflecting regional differences in industrial development and per capita emissions. The study was published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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Study explores long-term trends in motor vehicle emissions in US urban areas; targeting high-emitters

August 19, 2013

The study found that the highest-emitting 10% of gasoline vehicles are now responsible for the overwhelming majority of running CO, NMHC, and NOx. Credit: ACS, McDonald et al. Click to enlarge.

A study of motor vehicle emissions by researchers at UC Berkeley found that running CO and evaporative and tailpipe NMHC emissions from gasoline-powered vehicles in three major US urban centers (NY, LA and Houston) have decreased by almost an order of magnitude over the last twenty years, despite increases in fuel use.

However, they also found that decreases in emissions of these pollutants appear to be slowing down and may have leveled off. Their findings show that the success in control of emission from gasoline vehicles has led to greater skew in emission factor distributions, such that the highest-emitting 10% of vehicles are now responsible for the overwhelming majority of running CO and NOx. If progress in reducing emissions is to continue, they concluded, vigorous efforts will be needed to identify and repair or replace high-emitting vehicles. Their study is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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Interim report from Germany’s KBA finds no sufficient evidence of risk with use of R1234yf refrigerant

August 09, 2013

Independent testing by Germany’s Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (Federal Motor Transport Authority) has found that there is “no sufficient evidence of a serious risk” as defined by the Product Safety Act (ProdSG) related to the use of the low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerant R-1234yf.

The tests were conducted under the auspices of and on behalf of the KBA in cooperation with the Federal Highway Research Institute, Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, and the Environmental Protection Agency in accordance with the test parameters jointly developed by TÜV Rheinland.

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Study investigates impact of operating conditions and load on soot particle number distribution for diesel and biodiesel

July 27, 2013

A team led by researchers from Brunel University (UK) has investigated the exhaust soot particle number size distributions obtained from the combustion of diesel and biodiesel (rapeseed methyl ester, RME) in a high speed direct injection (HSDI) diesel engine under different engine operating conditions: fuel injection pressure, injection timing, exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) and engine load.

Among the findings they reported in their paper in the journal Fuel was that under most of the engine operating conditions examined, RME emitted lower soot particle concentration than diesel under both nucleation and accumulation modes. The presence of oxygen in the fuel has the potential to lower the exhaust particle number concentration in diesel engines, they concluded.

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JBEI researchers engineer bacterium to produce diesel-range biofuel using CO2 as sole carbon source

July 26, 2013

A team of researchers with the US Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) has engineered the bacterium Ralstonia eutropha—a microbe now used to produce biodegradable plastic—for the production of fatty acid-derived, diesel-range methyl ketones. A paper on their work is published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

R. eutropha is a chemolithoautotroph (an organism that obtains its nutrition through the oxidation of non-organic compounds or other chemical processes) that can grow with organic substrates or H2 and CO2 under aerobic conditions. Under conditions of nutrient imbalance, R. eutropha produces “copious” amounts of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB). Its ability to utilize CO2 as a sole carbon source renders it an interesting new candidate host for the production of renewable liquid transportation fuels, the team noted in their paper.

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EIA: world energy consumption to grow 56% 2010-2040, CO2 up 46%; use of liquid fuels in transportation up 38%

July 25, 2013

World energy consumption by fuel type, 2010-2040. Source: IEO2013. Click to enlarge.

The US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) International Energy Outlook 2013 (IEO2013) projects that world energy consumption will grow by 56% between 2010 and 2040, from 524 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) to 820 quadrillion Btu. Most of this growth will come from non-OECD (non-Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries, where demand is driven by strong population and economic growth; energy intensity improvements moderate this trend

Renewable energy and nuclear power are the world’s fastest-growing energy sources, each increasing 2.5% per year, according to the biennial report. However, fossil fuels continue to supply nearly 80% of world energy use through 2040. Natural gas is the fastest-growing fossil fuel, as global supplies of tight gas, shale gas, and coalbed methane increase. Given current policies and regulations limiting fossil fuel use, worldwide energy-related CO2 emissions rise from about 31 billion metric tons in 2010 to 36 billion metric tons in 2020 and then to 45 billion metric tons in 2040, a 46% increase over the 30-year span.

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Continental XL3 solenoid injector in production in 1.5L GDI engine; looking ahead to Euro 6c

New generation XL3 injector for GDI engines goes into production. Click to enlarge.

Continental’s new XL3 high-performance solenoid injector for gasoline direct injection systems is currently in volume production for a four-cylinder, 1.5-liter GDI engine. The XL3 solenoid injector provides enhanced linearity due to very fast opening and closing times and multi-stream spray geometry (max. of 8 holes) enables optimal adaptation to all engine-specific requirements.

The XL3 offers high flexibility of spray characteristics to meet the requirements of side- or central-mounted engines. System pressure ranges from 40 up to 200 bar—50 bar higher than the XL2 injector. Static flow range for the XL3 is up to 20 g/s (at 100 bar at 70 °C); the XL2 had a maximum flow of up to 17 g/s.

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Researchers propose harvesting CO2 mixing energy to generate electricity

July 23, 2013

Principle of the energy harvesting method: dissolved CO2 dissociates in protons and bicarbonate ions, which diffuse into different electrodes due to the ion-selectivity of the membranes placed in front. The resulting membrane potential leads to the spontaneous generation of current. Credit: ACS, Hamelers et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers in The Netherlands are proposing a new method for harvesting electricity from CO2 emissions. In a paper in the American Chemical Society’s (ACS’) newly launched journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, they describe an approach to harvesting the mixing energy from combining the CO2 in combustion gases with air in contact with an aqueous electrolyte.

Mixing the CO2 with air represents a source of energy with a total annual worldwide capacity of 1570 TWh, the researchers calculated—about 400 times the annual output of the Hoover Dam (approx. 4.2 GWh). To harvest the mixing energy from CO2 containing gas emissions, they propose using pairs of porous electrodes, one selective for anions and the other selective to cations.

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SAE releases technical white paper on two new low-GWP refrigerants; alternates to R-1234yf

The SAE International MAC (mobile air conditioning) Refrigerant Blend Cooperative Research Program (MRB CRP), comprising a group of leading global vehicle OEMs plus Tier One suppliers, is assessing the operating, technical and safety performance of two low-GWP (global warming potential) blended refrigerants (AC5 and AC6) developed by Mexichem, and based upon R-1234zeE.

The European MAC Directive requires the use of alternative refrigerants with GWP of less than 150 to replace R-134a. The first globally agreed candidate alternative fluid, the hydrofluoro-olefin (HFO) R-1234yf, is now entering production and use after an extensive cooperative research program (CRP-1234) administered by the SAE International and involving global car OEMs and chemical suppliers. (It has also generated some controversy, as Daimler has balked at using it, based on the company’s own testing of flammability. SAE CRP-1234 has re-evaluated the fluid multiple times, and still supports its use.)

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New MECA report calls for implementation of particle number (PN) limits by North American regulators

July 19, 2013

Particle number vs. particle mass for various LDV engine technologies. Source: MECA, Ford Motor Company. Click to enlarge.

North American environmental regulators should consider taking action on particle number (PN) limits as a complement to their already world-best PM mass standards, according to a new report released by the Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association (MECA).

The report, “Ultrafine Particulate Matter and the Benefits of Reducing Particle Numbers in the United States”, first summarizes the current understanding of the potential adverse health impacts of ultrafine particles (UFPs, particles that are finer than 0.1 microns in diameter); then outlines various control strategies and technologies that can be used to meet current and upcoming EPA standards; documents the successful use of diesel particulate filters (DPFs) to meet and exceed US and European emission standards; and then makes the argument for PN limits.

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IEA report finds “avoid, shift and improve” policies for urban transport could deliver up to $70T in savings through 2050

July 18, 2013

Expected urban private motorized travel (in passenger kilometers). Source: IEA. Click to enlarge.

Policies that improve the energy efficiency of urban transport systems could help save as much as US$70 trillion in spending on vehicles, fuel and transportation infrastructure between now and 2050, according to a recently released report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Among the three broad categories of policies recommended in the report and policy guide, “A Tale of Renewed Cities”, are those that allow travel to be avoided; those that shift travel to more efficient modes; and those that improve the efficiency of vehicle and fuel technologies. The report notes that if fully implemented across the transportation sector, this “avoid, shift and improve” approach could deliver the up to US$70 trillion in savings.

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Environment Canada study finds vehicle exhaust a significant source of isocyanic acid; suggests consideration of new emission standard

July 12, 2013

Researchers at Environment Canada have found that vehicle exhaust is a significant source of isocyanic acid (HNCO), a toxic gaseous acid that is a product of various forms of combustion and a potential health concern. HNCO and its aqueous anion isocyanate (CNO) have been linked—at exposure levels as low as 1 ppbv (parts-per-billion by volume)—to health issues such as atherosclerosis, cataracts, and rheumatoid arthritis (Roberts 2011).

In a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, the team found that emission factors for HNCO ranged from 0.69 to 3.96 mg kgfuel–1 and were significantly higher than previous biomass burning emission estimates. Canada-wide, up to 770 tonnes of HNCO may be emitted annually from on-road vehicles, they concluded—likely representing the dominant source of exposure in urban areas.

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ARB researchers evaluate in-use heavy-duty NOx aftertreatment systems, find elevated levels during certain lower-temperature operations

July 09, 2013

A team from the California Air Resources Board (ARB) reports on their evaluation of the in-use emissions performance of four different heavy-duty diesel engines certified to the MY 2010 or interim MY 2010 NOx standards over a wide range of driving conditions in California in a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

One of the trucks was equipped with exhaust gas recirculation (EGR); three were equipped with EGR and a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) device. The results indicated that brake-specific NOx emissions for the truck equipped only with an EGR were independent of the driving conditions—and exceeded the certification value over each segment of the entire test route. Results also showed that for typical highway driving conditions, the SCR technology is proving to be effective in controlling NOx emissions. However, they also found that under operations where the SCR systems do not reach minimum operating temperature—e.g., cold starts and some low-load/slow-speed driving conditions—NOx emissions are still elevated.

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LowCVP study identifies cost-effective options for cutting bus emissions

July 03, 2013

Meeting long-term CO2 targets for buses will require the development of advanced technologies, in parallel with improvements to engines. Source: Ricardo. Click to enlarge.

A wide range of technologies can cut carbon emissions from buses and provide a short-term payback at current fuel prices and subsidy levels, according to a new report prepared for the UK’s Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) by Ricardo. Overall, the study indicates that significant improvements in bus CO2 can be achieved in the medium to long term through development, incentivization (or regulation) and implementation of new vehicle technologies and fuels.

The aim of the LowCVP study was to identify a range of low carbon fuels and technologies which can cost-effectively reduce well-to-wheel (WTW) CO2 emissions for urban buses in the UK. The report developed technology roadmaps to illustrate when these technologies are likely to be ready for deployment into the bus market, focusing on the timescales 2012-2020 and 2020-2050. The study also examined the wider role of the selected fuels and technologies for decarbonizing heavy goods vehicles.

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