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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.]

UTA study indicates air contamination near fracking sites result of operational inefficiencies, not inherent to the extraction process

August 27, 2016

A study led by chemists at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) indicates that highly variable contamination events registered in and around unconventional oil and gas developments are the result of operational inefficiencies and not inherent to the extraction process itself.

The study, published in Science of the Total Environment, found highly variable levels of ambient BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylene compounds) in and around fracking gas drilling sites in the Eagle Ford shale region in South Texas. In situ air quality measurements using membrane inlet mobile mass spectrometry revealed ambient benzene and toluene concentrations as high as 1000 and 5000 parts-per-billion, respectively, originating from specific sub-processes on unconventional oil and gas well pad sites. BTEX compounds in high concentrations can be carcinogenic and have harmful effects on the nervous system.

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Study finds in-cabin particulate pollution up to 40% higher in traffic jams or at red lights

August 26, 2016

A new study by a team at the University of Surrey has found that particulate pollution levels inside cars are up to 40% higher when the vehicle is stuck in a traffic jam or stopped at a red traffic light compared to free-flowing traffic conditions.

The study, published as an open access paper in the RSC journal Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts, assessed in-cabin exposure to fine and coarse PM under five different ventilation settings and compared in-cabin exposure at signalized traffic intersections (TIs) with pedestrian exposure. The study also found that car windows closed with the fan/heating off in traffic is the best ventilation setting in traffic—leading up to a 76% reduction in in-car pollutants. Also, the safest setting is the air being circulated internally only by the fan without drawing in polluted air from outdoors.

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DOE to award up to $6.7M to projects to convert captured CO2 to useful products, including fuels

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award approximately $6.7 million in federal funding for cost-shared projects that will develop technologies that utilize CO2 from coal-fired power plants to produce useful products. DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy is seeking these projects as part of the Department’s Carbon Storage program, which has the goal of developing and advancing technologies to improve the effectiveness of carbon storage, reduce the cost of implementation, and be ready for widespread commercial deployment in the 2025–2035 timeframe.

After carbon dioxide is captured from large point sources, such as coal-fired power plants, it can be injected into underground geological formations from which it cannot escape (geologic sequestration). Another option is to use the CO2 as a reagent to create useful products, such as cement, plastics, or liquid fuels. The new DOE funding opportunity announcement (DE-FOA-0001622) focuses on the second of these pathways which is focused on securing applications for projects that will develop CO2-utilization technologies that produce useful products at lower cost than currently available technologies, without generating additional greenhouse gas emissions.

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U-M study finds crop-based biofuels associated with net increase in GHGs; falsifying the assumption of inherent carbon neutrality

August 25, 2016

A new study from University of Michigan researchers challenges the assumption that crop-based biofuels such as corn ethanol and biodiesel are inherently carbon-neutral—i.e., that only production-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions need to be tallied when comparing them to fossil fuels.

In an open-access paper published in the journal Climatic Change, the researchers conclude that once estimates from the literature for process emissions and displacement effects including land-use change are considered, US biofuel use to date is associated with a net increase rather than a net decrease in CO2 emissions.

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MIT team calculates lead emissions from avgas fuel in US contribute to ~$1B in annual damages due to IQ losses

August 24, 2016

Researchers at MIT have produced the first assessment of the annual costs of IQ losses from aircraft lead emissions in the US. Their study, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, found that that atmospheric lead pollution attributable to leaded aviation gas (avgas) contributes to US$1.06 billion (the mean from a range of $0.01–$11.6 billion) in annual damages from lifetime earnings reductions, and that dynamic economy-wide methods result in damage estimates that are 54% larger.

Because the marginal costs of atmospheric lead pollution are dependent on background concentration, the researchers also expect the costs of piston-driven aircraft lead emissions to increase over time as regulations on other emissions sources are tightened.

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Zhejiang University team investigates emissions from methanol-gasoline blends

August 23, 2016

Globally, the use of methanol as an alternative fuel has attracted interest because of its low production cost, renewable capacity, and good combustion-related properties (higher thermal efficiency, higher engine power, and lower regulated emissions). In China in particular, there are abundant coal resources, and the technology of using coal to obtain methanol has been perfected with low cost; methanol fuel from coal has become one of the most popular alternative fuels for vehicles.

However, the in-cylinder combustion of methanol also produces a considerable amount of extra toxic emissions, such as alcohols and aldehydes. A team at Zhejiang University has now investigated the impact of methanol–gasoline blends on the pollutant emissions of port-fuel injected spark ignition (SI) engines. A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

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BC government unveils climate plan

The government of British Columbia recently unveiled its Climate Leadership Plan, targeting the reduction of net annual greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25 million tonnes below current forecasts by 2050 and the creation of up to 66,000 jobs over the next ten years. BC’s target is to reduce 2050 emissions 80% below 2007 levels.

The plan’s initial 21 action items include making electric vehicles more affordable and boosting the Low Carbon Fuel Standard from 10% to 15%. Government is also targeting making buildings more efficient, sequestration opportunities in forests and emission reductions in natural gas production and processing.

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Researchers clarify role of cetane number and aromaticity in soot-NOx tradeoff

August 22, 2016

A study by researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology has found that the “persistent diesel dogma” of “the higher the cetane number (CN) the better” relative to the soot-NOx trade-off is valid in neither conventional or low temperature combustion operation. The open-access study, published in the journal Fuel also reported that a second piece of conventional wisdom—“the lower the aromaticity the better”— is valid in both combustion modes.

The researchers also devised a new, dimensionless parameter—Π—that holds distinct values for the various combustion modes. This can predict either a positive, neutral or negative impact of high CN and low aromaticity on the soot-NOx trade-off based on a given set of engine operating conditions.

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Study suggests focusing on cold starts in gasoline cars as target for emissions reduction

A new study suggests that focusing on a gasoline-fueled vehicle’s cold start is the best target for future design changes to reduce emissions of criteria pollutants. The researchers are presenting their work today at the 252nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Philadelphia.

Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reported that air is cleaner today than it was in the 1970s, more than 130 million people in the US still live in places where smog or particle pollution rises to unhealthful levels. Smog can cause coughing and shortness of breath, and can aggravate asthma or trigger asthma attacks. Much of this haze is formed from volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, and fine particulate matter from tailpipe emissions.

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ExxonMobil & Georgia Tech CMS membrane brings advantages of reverse osmosis separations to hydrocarbon mixtures; potential significant cuts in chemical manufacturing energy use & emissions

August 19, 2016

Scientists from ExxonMobil and the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed new free-standing carbon molecular sieve (CMS) membrane technology that could significantly reduce the amount of energy and emissions associated with manufacturing plastics. Results of the research were published in Science. Using a molecular-level filter, the new process employs a form of reverse osmosis to separate para-xylene, a chemical building block for polyester and plastics, from complex hydrocarbon mixtures. The current commercial-scale process used around the world relies on energy and heat to separate those molecules.

Reverse-osmosis membranes are already widely used to desalinate seawater, consuming a fraction of the energy required by thermally driven processes. The new organic solvent reverse osmosis process is believed to be the first use of reverse osmosis with carbon membranes to separate liquid hydrocarbons.

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New Flyer adds 2016 Cummins Westport ISL G Near Zero engine to Xcelsior bus lineup; debuting in LA

August 18, 2016

Flyer of America Inc., a subsidiary of New Flyer Industries Inc., the largest heavy-duty transit bus and motor coach manufacturer and parts distributor in North America, is adding the 2016 Cummins Westport ISL G Near Zero engine (earlier post) to its Xcelsior bus family. New Flyer is the first transit manufacturer to offer the industry’s cleanest certified engine and will deliver the first original OEM installation of a the engine in the third quarter of 2016.

The ISL G NZ compressed natural gas is certified by both US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Air Resources Board (ARB) in California to meet the 0.02 g/bhp-hr optional Near Zero NOx Emissions standards for medium-duty truck, urban bus, school bus and refuse applications. The engine will be used to power a New Flyer Xcelsior XN40 bus for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro). LA Metro operates the largest natural gas engine transit vehicle fleet in North America.

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2017 Range Rover Sport gains new Ingenium 2.0L diesel as option; semi-autonomous driving tech

August 17, 2016

For the 2017 Model Year, Range Rover Sport will debut the new 2.0-liter four-cylinder Ingenium diesel engine (earlier post), manufactured at Jaguar Land Rover’s own engine plant in Wolverhampton, UK. Already available on both Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque models, Ingenium is Jaguar Land Rover’s new breed of engine designed for performance, refinement and efficiency.

The 2017 Model Year Range Rover Sport is the first full-sized Land Rover SUV to feature a four-cylinder diesel engine. The all-aluminium 2.0-liter SD4 Ingenium produces 240 hp and 500 N·m (369 lb-ft) of torque, and is capable of returning (38 mpg US, 6.2 l/100 km) on the EU combined cycle with emissions of 164 g/km (manufacturer’s estimated data).

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DOE to award up to $137M for SuperTruck II, Vehicle Technology Office programs

August 16, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will invest up to $137 million in two programs, subject to appropriations, to develop next-generation technologies that will support industry in going beyond the newly announced Phase II standard for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (earlier post) and also accelerating technology advances for passenger cars and light trucks.

One initiative, SuperTruck II (earlier post), will award $80 million to four projects to develop and to demonstrate cost-effective technologies that more than double the freight efficiency of Class 8 trucks. Through the other initiative, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Vehicle Technologies Office Program Wide Funding Opportunity Announcement (earlier post)selections, 35 new projects will receive $57 million to develop and deploy a wide array of cutting-edge vehicle technologies, including advanced batteries and electric drive systems, to reduce carbon emissions and petroleum consumption in passenger cars and light trucks.

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EPA and DOT issue final Phase 2 GHG and fuel efficiency rulemaking for medium- and heavy-duty trucks

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) jointly released the finalized Phase 2 greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

The product of four years of testing and research and outreach to industry, environmental organizations, labor unions, and other stakeholders, the vehicle and engine performance standards will 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. These standards will result in significant GHG emissions reductions and fuel efficiency improvements across all of these vehicle types. For example, when the standards are fully phased in, tractors in a tractor-trailer will achieve up to 25% lower CO2 emissions and fuel consumption than an equivalent tractor in 2018.

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KBA approves Volkswagen’s fix for 1.2-liter EA189 TDI diesel engine

August 14, 2016

Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) has approved the technical emissions-control solution—a software update—for vehicles with the 1.2-liter EA189 TDI diesel engine. The KBA approval applies to 460,000 vehicles of affected Group brands, including the Volkswagen Polo and SEAT Ibiza models.

The software update can now be promptly carried out on the first vehicles of the second affected engine-size category. The owners of these models are being successively informed and can then make an early appointment with an authorised workshop to have the update done.

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Study quantifies impact of oil and gas emissions on Denver’s ozone problem

August 12, 2016

The first peer-reviewed study to directly quantify how emissions from oil and natural gas (O&NG) activities influence summertime tropospheric ozone (O3) pollution in the Colorado Front Range confirms that chemical vapors from oil and gas activities are a significant contributor to the region’s chronic ozone problem.

Summertime ozone pollution levels in the northern Front Range periodically spike above 70 parts per billion (ppb), which is considered unhealthy—on average, 17 ppb of that ozone is produced locally. The new research, published in an open-access paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, shows that oil and gas emissions contribute an average of 3 ppb of the locally produced ozone daily, and potentially more than that on high-ozone days.

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Argonne team finds significant albedo warming effect for switchgrass ethanol

August 11, 2016

One of the key points of contention over the climate benefit of biofuels is the impact of land use change (LUC) associated with biofuel feedstock production. LUC results in biogeochemical (e.g., soil organic carbon) and biogeophysical (e.g., surface albedo, evapotranspiration, and surface roughness) changes. Of the biogeophysical factors, surface albedo has been considered a dominant effect at the global scale.

A team at Argonne National Laboratory has now quantified land use change (LUC)-induced albedo effects for three major biofuels in the US, using satellite data products for albedo and vegetation observations. Published in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science, the analysis indicates that the land use change (LUC)-induced albedo effect is small for corn and miscanthus ethanol, but is significant for switchgrass ethanol, which is driven by the types, locations, and intensities of various land conversions to these biofuel feedstocks.

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Study: more stringent O3 and PM2.5 air pollution standards could save thousands of lives, greatly improve public health

Reducing outdoor concentrations of two air pollutants, ozone (O3) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5), to levels below those set by the US Environmental Protection Agency would likely save thousands of lives each year, result in far fewer serious illnesses and reduce missed days of school and work, according to a new analysis conducted by the American Thoracic Society and the Marron Institute of Urban Management at New York University.

In “Estimated Excess Morbidity and Mortality Caused by Air Pollution above ATS Recommended Standards, 2011-2013,” published online in the August edition of Annals of the American Thoracic Society, researchers report on the annual health benefits of meeting more protective standards recommended by the ATS for O3 and PM2.5. They found that meeting a 0.060 parts per million (ppm) 8-hour standard for O3, rather than the EPA’s 0.070 ppm standard, and an 11 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) annual standard for PM2.5, rather than the EPA’s 12 µg/m3 standard, would each year:

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EPA awards $4.5M to advance air monitoring technology

August 10, 2016

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will award a total of $4.5 million to six research organizations to develop and to use low-cost air pollution sensor technology, while engaging communities to learn about their local air quality.

While recent advances in technology have led to the development of low-cost air pollution sensors, they have not been widely tested, especially under field conditions. These grants will help fund research projects that explore how scientific data can be effectively gathered and used by communities to learn about local air quality.

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Researchers say fuel market rebound effect can result in increased GHG emissions under RFS2; suggest taxes over mandates

August 08, 2016

The US Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) is intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. However, argues a team from the University of Minnesota in an open-access paper published in the journal Energy Policy, once the “fuel market rebound effect” is factored in, RFS2 actually increases GHG emissions when all fuel GHG intensity targets specified under the act are met.

Increasing the supply of low-carbon alternative fuels is a basic strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, the Minnesota team notes, increasing the supply of fuels tends to lower energy prices, which encourages in turn encourages additional fuel consumption. This “fuel market rebound effect” can undermine climate change mitigation strategies, even to the point where efforts to reduce GHG emissions by increasing the supply of low-carbon fuels may actually result in increased GHG emissions.

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Tufts team finds aviation impact on particle number concentrations downwind of airport; correlation with flight activity

Jet aircraft emit ultrafine particles (UFPs; aerodynamic diameter of <100 nm) at high rates. In a study with implications for populated areas near airports, a team from Tufts University in Boston has found that the impact of aviation on ambient ultrafine particle number concentrations (PNCs) extend many kilometers downwind of Boston’s Logan airport.

In the study, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, the Tufts team analyzed PNCs measured from 3 months to 3.67 years at three sites within 7.3 km of the airport. At sites 4.0 and 7.3 km from the airport, average PNCs were 2- and 1.33-fold higher, respectively, when winds were from the direction of the airport compared to other directions. This indicated that aviation impacts on PNC extend many kilometers downwind of Logan airport, the researchers said.

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Aqua Metals opens first AquaRefining center for low-pollution lead-acid battery recycling

Aqua Metals, Inc. recently held an open house at its first AquaRefinery at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center (TRIC) in McCarran, Nevada. The company says that its proprietary AquaRefining is first environmentally friendly process to recycle lead-acid batteries (LABs).

The AquaRefining technology extracts lead from LABs with a room temperature, closed-loop, water-based process that results in significant reductions of hazardous waste and direct human contact with the lead itself. The process produces lead that is as pure as—or purer than—mined lead, requiring no secondary processing.

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Air pollution may shorten survival of patients with lung cancer

August 05, 2016

Air pollution may shorten the survival of patients with lung cancer, suggests a population-based study by a team from the University of Southern California published in the journal Thorax. The trends were most noticeable for early stage disease, particularly adenocarcinoma—the most common type of non-small cell lung cancer, which accounts for 80% of lung cancer cases—the findings show.

Air pollution has been linked to a higher incidence of lung cancer and death, but little is known about its potential impact on an individual’s chances of survival after diagnosis.

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ORNL team further characterizes PM from RCCI combustion; possible different PM formation process than conventional diesel

August 04, 2016

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have been working for years to advance reactivity-controlled compression ignition (RCCI) technology (e.g., earlier post, earlier post). The work includes not only advancing the combustion technology itself, but also characterizing and analyzing the emissions from RCCI (earlier post).

In a new open-access paper published in the International Journal of Engine Research, the Oak Ridge team summarizes its research to date on characterizing the nature, chemistry and aftertreatment considerations of RCCI particulate matter (PM) and presents new research highlighting the importance of injection strategy and reactive and unreactive fuel compositions on RCCI PM formation.

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DOE to award $7M to accelerate fuel and engine co-optimization technologies; Co-Optima initiative

August 01, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to $7 million in project funding to accelerate the introduction of affordable, scalable, and sustainable high-performance fuels for use in high-efficiency, low-emission engines as part of the Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines (Co-Optima) initiative. (Earlier post.)

Co-optimized fuels and engines offer the opportunity to build on decades of advancements in both fuels and engines. Groundbreaking research in the last 10 years has identified combustion engine strategies that—especially if optimized to run on new fuels—would offer significantly higher efficiency and produce fewer engine-out pollutants than current engines. The new funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001461) will advance the long-term objective of the Co-Optima initiative to accelerate widespread deployment of significantly improved fuels and vehicles (from passenger to light truck to heavy-duty commercial vehicles) by 2030.

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UI, Argonne develop catalyst for more efficient solar-powered reduction of CO2 to CO for conversion to fuel

In a new study from the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Illinois at Chicago, researchers report devising a new transition metal dichalcogenide (TMDC) nanoarchitecture for catalytic electrochemical reduction of CO2 to carbon monoxide (CO) in an ionic liquid.

In their paper published in the journal Science, the researchers found that tungsten diselenide nanoflakes show a current density of 18.95 milliamperes per square centimeter, CO faradaic efficiency of 24%, and CO formation turnover frequency of 0.28 per second at a low overpotential of 54 millivolts. They also applied this catalyst in a light-harvesting artificial leaf platform that concurrently oxidized water in the absence of any external potential.

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Researchers urge Chinese government to encourage bikes, buses and rail over cars and commercial vehicles due to emissions and health concerns

Based on the results of their analysis of the potential air quality and health impacts of travel demand in China under business-as-usual and alternative transport scenarios, a team of researchers in China is urging policymakers to encourage the replacement of private cars for short trips with bicycles or public buses and the replacement of commercial vehicles with rail transport.

In their paper, published in the journal Energy Policy, Ling-Yun HE and Lu-Yi QIU, observe that regulatory policies imposed on vehicle usage as well as on car ownership can not solve the growing emissions problem.

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California releases Sustainable Freight Action Plan to transform freight system; 25% more efficient by 2030

July 30, 2016

In response to an Executive Order issued last year by California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., state agency leaders on Friday released the California Sustainable Freight Action Plan, a comprehensive document that serves as a blueprint for transforming the state’s multi-billion dollar freight transport system into one that is environmentally cleaner, more efficient, and more economically competitive than it is today.

The revised document is similar to the draft version issued in May 2016, but reflects new input provided by industry, labor, regional and local government, and community and environmental group stakeholders, who submitted more than 85 comments on the draft plan.

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Penn State, U Mich team characterizes soot generated by low-temperature diesel combustion

July 29, 2016

Researchers from Penn State and the University of Michigan have characterized the nanostructure and oxidative reactivity of soot generated by a light-duty turbodiesel engine operating under a dilute, low-temperature combustion process referred to as high-efficiency clean combustion (HECC). Their paper appears in the International Journal of Engine Research.

Earlier work by members of the team (Gregory Lilik and André Boehman) had shown that high cetane number fuel with HECC leads to reductions in all primary pollutant emissions—i.e., THC and CO as well as NOx and PM. (Earlier post.) Less established, however, is how well such dilute combustion processes influence soot formation.

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EIA projects energy intensity of US steel production to drop 27% by 2040

Steel production is energy-intensive; in 2015, the steel industry accounted for 1.5% of all industrial shipments in the US but 6.1% of industrial delivered energy consumption. The US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook 2016 (AEO2016) Reference case projects that energy use in the steel industry will further increase by 11% over 2015–2040.

Over the same period, however, the AEO2016 projects in its Reference case a 27% drop in the steel industry’s energy intensity, compared with an 18% reduction in total industrial energy intensity. Several alternative cases examine drivers for further energy intensity reductions in the steel industry.

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BMW unveils latest Efficient Dynamics 3- and 4-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines

At its Innovation Days 2016 event in Munich, BMW unveiled new versions of its three and four- cylinder gasoline and diesel engines. Like their predecessors, the new power units are based on the modular system that enables the application of consistent design principles, a shared architecture and matching components.

The key elements of the standardized concept include the in-line engine’s basic design principle; an aluminium crankcase with uniform positioning of the intake and exhaust sides; a cylinder displacement of around 500 cubic centimeters per combustion chamber; as well as the arrangement of timing chains and ancillary units. In addition to this, the full line-up of gasoline and diesel engines feature BMW TwinPower Turbo technology.

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Berkeley TSRC study quantifies VMT and GHG benefits of car2go car-sharing in North America

July 25, 2016

car2go NA is currently the largest flexible one-way carsharing service in North America. Now, a study conducted by the University of California Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) concludes that car2go’s carsharing model can complement existing mass transit options; reduces the overall number of vehicles on the road; and ultimately improves mobility in densely-populated urban areas.

Among the study’s conclusions were that, on balance, car2go changes VMT (vehicle miles travelled) by -6% to -16% per car2go household; GHG emissions change by -4% to -18% per car2go household. Overall, the results of this study suggest that car2go one-way carsharing is substantively impacting travel behavior, miles driven, GHG emissions, and the number of vehicles on urban roads within operating regions.

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European Strategy for low-emission mobility stresses digital tech, electrification and ZEVs

July 22, 2016

Earlier this week, the European Commission published a strategy for low-emission mobility, which sets out guiding principles to Member States to prepare for the future. EU legislation currently refers to low-emission vehicles as vehicles having tailpipe emissions below 50 g/km. This would include some plug-in hybrids, full electric cars and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The latter two examples also represent zero-emission vehicles.

The low-emission mobility strategy will frame the initiatives that the Commission is planning in the coming years, and it maps the areas in which it is exploring options. It also shows how initiatives in related fields are linked and how synergies can be achieved. In parallel to this strategy, the Commission is launching public consultations on the approach towards reducing emissions from road transport: cars and vans as well as trucks, buses and coaches.

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European Commission fines truck producers record €2.93B for colluding to pass on emission compliance costs

The European Commission found that truck makers MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco, and DAF broke EU antitrust rules by colluding for 14 years on truck pricing and on passing on the costs of compliance with stricter emission rules. The Commission has imposed a record fine of €2,926,499,000 (US$3.22 billion).

MAN was not fined as it revealed the existence of the cartel to the Commission. All companies acknowledged their involvement and agreed to settle the case.

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JBEI scientists use CO2 to control toxicity of ionic liquids in biomass pretreatment; lowering production costs

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories working at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have demonstrated that adding CO2 during the deconstruction phase of biofuel production successfully neutralizes the toxicity of ionic liquids, the room-temperature molten salt solvent used at JBEI to break down cellulosic plant material.

The process is easily reversible, allowing the liquid to be recycled for use as a solvent again. Their study, published RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science, addresses a significant obstacle to expanding the market for biofuels: lowering the cost of production.

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Interactive map will show real-time carbon monoxide levels in London

July 20, 2016

Internet of Things (IoT) platform company Drayson Technologies is partnering with Inmarsat and courier company Gophr to capture real-time data on carbon monoxide pollution levels in London. A recent report from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) estimated that around 40,000 deaths a year in the UK are linked to air pollution.

Fifty bicycle couriers will be equipped with CleanSpace Tags—portable air pollution smart sensors created by Drayson Technologies—and LoRa long range trackers supplied by Inmarsat, enabling carbon monoxide levels to be collected on the move, at breathing height.

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New study finds that ship emissions from HFO and diesel adversely affect pulmonary macrophages

A study by European researchers has found that ship emissions from the combustion of heavy fuel oil (HFO) and diesel fuel (DF) have adverse effects on pulmonary macrophages, from increased cell death to altered metabolic profile, depending upon the aerosol component. Their open access paper is published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Macrophages are white blood cells and are part of the immune system. Often referred to as scavenger cells, they absorb and engulf microorganisms. In addition, the cells destroy tumor cells, remove cell debris, present antigens and promote wound healing. There are four types of pulmonary macrophages: alveolar; interstitial; intravascular; and the dendritic. The alveolar macrophages are the only macrophages in the body which are exposed to air. Located at the interphase between air and lung tissue, they represent the first line of defense against inhaled airborne elements.

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Six refineries in $425M settlement with EPA and DOJ over emissions violations

July 19, 2016

The Department of Justice and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $425-million settlement with subsidiaries of Tesoro Corp., and Par Hawaii Refining that resolves alleged Clean Air Act violations and protects public health by reducing air pollution at six refineries. Under the settlement, the two companies will spend about $403 million to install and operate pollution control equipment, and Tesoro will spend about $12 million to fund environmental projects in local communities previously impacted by pollution. Tesoro will also pay a $10.45 million civil penalty.

The settlement, a consent decree lodged in US District Court for the Western District of Texas, includes provisions that resolves ongoing Clean Air Act violations at refineries in Kenai, Alaska; Martinez, California; Kapolei, Hawaii; Mandan, North Dakota; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Anacortes, Washington. Of the $10.45-million civil penalty that Tesoro will pay, the United States will receive $8,050,000, and co-plaintiffs including the states of Alaska and Hawaii, and the Northwest Clean Air Agency will share $2.4 million. Under the settlement, all six refineries must implement specific provisions to reduce flaring and enhance leak detection and repair:

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EPA, NHTSA & ARB Draft TAR finds MY 2022-2025 LD fuel and GHG standards can be met largely with more efficient gasoline-powered cars

July 18, 2016

The US EPA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and California Air Resources Board (ARB) have released the Draft Technical Assessment Report mid-term evaluation of greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards for light-duty cars and trucks for model years (MY) 2022-2025.

The draft TAR shows that automotive manufacturers are innovating and bringing new technology to market at a rapid pace, and that they will be able to meet the MY 2022-2025 standards established in the 2012 rulemaking with a wide range of cost-effective technologies. Moreover, it indicates that these standards can be achieved by relying primarily on advanced gasoline vehicles.

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U Toronto team assess the climate trade-off between reduced CO2 and increased Black Carbon from GDI engines

July 14, 2016

The upside of gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines is widely seen as being improved fuel economy coupled with an increase in specific power (especially with turbocharging), enabling significant downsizing. The downside of GDI engines, however, is a substantial increase in emissions of particulate matter—a problem with which heretofore only diesels had to deal.

A significant fraction of the GDI PM2.5 is black carbon (BC)—a pollutant with large positive radiative forcing on the climate due to its ability to absorb incoming sunlight and reduce surface albedo on snow. In other words, while the use of GDI engines can reduce CO2, it also can increase BC—contributing to further warming. A new study by a team at the University of Toronto has made a preliminary assessment of the climate trade-off (i.e., CO2 vs. BC) to ensure that integration of GDI vehicles will result in a net reduction of CO2-equivalent emissions. Their paper appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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California Air Resources Board rejects Volkswagen Group recall plan for 3.0-liter diesel passenger cars

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) on Wednesday rejected proposed plans submitted by Volkswagen/Audi and Porsche for repair of undisclosed Auxiliary Emission Control Devices (AECDs) and defeat devices in 3.0 liter, diesel passenger cars manufactured for model years 2009-2016. This decision affects about 16,000 3.0-liter diesel Volkswagens, Audis and Porsches sold in California.

CARB staff determined that the proposed recall plans submitted by the companies are incomplete and deficient in a number of areas. CARB said it, in conjunction with EPA, will continue the on-going technical discussions with the companies through the enforcement process to ensure a legally and technically acceptable resolution is reached which fully mitigates the excess emissions.

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Cal Energy to award up to $4M for off-road heavy-duty natural gas vehicle research and development

July 13, 2016

The California Energy Commission will award up to $4 million (GFO-16-501) to projects to to support the research and development of heavy-duty off-road vehicles powered by conventional or renewable natural gas.

Projects should incorporate advanced low emission engine technology currently available for heavy-duty on-road vehicles. Existing advanced natural gas engine technologies could be adapted to provide this market segment with a natural gas engine option capable of exceeding current, Tier 4, emission regulations while simultaneously meeting the performance needs of off-road applications.

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UMTRI: GHG emissions from industry down over past 25 years, transportation emissions up; MD, HD truck share increasing substantially

July 11, 2016

While the industrial sector in the US has made solid advances in reducing greenhouse gas emissions over the past 25 years, the transportation sector has increased its carbon footprint, according to an analysis by researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI).

Industry, still the US’ largest emitter, accounts for about 29% of all anthropogenic GHG emissions—down from nearly 36% in 1990. However, transportation—the country’s second-largest contributor to greenhouse emissions—has increased its share from 24% in 1990 to 27% in 2014.

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MAHLE Jet Ignition for Ferrari F1 as well as sub-200 g/kWh BSFC in light-duty engine; on-road and stationary applications

MAHLE Powertrain has been developing Jet Ignition—a high-energy distributed ignition technology that enables homogeneous ultra-lean (λ > ∼1.6) combustion, with its attendant benefits of reduced fuel consumption and emissions—for a number of years. (E.g., Earlier post, (Earlier post.)

MAHLE Jet Ignition (MJI) uses a pre-chamber in conjunction with a spark plug and secondary fuel injector. The chemical, thermal and kinetic energy from the combustion of this small fuel-air mixture is transferred via nozzles to the main combustion chamber where it ignites the main fuel-air mixture.

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VW to pay California additional $86M in civil penalties over defeat device

July 08, 2016

California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced that, in addition to the historic $14.7-billion settlement with Volkswagen announced last week (earlier post), the company will also pay California $86 million in civil penalties as part of a second partial settlement over the company’s use of “defeat devices” to evade emissions testing in its diesel vehicles. California will secure $1.18 billion from the initial $14.7-billion settlement.

Volkswagen will also agree to significant injunctive terms to deter future misconduct, including a new requirement that Volkswagen contractors and employees report to the California Attorney General’s office any request for or use of “defeat devices.” The agreement, which is subject to court approval, represents the largest amount of money recovered by the state of California from an automaker and resolves certain aspects of the California Attorney General’s claims against Volkswagen under California’s Unfair Competition Law as well as the Dodd-Frank Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010.

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Researchers use ceria to trap platinum atoms, improving catalyst efficiency and enabling reduced loading

Researchers from the University of New Mexico, Washington State University, and GM Global R&D have developed a novel approach to trap platinum atoms used in catalysts, preventing their agglomeration and the resultant reduction of catalyst efficiency. By trapping the platinum to prevent agglomeration, the process enables the atoms to continue their activity, enabling lower loading and thus lower cost. A paper on the work is published in the journal Science.

Platinum is used as a catalyst in many clean energy systems, including in catalytic converters and fuel cells. The precious metal facilitates chemical reactions for many commonly used products and processes, such as converting poisonous carbon monoxide to less harmful carbon dioxide in catalytic converters. Because of platinum’s expense and scarcity, industries are continually looking to use less of it and to develop catalysts that more efficiently use individual platinum atoms in reactions. At high temperatures, however, the atoms become mobile and fly together into clumps, which reduces catalyst efficiency and performance. This is the primary reason catalytic converters are tested regularly for effectiveness.

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U of I study: synthetic fuels via CO2 conversion and FT not currently economically & environmentally competitive

July 03, 2016

A study by a team at University of Illinois at Urbana−Champaign has found that, with currently achievable performance levels, synthetic fuels produced via the electrochemical reduction of CO2 and the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process system are not economically and environmentally competitive with using petroleum-based fuel. A paper detailing the study is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

In their paper, the team investigated an integrated system that converts CO2 released from fossil fuel-burning power plants to synthetic diesel fuel via a combination of the electrochemical reduction of CO2 to CO and the FT process, which uses CO and H2 from electrolysis) as feedstocks.

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PM2.5 linked to increased rates of kidney disease in China

July 01, 2016

While fine particulate air pollution is known to cause respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, a new study indicates that it also likely causes damage to the kidneys. Specifically, the study found that the likelihood of developing membranous nephropathy, an immune disorder of the kidneys that can lead to kidney failure, increased 13% annually from 2004 to 2014 in China. Regions with high levels of fine particulate air pollution had the highest rates of membranous nephropathy.

The findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN), call for attention on the role of air pollution in the development of kidney disease in urban areas.

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Report: combination of new mobility technologies creates opportunities for cutting emissions, but requires strategic policy interventions

June 30, 2016

The combination of connectivity, automation plus shared vehicle ownership and use has the potential to make car travel greener and cheaper, cutting energy use and helping accelerate the introduction of low carbon vehicles. However, these energy and carbon benefits are by no means guaranteed and will require strategic policy interventions to maximize them according to new report by the Institute for Transport Studies (ITS) at the University of Leeds, commissioned by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

The study—Automated vehicles; Automatically low carbon?— was presented at the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership Conference at the Olympic Park in London. According to the study, better coordination and connectivity between vehicles and infrastructure is likely to improve energy efficiency, as well as potentially make road transport safer and quicker.

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Canada, US and Mexico commit to align light- and heavy-duty fuel efficiency and GHG standards out to 2025 and 2027, respectively

As one of the outcomes of the “Three Amigos” meeting in Ottawa, Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, US President Barack Obama, and Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto committed to an “ambitious and enduring” North American Climate, Clean Energy, and Environment Partnership. A key element of that partnership is a goal for North America to strive to achieve 50% clean power generation by 2025.

The action plan also encompasses a range of initiatives, including a focus on clean transportation. As part of that effort, the leaders committed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from light- and heavy-duty vehicles by aligning fuel efficiency and/or GHG emission standards out to 2025 and 2027, respectively. They further agreed to reduce air pollutant emissions by aligning air pollutant emission standards for light- and heavy-duty vehicles and corresponding ultra low-sulfur fuel standards by 2018. In addition, the SmartWay freight transportation program will be extended to Mexico.

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Ford, LG Chem team reports 1st cradle-to-gate LCA for mass-produced battery pack in commercial BEV; cell manufacturing key GHG contributor

June 29, 2016

A team from Ford’s Research and Innovation Center and LG Chem’s Corporate R&D group has reported the first cradle-to-gate (i.e., the factory gate—before delivery to the consumer) emissions assessment for a mass-produced battery in a commercial battery electric vehicle (BEV)—the lithium-ion battery pack used in the Ford Focus BEV. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The researchers based their assessment on the bill of materials and energy and materials input data from the battery cell and pack supplier (LG). They calculated that the cradle-to-gate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the 24 kWh Ford Focus lithium-ion battery are 3.4 metric tonnes of CO2-eq (140 kg CO2-eq per kWh or 11 kg CO2-eq per kg of battery). Cell manufacturing is the key contributor accounting for 45% of the GHG emissions.

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Volkswagen & Audi to pay >$14.7B in US to settle 2.0L diesel emissions case; $2B of that to promote ZEVs

June 28, 2016

Under a class action settlement agreement filed today (earlier post), Volkswagen and Audi in the US will pay more than $14.7 billion to settle complaints arising from its cheating on emissions from its 2.0-liter diesel engines. The class settlement creates a funding pool of up to $10.033 billion for affected consumers; companion settlements with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (ARB) call for an additional $4.7 billion for environmental impact. (California’’s share represents one-quarter of the total national mitigation funding of $4.7 billion dollars.)

The class-wide settlement in the Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation will provide owners and lessees of Volkswagen and Audi 2.0-liter diesel vehicles substantial compensation through buybacks and lease terminations, government-approved emissions modifications, and cash payments, while fixing or removing these polluting vehicles from the road.

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IEA: 7% increase in total energy investment could cut premature deaths from air pollution in half by 2040

June 27, 2016

A new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts that energy policy choices backed by a 7% increase in total energy investment through 2040 could cut premature deaths from air pollution roughly in half by 2040. Under such a scenario, premature deaths from outdoor air pollution would decline by 1.7 million in 2040 compared with the report’s main scenario, and those from household pollution would fall by 1.6 million annually.

The IEA World Energy Outlook (WEO) special report on Energy and Air Pollution highlights the links between energy, air pollution and health. The report, the IEA’s first in-depth analysis of air quality, identifies contributions the energy sector can make to curb poor air quality—the fourth-largest threat to human health, after high blood pressure, poor diets, and smoking.

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Beijing Foton launches “China Internet Super Truck Global Innovation Alliance”; Auman Energy Super Truck

June 23, 2016

Chinese truck and utility vehicle manufacturer Beijing Foton has launched the China Internet Super Truck Global Innovation Alliance and showcased the Auman EST (Energy Super Truck) at an event in Athens, Greece.

The Internet super truck project is a collaboration that brings together Foton Motor Group, Cummins, and Daimler AG and aims at building Internet-driven super trucks that are green, efficient, safe, and intelligent through the integration of global resources, the effective use of new energies, the establishment of vehicle networks, and the implementation of intelligent truck-loading technology.

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Volkswagen Group to begin equipping TSI and TFSI engines with gasoline particulate filters from June 2017

The Volkswagen Group will begin equipping the Group’s new TSI and TFSI gasoline direct injection engines with gasoline particulate filters (GPF). This initiative, announced by Group CEO Matthias Müller at the Group’s annual general meeting, will begin with the 1.4 liter TSI engine in the new VW Tiguan and the Audi A5 in June 2017.

This will reduce particulate emissions from the direct injection gasoline engines by up to 90%. Up to 7 million Volkswagen vehicles could be equipped with this technology each year by 2022.

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Ricardo investigating potential for its split-cycle engine in large engine market

Ricardo is exploring the value proposition for applications of its novel split-cycle combustion engine (earlier post). In a poster-session paper presented at CIMAC Congress 2016 in Finland, Ricardo described the use of this split-cycle concept in high- and medium-speed engines for power generation to achieve efficiencies of 60% from units of 1–30 MW mechanical output.

Ricardo, in collaboration with the University of Brighton, has been developing the split-cycle engine with an eye toward improving the thermal efficiency of heavy-duty engines. The engine is based on a fundamentally new split-cycle combustion concept using a recuperated split-cycle with isothermal compression via cryogenic injection. The technology has the potential to realize brake thermal efficiencies in the order of 60% across a number of applications, Ricardo says.

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Sainsbury trialing Dearman liquid air engine in refrigerated truck

June 22, 2016

Sainsbury’s has become the first company to introduce a refrigerated delivery truck cooled by a liquid nitrogen powered engine (earlier post), which will eliminate all emissions associated with refrigeration. Supplied by cooling technology specialist Dearman and its partners, the zero-emission cooling unit replaces the traditional diesel engine used to chill the vehicle and will significantly cut emissions.

During the three-month trial, the vehicle will save up to 1.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide; the equivalent of driving more than 14,500 km in a modern family car. The trial will also save 37 kg of NOx and 2 kg of particulate matter, compared to a similar diesel system. The truck will operate from Sainsbury’s Waltham Point depot, delivering chilled goods to stores in the London area.

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Canada publishes proposed regulations for criteria pollutants from locomotives

June 18, 2016

The Government of Canada has published proposed Locomotive Emissions Regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part I. This marks Canada’s first regulation of air pollutant emissions from locomotives. The proposed regulations will criteria air contaminants (CACs), from locomotives operated by railway companies under federal jurisdiction through increasingly stringent emission standards and reduced idling. CACs include NOx; particulate matter (PM); hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO); and sulfur oxides (SOx).

The emission standards set out in these proposed regulations will also align with those of the United States. Canada and the US are also working together on approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from locomotives under the Canada-US Regulatory Cooperation Council.

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Mercedes-Benz Trucks boosts power, lowers emissions and fuel consumption with latest generation OM 470 engine

June 17, 2016

At the upcoming IAA this fall, Mercedes-Benz Trucks will showcase the latest generation of the OM 470 six-cylinder in-line engine, which incorporates numerous new developments to achieve a further reduction in fuel consumption of up to 5%.

Mercedes-Benz is also introducing a new top-of-the-range variant with a power output of 335 kW (456 hp). All the heavy-duty engines benefit from new low-friction engine oils. The Mercedes PowerShift 3 twelve-speed transmissions have been modified for optimum efficiency and the driving strategy of the anticipatory cruise control system Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) has been refined. The Actros additionally benefits from aerodynamic improvements.

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CARB, NOAA, NASA and San Jose State University scientists team up to study ozone transported across Pacific

As California continues to reduce local sources of ozone, ozone entering the state from the Pacific makes up a larger fraction of measured ozone levels. Current ozone levels in the San Joaquin Valley are predominantly caused by local emissions, but as air quality standards become lower, any contribution from global ozone levels needs to be understood.

This summer dozens of scientists from State and federal agencies and universities are using four different aircraft with more than 200 flight hours, balloons that measure ozone aloft, and a laser-based instrument that measures ozone above the ground up to 12,000 feet, to investigate ozone which enters California from the Pacific Ocean. The three-month research project (mid-May to mid-August) will help scientists learn if ozone entering the state from the Pacific has an effect on air quality at the surface in the San Joaquin Valley.

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EU investing >€3M in research into ultra-efficient aero engines; ULTIMATE project

June 14, 2016

The EU is investing more than €3 million in innovative aero-engine technologies in the three-year ULTIMATE project, short for Ultra Low emission Technology Innovations for Mid-century Aircraft Turbine Engines. The 3-year project, which launched in September 2015, targets radical concepts for new aero engines, in line with the EU’s long-term emissions reduction target for 2050. The project is being presented in a paper (Grönstedt et al.) at the ASME Turbo Expo 2016 conference this week in Seoul, South Korea.​

The project team, coordinated by Chalmers University of Technology, includes four of the largest engine manufacturers in Europe: Rolls-Royce (UK), MTU Aero Engines (Germany), Safran Aircraft Engines (France) and GKN Aerospace (Sweden), four universities: Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden), Cranfield University (UK), Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece) and Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace (France), the research institute Bauhaus Luftfahrt (Germany) and the technology management company Arttic (France).

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Daimler investing >€7B in next 2 years in green tech; fuel cell plug-in, BEV architecture; 48V

June 13, 2016

At its TecDay event in Stuttgart, Daimler said it will invest more than €7 billion (US$7.9 billion) in green technologies in the next two years alone. Shortly, smart will be the only automaker worldwide to offer its entire model range both powered by internal combustion engines or operating on battery power. Mercedes-Benz will put the first fuel-cell-powered vehicle with plug-in technology into series production: the GLC F-CELL. In addition, the company is developing a dedicated vehicle architecture for battery-electric motor cars.

Following the company’s recent introduction of the new OM 654 diesel family (earlier post), Daimler will introduce a new family of gasoline engines in 2017, which will again set efficiency standards and will be the first ever to be equipped with a particulate filter (earlier post). The 48-volt on-board power supply will be introduced at the same time and starter-generators will become part of the standard specification. The 48V system will make fuel savings possible that previously were the exclusive domain of the high-voltage hybrid technology.

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Ricardo: achieving light-duty diesel RDE NOx compliance in urban driving is possible, at a price

June 11, 2016

A range of aftertreatment technology options are available to automakers seeking to achieve compliance with the impending EU Real Driving Emissions (RDE) regulations, according to the results of a Ricardo research project presented recently at the SIA Powertrain international conference and exhibition in Rouen, France. The SIA conference was focused on clean compression-ignition engines of the future.

Future RDE emissions legislation and fleet average CO2 targets represent a challenge for automakers wishing to provide cost-effective light duty diesel vehicles. But while the costs of implementation can be significant, a range of technologies is available which, applied in a combination and manner appropriate to needs of the vehicle, can deliver compliant performance in terms of both NOx and CO2.

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California to award $9M for 27 BYD zero-emission trucks at two rail yards, one freight transfer yard in Southern California

June 10, 2016

The State of California is awarding $9 million to the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) for 27 zero-emission trucks to replace diesel-powered heavy-duty tractors used in rail yards and large-scale freight distribution centers. The funds come from the California Climate Investments (CCI) program and are designed to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG), while also reducing petroleum usage and improving air quality in residential communities.

The two types of trucks funded by this grant are the most common at every major freight location in the US, providing a model for truck electrification that could be scaled to any facility. The project will demonstrate 23 battery-electric 80,000-pound (GVWR) Class 8 yard trucks, also known as “yard goats,” which are used to move heavy freight containers short distances within freight yards, warehouses, distribution centers and port terminals.

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US DRIVE releases comprehensive cradle-to-grave analysis of light-duty vehicle GHGs, cost of driving and cost of avoided GHGs

June 09, 2016

The US DRIVE Cradle-to-Grave Working Group has published the “Cradle-to-Grave Lifecycle Analysis of US Light-Duty Vehicle-Fuel Pathways: A Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Economic Assessment of Current (2015) and Future (2025–2030) Technologies” Argonne National Lab Report.

The study provides a comprehensive lifecycle analysis (LCA), or cradle-to-grave (C2G) analysis, of the cost and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of a variety of vehicle-fuel pathways, as well as the levelized cost of driving (LCD) and cost of avoided GHG emissions. The study also estimates the technology readiness levels (TRLs) of key fuel and vehicle technologies along the pathways. The study only addresses possible vehicle-fuel combination pathways—i.e., no scenario analysis.

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Germany’s KBA greenlights diesel emissions fix for 1.1M more VW Group cars; 2.5M in total

June 08, 2016

Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) has given the go-ahead for the modification of around 1.1 million more Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Audi vehicles. The KBA has thus so far approved more than 2.5 million Group vehicles for the modification to correct the diesel emissions cheating issue.

The approval includes the Volkswagen Tiguan; Caddy from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles; and a series of A4, A5, A6 and Q5 vehicles, all fitted with EA 189 2.0-liter TDI engines.

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Global companies form below50 to scale up low-carbon sustainable fuels; Audi in from automotive sector

June 06, 2016

Global companies are partnering with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), Roundtable for Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) and Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) in a new global initiative called below50, to promote the best-of-breed of sustainable fuels that can achieve significant carbon reductions, and to scale-up their development and use.

A key outcome of the Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative (LCTPi), below50 is intended to grow a global corporate market for sustainable low-carbon transport fuels (LCTFs). Any company which produces, uses and/or invests in fuels that are at least 50% less carbon intensive than conventional fossil fuels can join below50.

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KBA approves software solution for VW 2.0L EA 189 diesels; more than 800K units to be retrofitted

June 03, 2016

Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) has approved the technical solutions proposed by Volkswagen for the Volkswagen Passat, CC and Eos models with 2.0l TDI EA 189 engines. (Earlier post.)

More than 800,000 vehicles affected by the diesel compliance issue are now to be recalled as soon as possible. The affected owners will receive letters from Volkswagen and can then arrange a service appointment. This is a continuation of the retrofit campaign for affected vehicles started by Volkswagen early this year. (Earlier post.)

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Santa Monica signs 5-year deal with Clean Energy for renewable LNG for bus fleet; deploying CWI Near-Zero NOx engine

June 02, 2016

The City of Santa Monica, California has awarded Clean Energy a multi-year liquefied natural gas (LNG) contract to fuel its Big Blue Bus (BBB) fleet of vehicles. The 5-year deal, worth an estimated $3 million per year, will enable BBB to continue using Clean Energy’s Redeem brand of renewable natural gas (RNG), rated up to 90% cleaner than diesel. BBB began using Redeem by Clean Energy in January 2015. (Earlier post.)

BBB, one of the first transit agencies in the nation to contract for Redeem, will also become one of the first agencies to incorporate the new Cummins-Westport 8.9L ISL G Near-Zero 0.02 NOx engine, the first mid-range engine in North America to receive emission certifications from both US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Air Resources Board (ARB) in California that meet the 0.02 g/bhp-hr optional Near Zero NOx Emissions standards. (Earlier post.) ARB has defined this certified Near Zero NOx emission level as equivalent to a 100% battery truck using electricity from a modern combined cycle natural gas power plant.

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Mercedes-Benz investing ~€3B in new engine technology; new diesel family, particulate filters for gasoline engines

May 27, 2016

Mercedes-Benz is investing about €3 billion (US$3.4 billion) in engine technology to ensure further improvements in fuel consumption and emissions in gasoline and diesel engines in current as well as current vehicles, according to Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, Daimler Board of Management Member for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.

With the new E 220d, Mercedes-Benz introduced the completely newly developed four-cylinder diesel engine OM 654 (earlier post)—the first of a modular new diesel engine family that fulfills future RDE emissions requirements and that will be applied throughout the entire portfolios of Mercedes-Benz Cars and also at Mercedes-Benz Vans.

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Pasha, Port of LA and California ARB partner on $26.6M Green Omni Terminal demo project; emerging zero and near-zero emission tech

May 26, 2016

Pasha Stevedoring and Terminals L.P. and the Port of Los Angeles are launching the Green Omni Terminal Demonstration Project, a full-scale, real-time demonstration of zero and near-zero emission technologies at a working marine terminal.

At full build out, Pasha will be the world’s first marine terminal able to generate all of its energy needs from renewable sources. The $26.6-million project is funded in part by a $14.5-million grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for reducing greenhouse gases and other pollutants. As part of the project, Pasha will integrate a fleet of new and retrofitted zero-emission electric vehicles and cargo-handling equipment into its terminal operations and demonstrate the latest generation of advanced technology for capturing ship emissions from vessels unable to plug into shore power at berth.

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10-year study shows how air pollution fosters heart disease; accelerated plaque build-up in arteries

May 25, 2016

Long-term exposure to particulate air pollution has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, but the biological process has not been understood. A major, decade-long study of thousands of Americans has now found that people living in areas with more outdoor pollution—even at lower levels common in the United States—accumulate deposits in the arteries that supply the heart faster than do people living in less polluted areas. The study is published in The Lancet.

Previous epidemiological studies have shown associations between particle matter and heart disease. It has been unclear, however, how exposure to particulate matter leads to diseases of the cardiovascular system. Earlier studies had been shorter and had depended for their analysis on existing datasets collected for other purposes.

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Study finds 80% reduction in atmospheric CO as a result of gasoline car emissions policies

May 24, 2016

New research published today (23 May) in Scientific Reports has found a marked and progressive 80% decline in atmospheric CO (carbon monoxide) in SE England since 1997, following adoption of strict controls on gasoline vehicle emissions begin in the 1990s. The decline is strongest (approximately 50 ppb per year) in the 1997–2003 period but continues post 2003.

The successful reduction of carbon monoxide in the UK is also matched by high percentage reductions across Europe over the same time period. This suggests that recent rises of carbon monoxide in newly developed countries can be reversed in a 20-year time frame with similar technological and policy implementations. The open-access study is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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ULEMCo delivers first hydrogen-diesel dual-fuel refuse trucks to Fife Council in Scotland

May 23, 2016

ULEMCo, the developer of a hydrogen-diesel dual fuel conversion system for commercial vehicles, has delivered its first hydrogen dual-fuel refuse vehicles to Fife Council in Scotland. The trucks, which deliver reduced CO2 emissions as well as improving air quality for the local community, are planned for use in densely populated urban areas, where improving air quality is a major concern.

The dual-fuel engines are equipped with hydrogen injection and a separate ECU control system. A diesel pilot injection initiates combustion of the hydrogen, which is stored onboard at 350 bar. CO2 emissions under dual fuel mode are approximately 70% less than a comparable diesel vehicle, according to the company.

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Cummins unveils SmartEfficiency initiative for transit buses; diesel, hybrid and near-zero NOx engines

May 20, 2016

Cummins Inc. unveiled the SmartEfficiency initiative for transit buses, which focuses on improved uptime and reliability. As part of the SmartEfficiency initiative, Cummins revealed the 2017 L9 diesel and 2017 B6.7 hybrid engine systems; the ISL G Near Zero (NZ) NOx natural gas engine (earlier post); the isolated engine coolant loop system for the 2017 L9 and ISL G; and a new SmartSupport service program.

Available in 2017, the L9 for transit applications will continue to use the modular aftertreatment architecture. A SmartEfficiency-driven improvement is the isolated coolant loop for transit buses using an L9 or ISL G powertrain, which improves reliability and reduces downtime.

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ITF launches global initiative to decarbonize transport

May 19, 2016

The International Transport Forum (ITF) at the OECD has launched a major global initiative towards carbon-free transport. Transport activity currently contributes 23% of global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, with the share expected to rise. The long-term objective of the project is to define a commonly-acceptable pathway to achieve zero transport emissions by around 2050.

The Decarbonizing Transport project, announced during the Annual Summit of transport ministers in Leipzig, Germany aims to provide a common assessment tool based on a comprehensive modeling framework supported by dialogue with key stakeholders; to enable countries and other stakeholders to translate roadmaps into actions that deliver results grounded in quantitative data; and to support actions to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals along with the decarbonization of the transport sector.

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Ford first automaker to use captured CO2 to develop foam and plastic for vehicles

May 16, 2016

Ford Motor Company is the first automaker to formulate and test new foam and plastic components using carbon dioxide as feedstock. Researchers expect to see the new biomaterials in Ford production vehicles within five years.

Formulated with up to 50% CO2-based polyols, the foam is showing promise as it meets rigorous automotive test standards. It could be employed in seating and underhood applications, potentially reducing petroleum use by more than 600 million pounds annually. CO2-derived foam will further reduce the use of fossil fuels in Ford vehicles and increase the presence of sustainable foam in the automaker’s global lineup.

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Report: Ontario targeting 5% EV share of all new vehicles sold by 2020, 12% by 2025 as part of C$7B climate plan

Canada’s Globe and Mail reports that as part of a more C$7-billion (US$5.4-billion), 4-year climate change plan, the Ontario government will invest C$285 million (US$221 million) in electric vehicle incentives; implement lower carbon fuel standards; and invest C$280 million (US$217 million) to help school boards buy electric buses and trucking companies switch to lower-carbon trucks, including by building more liquid natural gas fueling stations.

The Globe and Mail obtained a copy of the currently confidential 57-page Climate Change Action Plan, which lays out a strategy from 2017 to 2021. The document outlines contains about 80 different policies, grouped into 32 different actions. The Globe had previously uncovered details of the plan, but this is the first time the full blueprint has been revealed. The strategy is scheduled to be further reviewed by cabinet ministers and fine-tuned, sources told the Globe and Mail, with public release slated for June.

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Stanford team develops nanofiber air filters for efficient high-temperature removal of PM2.5

A team at Stanford has developed high-efficiency (>99.5%) polyimide-nanofiber air filters for the removal of PM2.5 from exhaust streams. In a paper published in the ACS journal Nano Letters, the researchers report that the new polyimide nanofibers exhibit high thermal stability. The PM2.5 removal efficiency was kept unchanged when temperature ranged from 25–370 °C.

The filters feature high air flux with very low pressure drop. A field-test showed that the new nanofibers could effectively remove >99.5% PM particles from car exhaust at high temperature. Some versions of the filters removed PM2.5 with efficiency higher than 99.98%—the standard of HEPA filters defined as filters with filtration efficiency >99.97% for 0.3 μm airborne particles.

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U. Minnesota team develops Lagrangian technique to identify NOx hotspots; opportunity for connected vehicles and big data

May 15, 2016

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have introduced a new method for identifying NOx emissions hotspots using high-fidelity Lagrangian vehicle data to explore spatial interactions that may influence emissions production.

Their study, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, finds that the two transit buses under study—a conventional powertrain transit bus and a series electric hybrid bus—emit higher than regulated emissions because on-route operation does not accurately represent the range of engine operation tested according to regulatory standards. Using Lagrangian hotspot detection, they demonstrated that NOx hotspots occurred at bus stops, during cold starts, on inclines, and for accelerations.

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WHO: Air pollution levels rising in many of the world’s poorest cities

May 12, 2016

More than 80% of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that exceed World Health Organization (WHO) limits, according to the organization. While all regions of the world are affected, populations in low-income cities are the most impacted.

According to the latest urban air quality database, 98% of cities in low- and middle income countries with more than 100 000 inhabitants do not meet WHO air quality guidelines. However, in high-income countries, that percentage decreases to 56%.

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Argonne rolls out updated version of AFLEET alternative fuels and advanced vehicles analysis tool

May 10, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE’s) Argonne National Laboratory is releasing an updated version of its AFLEET tool to reflect the latest advances in alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies and updated emissions data. Sponsored by the DOE Clean Cities program, AFLEET (Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation Tool) is a free, publicly-available tool that provides users with a roadmap for assessing which types of vehicles and fuels are right for them. The 2016 AFLEET Tool and user guide are available online. Although anyone can download and use the tool, AFLEET was designed for managers that purchase and maintain a fleet of vehicles.

The latest version includes, for the first time: gaseous hydrogen fuel cell vehicles; state-based (rather than national-based) fuel pricing, private station fuel pricing and fueling infrastructure costs. Updates to existing inputs include new light-duty vehicle costs; vehicle air pollutant emission factors derived from the Environmental Protection Agency’s emissions modeling system, MOVES 2014a; and petroleum use and greenhouse gas and relative air pollutant emissions from the 2015 GREET model, Argonne’s leading fuel life-cycle analysis model that is now in its twentieth year.

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Volvo Trucks introduces new one-box aftertreatment system

May 06, 2016

Volvo Trucks North America recently introduced a new one-box design for its Exhaust Aftertreatment System (EATS), resulting in increased flexibility, increased fuel capacity and a more aerodynamic vehicle. Standard with Volvo D11- and Volvo D13-equipped vehicles, the one-box EATS offers greater flexibility with the vehicle.

The smaller packaging benefits Volvo’s on-highway lineup—VNM, VNL and VAH models—with increased frame rail space for additional fuel capacity or to mount APUs or any other frame-mounted accessories. On the vocational side, the one-box system provides the Volvo VHD better back-of-cab clearance and up to 12 inches of frame rail space to provide body builders greater flexibility for equipment installation.

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Study suggests high-mileage light-duty fleets contribute higher emissions and emissions share than expected

May 04, 2016

A study by researchers from the University of Denver and the University of Puget Sound indicates that high-mileage light-duty fleets contribute higher emissions and emissions share than expected based on their actual numbers in the fleet.

In their open-access paper, published in the ACS Journal Environmental Science & Technology, they estimate that these small fleets, which represent less than 1% of the total, may be overlooked as a significant emission source (>2−5% of fleet emissions).

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California issues draft plan for more efficient, less polluting freight system

May 03, 2016

California agency leaders released the Draft California Sustainable Freight Action Plan, an ambitious document that lays a foundation for modernizing California’s multi-billion dollar freight transportation system.

The Draft Action Plan puts forward a single shared vision to improve the efficiency of California’s freight system while reducing its pollution, while continuing to bolster the competitiveness of California’s goods movement system nationally and internationally. Key components of the Action Plan include:

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U Mich study explores performance of renewable diesel, FT diesel and ULSD in PCCI combustion

A team at the University of Michigan has investigated the performance of three different fuels—ultralow sulfur diesel (ULSD), diesel fuel produced via a low temperature Fischer–Tropsch process (LTFT), and a renewable diesel (RD), which is a hydrotreated camelina oil under partially premixed compression ignition (PCCI) combustion. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

Partially premixed compression ignition (PCCI) combustion is an advanced, low-temperature combustion mode that creates a partially premixed charge inside the cylinder before ignition occurs. PCCI prolongs the time period for mixing of the fuel–air mixture by separating the end of injection and start of combustion. As a result, NOx and particulate matter (PM) emissions can be reduced simultaneously relative to those of conventional diesel combustion.

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The importance of considering non-exhaust traffic emissions; the role of EVs

May 02, 2016

Regulatory regimes seeking to reduce emissions from transport have largely focused on tailpipe emissions—i.e., the criteria pollutants and CO2 that emerge with the exhaust from the tailpipe. However, there is more than 15 years of research showing that the contribution of non-exhaust primary particles to the total traffic generated primary particles is significant in urban areas. Non-exhaust PM factors include tire wear, brake wear, road surface wear and resuspension of road dust. Further, a 2013 review by Denier van der Gon et al., 2013 found that the ratio of non-exhaust to exhaust particles is strongly increasing in the last two decades, due to exhaust emission reductions.

While battery electric vehicles have the obvious advantage of zero tail-pipe emissions, they are not equally advantaged when it comes to non-exhaust emissions. Accordingly, there have been a number of recent studies working to assess the impact of non-exhaust emissions from EVs and suggesting a regulatory or policy response (e.g., earlier post).

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Roland Berger study outlines integrated vehicle and fuels roadmap for further abating transport GHG emissions 2030+ at lowest societal cost

April 30, 2016

A new study by consultancy Roland Berger defines an integrated roadmap for European road transport decarbonization to 2030 and beyond; the current regulatory framework for vehicle emissions, carbon intensity of fuels and use of renewable fuels covers only up to 2020/2021.

The study was commissioned by a coalition of fuel suppliers and automotive companies with a view to identifying a roadmap to 2030+ to identify GHG abatement options at the lowest cost to society. The coalition comprises BMW, Daimler, Honda, NEOT/St1, Neste, OMV, Shell, Toyota and Volkswagen. Among the key findings of the study were:

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Study: long-term exposure to PM2.5 associated with numerous types of cancer

April 29, 2016

Long-term exposure to ambient PM2.5, a mixture of environmental pollutants, was associated with increased risk of mortality for many types of cancer in an elderly Hong Kong population, according to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Long-term exposure to particulate matter has been associated with mortality mainly from cardiopulmonary causes and lung cancer, said the study’s co-lead author, Thuan Quoc Thach, PhD, a scientific officer at the School of Public Health at the University of Hong Kong. However, there have been few studies showing an association with mortality from other cancers. Thach and co-lead author Neil Thomas suspected that PM2.5 could have an equivalent effect on cancers elsewhere in the body.

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Study: Even small amounts of PM2.5 may have long-term health effects on developing fetus

Even small amounts of PM2.5 pollution appear to raise the risk of a condition in pregnant women linked to premature births and lifelong neurological and respiratory disorders in their children, new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research suggests.

Fine particles from car exhaust, power plants and other industrial sources are breathed into the lungs, but the scientists have now found evidence of the effects of that pollution in the pregnant women’s placentas. They found that the greater the maternal exposure to air pollution, the more likely the pregnant women suffered from intrauterine inflammation, which can increase the risk of a number of health problems for her child from the fetal stage well into childhood.

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Volkswagen AG decides not to release interim report on diesel emissions investigation; cites current negotiations with US authorities

April 23, 2016

On Friday, Volkswagen AG announced that the Supervisory Board and the Management Board of Volkswagen have decided not to release the interim results of the investigation into the diesel emission cheating as originally planned. Disclosure of interim results at this point in time would “present unacceptable risks for Volkswagen” they company said and, therefore, cannot take place now.

The decision was based on the assessment of the US law firms retained by Volkswagen (Sullivan & Cromwell and Jones Day), which have both strongly advised against such a disclosure independently of each other.

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German report on VW diesel scandal finds large gap between lab and real-world NOx emissions for German automakers; 630K vehicles in voluntary recall

April 22, 2016

A German inquiry launched as a result of the Volkswagen diesel emission scandal has found that there is a large gap between homologated emissions values from lab testing and real-world driving results for all German manufacturers.

German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt, who presented the results of the inquiry on Friday, said that only Volkswagen had used a software defeat device that detected test cycles (Prüfzykluserkennung) and altered calibrations accordingly. However, other manufacturers do use a thermal window (Thermofenster) technique that cuts back on emissions treatment at certain temperatures—presumably to protect the engine against damage.

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Continental introducing innovative annular catalytic converter for near-complete NOx reduction to meet RDE and SULEV 30 standards

April 19, 2016

Continental will present an innovative close-coupled annular catalytic converter that supports near-complete NOx conversion in downsized turbocharged gasoline engines at the 37th Vienna Motor Symposium next week.

The introduction of Real Driving Emissions (RDE) legislation will require vehicles with this widely used engine concept to meet strict NOx limits in all driving situations. This poses a new challenge by demanding efficient NOx reduction across a very broad spectrum of engine operating conditions, and not “just” in the current test cycles.

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Study finds total PM10 emissions from EVs equal to those of modern ICEVs; role of weight and non-exhaust PM

April 18, 2016

A new study by a team from the University of Edinburgh and independent engineering company INNAS BV has found that, when factoring in the additional weight and non-exhaust PM factors, total PM10 emissions from electric vehicles (EVs) are equal to those of modern internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs). Non-exhaust PM factors include tire wear, brake wear, road surface wear and resuspension of road dust.

For PM2.5 emissions, EVs deliver only a negligible reduction in emissions, the team found. Compared to an average gasoline ICEV, the EV emits 3% less PM2.5; compared to an average diesel ICEV, the EV emits 1% less PM2.5. Therefore, Victor Timmers and Peter A.J. Achten conclude, the increased popularity of electric vehicles will likely not have a great effect on PM levels. Their paper is published in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

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Volvo Trucks used SuperTruck learnings to boost efficiency, performance in 2017 powertrains; wave piston, turbocompounding, injection

April 14, 2016

Key learnings from Volvo’s SuperTruck (earlier post) efforts played a critical role in the design and engineering of Volvo Trucks North America’s recently introduced 2017 powertrain, delivering improved fuel efficiency and performance to customers. (Earlier post.)

The development of several new features, such as the wave piston, turbo compounding and a common rail fuel injection system, was supported by the SuperTruck program, sponsored by the US Department of Energy (DOE).

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New ACE researchers propose new diesel combustion concept; pathway to >50% BTE without WHR

April 11, 2016

A team at Japan’s New ACE Institute—an industry-funded research initiative founded to develop a new diesel combustion concept—has developed a new diffusion-combustion-based concept with multiple fuel injectors to overcome the trade-offs of thermal efficiency with energy loss and exhaust emissions typical of conventional diesel engines.

In a presentation at the 2016 SAE High Efficiency IC Engine Symposium, Noboru Uchida, general manager of research for New ACE, outlined the basic approach, which he said potentially offers a pathway to greater than 50% brake thermal efficiency without the use of waste heat recovery systems. A paper on their concept is also published in SAE International Journal of Engines.

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CMU team identifies IVOCs emissions from on-road gasoline vehicles and small off-road engines as important SOA precursors

April 10, 2016

A team from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) has characterized the intermediate volatility organic compound (IVOC) emissions from on-road gasoline vehicles (LDGVs) and small off-road gasoline engines (SOREs). Although IVOC emissions only correspond to approximately 4% of NMHC emissions from on-road vehicles over the cold-start unified cycle, they are estimated to produce as much or more secondary organic aerosols (SOA) than single-ring aromatics. SOAs are an important component of atmospheric particulate matter.

The researchers said their results clearly demonstrate that IVOCs from gasoline engines are an important class of SOA precursors. Their paper, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, provide observational constraints on IVOC emission factors and chemical composition to facilitate their inclusion into atmospheric chemistry models.

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CMU county-level study shows plug-ins have larger or smaller lifecycle GHG than gasoline ICE depending on regional factors

April 09, 2016

A US-wide county-level study comparing lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from several light-duty passenger gasoline and plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) has found that PEVs can have larger or smaller carbon footprints than gasoline vehicles depending on regional factors and the specific vehicle models being compared.

The team from Carnegie Mellon University led by Dr. Jeremy Michalek accounted for regional differences in emissions due to marginal grid mix; ambient temperature; patterns of vehicle miles traveled (VMT); and driving conditions (city versus highway). Their open-access paper is published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

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MAN Diesel & Turbo delivers 1st IMO-certified two-stroke with Tier III NOx control, EGR systems

April 06, 2016

Hyundai’s Ship Building Division (HHI-SBD) has finalized a contract for 2 × Suezmax tankers for Turkish shipowner, Ditas Shipping. The 158,000-m3 crude-oil tankers will each be powered by individual MAN B&W 6G70ME-C9.5 two-stroke main-engines that feature integrated Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) systems.

While there are already IMO Tier III-compliant vessels with EGR systems in service, the Suezmax newbuilds will be the first vessels with keel-laying after 1 January 2016 to be officially certified as complying with Tier III emission restrictions within existing North American NOx Emission Control Areas (NECAs) and the United States Caribbean Sea NECA.

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Groupe Renault taking two actions to reduce real-world NOx from diesel Euro 6b vehicles; deploying in July 2016

April 05, 2016

Groupe Renault has studied and is deploying a number of actions designed to reduce the NOx emissions of its diesel Euro 6b vehicles in customer driving conditions without a noticeable impact on performance or fuel consumption. The measures will be applied in factory on diesel Euro 6b vehicles from July 2016.

From October 2016, customers who have already taken delivery of a Diesel Euro 6b vehicle can arrange to have the modifications applied, free of charge, via a visit to their Renault dealer. Groupe Renault is implementing two changes:

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