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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.]

Fraunhofer developing process to ferment steel exhaust gases to fuels and chemicals

July 02, 2015

Fraunhofer researchers in Germany have developed a process for the conversion of CO-rich exhaust gases from steel plants into fuels and specialty chemicals. With the aid of genetically modified strains of Clostridium, the research team ferments the gas into alcohols and acetone, converts both substances catalytically into a kind of intermediary diesel product, and from produce kerosene and special chemicals.

Participants include the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME in Aachen, as well as the Institute for Environment, Safety, and Energy Technology UMSICHT in Oberhausen and the Institute for Chemical Technology ICT in Pfinztal. The technology came about during one of Fraunhofer’s internal preliminary research projects and through individual projects with industrial partners. The patented process currently operates on the laboratory scale.

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Researchers find Nissan LEAF creates less CO2 than Toyota Prius hybrid in west US and Texas, but more in N. Midwest

July 01, 2015

Regionally specific lifecycle CO2 emissions per mile traveled for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in the US can vary widely based on grid emission factors (i.e., the “carbon footprint” of electricity production and use), according to a new study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University. Under some conditions, the battery electric Nissan LEAF can produce higher emissions than a Toyota Prius hybrid. The paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The team characterized the vehicle emissions across the United States under alternative assumptions for regional electricity emission factors, regional boundaries, and charging schemes. Among the findings were that:

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4 more cities sign Global Clean Bus Declaration raising total to >40K ultra-low emission buses by 2020; London to trial BYD electric double-decker

June 30, 2015

Four additional cities—Amsterdam, Lima, Catalonia (Barcelona) and Rome—signed up to the Global Clean Bus Declaration at the 1st global Clean Bus Summit in London.

The Global Clean Bus Declaration, developed by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson in partnership with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, launched in Buenos Aires in March 2015 with 20 original signatories. Bus manufacturers including BYD, Volvo, Wright Bus, Optare, Mercedes, Evo Bus, and Alexander Dennis attended the London summit and committed to supporting cities in delivering fleets of new ultra-low emission buses. The World Bank and Green Investment Bank have also signed up to this commitment.

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Volvo Trucks approves 100% renewable diesel for all Euro 5 engines, prepping certification for Euro 6

June 22, 2015

After extensive field testing of renewable diesel HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oils), Volvo Trucks has approved the fuel for all Euro 5 engines and is preparing certifications for Euro 6 engines. HVO (such as Neste’s NEXBTL) is produced from renewable raw materials such as vegetable and animal fats and acts as regular diesel. HVO can reduce CO2 emissions between 30-90%, depending upon the raw material.

In 2013, Volvo Trucks started a field test together with Renova, DHL Freight and OKQ8 to see how the use of 100% HVO affected engine performance and components. The six field test trucks were equipped with Euro 5 engines and covered approximately one million kilometers (621,000 miles) in commercial service over a two-year period.

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EPA and NHTSA propose Phase 2 GHG and fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks

June 19, 2015

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are jointly proposing Phase 2 standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles to improve fuel efficiency and cut greenhouse gas emissions. The proposal builds on the Phase 1 fuel efficiency and GHG emissions standards already in place for model years 2014-2018. (Earlier post.)

Three years in development, the proposed Phase 2 vehicle and engine performance standards would cover model years 2021-2027, and apply to semi-trucks, large pickup trucks and vans, and all types and sizes of buses and work trucks. They would achieve up to 24% lower CO2 emissions and fuel consumption than an equivalent tractor in 2018, based on the fully phased-in standards for the tractor alone in a tractor-trailer vehicle.

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EPA takes first steps toward regulating commercial aviation GHGs with endangerment finding under CAA

June 11, 2015

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to find under section 231(a) of the Clean Air Act that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from commercial aircraft engines endanger the health and welfare of Americans by contributing to climate change. At the same time, the agency issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) that provides information on the process for setting international CO2 emissions standards for aircraft at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and describes and seeks input on the potential use of section 231 of the Clean Air Act to adopt a corresponding standard domestically.

The finding applies to GHG emissions from engines used in US subsonic jet aircraft with a maximum takeoff mass (MTOM) greater than 5,700 kilograms and in subsonic propeller driven (e.g., turboprop) aircraft with a MTOM greater than 8,618 kilograms. Examples of covered aircraft would include smaller jet aircraft such as the Cessna Citation CJ2+ and the Embraer E170, up to and including the largest jet aircraft: the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 747. Other examples of covered aircraft would include larger turboprop aircraft, such as the ATR 72 and the Bombardier Q400. The actions do not apply to small piston-engine planes or to military aircraft.

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Up close and personal with Volkswagen’s e-Golf carbon offset project: Garcia River Forest

June 08, 2015

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TCF, the manager of the Garcia River Forest Project, would like to enable its increasing number of redwood trees to reach the 1,000-year-old status of some of their neighbors, like this one. Click to enlarge.

In 2014, Volkswagen of America announced that starting with the launch of the zero-tailpipe emissions battery-electric 2015 e-Golf (earlier post), it would invest in projects to offset the carbon emissions created from the e-Golf on a full lifecycle basis: production, distribution and up to approximately 36,000 miles (57,936 km) of driving.

Last week, Volkswagen provided a close-up look at one of the projects in which it is investing: the Garcia River Conservation-Based Forest Management Project, located in Mendocino County, California. This project, to which Volkswagen contributes along with companies such as UPS, repairs and preserves a ~24,000-acre native redwood forest, increasing carbon sequestration and storage, while also helping to restore the natural wildlife habitat. Emission reductions produced by the project are verified by an approved third party and registered with the Climate Action Reserve (Project ID CAR102).

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Harvard SPH large-scale study links PM2.5 levels below EPA standards with higher death rates

June 05, 2015

A new study by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that death rates among people over 65 are higher in zip codes with more fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) than in those with lower levels of PM2.5. It is the first study to examine the effect of soot particles in the air in the entire population of a region, including rural areas.

The harmful effects from the particles were observed even in areas where concentrations were less than a third of the current standard set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (12 μg/m3 of annual average PM2.5, 35 μg/m3 daily). The open-access study is published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

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Sandia RAPTOR turbulent combustion code selected for next-gen Summit supercomputer readiness project

May 28, 2015

RAPTOR, a turbulent combustion code developed by Sandia National Laboratories mechanical engineer Dr. Joseph Oefelein, was selected as one of 13 partnership projects for the Center for Accelerated Application Readiness (CAAR). CAAR is a US Department of Energy program located at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility and is focused on optimizing computer codes for the next generation of supercomputers.

Developed at Sandia’s Combustion Research Facility, RAPTOR, a general solver optimized for Large Eddy Simulation (LES, a mathematical model for turbulence), is targeted at transportation power and propulsion systems. Optimizing RAPTOR for Summit’s hybrid architecture will enable a new generation of high-fidelity simulations that identically match engine operating conditions and geometries. Such a scale will allow direct comparisons to companion experiments, providing insight into transient combustion processes such as thermal stratification, heat transfer, and turbulent mixing.

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Europe moves forward with Real Driving Emissions testing procedure; more to do

May 22, 2015

Earlier this week, member states in the European Commission’s Technical Committee - Motor Vehicles (TCMV) gave support to the EC proposal for Real Driving Emissions (RDE) testing requirements.

The goal of RDE, which began its development in January 2011 and is targeted for implementation in the upcoming EU6c Emission Regulation in 2017, is to add emissions measurement under real-world driving as an additional type approval requirement. The goal is more closely to match certified output of tailpipe pollutants such as NOx and particulate matter to real world use; research has shown that real-world emissions—particularly that of NOx from diesels—have been far exceeding regulatory levels. (e.g., Earlier post.)

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Early exposure to PM2.5 associated with increased risk of childhood autism; causality unproven

May 21, 2015

Exposure to fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) during pregnancy through the first two years of a child’s life may be associated with an increased risk of the child developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a condition that affects one in 68 children, according to a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health investigation of children in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The research is funded by The Heinz Endowments and published in the July edition of Environmental Research.

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Study concludes air pollution directly affects cognition

May 19, 2015

Results of new analysis conducted by German and Swiss researchers suggests that air pollution directly affects cognition and is not mediated by lung function; put another way, the two are independent risk factors for cognitive decline. Although earlier studies showed that both air pollution and impaired lung function can cause cognitive deficits, it was up to now unclear whether air pollution diminishes cognition by reducing breathing ability first or whether air pollution represents an independent risk factor for cognitive deficit.

The researchers, who analyzed data from a study of 834 elderly German women, presented their findings at ATS 2015 in Denver.

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Tenneco showcasing new large engine SCR system for marine applications

Tenneco will showcase its complete urea-dosing control, fluid handling and catalyst solution for selective catalytic reduction (SCR) aftertreatment at the 2015 BariShip Maritime Fair in Imabari, Japan, 21-23 May. The system features an integrated soot blower option, providing effective NOx reduction and overall catalyst performance when high sulfur fuels are used or engines operate at low exhaust temperature levels.

Tenneco’s SCR aftertreatment system features a complete dosing control solution specifically designed for marine engine applications up to 7,500 kW or 10,000 hp. The system enables auxiliary and propulsion engines to meet EPA Tier IV and IMO Tier III regulatory requirements and provides precise and reliable delivery of liquid urea via a proprietary, high-performance injector design, a precision mechatronic fluid delivery pump, and customizable remote monitoring and controls.

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Canada targets cutting GHGs 30% below 2005 levels by 2030; new regulations for oil and gas, power, petrochemicals

May 15, 2015

Canada Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced that Canada plans to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. Canada formally submitted its target, referred to as an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Canada will continue to take cooperative action with its continental trading partners, particularly the United States, in integrated sectors of the economy, including energy and transportation.

Minister Aglukkaq also announced the Government’s intention to develop new regulatory measures under its sector-by-sector approach that would build on actions already taken on two of Canada’s largest sector sources of GHG emissions: transportation and electricity. The new regulations include:

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California ARB posts discussion document for developing Advanced Clean Transit (ACT) regulation

May 09, 2015

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has posted a discussion document for upcoming workshops on the development of the Advanced Clean Transit (ACT) regulation.

The proposed Advanced Clean Transit regulation will consider strategies to achieve additional criteria pollutant emissions reductions from transit fleets and to accelerate purchases of zero emission buses as part of an overall strategy to transform all heavy duty vehicles to zero emission or near zero emission vehicles to meet air quality and efficiency improvement goals. ARB staff Staff is evaluating four potential broad elements to the Advanced Clean Transit regulation:

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ITF report finds self-driving shared vehicles could take up to 90% of cars off city streets; total kilometers travelled increases

April 30, 2015

A fleet of self-driving shared cars combined with high-capacity public transport could make 90% of conventional cars in mid-sized cities superfluous under certain circumstances, according to a study published by the International Transport Forum (ITF) at the OECD. Even during peak hours, only about one-third (35%) of the current number of cars would be needed to provide the same number of trips as today.

However, while the number of cars is drastically lower, total vehicle kilometers travelled (VKT) increase—more than doubling in one scenario at peak periods due to detours for pick-ups/drop-offs, repositioning and a shift from bus trips to shared cars. The additional travel could increase environmental impacts, if the fleets used conventional engines. If a fleet of electric vehicles were used instead, a fleet of shared self-driving vehicles would need only 2% more vehicles, however, to accommodate battery re-charging times and reduced travel range.

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California Governor orders more stringent GHG reduction target for the state: 40% below 1990 levels by 2030

California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued an executive order (B-30-15) to establish a California greenhouse gas reduction target of 40% below 1990 levels by 2030—the most aggressive GHG reduction target enacted by any government in North America to reduce GHG emissions over the next decade and a half.

Under the order, all state agencies with jurisdiction over sources of greenhouse gas emissions will need to implement measures, pursuant to statutory authority, to achieve reductions of greenhouse gas emissions to meet the 2030 and 2050 greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets. The California Air Resources Board (ARB) will also update the Climate Change Scoping Plan to express the 2030 target in terms of million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

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U Toronto studies find traffic emissions spread farther than thought; 25% of cars causing 90% of pollution

April 28, 2015

A trio of recently published studies from a team of University of Toronto engineers has found that air pollution could be spreading up to three times farther than thought, contributing to varying levels of air quality across cities.

Past research on tailpipe criteria pollutants has shown poor air quality anywhere between 100 to 250 meters of major roadways. But in an open access paper published in the recent edition of the journal Atmospheric Pollution Research, U of T chemical engineer Greg Evans and his partners at Environment Canada have found that concentrations of pollutants from traffic are still double at a distance of 280 meters downwind from highway 400 north of Toronto.

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U. Mich, Ford team studies effect of ethanol in reducing PM from DISI engines; insights into fueling strategies to reduce soot

April 26, 2015

A team from the University of Michigan and Ford’s Research and Advanced Engineering group in Dearborn has studied the effects of ethanol on reducing particulate emissions from a direct injection spark ignition (DISI) engine by comparing neat anhydrous ethanol with a baseline fuel of reference grade gasoline (indolene).

In a paper published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels, they reported that ethanol produced over an order of magnitude less soot under all operating conditions compared to indolene; however, ethanol produced measurable soot at cold coolant and early fuel injection timing conditions.

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Emissions testing shows Lighting Hybrids hydraulic hybrid drive delivers significant reduction in NOx, up to 18% improved fuel consumption

April 21, 2015

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The LH gasoline hydraulic hybrid shows an extreme reduction in NOx compared to a diesel baseline. Source: Lightning Hybrids. Click to enlarge.

Lightning Hybrids (LH), a provider of hydraulic hybrid drive systems for fleet vehicles such as shuttle buses, delivery vehicles and work trucks (earlier post), has released some results from its ongoing emissions testing with SGS Environmental Testing Corporation. Broadly, the test results show significant reductions in NOx, particularly against a non-hybrid diesel baseline, and fuel economy improvements of up to 18% for the vehicle and under the drive cycles tested.

By design, LH noted, a hybrid drive system provides benefits during a vehicle’s braking and subsequent acceleration phases, so not all drive cycles will take equal advantage of the system. For example, an urban delivery truck which stops many times per mile will benefit strongly, whereas a truck that spends most of its time on the highway would not be a good candidate for any form of hybridization.

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CMU study finds controlled EV charging can reduce generation cost, but at greater health and environmental costs depending upon the generation mix

April 16, 2015

In a study focused on the PJM portion of the US electricity grid, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) found that although charging electric vehicles at night (when electricity is cheap and wind power is typically more plentiful) could lower electricity costs, doing so also creates more air emissions, and that the health and environmental costs from these emissions outweigh the electricity cost savings. A paper describing the work is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Results from the study also suggest that with sufficient coal plant retirement and sufficient wind power, controlled charging could result in positive net benefits instead of negative. The result of the analysis depends on the details of the region, notes CMU Professor Jeremy Michalek, corresponding author—i.e., other parts of the US and the world could be different. The question of electricity costs vs. health and environmental cost is important to ask everywhere, Michalek said.

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EPA: US greenhouse gases up 2% in 2013; increased coal consumption, cool winter

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US GHG emissions by sector, 1990-2013. Source: EPA. Click to enlarge.

Total US greenhouse emissions were 6,673 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2013, an increase of 2% (127.9 MMT CO2 Eq.) over the prior year, according to the EPA’s newly published Inventory of US Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990–2013. Total US emissions have increased by 5.9% from 1990 to 2013.

The increase from 2012 to 2013 was due to an increase in the carbon intensity of fuels consumed to generate electricity due to an increase in coal consumption, with decreased natural gas consumption, according to the report. Additionally, relatively cool winter conditions led to an increase in fuels for the residential and commercial sectors for heating. The transportation sector was the second largest sector source, at 27%. Transportation emissions increased as a result of a small increase in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and fuel use across on-road transportation modes.

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University of Adelaide team exploring novel configuration for solar hybridized coal-to-liquids process

April 13, 2015

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Simplified flowsheet of the proposed solar hybridized coal- to-liquids (SCTL) process with the proposed solar hybridized dual fluidized bed (SDFB) gasifier. Credit: ACS, Guo et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers at the University of Adelaide (Australia) are proposing a novel configuration of a hybridized concentrated solar thermal (CST) dual fluidized bed (DFB) gasification process for Fischer–Tropsch liquids (FTL) fuels production. In their investigation of the process, reported in a paper in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels, they used lignite as the feedstock (Solar hybridized coal to liquids, SCTL), although the process could also be used with biomass.

Although fuel products produced via the Fischer-Tropsch process are high quality (free of sulfur, nitrogen and other contaminants found in petroleum-derived products), and coal is a plentiful and low-cost feedstock, the very high greenhouse gas emissions from coal-to-liquids production processes are a major barrier. As one approach to reducing the overall carbon intensity of FT fuels, there is growing interest in introducing concentrated solar power as a heat source into the gasification process.

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Georgia Tech study projects potential mixed impacts of climate change policies on air quality

April 08, 2015

Results of a study by a team from Georgia Tech and their colleagues at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management show that national CO2emissions reductions strategies will play an important role in impacting air quality over the US. The results also show that CO2 emission reduction policies can have mixed positive and negative impacts on air quality. A paper on the study is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

In the study, the researchers assessed the impact of four potential climate mitigation policies—two climate tax scenarios (CT1 and CT2); a combined transportation and energy scenario (TE); a biomass energy (BE) scenario; plus a reference case—on air quality in the US in 2050 using a chemical transport model (CTM) to simulate air pollutant concentrations and applying recent climate downscaling and emissions modeling advancements.

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New study finds asthma morbidity in children is enhanced in areas with high traffic-related air pollution near the home

April 07, 2015

Results from a new study by researchers at the University of California Irvine support a growing body of scientific literature indicating that sensitive populations, including children, certain ethnic groups and people of lower socioeconomic status, are more vulnerable to the effects of high exposures to traffic-related air pollution.

The UC Irvine study, which examined the effect of chronic exposure in asthmatic children living in homes near traffic pollution, was led by Ralph J. Delfino, MD, PhD, at the Department of Epidemiology. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways; chronic inflammation is associated with airway (bronchial) hyperresponsiveness that leads to recurrent episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing. The study was funded by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) and benefited from funding by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD).

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NASA-led analysis characterizes the impact of jet fuel composition on emitted aerosols

April 03, 2015

Using data gathered during four different, comprehensive ground tests conducted over the past decade, researchers from NASA and their colleagues have statistically analyzed the impact of jet fuel properties on aerosols emitted by the NASA Douglas DC-8 CFM56-2-C1 engines burning 15 different aviation fuels. The analysis, reported in a paper in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels, linked changes in aerosol emissions to fuel compositional changes.

Among the results was the finding that reducing both fuel sulfur content and naphthalenes to near-zero levels would result in roughly a 10-fold decrease in aerosol number emitted per kilogram of fuel burned. The study can inform future efforts to model aircraft emissions changes as the aviation fleet gradually begins to transition toward low-aromatic, low-sulfur alternative jet fuels from bio-based or Fischer–Tropsch production pathways.

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Tenneco developing new gasoline particulate filter (GPF) technology ahead of Euro 6c emissions regulation

March 31, 2015

Tenneco is leveraging its expertise in diesel particulate filter (DPF) technology to develop gasoline particulate filters for 2017 model year light vehicles. These filters are designed for gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines to reduce particulate emissions in compliance with the Euro 6c emissions regulation (particulate number of no more than 6 x 1011particles/km), which takes effect on 1 September 2017.

GDI engines help improve fuel economy and therefore reduce CO2 emissions; however, they can have higher particulate emissions due to shorter fuel/air mixing times in the cylinder compared to multiport fuel injection engines. Advanced fuel injection strategies are currently used to control gasoline particulate emissions in-cylinder but they are designed for a particular emission test cycle and may be less effective under real driving conditions.

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EPA annual report finds automakers outperforming GHG emissions standards

March 26, 2015

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Process for determining compliance status. Source: EPA. Click to enlarge.

For the second consecutive model year, the automotive industry outperformed the national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards by a wide margin, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) second annual Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Light Duty Vehicles: Manufacturer’s Performance Report.

Overall industry compliance in model year 2013 was 12 grams/mile— or 1.4 miles per gallon—better than required by the 2013 standard. (Industry compliance in 2012 was 11 grams/mile better than required.) EPA’s GHG emissions standards cover light-duty vehicles from model year 2012 to 2025. Findings of this year’s report included:

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

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

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

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

March 20, 2015

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

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

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Obama orders GHG cuts for Federal Agencies; 50% of all new agency vehicles to be ZEV or PHEV by 2025

March 19, 2015

President Obama today signed a wide-ranging executive order mandating cuts in greenhouse gas emissions for Federal agencies. Through more efficient Federal operations, agency direct greenhouse gas emissions can be cut by at least 40% over the next decade, the order suggests. The order has operational directives for building and fleet management, electricity generation, water use, waste management and purchasing.

As an initial outcome, within 90 days the head of each agency sis to propose to the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) percentage reduction targets for agency-wide reductions of scope 1 and 2 and scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions in absolute terms by the end of fiscal year 2025 relative to a fiscal year 2008 baseline.

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

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EcoFit Single Module. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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Mercedes-Benz C 350 e PHEV can reduce full lifecycle CO2 emissions up to 41% compared to gasoline-engined C 250

March 18, 2015

Compared to the gasoline-engined C 250, the Mercedes-Benz C 350 e plug-in hybrid (earlier post) can reduce full life-cycle (manufacture, use over 200,000 km and recycling) CO2 emissions by some 26% (9.6 tonnes) when charging with the European electricity mix and by up to 41% (15.1 tonnes) when charging with renewable power.

The analysis is outlined in the plug-in’s newly release “Life Cycle” brochure, the results of which have also been confirmed by TÜV Süd, a branch of the German Technical Inspection Agency. The new plug-in hybrid satisfies all criteria of an environmentally responsible product development pursuant to ISO standard TR 14062.

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Evidence from glacier ice: Until it was banned, leaded gasoline dominated the anthropogenic lead emissions in South America

March 08, 2015

Leaded gasoline was a larger emission source of the toxic heavy metal lead than mining in South America, even though the extraction of metals from the region’s mines historically released huge quantities of lead into the environment, according to a study by researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI and the University of Bern.

The team discovered evidence of the dominance of leaded gasoline based on measurements in an ice core from Illimani glacier in Bolivia; Illimani is the highest mountain of the eastern Bolivian Andes and is located at the northeastern margin of the Andean Altiplano. The scientists found that lead from road traffic in the neighboring countries polluted the air twice as heavily as regional mining from the 1960s onwards. An open access paper on the work is published in the journal Science Advances.

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Europe moves forward on the Energy Union; transport key element

February 26, 2015

The European Commission has adopted the European Energy Union package—a framework strategy for a resilient energy union with a forward-looking climate change policy. As a next step, the Commission will present it to the EU institutions. The European Council will discuss the Energy Union at its meeting in March 2015.

According to the EC, the European Energy Union is intended to bring about a fundamental transition in Europe’s energy system towards an economy that is no longer driven by fossil fuels and where energy security is based on solidarity and trust; where energy flows freely, without any barriers, in a truly integrated EU-wide energy system; where strong, competitive companies develop innovative products and technologies with the help of European research and innovation, and where citizens play a stronger role in the energy system, using technology to reduce their bills, and vulnerable consumers are not left behind.

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SwRI wins $20M EPA contract for emissions and fuel consumption testing, analytical services

February 25, 2015

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has been awarded a five-year, $20.16-million contract by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide testing and analytical services related to vehicle emissions and fuel consumption.

Key areas of support include emissions characterization and technology assessment. SwRI can develop test procedures and equipment for regulated and unregulated emissions in light- and heavy-duty vehicles and components as well as marine, railway, aircraft, small engine, and other non-highway propulsion systems.

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

February 20, 2015

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

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

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CMU team finds regional temperature differences have significant impact on EV efficiency, range and emissions

February 18, 2015

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Energy consumption per mile averaged across the LEAF fleet over a full year (Wh/mi). Credit: ACS, Yuksel and Michalek. Click to enlarge.

An adage about batteries is that they are like humans in performing best at moderate (e.g., room) temperatures; extremes in either direction impact performance. Thus, the efficiency of battery electric vehicles can vary with ambient temperature due to battery performance—as well as the energy required for cabin climate control.

In a new paper accepted for publication in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, Tugce Yuksel and Jeremy Michalek at Carnegie Mellon University have now characterized the effect of regional temperature differences on EV efficiency, range, and use-phase CO2 emissions in the US, based on aggregated real-world fleet data for the Nissan LEAF. Among their findings is that the resulting regional differences in efficiency, range and emissions are large enough to affect adoption patterns and the energy and environmental implications of battery EVs relative to alternatives.

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Toyota Central R&D exploring controlling catalysts at the quantum level for optimized performance and reduced costs

February 17, 2015

The Frontier Research Center (FRC) at Toyota Central R&D Labs in Japan is investigating the development of catalysts controlled at the quantum level. This level of control should result in an an extreme reduction of precious metal usage in automotive exhaust catalysts and/or fuel cells, said Dr. Yoshihide Watanabe, program manager of the Quantum Controlled Catalysis Program at the FRC.

Metal cluster chemistry (a cluster is a group of atoms or molecules formed by interactions varying in strength from very weak to strong) has been developing rapidly since the mid-20th century. Some naturally occurring clusters are known to be involved in catalytic reactions, and there is great interest in the potential use of synthetic clusters in industrial applications such as catalysis.

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Corning launches new FLORA substrates with Honda; improved cold-start emissions performance

February 06, 2015

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Corning FLORA substrates. Click to enlarge.

Corning Incorporated has launched FLORA 600/3 (cpsi, cells per square inch/wall thickness) substrates, a next-generation ceramic product designed to reduce vehicle emissions at engine start. Honda Motor Company will equip select model year 2016 vehicles with the new technology to improve cold-start emissions performance.

Stringent new emissions regulations in the US and Europe will require a substantial improvement in mobile emissions beginning in 2017. In gasoline vehicles, up to 70% of regulated emissions can occur during the first 30 seconds after engine start. Addressing these “cold-start” emissions is critical to meet the new standards.

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ICCT finds growth in shipping in Arctic could increase pollutant emissions 150-600% by 2025 with current fuels

February 05, 2015

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT)
Comparison of the potential reduction in emissions with the application of lower sulfur 0.5% and 0.1% fuel for Arctic vessels assuming a low-growth scenario. Source: ICCT. Click to enlarge.

At the current allowable levels of sulfur in marine bunker fuels, pollutant emissions (particulates, black carbon, NOx, SOx, and CO2) from projected increased ship traffic transiting the US High Arctic could increase from 150% to 600% (depending upon the pollutant) above 2011 levels by 2025, according to a new working paper just published by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT).

The new study is based on a study—“10-Year Projection of Maritime Activity in the US Arctic Region”—completed last month by the ICCT for the US Committee on the Marine Transportation System (CMTS) and submitted to the White House as part of the deliverables for the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region and its 2014 Implementation plan. That study provided estimates of vessel traffic (numbers of vessels and transits) based on modeling of current vessel activity patterns, growth potential, and vessel projection scenarios, including diversion from other routes, and oil and gas development. The study found the potential for 1,500–2,000 Bering Strait transits in 2025, a three- to four-fold increase from 440 transits in 2013 (based on the medium-growth scenario).

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ITF: Freight transport will replace passenger traffic as main CO2 source from surface transportation by 2050

January 29, 2015

In the face of shifting global trade patterns, international freight transport volumes will likely grow more than four-fold (factor 4.3) by 2050, according to the International Transport Forum at the OECD’s ITF Transport Outlook 2015. Average transport distance across all modes will increase 12%. As a result, CO2 emissions from freight transport will grow by 290% by 2050. Freight will replace passenger traffic as main source of CO2 emissions from surface transport. The world growth of surface freight volumes and related CO2 emissions will be driven by non‐OECD economies.

Asia, including China and India, will account for more than 50% of world surface freight transport by 2050 (compared with 35% today). The growth ranges between 330% and 630% for freight volumes and between 240% and 600% for the CO2 emissions. The difference between the highest and the lowest scenario for non‐OECD economies reflects uncertainties related to the direction these economies will take in terms of composition of production and the share of different types of freight transport.

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

January 27, 2015

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

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

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Hydrogenics to supply 1MW electrolyzer to project converting CO2 to methanol; Power-to-Gas

January 26, 2015

Hydrogenics Corporation will supply a 1MW electrolyzer and provide engineering expertise to a consortium of companies working on the European project MefCO2 (methanol fuel from CO2) in Germany. The application will take excess electricity from intermittent renewable energy sources, generate green hydrogen, and then create methanol using a low-carbon footprint production plant and carbon dioxide emissions from an existing coal-fired power plant in Essen, Germany owned by STEAG Gmbh, which operates a number of regional power plants and distributed energy facilities.

CO2 will be captured from the flue gases in a special downstream flue gas scrubber (Post-Combustion Capture, PCC). The Hydrogenics electrolyzer will produce 200 cubic meters of hydrogen per hour. The hydrogen and captured carbon dioxide will then be catalytically converted into methanol, with a daily yield of approximately one ton of methanol using approximately 1.4 tonnes of CO2.

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BMW and Total begin field tests of AdBlue pumps in Germany

January 21, 2015

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

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

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BASF launches next-generation PremAir NXT catalytic coating technology for direct ozone reduction

January 14, 2015

BASF announced the commercial launch of PremAir NXT, a next-generation direct ozone reduction (DOR) catalytic coating technology for heat exchange surfaces such as radiators that can help automakers meet new US Tier 3 and California LEV III emissions reduction requirements.

When applied to such surfaces, the PremAir NXT solution converts harmful ground-level ozone—the main component of smog—into oxygen—i.e., it converts ground-level ozone already in the air. PremAir NXT builds on the success of BASF’s standard PremAir coating technology, providing increased durability and higher ozone conversion performance over the lifetime of a vehicle.

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

January 11, 2015

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

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

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

January 09, 2015

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

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

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

January 05, 2015

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

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

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

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Canadian study finds commuters may be exposed to increased levels of traffic-related pollution

December 30, 2014

A study by researchers led by a team from the Air Health Science Division of Health Canada (the Federal department responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health) finds that commuters may be exposed to increased levels of traffic-related air pollution owing to close proximity to traffic-emissions. The study also found that traffic characteristics, land use, road types, and meteorology are important determinants of these exposures.

As reported in their papaer in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, the team collected in-vehicle and roof-top air pollution measurements over 238 commutes in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, Canada between 2010 and 2013. They used voice recordings to collect real-time information on traffic density and the presence of diesel vehicles; multivariable linear regression models were used to estimate the impact of these factors on in-vehicle pollutant concentrations (and indoor/outdoor ratios) along with parameters for road type, land use, and meteorology.

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Study finds 2008 recession contributed to increase in age of US LDV fleet, slowing of emission reductions

December 29, 2014

The global economic recession of 2008—which severely depressed light-duty vehicle sales—resulted in an increase in the age of the light-duty vehicle fleet in the US that likely slowed the rate of decrease of fleet average emissions, according to a study by Gary Bishop and Donald Stedman at the University of Denver.

In general, on-road vehicle fleet emission factor increases are correlated with increasing age. Over the last two decades in the US, US owners have been keeping their vehicles longer as vehicle prices and reliability have increased, leading to a “slow and steady” increase in the average age of the registered US fleet from approximately 8.5 years old in 1995 to just over 11 years old in 2012, the authors note in their paper, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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Mexico proposes new heavy-duty vehicle emission standards aligned with Euro VI and EPA 2010

December 23, 2014

Mexico’s Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) has proposed new heavy-duty vehicle emissions standards, aligned with current standards in place in the rest of North America and in the European Union. The current limit values in Mexico are equivalent to Euro IV or EPA 2004 standards.

The proposed modification of NOM-044-SEMARNAT-20061, published on 17 December in the Diario Oficial de la Federación, establishes maximum permissible emissions limits of total hydrocarbons, non-methane hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and particles from the tailpipe of new motors that use diesel fuel and that are used in new vehicles with a gross vehicle weight greater than 3,857 kilograms (8,500 lbs), as well as new complete vehicles with gross vehicle weight greater than 3,857 kilograms that are equipped with these motors.

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PBL/JRC: Global CO2 emissions increase to new all-time record in 2013, but growth is slowing down

December 18, 2014

Global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use and cement production reached a new all-time high in 2013, according to the annual report “Trends in global CO2 emissions”, released by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and the European Joint Research Centre (JRC). This was mainly due to the continuing steady increase in energy use in emerging economies over the past ten years. However, emissions increased at a notably slower rate (2%) than on average in the last ten years (3.8% per year since 2003, excluding the credit crunch years).

This slowdown, which began in 2012, signals a further decoupling of global emissions and economic growth, which reflects mainly the lower emissions growth rate of China. China, the USA and the EU remain the top-3 emitters of CO2, accounting for respectively 29%, 15% and 11% of the world’s total. After years of a steady decline, the CO2 emissions of the United States grew by 2.5% in 2013, whereas in the EU emissions continued to decrease, by 1.4% in 2013.

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Washington governor proposes slate of measures to curb GHG emissions & transition state to cleaner energy; cap-and-trade and EV incentives

December 17, 2014

Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced a set of proposals to transition Washington to cleaner sources of energy and to meet greenhouse gas (GHG) emission limits adopted by the state Legislature in 2008. The proposals build on a comprehensive executive order issued by the governor in April.

Cap-and-trade. The proposed “Carbon Pollution Accountability Act” (CPAA) would create a new, market-based program that sets an annual limit CO2 emissions; major emitters will need to purchase “allowances” for their emissions. Each year, the number of available allowances will decline to ensure emissions are gradually reduced. The Governor’s office projects that the program will generate about $1 billion in the first year, and more thereafter, which will be used for transportation, education, tax relief for working families and other purposes.

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Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive reduces lifecycle CO2 emissions by as much as 64% compared to B 180 gasoline model

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CO2 emissions of the B-Class Electric Drive compared with the B 180 gasoline-engine variant [t/car]. Click to enlarge.

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive (earlier post) delivers up to 64% lower CO2 emissions than the equivalent B 180 gasoline model (when charged with hydroelectricity), according to Mercedes-Benz and TÜV Süd. The 132 kW B Class Electric Drive has a range of some 200 km (124 miles). TÜV Süd has awarded the electric-drive Sports Tourer the environmental certificate in accordance with ISO standard TR 14062 based on a comprehensive life-cycle assessment of the B-Class Electric Drive.

Over its entire life cycle, comprising production, use over 160,000 kilometers (99,419 miles) and recycling, the B-Class Electric Drive produces emissions of CO2 that are 24% (7.2 tonnes – EU electricity mix) or 64% (19 tonnes – hydroelectricity) lower than those of the B 180, despite the higher emissions generated during the production process.

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

December 16, 2014

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

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

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Study: conventional traffic pollution modeling may underestimate emissions in congested areas by up to 60%

December 15, 2014

Traditional methods of modeling traffic pollution could be under-estimating emissions by as much as 60%, particularly in areas where congestion occurs for a large part of the day, according to a study by a team at Newcastle University (UK).

Previously, traffic emissions models have used standard factors taking into account details of vehicle fleet composition, average speeds and road type; they took the average speed of traffic as a whole and assumed traffic was traveling at the same speed at the same time, ignoring the stop-start related vehicle emissions often associated with congestion.

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BASF’s new four-way conversion catalyst: TWC plus particulate filter

December 10, 2014

BASF researchers have further developed the three-way conversion catalyst and optimized its cleaning effect. The new four-way conversion catalyst, FWC, is a technology for vehicles with gasoline engines. The catalyst removes the gaseous pollutants and now also solids such as particulates from the exhaust gas flow.

Compared to the ubiquitous three-way conversion catalyst and the downstream uncoated particulate filter, the new FWC occupies much less space, said Dr. Klaus Harth, responsible for research on automotive catalytic converters at BASF. “The compact four-way conversion catalyst now combines all the important properties in a single component.

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ICCT study compares leading global driving cycles and provides usable conversion factors for CO2 emissions

December 08, 2014

A team at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has compared the dynamics of the four leading driving cycles worldwide—the US CAFE standards (a composite of FTP75 and HWFET); the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC); Japan’s JC08; and the recently developed Worldwide Harmonized Light-Duty Test Cycle (WLTC)—and their impacts on fuel consumption and CO2 emissions on an equal basis. (WLTC will be replacing NEDC in a few years.)

The result is a set of usable conversion factors for distance-based CO2 emissions among the different driving cycles. The ICCT team determined these factors on distinct levels of detail, characterized by technology parameters such as share of diesel engines in the fleet, vehicle size, share of hybrid systems, aerodynamic drag, and others. This study updates and refines an earlier analysis completed in 2007. (Earlier post.) The new study uses a different methodology with different mathematical approaches.

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

December 05, 2014

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

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

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Ricardo study finds retrofitted Euro III bus can emit less NOx than newer Euro V hybrid

November 28, 2014

Measurements by Ricardo found that an older Euro III bus retrofitted with a selective catalytic reduction and continuously regenerating particulate trap system can be cleaner in terms of lower NOxemissions than newer Euro V hybrid buses.

The measurements of the retrofitted Euro III bus were an extension of a study of the Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach company fleet in partnership with HORIBA examining the real-world emissions of buses operating through a known pollution hot spot in Brighton city center. As a result of that study, Ricardo published results earlier in the year demonstrating the important role that improving traffic flow can have upon reducing NOx emissions. That study, the findings of which were reported in July, focused on a range of buses including Euro IV, Euro V conventional and Euro V hybrid vehicles.

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EPA proposes tightening primary ozone standards to range of 65-70 ppb; final rule by October 2015

November 26, 2014

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Counties where measured ozone is above proposed range of standards, based on 2011-2013 monitoring data. Source: EPA. Click to enlarge.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing tightening the ground-level 8-hour ozone (O3) National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) to within a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion (ppb), while taking comments on a level as low as 60 ppb. Earlier this year, EPA staff had recommended the further reduction of this primary ozone standard from the current 75 ppb (parts per billion) to a revised level within the range of 70 ppb to 60 ppb—and preferably below 70 ppb. (Earlier post.)

EPA will seek public comment on the proposal for 90 days following publication in the Federal Register, and the agency plans to hold three public hearings. EPA will issue final ozone standards by 1 October 2015.

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

November 25, 2014

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

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

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UC Riverside researchers find mixed emissions impact from use of higher ethanol and butanol fuels in FFVs

November 24, 2014

A study by University of California, Riverside researchers found that the use of higher ethanol blends and a 55% butanol blend in port-fueled and direct injection flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) could lead to emission changes of GHGs, CO, aldehydes, BTEX (monoaromatic hydrocarbons of benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, m/p-xylene, and o-xylene), and particulates.

In a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they reported that the higher alcohol fuels would decrease PM mass and number emissions, although current technology direct injection fueling produces higher particle number and soot mass emissions than the PFI fueling as a result of liquid fuel wetting effects and insufficient air fuel mixing. Particulate emissions were clearly influenced by certain fuel parameters including oxygen content, hydrogen content, and aromatics content.

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EPA to award up to $5M for projects to reduce diesel emissions at ports

November 21, 2014

EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality (OTAQ) will award up to $5M combined for proposals (EPA-OAR-OTAQ-14-07) that achieve significant reductions in diesel emissions in terms of tons of pollution produced by diesel engines and diesel emissions exposure, from fleets operating at marine and inland water ports located in areas of poor air quality.

Eligible diesel vehicles, engines and equipment may include drayage trucks; marine engines; locomotives and non-road engines; and equipment or vehicles used in the handling of cargo at a marine or inland water port. EPA will fund:

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New Volvo XC90 debuts enhanced multi-filter that improves interior air quality

November 13, 2014

Volvo is introducing a larger, more efficient multi-filter in its cabins as part of its CleanZone initiative. CleanZone is an approach to controlling interior air quality and providing a better driving environment through innovative solutions for enhanced wellbeing and health. Drivers can breathe easier because most microscopic, hazardous “fine dust” particles will now be prevented from entering the car.

The multi-filter was designed especially for the SPA platform and will first appear in the all-new XC90 in the beginning of 2015. It features a larger design that intercepts more particulates and pollen, as well as a layer of active charcoal that effectively removes a range of contaminants that can impact the health of drivers.

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Ford, GM and AVL researchers argue match-blending a flawed approach to evaluate ethanol-gasoline blends (corrected)

November 06, 2014

(Earlier version attributed the final quote to the research team. Our apologies for the error.)

In a newly published SAE paper, a team from Ford, General Motors and AVL argues that the exclusive use of a match blending approach to prepare ethanol-gasoline blends for regulatory emissions testing “has fundamental flaws”.

This echoes the recent criticism by the Urban Air Initiative (UAI) and the Energy Future Coalition (EFC) that the latest version of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) MOtor Vehicle Emission Simulator (MOVES) modeling system for estimating emissions from mobile sources is “seriously flawed” with respect to its reliance on match blending. (Earlier post.)

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CDTi introduces Spinel technology to replace PGMs and rare earths in catalytic converters

November 04, 2014

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CDTi says that its Spinel technology uses various base metals to create an effective exhaust catalyst. Click to enlarge.

Clean Diesel Technologies, Inc. announced new proprietary technology—which it calls Spinel—to replace costly platinum group (PGM) and rare earth metals in catalytic converters. The new technology will power multiple catalytic product lines that CDTi believes will be highly disruptive to the traditional platinum-based or rare-earth based device industry. This is CDTi’s first public announcement regarding its Spinel technology, the development of which has been kept confidential until now.

Spinel is the name initially given to naturally-occurring magnesium aluminate (MgAl2O4) and is now used to describe any composition with the same structure. CDTi’s “Spinel” technology utilizes various base metals which when combined together in a common structure achieve unusual and very effective catalytic conversion activity. The technology is applicable in a wide range of engine and vehicle applications, both gasoline and diesel, as well as other potential vertical markets, CDTi says.

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

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

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

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

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Study casting doubt on GHG benefits of corn stover ethanol draws sharp criticism by other researchers; Liska responds

October 30, 2014

A study published earlier this year in the journal Nature Climate Change that cast doubt on whether biofuels produced from corn residue could meet federal mandates for cellulosic biofuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60% compared to gasoline (earlier post) has drawn critical response published as correspondence in the same journal.

The study led by University of Nebraska-Lincoln assistant professor Adam Liska, funded through a three-year, $500,000-grant from the US Department of Energy, used carbon dioxide measurements taken from 2001 to 2010 to validate a soil carbon model that was built using data from 36 field studies across North America. Among their findings were that using corn crop residue to make ethanol and other biofuels reduces soil carbon and under some conditions can generate more greenhouse gases than gasoline.

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Study shows biodiesel blends in buses reduce PM, other harmful exhaust elements, EC and CO

October 29, 2014

A new study on the combustion properties of biodiesel for use in urban transit buses found that using biodiesel can effectively reduce the mass of particulate matter released in both hot and cold idle modes. The study, published by the Mineta National Transit Research Consortium (MNTRC), observed a reduction in amount of particulate matter, number of elements, and elemental carbon; the reduction is considered beneficial to promoting the clean air and human health.

The researchers found that biodiesel has many advantages over regular diesel even in a very low blend percentage, including low emissions of particulate matter, combustion elements (mainly sulfur), elemental carbon, and carbon monoxide. In sum, they recommended that governments consider using blends of biodiesel in urban and commercial vehicles to enhance air quality.

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European Council endorses 40% GHG cut by 2030; requests ways to cut transport emissions via efficiency, electrification and renewable fuels

October 24, 2014

On 23 October, leaders of the European Union agreed on the climate and energy policy framework for the EU for the period from 2020 to 2030. During its meeting, the European Council endorsed 4 targets: a binding EU target of at least 40% less greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 1990; a binding target of at least 27% of renewable energy used at EU level; an energy efficiency increase of at least 27%; and the completion of the EU-internal energy market by reaching an electricity interconnection target of 15% between members states and pushing forward important infrastructure projects.

The Council members also requested further examination by the European Commission on instruments and measures for a comprehensive and technology-neutral approach to reduce emissions and increase energy efficiency in transport, for electric transportation and for the use of renewable energy sources in transport after 2020.

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UAI and EFC call EPA MOVES2014 emissions model treatment of ethanol “seriously flawed”; call for peer review

October 23, 2014

Two organizations, the Urban Air Initiative (UAI) and the Energy Future Coalition (EFC), are asserting that the latest version of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) MOtor Vehicle Emission Simulator (MOVES) modeling system for estimating emissions from mobile sources is “seriously flawed” with respect to its treatment of higher ethanol blends.

EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality (OTAQ) developed MOVES; the emission modeling system estimates emissions for mobile sources at the national, county, and project level for criteria pollutants, greenhouse gases, and air toxics. MOVES2014 is the latest version of MOVES and includes the effects of the Tier 3 rule as well the impacts of other EPA rulemakings promulgated since the last MOVES release in 2010; new emissions data; and new features that users have requested.

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

October 21, 2014

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

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

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

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California ARB mods to ZEV regulations for IVMs would result in ~1.9% drop in total ZEV/TZEV units 2018-2025; no impact on air quality requirements

October 20, 2014

Early in September, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) announced it would consider in a 23-24 October meeting amendments to the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulation that would modify the requirements for intermediate volume manufacturers (IVMs) selling into the state to allow them more time to come into the market. (Earlier post.)

Among the proposed changes were additional production lead time; a reduced compliance obligation (i.e., lower numbers of ZEVs); an opportunity to pool compliance obligations in ZEV states; and additional time to make up ZEV credit deficits. ARB staff estimated the proposed modifications could reduce total California deliveries of ZEVs (fuel cell and battery-electric vehicles) and TZEVs (Transition Zero Emission Vehicles, i.e., plug-in hybrids) by a total of about 26,000 units in the 2018 through 2025 timeframe out of the originally estimated 1,400,000 ZEVs and TZEVs for that period under the current regulation—i.e., by about 1.9%. (For MY 2026 and following, the reduced compliance obligation goes away.)

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

October 12, 2014

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

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

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EPA Trends on EVs and PHEVs; beginning of a “measurable and meaningful impact” on new vehicle fuel economy and emissions

October 11, 2014

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) annual report “Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends” (earlier post) has, in its past editions since its inception in 1975, treated alternative fuel vehicles—electric vehicles (EVs), plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs), and compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles—separately from gasoline and diesel vehicles, with the vast majority of its analysis limited to gasoline and diesel vehicles only.

The agency’s reasoning was that since alternative fuel vehicle production has generally been less than 0.1% of total vehicle production until very recently, the impact of excluding alternative fuel vehicles was negligible. With alternative fuel vehicles now approaching 1% of new vehicle production, however, they are in fact beginning to have a “measurable and meaningful impact” on overall new vehicle fuel economy and CO2 emissions.

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Researchers find isolated Pd atoms efficient low-temperature catalysts to convert CO in automotive exhaust

October 08, 2014

Researchers have found that isolated palladium atoms on γ-alumina supports along with a small amount of lanthanum oxide can efficiently turn the carbon monoxide in automotive exhaust into carbon dioxide at temperatures as low as 40 ˚Celsius, potentially reducing toxins emitted by vehicle exhaust—especially at start-up—and replacing or reducing the need for platinum in automotive catalytic converters.

The catalyst activity can be regenerated by oxidation at 700 °C in air. The high-temperature stability and regenerability of these ionic palladium species make this catalyst system of potential interest for low-temperature exhaust treatment catalysts, the researchers suggested in a recent paper in the journal Nature Communications.

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

October 07, 2014

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

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

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

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EIA data shows ongoing trend of rising CO2 emissions from energy consumption after several years of decreases

September 29, 2014

The September 2014 Monthly Energy Review (MER) published on Friday by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has provided more data to support a trend in rising CO2 in the US that began in 2013.

In 2012, according to the EIA, carbon dioxide emissions from energy consumption (in million metric tons of carbon dioxide) dropped to 5,267 MMT, the lowest level since 1990 (5,039 MMT). However, in 2013, CO2 emissions from energy consumption climbed to 5,396 MMT. In the September MER, the 6-month total (January to June) for 2014 registers 2,737 MMT—up from the 2013 January-June total of 2,664 MMT and the 2012 January-June total of 2,583 MMT.

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BIO says EPA inaction on RFS rule causing an increase in GHG emissions

September 23, 2014

Increased greenhouse gas emissions equal to 4.4 million additional cars on US roads are likely as a result of EPA inaction on finalizing the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rules, according to a new white paper issued by The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). The white paper updates earlier BIO’s March 2014 study, “Estimating Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Proposed Changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard Through 2022.”

That study demonstrated that if EPA reduced biofuel use under the RFS, as the agency proposed in November 2013, the United States would experience an increase in greenhouse gas emissions and forego an achievable decrease in emissions.

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Promising results from Mercedes-Benz fleet test of Clariant high-octane cellulosic E20

Clariant, Haltermann and Mercedes-Benz have fleet-tested high-octane sunliquid 20 fuel—containing 20% cellulosic ethanol produced from straw—since January. (Earlier post.) The test found that the use of sunliquid 20 improves engine efficiency—more than compensating for its 4% lower energy content compared to E10. For drivers, this means with sunliquid 20, CO2emissions are reduced while consumption remains the same.

Use of sunliquid 20 also resulted in a 50% improvement in particle emissions count in contrast to the EU 5 reference fuel. The cellulosic ethanol in sunliquid 20 demonstrates greenhouse gas emission savings of up to 95% across the entire value chain (well-to-wheel perspective) without competing with food production or agricultural acreage.

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Canada aligns with US on light-duty vehicle GHGs, Tier 3 regulations and heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency

Canadian Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced developments on three new regulatory initiatives to further support Canada’s efforts to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to provide cleaner air through lower air pollutant emissions from cars and trucks. These vehicles and fuels regulatory initiatives are aligned with those of the United States.

GHG regulations. The final Regulations Amending the Passenger Automobile and Light Truck Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations for model year 2017 and beyond will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on 8 October. These regulatory amendments represent further action to reduce GHG emissions while building on the existing Regulations for 2011-2016 model year vehicles.

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Peugeot introducing new Euro-6 versions of 3-cylinder gasoline and 4-cylinder diesel engines

September 15, 2014

Peugeot is introducing new Euro 6-compliant versions of its three-cylinder PureTech gasoline and four-cylinder BlueHDI diesel engines. All are equipped with Stop & Start (S&S) technology. Each engine is also coupled with Peugeot’s third-generation Efficient Automatic Transmission 6 (EAT6) transmission.

The introduction of the new engines has reduced the average weighted CO2 emissions of Peugeot’s European range to 111.2 g/km, as measured at the end of May 2014. That compares with 115.1 g/km at the same point in 2013, putting PSA Peugeot Citroën at the top of the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) ranking.

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Study: surface ozone in India in 2005 damaged 6M tonnes of crops, enough to feed 94M people in poverty

September 04, 2014

India-smog-3
Smog in India. Ozone, the main component of smog, is a plant-damaging pollutant formed by emissions from vehicles, cooking stoves and other sources. New research shows that ozone pollution damaged millions of tons of wheat, rice, soybean and cotton crops in India in 2005. Credit: Mark Danielson/Flickr

Surface ozone pollution in India damaged 6 million metric tons (6.7 million US tons) of India’s wheat, rice, soybean and cotton crops in 2005, according to a new study published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

India could feed 94 million people with the lost wheat and rice crops, or about a third of the country’s poor, according to Sachin Ghude, an atmospheric scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) in Pune, India and lead author of the new study. There are about 270 million Indians that live in poverty, according to the study.

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EPA staff policy assessment recommends reduction in ozone standard from 75 ppb to 60-70 ppb

August 31, 2014

The staff of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (OAQPS) has released the final version of the policy assessment (PA) for the review of the ozone (O3) National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).

Among the staff recommendations are to further reduce the primary ozone standard from the current 75 ppb (parts per billion) to a revised level within the range of 70 ppb to 60 ppb—and preferably below 70 ppb.

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Study finds external effects negate Hong Kong local efforts to reduce ozone pollution; multiregional policies needed

August 29, 2014

Researchers from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department and UC Irvine present in a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology direct evidence that increasing regional effects have negated local control efforts for O3 (ozone) pollution in Hong Kong over the past decade.

The researchers analyzed the daily maximum 8 h average O3 and Ox (=O3+NO2) concentrations observed during the high O3 season (September–November) at Air Quality Monitoring Stations. They found that the locally produced Ox showed a statistically significant decreasing trend over 2002–2013 in Hong Kong. Analysis by an observation-based model confirmed this decline in in situ Ox production, which the team attributed to a reduction in aromatic hydrocarbons.

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Study: open trash burning worldwide significantly worsening air pollution; unaccounted for in emission inventories

August 28, 2014

Unregulated open trash burning around the globe is pumping far more pollution into the atmosphere than shown by official records. A new study led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) estimates that more than 40% of the world’s garbage is burned in such fires, emitting gases and particles that can substantially affect human health and climate change.

The new study provides the first rough estimates, on a country-by-country basis, of pollutants such as particulates, carbon monoxide, and mercury that are emitted by the fires. Such pollutants have been linked to serious medical issues. The researchers also estimated emissions of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas produced by human activity. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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US MARAD study finds marine use of natural gas substantially reduces some air pollutants and slightly reduces GHG emissions

August 26, 2014

A recently released total fuel cycle analysis for maritime case studies shows that natural gas fuels reduce some air quality pollutants substantially, and reduce major greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions slightly, when compared to conventional petroleum-based marine fuels (low-sulfur and high-sulfur). The study was released by the US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Maritime Administration (MARAD) and was conducted through a cooperative partnership with the Maritime Administration, the University of Delaware and The Rochester Institute of Technology.

They also found that the upstream configuration for natural gas supply matters in terms of minimizing GHG emissions on a total fuel cycle basis, and that the current infrastructure for marine fuels may produce fewer GHGs. Continued improvements to minimize downstream emissions of methane during vessel-engine operations will also contribute to lower GHG emissions from marine applications of natural gas fuels.

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Black carbon linked to increased cardiovascular risk; exacerbated by co-exposure to motor vehicle emissions

Black carbon (BC) from incomplete biomass and fossil fuel combustion is the most strongly light-absorbing component of particulate matter (PM) air pollution and a major climate-forcing emission. A new international study led by McGill University (Canada) Professor Jill Baumgartner suggests that black carbon may also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. The team’s findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS).

China’s particulate matter (PM) air pollution significantly exceeds health guidelines and is driven by industrial emissions, motor vehicles, and household use of biomass and coal fuels. Baumgartner and her colleagues measured the daily exposure to different types of air pollutants, including black carbon, in 280 women (mean age 51.9 y) in China’s rural Yunnan province, where biomass fuels are commonly used. They found that found that BC exposure from biomass smoke is more strongly associated with blood pressure—which directly impacts cardiovascular risk—than total PM mass, and that co-exposure to motor vehicle emissions may strengthen BC’s impact. Air pollution mitigation efforts focusing on reducing combustion pollution are likely to have major benefits for climate and human health.

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MIT study finds air quality co-benefits of US carbon policies can significantly offset costs, depending upon the policy

August 25, 2014

The human health benefits associated with improvements in air quality related to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions improvements can offset 26–1,050% of the cost of US carbon policies, depending upon the type of policy, according to a new study by a team from MIT. (Air quality co-benefits are additional to climate benefits realized from reduced CO2 emissions.)

In a paper published in the journal Nature Climate Science, the MIT researchers took a systems-level approach to analyzing how climate policies influence air quality, focusing on US emissions of O3 and PM2.5 precursors through 2030. They assessed the costs and air-quality-related benefits of three potential national-scale climate policies, examining the entire pathway linking climate policies, economic sector responses, emissions, regional air quality, human health and related economic impacts.

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EPA report shows progress in reducing urban air toxics across US; 50% reduction from mobile sources since 1990

August 22, 2014

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Second Integrated Urban Air Toxics Report to Congress—the final of two reports required under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to inform Congress of progress in reducing public health risks from urban air toxics (also referred to as hazardous air pollutants or HAPs). HAPs are defined as those pollutants that cause or may cause cancer or other serious health effects, such as reproductive effects or birth defects, or adverse environmental and ecological effects.

Using national emissions and air quality data, the Urban Air Toxics Report shows the substantial progress that has been made to reduce air toxics across the country since the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. Among the results highlighted is the removal of an estimated 1.5 million tons per year of HAPs from mobile sources, which represents a 50% reduction in mobile source HAP emissions. With additional fleet turnover, EPA expects these reductions to grow to 80% by the year 2030.

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3rd generation Audi TT reduces full lifecycle GHGs by 11% compared to predecessor

August 18, 2014

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Lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions for 2nd and 3rd generation TTs. Click to enlarge.

Audi’s new third-generation TT reduces life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions by 11% compared to its predecessor. This results in a reduction of around 5.5 tonnes of GHGs—CO2, methane, nitrous oxide and halogenated organic emissions—over its entire lifecycle. At the same time, Audi has increased the power output in the new TT by up to 14%.

A number of technologies have contributed towards the positive life cycle assessment of the Audi TT, including lightweight construction. Using an intelligent combination of materials, Audi engineers have, for the second time in a row, succeeded in reducing the car’s unladen weight.

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Emissions study suggests E10 + renewable hydrocarbons a high bioenergy alternative for conventional cars

August 14, 2014

Researchers from VTT Technical Research Center of Finland and Neste Oil analyzed the exhaust emissions from three different spark ignition engine technologies—multipoint fuel injection (MPFI); direct-injection spark-ignition (DISI); and flex-fuel (FFV)—using different biofuels—low- and high-concentration ethanol blends; isobutanol; and biohydrocarbons. They report their findings in a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Among their conclusions was that the combination of ethanol or isobutanol with renewable hydrocarbon components (i.e., drop-in biohydrocarbons) could offer an option to achieve a high-bioenergy-content gasoline that is compatible with conventional gasoline-fueled cars (i.e., those limited to a 10% ethanol blend) without a significant change in emissions.

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Volkswagen and Audi launch sustainability programs for US introduction of e-Golf BEV and A3 e-tron PHEV; carbon offsets with 3Degrees and solar energy

August 05, 2014

Volkswagen of America, Inc. introduced several e-mobility sustainability initiatives to commence with the US launch of the battery-electric e-Golf (earlier post). These begin with an investment in carbon reduction projects via a partnership with 3Degrees to offset emissions created from e-Golf production, distribution and from the estimated emissions produced from keeping the vehicle charged through the initial 36,000 miles of its life. VoA made the announcement at the Management Briefing Seminar, hosted by the Center for Automotive Research.

Volkswagen of America also selected SunPower as VW’s official solar energy partner; Bosch Automotive Service Solutions as its preferred home-charging and installation services provider; and ChargePoint to provide charging stations to the VW dealer network and to provide US e-Golf owners access to consumers to more than 18,000 charging stations nationwide. The 2015 e-Golf will go on sale later this year at participating dealerships in select states.

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U Mich professor finds fuel cycle analysis for evaluating CO2 impacts of liquid fuels is fatally flawed; calls for focus on CO2 removal

July 28, 2014

Fuel cycle analysis (FCA)—or “well-to-wheels analysis”—is a type of lifecycle analysis (LCA) that examines fuel products and their supply chains, and that has greatly influenced climate-related research priorities and public policies for transportation fuels.

However, in a major review of methods for evaluating the net CO2 impacts of liquid transportation fuels, Professor John DeCicco at the University of Michigan Energy Institute (UMEI) compared FCA to other methods of analysis, and found “flaws fatal enough to raise serious concerns about the role of FCA in shaping fuel-related CO2 mitigation strategies. Instead, DeCicco proposes “setting the lifecycle paradigm aside” and focusing on the problem of carbon dioxide removal.

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Delphi to debut new Tech Truck at IAA CV show; new high-pressure fuel injection system and new HPDI injector for natural gas

July 27, 2014

Delphi Automotive PLC will unveil the second generation of its Technology Truck concept highlighting future technologies at the upcoming IAA Commercial Vehicles show being held 25 Sept - 2 Oct in Hannover, Germany.

Among the technologies Delphi will unveil is the next-generation fuel injection system for commercial vehicles applications. The system, which builds on the performance of its 2700 bar F2 common rail technologies, includes a patented fuel injector and will help vehicle manufacturers meet future legislated emissions and fuel efficiency levels. Also at IAA, Delphi will showcase the new second-generation High Pressure Direct Injection (HPDI) natural gas injector for heavy-duty engine applications. Delphi co-developed the new HPDI injector with Westport.

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IHS: continued legislative focus on pollutants to drive sensor market for internal combustion engines

July 24, 2014

The global market for sensors used in internal combustion engines (ICE) is on the road of steady growth for the next few years, propelled by increasing utilization in engine management and exhaust aftertreatment, according to a new report from IHS Technology. IHS projects that sensor shipments for ICEs will top 1.34 billion units in 2019, up from about 1.08 billion in 2013. Overall, IHS expects a six-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2013 to 2019 of 3.6%.

The report—“Powertrain Sensor Market Tracker – H1 2014”—is part of the Semiconductors & Components service of IHS Technology. The report examines more than 20 sensors attached to the engine, fuel and exhaust systems of passenger vehicles. The list includes pressure sensors, devices to monitor flow and temperature, ceramic sensors for the gases nitrogen oxide (NOx) and oxygen, in addition to knock sensing, position and speed.

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Argonne VERIFI researchers applying GSA to investigate combustion engine parameters; seeking cleaner and more efficient engines

July 18, 2014

Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, as part of the new Virtual Engine Research Institute and Fuels Initiative (VERIFI) (earlier post), are using global sensitivity analysis (GSA)—a specific form of uncertainty analysis which breaks down the uncertainty into constitute parts—to investigate a number of parameters in the internal combustion process. By gaining a better understanding of how these parameter uncertainties affect outcomes, the VERIFI researchers, along with colleagues at the University of Connecticut, are seeking to create cleaner and more efficient engines.

The parameters being investigated include the relationships between the diameter of the nozzle in the fuel injector; the dynamics of the fuel spray; the proportion of fuel to air in the combustion chamber; and the exhaust products. In an SAE paper presented at the World Congress this year, the researchers described the results of the first demonstration of GSA for engine simulations.

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UK study finds low carbon policy has bolstered UK automotive sector, but trucks neglected and biofuels stalled

July 17, 2014

Lowcvp
Value of low carbon investments by year and cumulative. Click to enlarge.

A major new report published at the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership’s Annual Conference shows the UK automotive sector has been revitalized by consistently applied policy centered on cutting carbon.

Carried out for LowCVP by E4tech and the Centre for Automotive Industry Research at Cardiff Business School, the study was conducted between March and June 2014. The broad industry survey, supplemented by in-depth interviews with senior executives showed that a consistent and sustained policy approach can produce both green results and growth. The link between consistently applied policy and a win-win in terms of investment and emissions performance was validated by the survey involving more than 120 senior industry and stakeholder respondents.

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