[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.]
CRC ACES Phase 2 report finds emissions from modern heavy-duty diesels well below required levels
December 04, 2013
|2010 engines emissions reduction relative to 2010, 2007, and 2004 US emission standards. Source: CRC. Click to enlarge.|
A rigorous emissions testing of modern heavy-duty diesel engines in the US has demonstrated a greater than 94% reduction in the levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2 - an important contributor to ozone smog), and substantial reductions in all other pollutants, even when compared to engines first marketed to meet 2007 standards, according to a study released today by the Coordinating Research Council (CRC).
For a number of the most important pollutants, levels were substantially lower than required by regulations. The study, the Phase 2 Report of the comprehensive Advanced Collaborative Emissions Study (ACES) (earlier post), found that emissions of NO2 and other nitrogen oxides—which can have direct health effects and contribute to the formation of smog—were approximately 61% below the 2010 EPA standard and 99% lower than in 2004 engines. These reductions came while emissions of fine particles were also 92% lower than the 2010 standard 99% lower than 2004 emissions.
Shell develops lead-free aviation gasoline
Shell has developed a lead-free replacement for aviation gasoline (Avgas 100 and 100LL); the replacement fuel will now begin a strict regulatory approvals process. Shell is the first major oil company to do so. The new lead-free formulation comes after 10 years of R&D, as well as successful initial testing, carried out in the last two months by two original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
Avgas is one of the last common transportation fuels—and the only fuel in the US—to contain the additive tetraethyl lead (TEL); avgas is used by light aircraft and helicopters. (Leaded gasoline for automobiles was phased out of use in the US by 1995 due to its environmental and health impact.) Avgas includes lead in its formulation to meet fuel specifications, to boost combustion performance, and to prevent knock.
Analysis finds air-quality justification for CNG vehicle conversion in developing cities, despite negative climate impact
December 03, 2013
|Impact pathway approach for modeling policy interventions in (a) air quality and (b) climate impacts. Credit: ACS, Zia and Tanzila. Click to enlarge.|
An analysis by a team in Bangladesh found large air quality and associated health benefits accruing to the residents of Dhaka (the capital of Bangladesh) as a result of the rapid conversion of the motor vehicle fleet to CNG. Around 2,045 avoided premature deaths in greater Dhaka can be attributed to air quality improvements from the CNG conversion policy in 2010, resulting in a saving of around US$400 million, they found.
However, CNG conversion was apparently detrimental from a climate change perspective, as CH4 emissions increased. (There is some uncertainty over the impact of ultrafine particulates.) As the greenhouse gas impacts (costs or benefits) are much smaller than the health benefits, the conversion of petroleum vehicles to CNG can be justified on the basis of local air pollution benefits alone, they concluded. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Study estimates 6% of lung cancer deaths in US and UK attributable to diesel exhaust
November 28, 2013
In 2012, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO), classified diesel engine exhaust (DEE) as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1). (Earlier post.)
Now, a study by researchers from the Netherlands, the US, and France estimates that approximately 6% of annual lung cancer deaths in the US and UK—combining both environmental and occupational exposures—may be due to DEE exposure. This translates to about 9,000 annual lung cancer deaths in the US and about 2,000 annual lung cancer deaths in the UK that may be attributable to DEE.
UC Berkeley study quantifies LD gasoline on-road emissions
November 27, 2013
Based on on-road measurements in their study, a team from the University of California Berkeley has estimated that, as of 2010, light-duty (LD) gasoline vehicles were responsible for 85% of CO; 18% of NOx; 18% of organic aerosol (OA); and 6% of black carbon (BC) emissions from on-road motor vehicles in the United States. Correspondingly, the study, reported in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, also concluded that, as of 2010, diesel engines were the dominant on-road source of BC, OA, and NOx.
The researchers measured vehicle emissions of NOx, CO, fine particulate matter (PM2.5), OA and BC in bore 2 of the Caldecott tunnel in the San Francisco Bay Area. In bore 2, light-duty (LD) vehicles accounted for more than 99% of total traffic; heavy-duty trucks were not allowed.
EU agreement pushes full implementation of 95 g/km CO2 target for cars back 1 year to 2021, expands use of supercredits
The European Parliament (EP) and member state negotiators reached an informal agreement on new rules to achieve the 2020 CO2 emission target of 95 g/km for new cars. Under the new agreement, which must be approved by both the European Parliament and Council to enter into force, 95% of new cars must meet the 95 g/km mandatory target by 2020, and 100% by 2021.
An earlier agreement (earlier post), set aside after EU ministers failed to endorse a previous informal deal on it with Parliament, had envisioned full implementation of the 95-gram target in 2020. Additionally, the new agreement significantly expands the use of supercredits—favorable weightings to cars that emit less than 50 g/km of CO2 within a manufacturer’s range.
NREL study probes emissions impact of butanol-gasoline blends in light-duty vehicles
November 26, 2013
|Summary of significant emissions results from the fuel testing. Credit: ACS, Ratcliff et al. Click to enlarge.|
Results of a study led by a team from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on the impact of butanol-gasoline blends on light-duty vehicle emissions suggest that widespread deployment of n-butanol or i-butanol in the gasoline pool could result in changes to the estimated emissions of alcohols and carbonyls in the emissions inventory. Given equivalent deployment of butanols and ethanol, the results suggest emissions of unburned alcohols would decrease, but carbonyl emissions would increase; some of these compounds have poorly understood health effects, they note.
The carbonyls acetaldehyde and formaldehyde are classified as carcinogens or probable carcinogens by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the EPA. NIOSH considers butyraldehyde to have similar reactivity and mutagenicity to acetaldehyde.
Global Commercial Vehicle Industry Meeting endorses harmonized global approach to improve fuel efficiency and reduce GHGs
November 09, 2013
Leading global manufacturers of heavy-duty commercial trucks and engines gathering at the annual Global Commercial Vehicle Industry Meeting endorsed a harmonized global approach as an effective pathway to further improve energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from commercial vehicles. The manufacturers have been pursuing policy cooperation for a number of years. (Earlier post.)
Meeting in Chicago, the chief executives of commercial vehicle and engine manufacturers in Europe, Japan, and the United States discussed fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions reductions, diesel fuel specifications, and topics related to heavy-duty engine and vehicle regulation and certification.
Study finds biodiesel use in HD trucks in Canada will result in very minimal changes in air quality and health benefits
November 07, 2013
Results of a study by a team from Health Canada and Environment Canada suggest that the use of B5 and B20 biodiesel fuel blends (5% and 20% biodiesel, respectively) compared to ULSD in on-road heavy-duty diesels in Canada will result in very minimal changes in air quality and health benefits/costs across Canada, and that these were likely to diminish over time.
Health Canada is the Canadian Federal department responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health; Environment Canada is the Federal agency tasked with, among other things, protecting the environment. An open-access paper on the study has been accepted for publication in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
ICCT report finds global implementation of advanced emissions and fuel-quality regs could cut early deaths from vehicle emissions by 75% in 2030
November 06, 2013
|Global trends in vehicle-kilometers traveled (VKT) and early deaths from vehicle-related fine particle exposure (2000–2030). Chambliss et al. Click to enlarge.|
Although many countries have adopted emission control regulations patterned on the European regulations, the significant majority of these have not implemented the latest and most stringent Euro 6/VI stage. A study by a team at the the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) finds that if that lag persists and present trends in vehicle activity continue, early deaths from vehicle-related PM2.5 exposure in urban areas will increase 50% by 2030, compared to 2013.
Conversely, the report finds, if all countries were to follow an accelerated roadmap to Euro 6/VI-level regulations, in tandem with fuel-quality regulations limiting sulfur content to 10 to 15 parts per million (ppm), early deaths globally from road vehicle emissions would fall by 75% (200,000) in the year 2030, representing a cumulative savings of 25 million additional years of life.
Berkeley Lab modeling study finds California will not meet 2050 GHG targets without additional policy measures
November 05, 2013
|Comparison of GHG emissions by study scenario, along with historical and “straight-line” connections between 2020 and 2050 policy targets. 85 MtCO2/yr (red square) is the 2050 target. Greenblatt 2013. Click to enlarge.|
California will attain its 2020 statewide greenhouse gas reduction targets, according to a new modeling study by Jeffery Greenblatt at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
However, while all of the three scenarios developed for the study achieved the 2020 target, none were able to achieve the 2050 GHG target of 85 MtCO2/yr, instead yielding emissions ranging from 188 to 444 MtCO2/yr. Therefore, Greenblatt concluded, additional policies will need to be developed for California to meet this stringent future target.
Brookings analysts recommend against repeating cash for clunkers program in future recession
November 03, 2013
According to a new paper and policy brief by Brookings, the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) or “cash for clunkers” program, launched during the height of the recession with the intention of stimulating the economy and reducing emissions, actually resulted in only a small and short-lived impact on GDP; a higher implied cost per job created than alternative fiscal stimulus programs; and a higher cost per ton of CO2 reduced than what would be achieved through a policy such as a carbon tax or cap-and-trade.
However, the cost of CO2 reduced was comparable or lower than that achieved through less cost-effective policies such as the tax subsidy for electric vehicles, the analysis concluded. In terms of distributional effects, compared to households that purchased a new or used vehicle in 2009 without a voucher, CARS program participants had a higher before-tax income, were older, more likely to be white, more likely to own a home, and more likely to have a high-school and a college degree.
Pinnacle’s opposed-piston scooter engine can meet NOx target with lean operation and ignition delay; little fuel economy hit
November 01, 2013
In a paper presented at the recent Small Engine Technology Conference organized by JSAE and SAE International, Michael (Tony) Willcox from Pinnacle Engines reported that the 110cc version of the 4-stroke, spark-ignited (SI), opposed-piston, sleeve-valve architecture engine (earlier post) can use lean operation and ignition delay to meet Euro 4 NOx emission targets without aftertreatment and with only a negligible impact (< 1.5%) on the fuel consumption benefits of the engine (about 25-27% better than a comparable conventional engine in the relevant drivecycle).
Further, Pinnacle noted, recently developed hardware designed for additional lean limit extension is under test. The new hardware is anticipated to leave margin with Euro 5/6 NOx regulations using an oxidation-only catalyst for aftertreatment.
Fairbanks Morse Engine and Achates Power team up on opposed-piston engines
October 31, 2013
|Fairbanks Morse Model 38 opposed-piston engine. Click to enlarge.|
The leading manufacturer of opposed-piston engines, Fairbanks Morse Engine (FME), an EnPro Industries company, has signed a joint development and licensing agreement with Achates Power, Inc., the developer of a family of two-stroke compression-ignition opposed-piston engines (earlier post), to reduce emissions and fuel consumption of Fairbanks Morse proprietary diesel and dual-fuel opposed-piston engines.
The Fairbanks Morse Model 38 opposed-piston engine was designed and developed for a wide array of electrical power generation and heavy industrial applications. OP engines are propelling ships, driving locomotives, powering natural gas compressors, running chillers and pump drives, and producing electricity in a variety of marine and stationary applications.
EEA: All major car manufacturers in Europe met 2012 CO2 targets; 9 already meet 2015 targets
|Distance to 2012 target by individual manufacturer. Source: EEA. Click to enlarge.|
Based on emission levels recorded in vehicle tests, car registration data analyzed by the European Environment Agency (EEA) in the report “CO2 emissions performance of car manufacturers in 2012” shows that in 2012 all major car manufacturers met their targets for their fleet. Nine of the larger manufacturers (Audi AG, BMW AG, Automobiles Citroën, Fiat group, Ford-Werke, Adam Opel, Automobiles Peugeot, Seat, Toyota Motor Europe, and Volvo Car) were already compliant with 2015 targets in 2012.
Carbon emissions of the average car sold in the EU fell 2.6% between 2011 and 2012, cutting the EU average to 132.2 grams of CO2 per kilometer—close to the 130 g target for the average new car sold in 2015.
Canada awards $30M to 10 automotive R&D projects; from electrified powertrains to hot stamping
October 28, 2013
The Government of Canada has awarded C$30 million (US$29 million) through the Automotive Partnership Canada (APC) initiative to 10 university-industry partnerships to advance innovative automotive technologies. With a total project value of more than C$52 million (US$50 million), the funding includes some $22 million from industry and other partners.
The largest award from APC is $8,928,200 to the McMaster University-Chrysler partnership (earlier post) for the development of next generation electrified powertrains. (Earlier post.) However, the selected projects include a range of technologies from hot stamping of parts to hydrogen fuel cell stacks.
UCR CE-CERT testing of hybrid construction equipment finds reduction in fuel consumption, but increase in NOx emissions
October 22, 2013
A study of hybrid excavators and dozers in use in public and private fleets found that while the use of hybrid equipment could decrease fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 28%, depending upon the type of work being done, NOx emissions could increase by up to 21%.
In the study, researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) completed activity characterization; sequence of operations/test cycle development; and in-use emissions testing on three hybrid Komatsu HB215-LC-1 excavators and three hybrid Caterpillar D7E dozers.
U. Calgary analysis of energy balances and emissions of SAGD oil sands production finds need for improved processes; some operations not thermally efficient or net generators of energy
October 19, 2013
A team at the University of Calgary has assessed the thermal efficiencies, energy balances, and emissions of Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD)—both theoretically and as deployed at scale, using field data from the ERCB—for the production of bitumen from Athabasca oil sands reservoirs. In a paper in the journal Fuel, they report that current SAGD projects in Alberta show a very wide range of field performance.
Although optimized SAGD can yield “reasonably high” recovery factors, they found, the economic and environmental costs can be large given the amount of steam required. The data suggests that at the extreme, some operations are actually not net energy generating—i.e., the energy injected via steam exceeds the recovered chemical energy in the retrieved bitumen. The results suggest that in situ bitumen recovery processes need to advance well beyond current capabilities “if practical and sustainable energy balance and emissions scenarios are to be achieved,” they said.
Ford study suggests GDI engines can meet coming California and US PM emissions standards over 150k miles; more work to be done
October 16, 2013
|PM mass emissions rates for the FTP and US06 drive cycles as function of vehicle mileage. Credit: ACS, Maricq et al. Click to enlarge.|
A team from Ford’s Research and Advanced Engineering group in Dearborn examined how emissions of particulate matter (PM) from two gasoline direct injection engines—a very small set and not representative of the wide variety of gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines currently in production or under future development, they noted—changed over time.
As reported in a paper in ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, the results showed that GDI technology has the potential to meet the upcoming California LEV III and US EPA Tier 3 PM mass standard of 3 mg/mi (phasing in over MY2017−2021) over a 150,000-mile vehicle lifetime, but that further work must be done to address achieving the more stringent 1 mg/mi target (LEV III in 2025).
NREL review of E15 effects on MY2001 and later cars finds no meaningful differences with E10
October 13, 2013
A review of 43 studies of the effects of E15 (15% ethanol blends) on Model Year 2001 and newer cars by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that the studies reviewed showed no meaningful differences between E15 and E10 in any performance category.
The NREL study, commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association, included 33 unique research studies, as well as 10 related reviews. The study does not address engines that EPA has not approved for use with E15, such as pre-2001 cars, marine, snowmobile, motorcycle, and small non-road engines.
UC Irvine study finds organic constituents of UFP play important role in heart disease; suggestions for more effective emission control
October 12, 2013
|Particle scale. Inset: 4 polydisperse modes of traffic-related ambient particulate matter span approximately 4 orders of magnitude from below 1 nm to above 10 μm. Source: Kleinman presentation. Click to enlarge.|
Results of a study funded and released by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) suggest that the organic constituents of ultrafine PM (UFP, particles ≤ 0.18 μm aerodynamic diameter) resulting from internal-combustion engine exhaust and from chemical reactions in the air play an important role in the progression of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the US. The findings thus suggest a direction for mor effective emission control measures—i.e., technology for the removal of the organic constituents as well as the reduction of the number of particles.
Led by Dr. Michael T. Kleinman of the University of California Irvine, the new study used a novel approach to determine whether or not the toxicity of UFP particles depends on the concentration and composition of semi-volatile and non-volatile fractions of the PM.
Study finds biodiesel blend reduces total particle mass in emissions but may have greater adverse health effect per mass than diesel
October 10, 2013
Findings from a study by researchers from the Department of Medicine and the School of Engineering at the University of Vermont suggest that the addition of biodiesel to diesel fuels will reduce the total particle mass of PM emissions—but that the biodiesel blend particles may contribute to greater biological effects per mass than B0, leading to potentially greater health risks.
As reported in a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, the team first characterized exhaust particles produced by combustion of pure petrodiesel (B0) and B20 (20% soy biodiesel/ 80% B0) fuels using the same engine and running conditions, and then conducted experiments in two human cell lines representing bronchial epithelial cells and macrophages as well as in female mice. (Studies in cells alone do not necessarily reflect the integrated response of a whole animal, they noted.)
Ricardo and Doosan DL06 diesel with TVCS achieves Tier 4f emissions without need for DPF
October 09, 2013
|Ricardo’sTwin Vortex Combustion System (TVCS) reduces soot by 45- 50% compared to a conventional approach. Source: Ricardo. Click to enlarge.|
The Doosan DL06 engine is a turbocharged and intercooled 5.9-liter, in-line 6-cylinder diesel engine used in both on-highway and off-highway applications. The new US Tier 4 Final (Tier 4f) version of the DL06 includes an ultra-low particulate combustion system featuring the Ricardo Twin Vortex Combustion System (TVCS) (earlier post); the engine achieves compliance with Tier 4 Final particulate emissions levels without requiring a DPF—thereby providing a cost-effective solution.
Italian study finds raised levels of PM10, even below current Euro limits, associated with increased acute cardiac events
Results of a study by a research team from Brescia and Parma, Italy, to be presented at the Acute Cardiac Care Congress 2013 by Dr. Savina Nodari from Spedali Civili Hospital of Brescia, support the hypothesis that raised levels of PM10—even below the current limits set by the European Environmental Protection Agency—are associated with increased admission rates for acute cardiac events, especially in males, older patients and those with previous cardiovascular hospitalizations.
The study evaluated the rate of hospitalizations for acute coronary syndrome (ACS); acute heart failure (AHF); malignant ventricular arrhythmias (MVA); and atrial fibrillation (AF) and the average daily concentrations of PM10 in Brescia over the period 2004-2007. The associations between average levels of PM10 and daily hospitalization for acute cardiovascular (CV) events were analyzed by a generalized linear model.
CARB draft of updated AB 32 Scoping Plan for climate change actions post-2020; pushing for greater transportation reductions
October 02, 2013
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has released the public discussion draft of the required update to the AB 32 Scoping Plan. (Earlier post.) The Scoping Plan describes the comprehensive range of efforts California must take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and meet the state’s long-term goals to combat climate change.
AB 32 requires the Scoping Plan to be updated every five years. The original Plan, first released in 2008, was developed on the principle that a balanced mix of strategies is the best way to cut emissions and grow California’s economy in a clean and sustainable direction. This draft update continues with that approach and focuses on three questions:
ACEEE recommends steps for enhanced data gathering and analysis essential to developing next phase of heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency and GHG regs
September 27, 2013
A newly released working paper from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) outlines the organization’s recommendations to policymakers for developing the next phase of fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles in the United States expected in 2015.
The focus of the paper is less on the range of technologies that might be applied to deliver the requisite reductions (ACEEE also published a short fact sheet briefly touching on technology approaches) and more on enhanced and improved data gathering, analysis and dissemination that will be required to inform the development of the next phase of the standards.
U-Mich researcher’s first-principles analysis challenges conventional carbon accounting for biofuels; implications for climate policy
September 24, 2013
In a paper that could have a significant impact on climate policies for transportation fuels, Dr. John M. DeCicco of the Energy Institute at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor presents a rigorous first-principles analysis that undermines the common “biofuels recycle carbon” argument.
Published in the journal Climactic Change, the open access paper shows that while the carbon mitigation challenge for liquid fuels has been seen—incorrectly—as a fuel synthesis and substitution problem, it is in reality a net carbon uptake problem. Accordingly, DeCicco concludes, strategies should move away from a downstream focus on replacing fuel products to an upstream focus on achieving additional CO2 uptake through the most cost-effective and least damaging means possible. “All parties with an interest in the issue are advised to rethink their priorities accordingly,” he finishes.
ORNL study finds aluminum-intensive vehicles can deliver up to 29% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to typical steel-bodied vehicle
September 20, 2013
|Lifecycle energy findings. Source: Sujit Das, ORNL. Click to enlarge.|
A lifecycle study of aluminum-intensive vehicles by Sujit Das at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) found that an aluminum-intensive vehicle can achieve up to a 32% reduction in total lifecycle energy consumption, and up to a 29% reduction in CO2 emissions, compared to a typical vehicle on the road today which uses traditional and high-strength steel in the body construction.
The study, underwritten by The Aluminum Association, performed a full cradle-to-grave analysis (primary metal production; autoparts manufacturing and assembly; use; semi-fabrication material production; transportation; and end-of-life metals recycling) on three modeled vehicle types: a baseline steel vehicle; a lightweight steel vehicle (LWSV); and an aluminum intensive vehicle (AIV).
EPA proposes CO2 emission standards for new fossil fuel-fired power plants
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed Clean Air Act standards to reduce CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel fired power plants (electric utility generating units, EGUs). For purposes of this rule, fossil fuel-fired EGUs include utility boilers, IGCC units and certain natural gas-fired stationary combustion turbine EGUs that generate electricity for sale and are larger than 25 megawatts (MW). In addition, EPA said it is working with state, tribal, and local governments, industry and labor leaders, non-profits, and others to establish CO2 standards for existing power plants.
The proposed rulemaking establishes separate standards for natural gas and coal plants. The proposed limits for natural gas units are based on the performance of modern natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) units. New large (>850 mmBtu/h) natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, while new small (≤850mmBtu/h) natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour.
New hybrid plasma-catalyst aftertreatment system feasible for low-temperature combustion engines
September 17, 2013
|Schematic diagram of the plasma−catalyst reactor. Credit: ACS, Kang et al. Click to enlarge.|
Researchers at the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM) have developed a new hybrid reactor for automotive exhaust aftertreatment that combines plasma and a honeycomb-structured monolith catalyst resulting in an enhanced synergistic effect of low-temperature catalytic activity.
As reported in a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, the plasma−catalyst synergistic reaction is more effective at low temperatures; the hybrid reaction reduces the temperature required to achieve the same level of DRE (destruction and removal efficiency) for hydrocarbon (HC) pollutants when compared to the temperature of the reaction under the influence of the catalyst alone. As a result of their work, the authors suggest that the plasma−catalyst technology is feasible to control exhaust emissions from next-generation low-temperature combustion (LTC) diesel engines.
UT Austin team and partners report on extensive measurements of methane emissions during natural gas production
|Estimated inventories of methane emissions from the natural gas production sector, excluding processing and transmission. The findings of the new study are represented in the yellow bar at right, and are similar overall to EPA’s latest inventory. The relative contributions of different production components differ, however. Source: UT Austin. Click to enlarge.|
A new study from The University of Texas at Austin, published as an open access paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports on extensive measurements of methane emissions—including the first measurements for methane emissions taken directly at the well pad—during completion operations for hydraulically fractured wells (“fracked”).
Broadly, the study found that completion emissions are significantly lower than previously estimated; emissions from pneumatic controllers and equipment leaks are higher than EPA national emission projections; and estimates of total emissions (957 Gg ± 200 Gg) are similar to the most recent EPA national inventory of methane emissions from natural gas production (~1200 Gg). The 957 Gg in emissions for completion flowbacks, pneumatics and equipment leaks, coupled with EPA national inventory estimates for other categories, leads to an estimated 2,300 Gg of methane emissions from natural gas production (0.42% of gross gas production).
USC researchers find car ventilation setting critical to in-cabin exposure to particulate pollutants; new model for aiding exposure assessments
September 15, 2013
|In-vehicle-to-outside (I/O) ratios for four pollutants under different ventilation settings. Credit: ACS, Hudda and Fruin (2013). Click to enlarge.|
Researchers at USC have found that using recirculation rather than outside air ventilation in a car can effectively reduce in-cabin exposure to on-road particle pollution. In a study published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they also report that in addition to the benefits of recirculation settings, exposures are lower in newer cars; at slower speeds; and on arterial roads, where pollutant concentrations are lower than on freeways.
Scott Fruin, assistant professor of preventive medicine, and Neelakshi Hudda, research associate in environmental health, both of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, performed a systematic study of in-vehicle exposure to include a full range of car types and operating conditions, as well as all types of particulate pollution. According to the researchers, concentrations of particle pollutants on freeways are often five to 10 times higher than elsewhere.
Nissan project in Beijing demonstrates Dynamic Route Guidance reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions
September 13, 2013
Results from Nissan’s New Traffic Information System Model Project in Beijing (earlier post) have demonstrated that Dynamic Route Guidance System (DRGS) can help alleviate traffic congestion and reduce fuel consumption. A simulation based on the project results suggested that when 10% of all traffic in Beijing used DRGS, due to reduced traffic congestion, travel speed throughout the city would increase by approximately 10% and both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions would decrease by approximately 10%.
DRDS distributes real-time traffic information from the traffic information center to onboard devices via telematics; the onboard devices show drivers the fastest route on the display. This large-scale project, involving 12,000 vehicles, is the first to demonstrate and measure traffic dispersion effects in a real setting.
PNNL team finds correlation between reaction mechanism for zeolite SCR catalyst for NOx aftertreatment and bacterial enzyme catalysis
September 11, 2013
|Computer model of Cu-SSZ-13 shows nitric oxide (ball-and-stick) interacting with a positively charged copper ion (copper ball) at an unexpected angle (red dotted lines). Photo courtesy of Kwak et al. Click to enlarge.|
A team of researchers in the Institute for Integrated Catalysis at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory led by chemist János Szanyi has proposed a reaction mechanism for a highly active zeolite catalyst (Cu-SSZ-13) used in selective catalytic reduction (SCR) NOx aftertreatment systems for diesel emissions. A paper on their work is published in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.
Although the catalyst is in use, exactly how it converts NOx to nitrogen and water with the help of ammonia (urea) hasn’t been entirely clear. The new research finds that the catalyst works much the same way that similar bacterial enzymes do: by coming at the target from the side rather than head on. The finding provides insight into how to make better catalytic converters.
Georgia Tech study suggests unlinking EVs from CAFE and coordinating with power sector for low-cost benefits
September 08, 2013
A team from Georgia Tech suggests, based on their modeling of electric vehicle (EV) adoption scenarios in each of six regions of the Eastern Interconnection (containing 70% of the US population), that coordinating EV adoption with the adoption of controlled EV charging, unlinking EVs from consideration in the CAFE fuel economy regulations; and implementing renewable electricity standards would deliver low-cost reductions in emissions and gasoline usage. (For the study, they define EVs as including both battery-electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) vehicles.
Only in the case of high EV market share and a high renewable electricity standard (RES) do EVs make a material contribution to greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions, they found. However, managed EV adoption can reduce the cost of achieving GHG reductions through a RES, they concluded in their paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
UK launches new ultra low emission vehicles strategy; focus on nurturing the industry
September 05, 2013
UK Transport Minister Norman Baker launched the government’s latest strategy—Driving the Future Today: A strategy for ultra low emission vehicles in the UK—to advance the ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs) industry with a focus on economic development in the UK. The government’s vision, said Minister Baker, “is that by 2050 almost every car and van will be an ultra low emission vehicle with the UK at the forefront of their design, development and manufacture. This strategy moves us up a gear in pursuing that vision.”
The principles behind the strategy include focusing on inward investment and the supply chain; technological neutrality, i.e., specifying the bulk of policies in output rather than technology terms; and addressing market failure. Accordingly, a great deal of effort and funding will flow to programs to incent adoption and to establish plug-in charging and hydrogen refueling infrastructures.
Researchers identify new pathways in low-temp oxidation of hydrocarbons; important to fuel combustion, atmospheric chemistry and biochemistry
|The diagram illustrates the newly-described reaction that transforms molecules of ketohydroperoxide into acids and carbonyl molecules, after going through intermediate stages. Credit: ACS, Jalan et al. Click to enlarge.|
Researchers at MIT, with colleagues at the University of Minnesota, have provided evidence and theoretical rate coefficients for new pathways in the low-temperature oxidation of hydrocarbons. Their paper is published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
The newly explained reaction—the basic outlines of which had been first hypothesized by Korcek and co-workers more than 30 years ago but the workings of which had never been understood in detail—is an important part of atmospheric reactions that lead to the formation of climate-affecting aerosols; biochemical reactions that may be important for human physiology; and combustion reactions in engines. The new study provides theoretical confirmation of Korcek’s hypothesis that ketohydroperoxide molecules (KHPs) are precursors to carboxylic acid formation.
DOE and Air Force issue RFI on Mil-Spec jet fuel production using coal-to-liquid technologies
The US Department of Energy (DOE) in partnership with the US Air Force has issued a request for information (RFI)—DE-FOA-0000981—on research & development aimed at greenhouse gas emissions reductions and cost competitiveness of Mil-Spec jet fuel production using coal-to-liquid (CTL) fuel technologies.
The DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), on behalf of the US Air Force, intends to issue a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) in 2013 that would solicit for the most promising research and development projects on advanced concepts for and/or unit operations within a CTL fuels plant; the areas of interest may be developed based in part on the responses to the RFI. The DOE and US Air Force anticipate the need for projects of no less than $3 million and that would have duration of not more than 3 years.
World Bank to focus on reducing short-lived climate pollutants; transport projects
September 04, 2013
|Aggregation of SLCP project activities into typologies. Click to enlarge.|
A new report prepared by the World Bank at the request of the G8 identifies ways that the World Bank can do more through its projects to reduce the emission of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs): black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone, and fluorinated gases known as HFCs.
The review, “Integration of Short-Lived Climate Pollutants in World Bank Activities,” highlights ways the Bank’s investments are already reducing SLCPs and shows where potential exists for even greater reduction. It discusses a wide range of SLCP-reducing activities, including:
MIT study says combustion emissions cause ~200,000 premature deaths/year in US; vehicles and power generation top sources
August 29, 2013
Researchers from MIT’s Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment have concluded that ground-level PM2.5 emissions from combustion sources such as industrial smokestacks, vehicle tailpipes, marine and rail operations, and commercial and residential heating throughout the United States cause about 200,000 (90% CI: 90,000–362,000) premature deaths each year, with another 10,000 (90% CI: −1,000 to 21,000) deaths due to changes in ozone concentrations.
Emissions from road transportation are the most significant contributor, causing ∼53,000 (90% CI: 24,000–95,000) PM2.5-related premature deaths and ∼5,000 (90% CI: −900 to 11,000) ozone-related early deaths per year. Power generation follows closely, causing ∼52,000 (90% CI: 23,000–94,000) PM2.5-related and ∼2,000 (90% CI: −300 to 4,000) ozone-related premature mortalities per year. Industrial emissions contribute to ∼41,000 (90% CI: 18,000–74,000) early deaths from PM2.5 and ∼2000 (90% CI: 0–4,000) early deaths from ozone, according to the study.
Using ozone injection to control HCCI combustion
August 28, 2013
HCCI (homogeneous charge compression ignition) has been extensively studied in recent years due to its potential to maintain strong efficiency similar to compression ignition (CI) engines but also to produce very low emissions of NOx and particulate matter. Control of HCCI autoignition and combustion phasing is challenging, however. Unlike CI and spark ignition (SI) engines, HCCI cannot be easily controlled by external means (e.g., injectors or spark plugs), because the process is mainly governed by chemical kinetics.
Accordingly, many strategies have been studied to control combustion. Now, researchers in France have added to that body of work by showing that ozone seeding in the intake of an HCCI engine can control HCCI combustion.
New FOX method estimates black carbon emissions from civil aviation ~2.7 times higher than standard estimates
August 26, 2013
Using an alternative approach to determine the amount of black carbon (BC) emissions from civil aviation, researchers from the University of Cambridge, MIT, and Forschungszentrum Jülich have estimated that in 2005, total BC emissions from this sector were 16.9 Gg/year, with a fleet average emissions index (EIBC, the mass of BC emitted per kg of fuel burned) of 0.093 g/kg-fuel. These are a factor of ∼2.7 higher than estimates obtained using standard methods (6.3 Gg/year and 0.035 g/kg-fuel).
The new method, Formation OXidation (FOX), is an empirical method, independent of smoke number (SN), that the team developed to obtain EIBC for all engines in the fleet using only data available in the ICAO engine emissions databank (EDB) representing the physical mechanisms (with significant simplification) by which soot is formed and oxidized. A paper describing the method and the results is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Study finds power law scaling relationship between urban population and NO2 pollution
August 25, 2013
A study by NASA scientists and their colleagues at Dalhousie University (Canada) and NOAA based on satellite data has found a significant correlation of surface nitrogen dioxide (NO2) with population in the three countries and one continent examined: United States (r = 0.71), Europe (r = 0.67), China (r = 0.69), and India (r = 0.59). These regions contain two-thirds of total global anthropogenic NOx emissions. NO2 is released primarily from combustion processes, such as traffic, is a short-lived atmospheric pollutant that serves as an air-quality indicator, and is itself a health concern.
Urban NO2 pollution, they found, like other urban properties, is a power law scaling function of the population size: NO2 concentration increases proportional to population raised to an exponent. (Even though larger cities are typically more energy efficient with lower per-capita emissions, more people still translates to more pollution.) The value of the exponent varies by region from 0.36 for India to 0.66 for China, reflecting regional differences in industrial development and per capita emissions. The study was published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Study explores long-term trends in motor vehicle emissions in US urban areas; targeting high-emitters
August 19, 2013
|The study found that the highest-emitting 10% of gasoline vehicles are now responsible for the overwhelming majority of running CO, NMHC, and NOx. Credit: ACS, McDonald et al. Click to enlarge.|
A study of motor vehicle emissions by researchers at UC Berkeley found that running CO and evaporative and tailpipe NMHC emissions from gasoline-powered vehicles in three major US urban centers (NY, LA and Houston) have decreased by almost an order of magnitude over the last twenty years, despite increases in fuel use.
However, they also found that decreases in emissions of these pollutants appear to be slowing down and may have leveled off. Their findings show that the success in control of emission from gasoline vehicles has led to greater skew in emission factor distributions, such that the highest-emitting 10% of vehicles are now responsible for the overwhelming majority of running CO and NOx. If progress in reducing emissions is to continue, they concluded, vigorous efforts will be needed to identify and repair or replace high-emitting vehicles. Their study is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Interim report from Germany’s KBA finds no sufficient evidence of risk with use of R1234yf refrigerant
August 09, 2013
Independent testing by Germany’s Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (Federal Motor Transport Authority) has found that while there is “no sufficient evidence of a serious risk” as defined by the Product Safety Act (ProdSG) related to the use of the low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerant R-1234yf.
The tests were conducted under the auspices of and on behalf of the KBA in cooperation with the Federal Highway Research Institute, Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, and the Environmental Protection Agency in accordance with the test parameters jointly developed by TÜV Rheinland.
Study investigates impact of operating conditions and load on soot particle number distribution for diesel and biodiesel
July 27, 2013
A team led by researchers from Brunel University (UK) has investigated the exhaust soot particle number size distributions obtained from the combustion of diesel and biodiesel (rapeseed methyl ester, RME) in a high speed direct injection (HSDI) diesel engine under different engine operating conditions: fuel injection pressure, injection timing, exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) and engine load.
Among the findings they reported in their paper in the journal Fuel was that under most of the engine operating conditions examined, RME emitted lower soot particle concentration than diesel under both nucleation and accumulation modes. The presence of oxygen in the fuel has the potential to lower the exhaust particle number concentration in diesel engines, they concluded.
JBEI researchers engineer bacterium to produce diesel-range biofuel using CO2 as sole carbon source
July 26, 2013
A team of researchers with the US Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) has engineered the bacterium Ralstonia eutropha—a microbe now used to produce biodegradable plastic—for the production of fatty acid-derived, diesel-range methyl ketones. A paper on their work is published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
R. eutropha is a chemolithoautotroph (an organism that obtains its nutrition through the oxidation of non-organic compounds or other chemical processes) that can grow with organic substrates or H2 and CO2 under aerobic conditions. Under conditions of nutrient imbalance, R. eutropha produces “copious” amounts of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB). Its ability to utilize CO2 as a sole carbon source renders it an interesting new candidate host for the production of renewable liquid transportation fuels, the team noted in their paper.
EIA: world energy consumption to grow 56% 2010-2040, CO2 up 46%; use of liquid fuels in transportation up 38%
July 25, 2013
|World energy consumption by fuel type, 2010-2040. Source: IEO2013. Click to enlarge.|
The US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) International Energy Outlook 2013 (IEO2013) projects that world energy consumption will grow by 56% between 2010 and 2040, from 524 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) to 820 quadrillion Btu. Most of this growth will come from non-OECD (non-Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries, where demand is driven by strong population and economic growth; energy intensity improvements moderate this trend
Renewable energy and nuclear power are the world’s fastest-growing energy sources, each increasing 2.5% per year, according to the biennial report. However, fossil fuels continue to supply nearly 80% of world energy use through 2040. Natural gas is the fastest-growing fossil fuel, as global supplies of tight gas, shale gas, and coalbed methane increase. Given current policies and regulations limiting fossil fuel use, worldwide energy-related CO2 emissions rise from about 31 billion metric tons in 2010 to 36 billion metric tons in 2020 and then to 45 billion metric tons in 2040, a 46% increase over the 30-year span.
Continental XL3 solenoid injector in production in 1.5L GDI engine; looking ahead to Euro 6c
|New generation XL3 injector for GDI engines goes into production. Click to enlarge.|
Continental’s new XL3 high-performance solenoid injector for gasoline direct injection systems is currently in volume production for a four-cylinder, 1.5-liter GDI engine. The XL3 solenoid injector provides enhanced linearity due to very fast opening and closing times and multi-stream spray geometry (max. of 8 holes) enables optimal adaptation to all engine-specific requirements.
The XL3 offers high flexibility of spray characteristics to meet the requirements of side- or central-mounted engines. System pressure ranges from 40 up to 200 bar—50 bar higher than the XL2 injector. Static flow range for the XL3 is up to 20 g/s (at 100 bar at 70 °C); the XL2 had a maximum flow of up to 17 g/s.
Researchers propose harvesting CO2 mixing energy to generate electricity
July 23, 2013
Researchers in The Netherlands are proposing a new method for harvesting electricity from CO2 emissions. In a paper in the American Chemical Society’s (ACS’) newly launched journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, they describe an approach to harvesting the mixing energy from combining the CO2 in combustion gases with air in contact with an aqueous electrolyte.
Mixing the CO2 with air represents a source of energy with a total annual worldwide capacity of 1570 TWh, the researchers calculated—about 400 times the annual output of the Hoover Dam (approx. 4.2 GWh). To harvest the mixing energy from CO2 containing gas emissions, they propose using pairs of porous electrodes, one selective for anions and the other selective to cations.
SAE releases technical white paper on two new low-GWP refrigerants; alternates to R-1234yf
The SAE International MAC (mobile air conditioning) Refrigerant Blend Cooperative Research Program (MRB CRP), comprising a group of leading global vehicle OEMs plus Tier One suppliers, is assessing the operating, technical and safety performance of two low-GWP (global warming potential) blended refrigerants (AC5 and AC6) developed by Mexichem, and based upon R-1234zeE.
The European MAC Directive requires the use of alternative refrigerants with GWP of less than 150 to replace R-134a. The first globally agreed candidate alternative fluid, the hydrofluoro-olefin (HFO) R-1234yf, is now entering production and use after an extensive cooperative research program (CRP-1234) administered by the SAE International and involving global car OEMs and chemical suppliers. (It has also generated some controversy, as Daimler has balked at using it, based on the company’s own testing of flammability. SAE CRP-1234 has re-evaluated the fluid multiple times, and still supports its use.)
New MECA report calls for implementation of particle number (PN) limits by North American regulators
July 19, 2013
|Particle number vs. particle mass for various LDV engine technologies. Source: MECA, Ford Motor Company. Click to enlarge.|
North American environmental regulators should consider taking action on particle number (PN) limits as a complement to their already world-best PM mass standards, according to a new report released by the Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association (MECA).
The report, “Ultrafine Particulate Matter and the Benefits of Reducing Particle Numbers in the United States”, first summarizes the current understanding of the potential adverse health impacts of ultrafine particles (UFPs, particles that are finer than 0.1 microns in diameter); then outlines various control strategies and technologies that can be used to meet current and upcoming EPA standards; documents the successful use of diesel particulate filters (DPFs) to meet and exceed US and European emission standards; and then makes the argument for PN limits.
IEA report finds “avoid, shift and improve” policies for urban transport could deliver up to $70T in savings through 2050
July 18, 2013
|Expected urban private motorized travel (in passenger kilometers). Source: IEA. Click to enlarge.|
Policies that improve the energy efficiency of urban transport systems could help save as much as US$70 trillion in spending on vehicles, fuel and transportation infrastructure between now and 2050, according to a recently released report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Among the three broad categories of policies recommended in the report and policy guide, “A Tale of Renewed Cities”, are those that allow travel to be avoided; those that shift travel to more efficient modes; and those that improve the efficiency of vehicle and fuel technologies. The report notes that if fully implemented across the transportation sector, this “avoid, shift and improve” approach could deliver the up to US$70 trillion in savings.
Environment Canada study finds vehicle exhaust a significant source of isocyanic acid; suggests consideration of new emission standard
July 12, 2013
Researchers at Environment Canada have found that vehicle exhaust is a significant source of isocyanic acid (HNCO), a toxic gaseous acid that is a product of various forms of combustion and a potential health concern. HNCO and its aqueous anion isocyanate (CNO−) have been linked—at exposure levels as low as 1 ppbv (parts-per-billion by volume)—to health issues such as atherosclerosis, cataracts, and rheumatoid arthritis (Roberts 2011).
In a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, the team found that emission factors for HNCO ranged from 0.69 to 3.96 mg kgfuel–1 and were significantly higher than previous biomass burning emission estimates. Canada-wide, up to 770 tonnes of HNCO may be emitted annually from on-road vehicles, they concluded—likely representing the dominant source of exposure in urban areas.
ARB researchers evaluate in-use heavy-duty NOx aftertreatment systems, find elevated levels during certain lower-temperature operations
July 09, 2013
A team from the California Air Resources Board (ARB) reports on their evaluation of the in-use emissions performance of four different heavy-duty diesel engines certified to the MY 2010 or interim MY 2010 NOx standards over a wide range of driving conditions in California in a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
One of the trucks was equipped with exhaust gas recirculation (EGR); three were equipped with EGR and a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) device. The results indicated that brake-specific NOx emissions for the truck equipped only with an EGR were independent of the driving conditions—and exceeded the certification value over each segment of the entire test route. Results also showed that for typical highway driving conditions, the SCR technology is proving to be effective in controlling NOx emissions. However, they also found that under operations where the SCR systems do not reach minimum operating temperature—e.g., cold starts and some low-load/slow-speed driving conditions—NOx emissions are still elevated.
LowCVP study identifies cost-effective options for cutting bus emissions
July 03, 2013
|Meeting long-term CO2 targets for buses will require the development of advanced technologies, in parallel with improvements to engines. Source: Ricardo. Click to enlarge.|
A wide range of technologies can cut carbon emissions from buses and provide a short-term payback at current fuel prices and subsidy levels, according to a new report prepared for the UK’s Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) by Ricardo. Overall, the study indicates that significant improvements in bus CO2 can be achieved in the medium to long term through development, incentivization (or regulation) and implementation of new vehicle technologies and fuels.
The aim of the LowCVP study was to identify a range of low carbon fuels and technologies which can cost-effectively reduce well-to-wheel (WTW) CO2 emissions for urban buses in the UK. The report developed technology roadmaps to illustrate when these technologies are likely to be ready for deployment into the bus market, focusing on the timescales 2012-2020 and 2020-2050. The study also examined the wider role of the selected fuels and technologies for decarbonizing heavy goods vehicles.
Stanford, UC Santa Cruz study explores ramifications of demand-driven peak to conventional oil
July 02, 2013
In contrast to arguments that peak conventional oil production is imminent due to physical resource scarcity, a team from Stanford University and UC Santa Cruz has examined the alternative possibility of reduced oil use due to improved efficiency and oil substitution.
In their a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, Dr. Adam Brandt and his colleagues used historical relationships to project future demand for (a) transport services; (b) all liquid fuels; and (c) substitution with alternative energy carriers, including electricity. Their results showed great increases in passenger and freight transport activity, but less reliance on oil.
CEPS task force report identifies tightening emissions standards as key policy to hit EU 60% reduction in transport GHG; full life-cycle emissions optimal metric
July 01, 2013
The report from a task force assembled by the CEPS (Centre for European Policy Studies), a Brussels-based think tank, on European transport policy has concluded that the EU’s goal of a 60% greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction in the transport sector in 2050 compared to 1990 levels is possible, but at a cost.
Achieving the goal will require a comprehensive policy strategy that needs to be both “credible and adequate”, the report found. Credibility requires beginning to implement policies now—i.e. measures such as standards, taxation or infrastructure development—consistent with the long-term objective. Adequacy requires the measures, in their entirety, to have the potential to meet the target while neither undermining the internal market for transport nor its affordability.
Sandia study finds fuel cell barges may be attractive lower-cost cold-ironing solution for some types of vessels at some ports
June 28, 2013
|Basic concept of a fuel cell barge. Although two containers are shown here, the actual number of containers would depend on the power and energy requirements of the vessel to be powered. Credit: Pratt and Harris (2013). Click to enlarge.|
A study by researchers at Sandia National Laboratories found that hydrogen fuel cell barges may be both technically feasible and commercially attractive as a clean, quiet and efficient power source to provide electrical power for some types of vessels at berth or at anchorage. This practice in which a vessel at berth connects to a source of electricity on the shore is called “cold-ironing”, shore power or Alternative Maritime Power (AMP).
Vessels that are not likely to be technically feasible are cruise ships, refrigerated bulk carriers (reefer vessels), and some types of liquid bulk tankers, according to the study. This, the Sandia team said, is because their multi-megawatt power requirements and potentially long run times would necessitate multiple MW-class fuel cell units and impractically-large stores of hydrogen. Container ships are likely to be feasible, but their power demand depends primarily on the number of refrigerated containers (reefers) on-board.
Study finds climate impact of long distance trip can vary by factor of 10 depending upon mode, efficiency and occupancy
June 27, 2013
A team from Austria and Norway has found that the climate impact from a long-distance trip (500–1,000 km, or 310–621 miles) can easily vary by a factor of 10 per passenger depending on mode choice, vehicle efficiency, and occupancy. Among the findings of the study, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, is that a car’s fuel efficiency and occupancy are central to whether the impact from a trip is as high as from air travel or as low as from train travel.
With only one passenger in a car, corresponding to 20−25% occupancy, the climate impact is at the level of an average air trip, whereas a car with three or more passengers, 60% occupancy or more, it is at the low level of average trains or coaches. A notable exception is for the small diesel car; with two passengers ( i.e., 50% occupancy), the specific climate impact is lower than for an average train or bus trip.
DENSO develops new 2500-bar diesel common rail system; reductions in fuel consumption and emissions
|Components of the new 2500-bar DCR system. Click to enlarge.|
Global automotive supplier DENSO Corporation has developed a new 2500-bar diesel common rail (DCR) fuel injection system; DENSO says this is the currently the world’s highest injection pressure for a diesel common rail fuel injection systems comprising injector, fuel pump and common rail.
Based on DENSO’s research, the new system can help increase fuel efficiency by up to 3% while also reducing particulate matter (PM) by up to 50% and NOx by up to 8%. This is compared to DENSO’s previous generation system. The new DCR system will launch later this year on passenger, commercial, agricultural and construction vehicles worldwide.
Honda researchers validate PM Index for direct-injection gasoline engines; gasoline quality matters
June 26, 2013
In a new paper in the International Journal of Engine Research, Koichiro Aikawa of Honda R&D and Jeff Jetter of Honda R&D Americas report that their “PM Index”—reported in a paper in 2010—applies well to direct-injection (DI) gasoline engines as well as to the port-fuel-injection (PFI) engines of their original study.
In the original study, Aikawa and Jetter, along with Takayuki Sakurai, also from Honda R&D, investigated the relationship between gasoline properties and vehicle particulate matter emissions in order to construct a predictive model. They individually blended various chemical species with an indolene base fuel, and then measured the solid particulate number (PN) emissions from each blend over the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC).
Obama climate plan calls for new fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles post-2018; cleaner fuels and investment in advanced fossil energy
June 25, 2013
Among the transportation-related elements of US President Barack Obama’s new climate action plan, which he is outlining today in a speech at Georgetown University, is the development of new fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles post-2018. In 2011, the Obama Administration finalized the first fuel economy standards for Model Year 2014-2018 for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, buses, and vans. (Earlier post.)
The plan as outlined also calls for further work on advanced biofuels, advanced batteries and fuel cell technologies in every transportation mode. In coming months, the plan notes, the Department of Transportation will work with other agencies to further explore strategies for integrating alternative fuel vessels into the US flag fleet.
SAE CRP1234-4 finds refrigerant R-1234yf low risk in automotive applications
June 24, 2013
SAE’s Cooperative Research Project (CRP) team has wrapped up its latest study of the low global warming potential refrigerant R-1234yf and concluded again that risks of fire resulting from its use are still very small compared to the risks of a vehicle fire from all causes and well below risks that are commonly viewed as acceptable by the general public. (Earlier post.)
Based on the updated analysis, the estimated overall risk of vehicle fire exposure attributed to use of R-1234yf is conservatively estimated at 3 x 10-12 events per vehicle operating hour. This is nearly six orders of magnitude less than the current risk of vehicle fires due to all causes (approximately 1 x 10-6 per vehicle operating hour) and also well below other risks accepted by the general public.
Study finds that California clean diesel programs have slashed black carbon, a powerful short-term contributor to global warming
June 14, 2013
|California’s air quality programs have forced a reduction in black carbon despite a significant increase in diesel fuel consumption. Click to enlarge.|
In California, reductions in emissions of black carbon since the late 1980s—mostly from diesel engines as a result of air quality programs—have resulted in a measurable reduction of concentrations of global warming pollutants in the atmosphere, according to a study examining the impact of black carbon on California’s climate.
The study’s results support a growing body of scientific evidence that suggests it is possible relatively quickly to slow the pace of climate change regionally by reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants, like black carbon.
SoCalGas, California agencies funding $9M RFP to develop ultra-low NOx heavy-duty natural gas engines
June 13, 2013
Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas), the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) are jointly funding a request for proposals (RFP) (P2013-22) issued by SCAQMD to support the development of ultra-clean natural gas engines for a variety of heavy-duty vehicle applications in the South Coast Air Basin (SCAB) and San Joaquin Valley Air Basin (SJVAB).
The initiative, funded up to $9 million by the participating agencies together with $500,000 in matching funds from SoCalGas, aims to demonstrate natural gas engines capable of achieving aggressive, near-zero emission standards for on-road, heavy-duty vehicle applications suitable for refuse, goods movement, drayage, transit, or school bus applications.
CCST report: an integral role for next-gen biofuels in meeting California GHG targets requires advanced biofuels and demand reduction
June 11, 2013
Next-generation biofuels can reduce greenhouse gas emissions of transportation to meet California’s target greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goal, but deep replacement of fossil fuels through implementation of low-carbon lignocellulosic ethanol and advanced biomass derived hydrocarbons (drop-in biofuels) and reduction in demand is required, according to a new report from the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST).
The study, “California Energy Future: the Potential for Biofuels,” co-authored by Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) scientists Heather Youngs and Chris Somerville, is the seventh and final report in its California’s Energy Future (CEF) project. The CEF project seeks ways the State could meet the mandated reductions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, exploring possible energy strategies for California through in-depth examinations of different technology scenarios.
CMU study finds driving conditions have “substantial” impact on benefits of electrified vehicles; policy implications
June 10, 2013
|NHTS-Averaged Annual GHG Emissions per vehicle type by drive cycle. (Base Case). Source: Karabasoglu and Michalek. Click to enlarge.|
A new analysis by Orkun Karabasoglu and Jeremy Michalek of the Carnegie Mellon Vehicle Electrification Group at Carnegie Mellon University found that driving conditions affect the economic and environmental benefits of electrified vehicles “substantially”.
As a result, they suggested, vehicle window stickers, fuel economy standards, and life cycle studies using average lab-test vehicle efficiency estimates are incomplete. Driver heterogeneity matters, they found, and efforts to encourage adoption of hybrid and plug-in vehicles will have greater impact if targeted to urban drivers vs. highway drivers. Further, electrified vehicles perform better on some drive cycles than others, so non-representative tests can bias consumer perception and regulation of alternative technologies. Their study is published in the journal Energy Policy.
Volvo Trucks to begin limited production of DME heavy-duty trucks in NA in 2015; customer trials; Oberon partnership
June 07, 2013
|Volvo VNL D13 with DME. Click to enlarge.|
At an event in Sacramento, California, Volvo Trucks announced that it will commercialize dimethyl ether (DME)-powered heavy-duty commercial vehicles in North America, with limited production beginning in 2015. Volvo also revealed ongoing customer field testing of DME trucks in the US (with Safeway and Martin Transportation), as well as its partnership in the customer trials with startup DME producer Oberon Fuels. Oberon Fuels is the first company to announce plans to commercialize DME fuel production in North America. (Earlier post.)
DME offers diesel-quality performance with a high cetane number and low auto-ignition temperature, but burns cleanly without producing any soot. It is non-toxic, non-carcinogenic, and can be made from a variety of sustainable domestic sources, as well as from North America’s abundant supply of natural gas. The carbon intensity of the DME will vary with the feedstock, but with the use of bio-gas (biomethane) from an anaerobic digester as input into the Oberon process, DME can provide up to a 95% CO2 reduction compared to diesel. Volvo has been testing Bio-DME in Sweden since 2009. (Earlier post.)
EPA, NSF, NOAA, Southern Company and EPRI contribute >$20M to fund SouthEast Atmosphere Study
June 06, 2013
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Southern Company, and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) are together contributing more than $20 million in research funding to support the SouthEast Atmosphere Study (SAS). EPA is also contributing staff scientists to work as part of this effort.
SAS involves dozens of other domestic and international research institutions, and is one of the largest North American air quality and climate studies in decades. It is a collaboration that brings together resources and facilities from NSF, NOAA, EPA, and EPRI.
New open-source lifecycle analysis tool for oil production using field characteristics
May 25, 2013
|Schematic chart showing included stages within OPGEE. El Houjeiri et al., Supplemental Information. Click to enlarge.|
A team from Stanford University and the California Air Resources Board (ARB) has developed a new open-source lifecycle analysis (LCA) tool for modeling the greenhouse gas emissions of oil and gas production using characteristics of specific fields and associated production pathways. The team describes the Oil Production Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimator (OPGEE) in a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Existing transportation fuel cycle emissions models are either broad—i.e., lacking process-level detail for any particular fuel pathway—and calculate nonspecific values of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from crude oil production, or are not available for public review and auditing, the authors note.
IFP Energies nouvelles leading ASTRIDE project on GDI transient mode operation; targeting low engine-out particulates
May 15, 2013
France’s IFP Energies nouvelles (IFPEN) is coordinating a four-year project seeking to understand and to model the physical phenomena involved in transient modes of operation of gasoline direct injection (GDI) powertrains.
The specific objective of the ANR (French National Research Agency)-funded ASTRIDE (Aerodynamics and Sprays during TRansients of Gasoline Direct Injection Engines) project is to to develop and to validate new design tools that could contribute to the emergence of GDI engines with in-cylinder soot levels low enough to preclude the negative cost and efficiency impacts caused by the use of soot particle filters in the exhaust. ASTRIDE is run in partnership with two research institutes (CETHIL and Prisme) and three manufacturers (Continental, PSA Peugeot Citroën and Renault).
EIA releases report on CO2 emissions by state; California led in 2010 with transportation-sector emissions
May 14, 2013
|Energy-related CO2 emissions buy state, 2010. Source: EIA. Click to enlarge.|
The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has released a new report, State-Level Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 2000-2010. The report shows a significant variation of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions across states on both an absolute and a per capita basis. Factors such as size, population density, available fuels, types of businesses, climate, all play a role in both total and per capita emissions, the EIA noted.
Topping the list for absolute emissions in 2010 was Texas (652.6 million tonnes CO2); California (369.8 mt CO2); and Pennsylvania (256.6 mt CO2). In terms of per capita emissions, the top emitter was Wyoming (118.5 tonnes of CO2 per person), followed by North Dakota (80.4 tonnes/person) and Alaska (54.6 tonnes/person). Examining 2010 energy-related CO2 emissions from the transportation sector, the report found California was the top transportation emitter (214.0 million tonnes CO2), followed by Texas (194.9 mt CO2) and Florida (107.0 mt CO2.
Cummins progressing toward ATLAS Tier 2 Bin 2 fuel-efficient diesel for light-duty pickups
May 10, 2013
In a US Department of Energy (DOE)-sponsored project, engineers at Cummins are developing a Tier 2 Bin 2 emissions compliant diesel for application in a light duty pickup (ATLAS, Advanced Technology Light Automotive Systems, earlier post). Tier 2 Bin 2 requirements are only slightly less stringent than the CARB LEVIII-SULEV20 requirements. (Earlier post.) Fuel economy targets for the vehicle are 22.4 mpg US (10.5 l/100km) city and 34.3 mpg US (6.9 l/100 km) highway.
At the recent 2103 SAE World Congress, Cummins discussed key engine technology enablers—including air-handling, fuel system, and base engine design— and development of the combustion system that will help in achieving the target emission levels and fuel economy.
Euro Parliament Environment Committee approves 147 g CO2/km target for light commercial vehicles by 2020; caps van speed
May 07, 2013
Members of the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee approved a draft law setting out rules for achieving a 147 g CO2/km (235 g/mile) target for new light commercial vehicles by 2020, down from 203 g/km (325 g/mile) today—i.e., a 27.6% reduction. The vote was 53 to 4 with 1 abstention.
The committee also proposed indicative targets for post-2020 CO2 emissions in a range of 105 to 120 g/km (168 to 192 g/mile) from 2025. The committee also voted to limit electronically the top speed of vans to 120 km/h (75 mph).
EPA says methane emissions from natural gas production have dropped 36% from 2007-2011
April 29, 2013
In its recently released Inventory of US Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990 – 2011 (earlier post), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that methane (CH4) emissions from the field production of natural gas have declined by 36% from 2007 to 2011 (from 83.1 to 53.4 Tg CO2 eq), after having increased by 43% from 1990 through 2006. Reasons the agency sited for this trend include factors such as increased voluntary reductions, as well as the effects of the recent global economic slowdown.
The finding may have an impact on future regulation of fracking for natural gas production, as opponents of the technology have pointed to higher rates of methane leak as being an argument against it.
Euro Parliament committee approves new 95 g/km CO2 target for cars; super credits and a switch to WLTP
April 25, 2013
The environment committee of the European Parliament approved a draft law setting out a new CO2 target for cars of 95g CO2/km (153 g/mile) by 2020, down from 130 gCO2/km (209 g/mile) in 2015. The draft also sets indicative targets for post-2020 CO2 emissions in the range of 68-78 g/km (109-126 g/mile) from 2025.
These emission limits are the average maximum allowed for car makers registered in the EU. Makers producing fewer than 1,000 cars a year should be exempt from the legislation, said the MEPs. Car makers would therefore have to produce, in addition to older, heavier or polluting models, enough cleaner ones to achieve a balance of 95g en 2020, on pain of penalties.
SAE CRP1234-4 analysis of R-1234yf nears completion; finding refrigerant safe and effective in automotive applications
April 23, 2013
The SAE International Cooperative Research Project (CRP1234-4) team, formed last year to perform an updated engineering safety analysis of the low global warming potential (GWP) R-1234yf refrigerant (earlier post), met during the SAE World Congress in Detroit. The team includes European, North American and Asian OEMs including Chrysler/Fiat, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, PSA, Renault and Toyota.
The SAE CRP has carefully evaluated the extensive testing conducted by its members. The fault tree analysis was subsequently updated with regard to actual collision scenarios and is now complete pending final review.
EPA annual US GHG inventory shows 1.6% drop in 2011 from previous year; transportation CO2 down 1.1%
April 16, 2013
|Total US greenhouse gas emissions by economic sector in 2011. Click to enlarge.|
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its 18th annual report of overall US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions showing a 1.6% decrease in 2011 from the previous year. Recent trends can be attributed to multiple factors including reduced emissions from electricity generation, improvements in fuel efficiency in vehicles with reductions in miles traveled, and year-to-year changes in the prevailing weather, EPA said.
GHG emissions in 2011 showed a 6.9% drop below 2005 levels. Total emissions of the six main greenhouse gases in 2011 were equivalent to 6,702 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. These gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride.
US EPA proposing allowing high-octane, higher ethanol content fuels as part of Tier 3 regs; E30 as example
April 03, 2013
As part of the proposed Tier 3 rulemaking on vehicle emissions and gasoline sulfur content released last week (earlier post), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to allow vehicle manufacturers to request approval for an alternative certification fuel—such as a high-octane 30% ethanol by volume (E30) blend—for vehicles they might design or optimize for use on such a fuel.
Higher octane fuels can lead to higher compression ratios which in turn can lead to more efficient gasoline engines and reduced fuel consumption. With turbocharged gasoline engines, there is a double benefit: higher compression ratios and increased boost. (Earlier post.) Having approval for such a high octane certification fuel would, the EPA proposed in the Tier 3 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking:
Study suggests operational optimization can maximize the health and climate benefits of public transit investments in new bus technologies
April 02, 2013
A study by a team from the University of British Columbia and Metro Vancouver suggests that optimized operational control strategies for transit bus fleets ultimately offer transit agencies a way to maximize the benefits of their capital investments in new, cleaner technologies.
In their paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they note that the evolution in bus technologies, particularly with respect to controlling pollutants that impact health—such as PM—combined with capital investments by transit agencies in these technologies, have resulted in the potential for large differences in emission factors within transit bus fleets. Operational optimization strategies such as vehicle assignment and scheduling can exploit this heterogeneous mix and minimize the climate and health impacts as well as operating costs of transit systems with minimal capital expenditure, they suggest.
EPA proposes Tier 3 standards for gasoline sulfur content and vehicle emissions; harmonized with California LEV III
March 29, 2013
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed long-anticipated Tier 3 standards for gasoline sulfur content; evaporative emissions; and tailpipe emissions from all light-duty vehicles (LDVs, or passenger cars), light-duty trucks (LDT1s, LDT2s, LDT3s, and LDT4s) and Medium-Duty Passenger Vehicles (or MDPVs).
With a proposed start in 2017, the Tier 3 program is also harmonized with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Low Emission Vehicle (LEV III) program—enabling automakers to sell the same vehicles in all 50 states. The Tier 3 proposal is also aligned with and designed to be implemented over the same timeframe as EPA’s program for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from light-duty vehicles starting in model year 2017.
Mærsk Group exploring use of lignin-based marine biofuels; CyclOx and B21st
March 20, 2013
With an annual fuel bill of US$7 billion for vessel operations, the Mærsk Group continually considers ways to reduce its bunker fuel consumption. Greater efficiency is the primary way of achieving this; alternative fuels are another. Mærsk Group is currently involved in two projects focused on realizing the marine fuel potential of one of the world’s most abundant and sustainable biomass resources: lignin.
Lignin already has a variety of industrial uses because of its chemical characteristics, energy content and its abundance; yet its potential as a marine diesel fuel is a relatively uncharted area, says Peter Normark Sørensen, with Mærsk Oil Trading, the Mærsk Group’s oil buying arm.
Study explores impact of alcohol-gasoline blends with early inlet valve closing at low and moderate loads on EGR tolerance
A team from Brunel University, MAHLE Powertrain and University College London studied the combined effects of different inlet valve operating strategies on combustion, performance and emissions with different ethanol and 1-butanol blends with gasoline in a single-cylinder spark-ignition research engine equipped with a fully variable valvetrain. Their paper is published in the journal Fuel.
The focus was to better quantify the effects of alcohol content and Early Inlet Valve Closing (EIVC) operation on EGR tolerance under the lowest speed-load conditions typically encountered (e.g., engine idle) while also quantifying the changes in optimum valvetrain settings at moderate speeds and loads where the effects of varying EGR tolerance were less dominant.
Study finds technology cost of achieving European 2020 LDV CO2 targets more than offset by resultant fuel savings
March 19, 2013
|Provisional 2030 economic impact of achieving the 2020 targets in the two Phase I scenarios—Current Policy Initiatives and Tech 1— compared to baseline. Source: Cambridge Econometrics.Click to enlarge.|
A report published by Cambridge Econometrics and Ricardo-AEA concludes that overall, the cost of technologies required to meet proposed European 2020 CO2 regulations for vehicles (95 g/km for cars and 147 g/km for vans) will be more than offset by the resultant fuel savings. The technical and macro-economic study, commissioned by the European Climate Foundation, focuses on light-duty vehicles.
The project is taking a phased approach. This first report (Phase I) examines only the impact of improving the efficiency of fossil-fueled vehicles, in which efficiency gains are delivered by the improvement of the internal combustion engine vehicle, including lightweighting, engine downsizing and hybridization. The Phase II report, to be presented mid-2013, examines the impact of the gradual penetration of advanced powertrains, such as battery-electric vehicles and fuel cell electric vehicles, and the gradual replacement of fossil fuels with increasing levels of indigenous energy resources, such as electricity and hydrogen.
NRC report concludes US LDVs could cut oil consumption and GHGs by 80% by 2050; reliance on plug-ins, biofuels and hydrogen; strong policies mandatory
March 18, 2013
|Projected rates of fuel consumption improvement under different scenarios relative to past experience and the 2016 and 2025 CAFE standards. Source: NRC. Click to enlarge.|
Light-duty vehicles (LDVs) in the US may be able to reduce petroleum use by 50% by 2030, and by 80% by 2050; and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80% by 2050, according to the newly published results of a two-year study by a committee convened by the National Research Council.
Achieving those goals will will be difficult—but not impossible to meet—and will necessitate a combination of more efficient vehicles; the use of alternative fuels such as biofuels, electricity, and hydrogen; and strong government policies to overcome high costs and influence consumer choices. Given the importance of policy as a driver, the committee was also asked—somewhat unusually for a study of this kind—to explore policies, noted Douglas M. Chapin, principal of MPR Associates, and chair of the committee that wrote the report.
Tsinghua study compares two diesel-gasoline combustion modes; both deliver high efficiencies and low emissions
|The effects of gasoline ratio on indicated thermal efficiency of HCII and GDBF modes. Yu et al. Click to enlarge.|
Researchers at Tsinghua University have compared the combustion and emissions characteristics of two dual-fuel (diesel-gasoline) modes intended to integrate the advantages of both fuels to achieve high thermal efficiency and low emission targets. A paper on their results is published in the journal Fuel.
Gasoline Homogeneous Charge Induced Ignition (HCII) by diesel combines the port fuel injection of gasoline to form a homogeneous charge with the direct injection of diesel fuel as an ignition source. (E.g., RCCI, earlier post.) Gasoline/Diesel Blend Fuels (GDBFs) use a premixed blend of diesel and gasoline which is directly injected into the cylinder for combustion. (E.g., dieseline, earlier post.)
DOE TEF project finds US can eliminate petroleum and reduce GHG by more than 80% in transportation by 2050; less use, more biofuels, expansion of electricity and hydrogen
March 15, 2013
|TEF project points to deep cuts in petroleum and emissions in the transportation sector by focusing on modes, fuels, and demand. Source: DOE. Click to enlarge.|
The US Department of Energy (DOE) released findings from a new project—Transportation Energy Futures (TEF)—that concludes the United States has the potential to eliminate petroleum use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by more than 80% in the transportation sector by 2050. The project identifies possible paths to a low-carbon, low-petroleum future in the US transportation sector, and also looks beyond technology to examine the marketplace, consumer behavior, industry capabilities, and infrastructure.
TEF is organized into four research areas: light-duty vehicles; non-light-duty vehicles; fuels; and transportation demand. Findings are being detailed in a series of nine reports, six of which are now available.
Researchers use LCLS to get real-time view of chemical reaction; important insight into how catalysts work
An international team of researchers has used the ultrafast, ultrabright X-ray pulses of the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (earlier post) to gain unprecedented views of a catalyst in action, an important step in the effort to develop cleaner and more efficient energy sources. A paper on their work is published in the journal Science.
The scientists used LCLS, together with computerized simulations, to probe the electronic structure of CO molecules as their chemisorption state on a ruthenium catalyst sample changed upon exciting the substrate. The study revealed surprising details of a short-lived early state in the chemical reaction, offering important clues about how catalysts work and launching a new era in probing surface chemistry as it happens.
Volkswagen to use CO2 as refrigerant for future air conditioning systems
March 08, 2013
The Volkswagen Group announced that it is choosing CO2 as the future low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerant for its mobile air conditioning (MAC) systems. The announcement follows press reports from the Geneva Motor Show that Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen would pursue CO2 (R744) as the refrigerant for MACs instead of R-1234yf (developed by Honeywell and DuPont). (Earlier post.)
Volkswagen said it would roll out CO2 MAC systems progressively over its entire vehicle fleet. With a GWP (Global Warming Potential) value of 1, R744 is 99.3% below the EU’s now-specified GWP limit of 150 for MAC systems. R134a, the current widespread MAC refrigerant, has a GWP of 1,300, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
EEA report suggests road charges for heavy-duty goods vehicles should reflect varied health effects of pollution in different countries
March 04, 2013
|Air pollution externalities of 12–14 ton HGV on highway (Euronorm III) in euro cents. Source: EEA. Click to enlarge.|
A new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) suggests that new road charges for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs or lorries) should reflect the varied health effects of traffic pollution in different European countries. This means charges should be much higher in some countries compared to others, according to the (EEA).
The amended Eurovignette Directive (2011/76/EU) relating to the charging of HGVs for use of major European motorways prescribes that from 2013, Member States may include air pollution costs in any charging structure for roads under the Trans‐European Network (TEN-T) and for comparable domestic motorways. The revenue from such schemes should be invested in sustainable transport, the Directive states. However, adoption of road user charges depends on a decision by individual countries.
State Department issues Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on Keystone XL Pipeline: climate change impacts
March 02, 2013
|Comparison of proposed Keystone XL route to previously proposed project segment. Source: Draft SEIS. Click to enlarge.|
The US Department of State (DOS) has released its Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) in response to TransCanada’s May 2012 application for the Keystone XL pipeline that would run from Canada’s oils sands in Alberta to Nebraska. The document is a detailed draft technical review of potential environmental impacts associated with the segment of the pipeline in the US, including: impacts from construction, impacts from potential spills, impacts related to climate change, and economic impacts.
Aside from the potential construction and spill impacts of the pipeline, the scope of the climate change impacts have become the most contentious and politicized issue surrounding the pipeline. The DOS SEIS accordingly takes a detailed look at life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of petroleum products from Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin (WCSB) oil sands crudes compared with reference crudes and the potential impact the pipeline might have on climate change as well as on the future development of the oils sands resource in Canada.
NASA begins ACCESS flight research to study effects of biojet fuels on engine performance, emissions and contrails
March 01, 2013
NASA researchers have begun a series of flights using the agency’s DC-8 flying laboratory to study the effects of alternate biofuel on engine performance, emissions and aircraft-generated contrails at altitude. The Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise EmiSSions (ACCESS) research involves flying the DC-8 as high as 40,000 feet while an instrumented NASA Falcon HU-25 aircraft trails behind at distances ranging from 300 feet to more than 10 miles.
During the flights, the DC-8’s four CFM56 engines will be powered by conventional JP-8 jet fuel, or a 50-50 blend of JP-8 and an alternative fuel of hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids that comes from camelina plants.
MIT study finds fuel economy standards are 6-14 times less cost effective than fuel tax for reducing gasoline use
February 21, 2013
In a study published in the journal Energy Economics, MIT researchers have found that a fuel economy standard is at least six to fourteen times less cost effective than a fuel tax when targeting an identical reduction in cumulative gasoline use (20% by 2050). The researchers also found that a binding fuel economy standard, combined with a cap-and-trade (CAT) policy, increases the cost of meeting the GHG emissions constraint by forcing expensive reduction in passenger vehicle gasoline use, displacing more cost-effective abatement opportunities.
The impact of adding a fuel economy standard to the CAT policy depends on the availability and cost of abatement opportunities in transport—if advanced biofuels provide a cost-competitive, low carbon alternative to gasoline, the fuel economy standard does not bind and the use of low carbon fuels in passenger vehicles makes a significantly larger contribution to GHG emissions abatement relative to the case when biofuels are not available.
California ARB to hold public workshop on new GHG and emissions standards for heavy-duty engines and vehicles
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) will hold a public workshop on 11 March to discuss proposals for several regulations and regulation amendments related to on-road heavy-duty vehicles.
At this workshop, staff will be soliciting input on proposals multiple proposals: a new regulation to harmonize with GHG emissions standards for medium- and heavy-duty engines and vehicles that US EPA adopted in 2011; amendments to ARB’s existing Heavy-Duty Vehicle GHG Emission Reduction Regulation to align with the proposed new GHG regulation; a new set of optional oxides of nitrogen (NOx) standards for heavy-duty vehicle engines more stringent than the current 2010 model year standard; and amendments to the Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM) to Limit Diesel-fueled Commercial Motor Vehicle Idling to expand compliance responsibility.
UC Davis study identifies toxicity of particulate matter from specific sources
February 19, 2013
The California Air Resources Board and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) released a report they commissioned by investigators at the University of California, Davis that looks at how to distinguish health effects caused by different types of fine and ultrafine airborne particulate matter (PM) from different sources. This is among the first studies to examine the toxicology of particles according to their source origin. Previous research has linked fine and ultrafine particles to asthma, heart disease and other adverse health effects.
These particles—produced by emissions from many different sources, including traffic, industrial processes, wood-burning fireplaces and gas- and coal-fired power plants—combine in the atmosphere and are affected by sunlight and other meteorological variables. National Ambient Air Quality Standards do not distinguish between these source since they are based solely on mass in given particle size rang. Further, the mixing makes it difficult to determine which compounds in particulate matter may be responsible for specific health effects.
Senators Sanders, Boxer propose legislation to institute GHG price on large stationary sources and remove support for fossil fuel industries
February 15, 2013
Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) introduced legislation that would set an escalating fee on greenhouse gas emissions from large stationary sources to fund investments in energy efficiency and sustainable energy technologies and also provide rebates to consumers to offset increases in energy prices. The legislation also proposes numerous actions against financing and support for fossil fuel industries.
The proposal was drafted as two measures, the Climate Protection Act—which sets the carbon price and finance programs for sustainable technologies—and the Sustainable Energy Act—which ends federal support for fossil fuel companies and research and extends tax incentives for renewables. Among the financing provisions of the legislation are:
SAE CRP: growing high level of confidence that R1234yf can be used safely; “disappointment” with departure of Daimler, BMW and Audi
February 11, 2013
The SAE International Cooperative Research Project (CRP1234-4) team, formed last year to review relevant research and testing to finalize the risk assessment of the use of the low global warming potential R1234yf in mobile air conditioning systems (earlier post), met face-to-face during the week of 4 February 2013. SAE reported that as the CRP team continues to review relevant research and testing to finalize the risk assessment, the high level of confidence that R1234yf can be used safely in automotive applications continues to grow.
This review—the fourth such—was launched in October 2012 after Daimler in September announced that findings from its internal investigations raised questions on the safe usage of R-1234yf as a replacement refrigerant in mobile air conditioning (MAC) systems and said that it would not use this chemical in its products. (Earlier post.)
EPA Climate Change Adaptation Plan sees likely increase in tropospheric ozone, with more difficulty in attaining NAAQS in many areas
February 10, 2013
Among the many climate-related vulnerabilities that can impact its mission, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cites a likely increase in tropospheric ozone pollution as potentially making it more difficult to attain National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) in many areas with existing ozone problems. The analysis comes in a draft Climate Change Adaptation Plan that the agency has released for public comment.
In the plan, EPA examines the different ways in which its programs are vulnerable to a changing climate and how it might adapt to continue meeting its mission of protecting human health and the environment. Every program and regional office within the EPA is currently developing an Implementation Plan outlining how each considers the impacts of climate change in its mission, operations, and programs, and carrying out the work called for in the agency-wide plan.
DeCicco: Transportation GHG reduction policy should focus upstream on fuel supply rather than downstream on choice of fuels in vehicles
January 25, 2013
In a new working paper, Prof. John DeCicco at the University of Michigan argues that to reduce transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions, the proper policy focus should be upstream in sectors that provide the fuel, rather than downstream on the choice of fuels in the automobile.
More specifically, he suggests that other than supporting fundamental R&D, programs to promote alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) “are not currently warranted for climate protection. In addition to managing travel demand and improving vehicle efficiency, the implied climate policy priority is limiting net GHG emissions in fuel supply sectors.” The paper is available from the Social Science Research Network (SSRN).