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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

GWU team demonstrates one-pot process for optimized synthesis of controlled CNTs from CO2; coupling cement and C2CNT

March 27, 2017

Researchers at George Washington University led by Dr. Stuart Licht (earlier post) have developed a new process that transforms CO2 into a controlled selection of nanotubes (CNTs) via molten electrolysis; they call the process C2CNT (CO2 into carbon nanotubes). This synthesis consumes only CO2 and electricity, and is constrained only by the cost of electricity.

Controlling the electrolysis parameters opens up a wide portfolio of CNT morphologies, including hollow or solid, thick- or thin-walled and doped CNTs. Molten carbonate electrosynthesized boron-doped CNTs exhibit high electrical conductivity. The process is described in a paper published in the Journal of CO2 Utilization. In a second paper in that journal, the team reports on the uses of C2CNT to retrofit cement plants. Per ton CO2 avoided, the C2CNT cement plant consumes $50 electricity, emits no CO2, and produces $100 cement and ∼$60,000 of CNTs.

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EIA: US energy-related CO2 dropped 2.7% in 2015; of end-use sectors, only transportation increased

According to a report from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), US energy-related CO2 emissions decreased by 146 million metric tons (MMmt) in 2015 to 5,259 MMmt, down 2.7% from 5,405 MMmt in 2014. This decline occurred despite growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.6% as other factors more than offset the growth in GDP. Energy-related CO2 emissions in 2015 were about 12% below 2005 levels.

These factors included a decline in the carbon intensity of the energy supply (CO2/British thermal units [Btu]) of 1.8%; and a 3.4% decline in energy intensity (Btu/GDP). Of the four end-use sectors, only transportation emissions increased in 2015 (+2.1%).

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California ARB votes to move forward with light-duty vehicle GHG and ZEV programs through 2025; cranking it up post-2025

March 25, 2017

After considering the Advanced Clean Cars Midterm Review (earlier post), the California Air Resources Board voted unanimously on Friday to continue with the vehicle greenhouse gas emission standards and ZEV program for cars and light trucks sold in California through 2025. The action ensures that California and 12 other states that follow its vehicle regulations—one third of the US auto market—will move forward the greenhouse gas emission standards adopted in the 2012 process involving the federal government, California and the automakers.

The Board also voted to support the expansion of the ZEV marketplace before 2025, calling for redoubling current efforts underway to support market growth and paving the way for new regulations to increase rapidly the number of zero-emission vehicles required to be sold in California after 2025.

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California ARB moves forward with climate and air quality actions

March 24, 2017

On the first day of a two-day board meeting—the second day of which (Friday 24 March) will consider the Advanced Clean Cars Midterm Review—the California Air Resources Board (ARB) took a number of climate and air quality actions. CARB approved the State Strategy for the State Implementation Plan (State SIP Strategy), which describes CARB’s commitment for further reducing vehicle emissions needed to meet federal air quality standards over the next 15 years. The Board also approved the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s comprehensive air quality plan.

CARB also adopted a new plan to curb destructive “super pollutants” including black carbon, fluorinated gases and methane. The plan, California’s Short-lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Strategy, maps out the route to more rapid greenhouse gas reductions by clamping down on these super pollutants.

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ICCT: incremental technology can cut vehicle CO2 by half and increase fuel economy >60% through 2030 with ~5% increase in price

March 22, 2017

With the EPA re-opening its Mid-Term Review of GHG standards for 2022-2025 for light-duty vehicles (earlier post), and with NHTSA yet to weigh in on its Mid-Term evaluation of fuel economy standards for the same period, a team from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has published a report analyzing emerging vehicle efficiency technologies; their ability to achieve lower emission levels; and their costs in the 2025–2030 timeframe.

Starting from a baseline 26 mpg (9.04 l/100 km) in 2016, the The ICCT team assessed increased consumer label fuel economy (as opposed to the regulatory test fuel economy) to 35 mpg (6.71 l/100 km) in 2025 and to 42–46 mpg (5.6-5.11 l/100 km) (under three scenarios) by 2030. These fuel economy levels are achieved based on a sustained 4%–6% annual reduction of fuel use per mile with incremental technology additions that do not compromise vehicle size or utility at an incremental cost of $800–$1,300 from 2025 to 2030. The resulting trajectory would reduce CO2 emissions by half and increase fuel economy by more than 60% from 2016 through 2030. Based on a detailed analysis of the efficiency technologies used to achieve these lower CO2 emission levels, the ICCT study concludes that vehicle prices would increase by about 5% by 2030.

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Ricardo Energy & Environment launches real-world vehicle emissions monitoring service with individual vehicle identification in the UK

March 20, 2017

In the UK, increasing pressure to reduce the impact of pollution from vehicles has led to growing interest in the introduction of Clean Air Zones and Low Emission Zones. However, such mitigation measures are expensive to design and implement and, while street level air quality monitoring can highlight the problem in the form of the local hot spots at which exceedances occur, it does not provide information on which of the passing vehicles are the most polluting.

To address this need, Ricardo Energy & Environment, working with technology partner OPUS Inspection, has launched a real-world vehicle emissions monitoring service. The accurate measurement of the emissions of passing vehicles is linked to automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras for individual vehicle identification.

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IRENA, IEA study concludes meeting 2˚C scenario possible with net positive economics

Global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by 70% by 2050 and completely phased-out by 2060 with a net positive economic outlook, according to new findings released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Perspectives for the Energy Transition: Investment Needs for a Low-Carbon Energy Transition—a joint study by IRENA and the IEA—launched on the occasion of the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue, presents the case that increased deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency in G20 countries and globally can achieve the emissions reductions needed to keep global temperature rise to no more than two-degrees Celsius, avoiding the most severe impacts of climate change.

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IEA finds CO2 emissions flat for third straight year even as global economy grew in 2016

March 18, 2017

Global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions were flat for a third straight year in 2016 even as the global economy grew, according to the International Energy Agency. The data signal a continuing decoupling of emissions and economic activity. This was the result of growing renewable power generation, switches from coal to natural gas, improvements in energy efficiency, as well as structural changes in the global economy.

Global emissions from the energy sector stood at 32.1 gigatonnes last year, the same as the previous two years, while the global economy grew 3.1%, according to estimates from the IEA. Carbon dioxide emissions declined in the United States and China, the world’s two-largest energy users and emitters, and were stable in Europe, offsetting increases in most of the rest of the world.

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CDP Technologies offering new gaseous fuels aftermarket cylinder head package for GM 6.0L engines

March 17, 2017

CDP Technologies, the OEM sales division of Crazy Diamond Performance Inc., will offer a new aftermarket gaseous fuels-prepped cylinder head package for GM 6.0L engines. The new CDP cylinder head will be available for the popular GM engines that have been, or are slated to be, converted to a gaseous alternative fuel engine.

One of the components in Crazy Diamond Performance’s upcoming CDP TorqueDrive (TD) engine, CDP’s new cylinder head has been engineered to incorporate higher airflow, strength and durability than the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) unit. The CDP gaseous prep cylinder head includes ultra-high strength stainless steel valves, proprietary hardened valve seats and revised seals.

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Greyrock, Tsinhua U, DRI to assess potential of synthetic diesel to improve air quality in China

Greyrock Energy, a developer of a gas-to-liquids (GTL) process that produces synthetic diesel, will participate with Tsinghua University of Beijing, China and the Desert Research Institute (DRI) of Reno, Nevada to quantify the positive impact on air quality from the use of synthetic diesel fuels as compared with petroleum derived diesel fuels. Beijing was chosen as the initial focus of this study given the concerns abount air quality.

Greyrock’s GTL process produces synthetic diesel fuels that meet or exceed diesel fuel specifications established by ASTM D975. The improved characteristics of the Greyrock synthetic diesel over petroleum based alternatives include higher cetane, virtually no sulfur or aromatics, and excellent lubricity.

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NASA-led study finds 50 vol% biofuel blend reduces soot particle emissions during aircraft cruising; reduced climatic impact of contrails

March 16, 2017

A 50:50 by volume blend of conventional Jet A aviation fuel and an aviation biofuel made from Camelina reduces soot particle number and mass emissions from the aircraft by 50 to 70% compared to conventional fuel, YYYY according to a new study published in the scientific journal Nature. The findings are based on an international flight experiment between NASA, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada.

The results provide important information on how the use of biofuels in aviation can contribute to making air transport more environmentally friendly—not only by reducing emissions in the vicinity of airports, but also at cruise conditions.

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EPA re-opens Mid-Term Evaluation Process for light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas standards 2022-2025

March 15, 2017

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced that EPA intends to reconsider its final determination issued on 12 January 2017 which recommended no change to the greenhouse gas standards for light duty vehicles for model years 2022- 2025. (Earlier post.) EPA will reconsider that determination in coordination with NHTSA as part of a renewed Mid-Term Evaluation process.

This process was established as a part of the 2012 final greenhouse gas emissions standards for model years 2017-2025, requiring EPA to determine no later than 1 April 2018 whether the greenhouse gas standards for model years 2022-2025 established are appropriate. In coordination with EPA, the DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is evaluating its fuel economy standards for that period. In accord with this schedule, the EPA intends to make a new Final Determination regarding the appropriateness of the standards no later than 1 April 2018.

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Audi introduces new A4 Avant g-tron; Audi e-gas offered as standard

March 07, 2017

Audi has introduced the natural-gas-fueled A4 Avant g-tron; dealers in Europe will begin taking orders for the midsize model starting in early summer 2017. It can be selected with climate-friendly Audi e-gas (synthetic natural gas produced with renewable energy in a Power-to-Gas process, earlier post) or compressed natural gas (CNG), or can be powered with gasoline.

Additionally, Audi is now offering e-gas to power the A3 Sportback g-tron as standard; customers will pay only the regular natural gas price. With this deal, Audi is reducing the CO2 emissions of the g-tron fleet when running on gas by 80%. When the new A4 Avant g-tron and the A5 Sportback g-tron come on market later this year, the e-gas offer as standard will apply to these models as well.

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WHO attributes more than 1 in 4 deaths annually of children under 5 years to unhealthy environment

March 06, 2017

In 2015, 5.9 million children under age five died. The major causes of child deaths globally are pneumonia, prematurity, intrapartum-related complications, neonatal sepsis, congenital anomalies, diarrhea, injuries and malaria. Most of these diseases and conditions are at least partially caused by the environment, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports.

WHO estimated in 2012 that 26% of childhood deaths and 25% of the total disease burden in children under five could be prevented through the reduction of environmental risks such as air pollution, unsafe water, sanitation and inadequate hygiene or chemicals.

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Yale, Penn State team receives $1.2M Co-Optima award to investigate sooting behavior of biofuels

March 04, 2017

Penn State Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Yuan Xuan and researchers at Yale University will work together to identify clean-burning biofuels for next-generation internal combustion engines under to a $1.2 million award from the Energy Department’s Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines Initiative (Co-Optima). (Earlier post.)

Co-Optima has two goals: to bring new engines and fuels to market within a decade and to demonstrate new combustion technologies by 2030 with the potential for a 30% reduction in petroleum consumption beyond what is already targeted and a 14% reduction in greenhouse gas emission nationwide.

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Georgia Tech study finds link between sulfate, metallic particles from vehicles and adverse health impacts

March 03, 2017

Metals from brakes and other automotive systems are emitted into the air as fine particles, lingering over busy roadways. Now, researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology have shown how these vehicle-emitted metals—such as copper, iron and manganese—interact with acidic sulfate-rich particles already in the air to produce an aerosol that, when inhaled, is more likely to cause oxidative stress and impact respiratory health. Their study is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The study, which was sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the US Environmental Protection Agency, showed how the metals are emitted mainly in an insoluble form but slowly become soluble after mixing with sulfate. In other words, the sulfate plays a key role in making metals soluble before they are inhaled, which could explain the association of sulfate with adverse health impacts, the researchers said.

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Study finds black carbon pollution directly affects bacteria; altering effectiveness of antibiotics, increasing the potential for infection

Researchers from the University of Leicester (UK) have shown for the first time that black carbon, a major component of air pollution, directly affects bacteria that cause respiratory infections—Streptococcus pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus—thereby increasing the potential for infection and changing the effectiveness of antibiotic treatment. S. pneumoniae is the leading bacterial cause of pneumonia, and S. aureus is a significant cause of respiratory and skin and tissue disease.

The interdisciplinary study, published in the journal Environmental Microbiology, has important implications for the treatment of infectious diseases, which are known to be increased in areas with high levels of air pollution. The study looked into how air pollution—specifically black carbon—affects the bacteria living in the respiratory tract—the nose, throat and lungs. Black carbon, a major component of particulate matter, is produced through the burning of fossil fuels such as diesel, biofuels, and biomass.

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Senate bill would enable sales of E15 and higher ethanol blends year round; RVP waiver

US Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have introduced the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act. The bill would amend the Clean Air Act to extend the Reid vapor pressure (RVP) waiver to ethanol blends above 10%. This would increase market access opportunities for higher blends of ethanol by allowing retailers across the country to sell E15 and other higher-ethanol/gasoline fuel blends year-round, the Senators said.

RVP is a common measure of and generic term for gasoline volatility. Each year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates RVP for gasoline and gasoline-ethanol blended during the summer ozone season from 1 June until 15 September. The purpose of the regulation is to reduce evaporative emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC) that contribute to ground-level ozone.

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Eaton introduces eVaptive electronic fuel tank venting system; reduced cost, complexity

March 02, 2017

Power management company Eaton introduced its new eVaptive electronically controlled fuel tank vapor venting system that can be optimized for any vehicle platform, eliminating the need for automakers to design unique venting systems for different vehicles.

The eVaptive system uses software to control the transmission of fuel vapors to a charcoal canister while keeping liquid fuel confined to the fuel tank. For any given fuel tank application, the system can be optimized for all driving situations as well as stationary and refueling modes. The hardware is a “one-size-fits-all” unit that can be programmed to fit any vehicle platform.

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New KOSi method for ultra-deep desulfurization of fuels to ~ 2ppm S

February 28, 2017

Scientists led by a team at Caltech and BP, and in collaboration with researchers at UCLA, ETH Zürich, and China’s Nanjing University, have developed a new method for potentially removing nearly all sulfur compounds (down to ~2 ppm) from gas and diesel fuel. The method uses Earth-abundant materials (potassium (K), oxygen (O), and silicon (Si)—hence its name, “KOSi”) and operates under mild conditions.

Sulfur compounds in fuels such as gasoline and diesel create air pollution when the fuel is burned. To address that challenge, large-scale hydrodesulfurization (HDS) at refineries remove the majority of sulfur from fuel down to a government-mandated level. The new technique, however, has the potential to reduce sulfur down to a fraction of that amount, which would further reduce air pollution and extend the lifetime of vehicles’ catalytic converters, which control tailpipe emissions. A paper on their work is published in the journal Nature Energy.

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European truck manufacturers call for action to prevent aftermarket manipulation of NOx emissions controls

February 23, 2017

In the wake of a report by the German television station ZDF identifying widespread aftermarket manipulation of NOx emissions control technologies on trucks, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) is calling for government action to preclude such manipulation.

The ZDF report, based on research ZDF commissioned at the University of Heidelberg, found that some 20% of trucks operating in eastern Europe have effectively circumvented NOx reduction technology, causing around 14,000 tonnes more NOx to be emitted per year than would be the case if all trucks that say they use AdBlue were doing so. The additional 14,000 tonnes of NOx would make it twice the size of the Volkswagen “Dieselgate” scandal of 2015, noted environmental NGO T&E.

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Auto Alliance urges EPA to withdraw premature Final Determination on light-duty GHG regulations, resume Midterm Evaluation process with NHTSA

The Auto Alliance has sent a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt requesting that the US Environmental Protection Agency withdraw the Final Determination on the Appropriateness of the Model Year 2022-2025 Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards under the Midterm Evaluation which EPA announced on 13 January 2017. (Earlier post.)

It its letter, the Alliance argues that by rushing to issue the Final Determination (which maintains the current GHG standards as defined through 2025) in January 2017, EPA abrogated its commitment to a robust Midterm Evaluation of the standards in coordination with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is conducting its own midterm review of the fuel economy standards through 2025. Furthermore, the Alliance argues, EPA never published the final rules in the Federal Register. The Alliance is not arguing for a rollback of standards; instead, it is arguing for a resumption of the original Midterm Evaluation timetable (to which NHTSA appears to be adhering), that would result in findings by April 2018.

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Toyota’s new three-way catalyst reduces precious metal usage by 20%; improving uniformity of flow with FLAD

February 22, 2017

Toyota Motor Corporation announced the commercial availability of a new, smaller three-way catalyst for the treatment of NOx, CO and unburned hydrocarbons from gasoline engines that uses 20% less precious metal in approximately 20% less volume, while maintaining the same exhaust gas purification performance.

The catalyst uses the world’s first integrally-molded Flow Adjustable Design Cell (FLAD) substrate. FLAD features a different cell cross-sectional area at the inner portion compared to that at the outer portion. Innovative design and manufacturing technologies have allowed for the mass production of the new catalyst, which will gradually be installed in new vehicle models, starting with the Lexus LC 500h later this year.

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Study links PM2.5 pollution with millions of preterm births globally

February 19, 2017

A new study, led by a team from The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) at the University of York, has found that in 2010, about 2.7 million preterm births globally—or 18% of all pre-term births—were associated with outdoor exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5).The open-access study is published in the journal Environment International.

There are many known risk factors for preterm birth—from the mother’s age, to illness, to poverty and other social factors. Recent research has suggested that exposure to air pollution could also be a risk factor. The researchers combined national, population-weighted, annual average ambient PM2.5 concentration, preterm birth rate and number of livebirths to calculate the number of PM2.5-associated preterm births in 2010 for 183 countries.

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TÜV lifecycle analysis shows Mercedes-Benz E 350 e PHEV cuts GHG footprint 44% compared to E 350 CGI; equivalent NOx

February 15, 2017

The Mercedes-Benz E 350 e plug-in hybrid (earlier post) has successfully completed the TÜV validation audit and received the Environmental Certificate. This award is based on a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in which the independent experts at TÜV Süd (the German Technical Inspection Authority) comprehensively assess the environmental impact of the passenger car over its entire life cycle.

The Mercedes-Benz E 350 e is rated with an NEDC fuel consumption of 2.1 l/100 km (112 mpg US), and electric energy consumption (NEDC) of 11.5 kWh/100 km. The LCA found total CO2 emissions around 44% lower than the previous E 350 CGI model, which has comparable performance data and a conventional engine, during its life cycle (material manufacture, production, driving for 250,000 kilometers (155,000 miles) calculated with certified consumption figures and recycling) when the hybrid model is charged externally with the European energy mix.

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Dearman doubling size of tech center for engine powered by liquid nitrogen

February 10, 2017

Dearman, the clean cold technology company, will double the size of its technology center ahead of further trials of its engine powered by liquid nitrogen. The Dearman Engine is zero emission, emitting no NOx or particulate matter (PM), and delivering significant carbon dioxide savings compared to diesel. (Earlier post.)

The first application of the technology is a zero-emission alternative to diesel powered transport refrigeration units (TRUs). (Earlier post.) The Dearman transport refrigeration system is currently undergoing advanced road trials with Sainsbury’s, and further international trials are set to begin later this year.

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Study finds “markedly” high levels of diesel exhaust present in commuter trains powered by locomotives in pull-mode

February 09, 2017

Diesel-powered commuter trains may expose their passengers to elevated levels of certain black carbon and ultrafine particles, especially in the coach directly behind the locomotive, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Toronto. A paper on the study is published in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

Professor Greg Evans (ChemE), director of the Southern Ontario Centre for Atmospheric Aerosol Research (SOCAAR) and Dr. Cheol-Heon Jeong, a senior research associate at SOCAAR, measured the ultrafine particle (UFP), black carbon (BC) and lung deposited surface area (LDSA) concentrations during 42 trips on diesel-powered commuter trains. When the passenger coaches were pulled by a locomotive, the geometric mean concentrations of UFP, LDSA, and BC were 18, 10, and 6 times higher than the exposure levels when the locomotive pushed the coaches, respectively. UFP, LDSA, and BC concentrations in pull-trains were 5, 3, and 4 times higher than concentrations measured while walking on city sidewalks, respectively.

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Study links air pollution to heightened risk of Type 2 diabetes in overweight and obese Latino children

February 08, 2017

Latino children who live in areas with higher levels of air pollution have a heightened risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) and published in the journal Diabetes. The study, the researchers said, is the first to follow children for years to find a connection between air pollution and diabetes risk in children.

Scientists tracked children’s health and respective levels of residential air pollution for about 3.5 years before associating chronic unhealthy air exposure to a breakdown in beta cells—special pancreatic cells that secrete insulin and maintain the appropriate sugar level in the bloodstream. By the time the children turned 18, their insulin-creating pancreatic cells were 13% less efficient than normal, making these individuals more prone to eventually developing Type 2 diabetes, the researchers said.

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California ARB to award up to $10M for zero- and near-zero emission school buses

February 07, 2017

A new program funded by proceeds from California’s cap-and-trade program aims to encourage the turnover of California’s school bus fleet to zero-emission and cleaner-burning school buses.

The program, known as The Rural School Bus Pilot Project, is a partnership between the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District (AQMD) and the California Air Resources Board. The North Coast Unified AQMD will administer the $10 million funding for this statewide school bus project.

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Study suggests GTL-naphtha-gasoline-ethanol blends can function as well as gasoline with lower emissions

February 05, 2017

Results of a study by a team from the University of Birmingham (UK) and Shell Global Solutions suggest that blends of gasoline with gas-to-liquids (GTL) naphtha can perform comparable combustion and full power output to conventional gasoline, with less than 2% difference in normalized ISFC (indicated specific fuel consumption) and gaseous emissions similar to, if not lower than that of conventional gasoline. A paper on their study is published in the journal Fuel.

The GTL Fischer-Tropsch process produces GTL diesel (the cleaner combustion and emissions qualities of which have been well studied), GTL naphtha, GTL kerosene, GTL normal Paraffin and GTL base oils. GTL naphtha mainly contains C4 to C11 hydrocarbons with a high proportions of straight chain paraffins. Although it has a consistent quality and near-zero sulfur and heavy metals, GTL naphtha has a low octane rating, making it unsuitable for blending in gasoline. (GTL naphtha currently is used as an alternative high-quality feedstock for plastics.) However, that low octane rating can be addressed by using ethanol as an octane booster.

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Study finds transport, residential heating main sources of black carbon in Russian Arctic

February 04, 2017

According to a new international study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 38% of black carbon in the Russian Arctic originates from transport and 35% from residential heating sources, while open fires, power plants, and gas flaring are responsible for only 12%, 9%, and 6% respectively. These estimates confirm previous work for some areas of the European Arctic, but for Siberia, the findings differ from previous research, which had suggested that contribution from gas flaring were much higher.

Black carbon, or soot, increases snow and ice melt by dulling the reflective surface and increasing the absorption of sunlight. Researchers say this is one reason that Arctic regions have warmed faster than any other area on the planet, with average temperatures there today over 4 °C higher than the 1968-1996 average, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). Black carbon may also be contributing to the steep decline in summer Arctic sea ice coverage in recent decades.

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New CE-CERT report finds Cummins Wesport ISL G near-zero gas engine performs with lower NOx than EPA certification standard over range of cycles

February 02, 2017

A report released by the University of California Riverside’s College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT), found that the new 8.9L Cummins Westport ISL G near-zero (NZ) natural gas engine (earlier post) meets and exceeds the certification standards during a full range of duty cycles. This finding is in stark contrast to previously released CE-CERT data and a recently released report by the California Air Resources Board that found heavy-duty diesel trucks emitted higher levels of NOx than their certification standards in the same duty cycles.

With the near-zero emission factors demonstrated for natural gas vehicles, it is expected that these vehicles could play an important role in providing much needed emissions reductions required for the South Coast Air Basin and California to reach federal air quality attainment standards.

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Bosch reaches $327.5M settlement agreement for 2.0L and 3.0L VW diesels in US

February 01, 2017

Bosch has entered into a settlement agreement with private claimants in the US in order to settle the most substantial part of the civil law proceedings pending in connection with Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche diesel vehicles that were sold in the US.

The agreement would settle the claims of consumers and dealers of used vehicles against Robert Bosch GmbH, its affiliates, employees, and directors concerning Volkswagen and Audi diesel vehicles with 2.0L engines for model years 2009 through 2015 and Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche diesel vehicles with 3.0L engines for model years 2009 through 2016. For this purpose, Bosch will pay a total amount of US$327.5 million (approx. €304 million). By entering into the settlement, Bosch neither acknowledges the facts as alleged by the plaintiffs nor does Bosch accept any liability.

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Volkswagen reaches settlement agreements with private plaintiffs and US Federal Trade Commission on 3.0L TDI V6 vehicles in US

Volkswagen AG and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (together, Volkswagen) has reached proposed agreements to resolve outstanding civil claims regarding approximately 78,000 affected 3.0L TDI V6 diesel engine vehicles in the United States.

Volkswagen submitted two agreements to the Court for approval: (1) a proposed class settlement with private plaintiffs represented by a Court-appointed Plaintiffs' Steering Committee (PSC) on behalf of a nationwide class of current and certain former owners and lessees of eligible 3.0L TDI V6 vehicles; and (2) a proposed Consent Order submitted by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

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Urban Air Initiative and partners petition EPA to correct ethanol emissions models

The Urban Air Initiative (UAI), the Energy Future Coalition and the states of Kansas and Nebraska have petitioned the US Environmental Protection Agency to correct what they call the agency’s flawed models that limit the use of higher blends of ethanol.

According to UAI, the EPA has published inaccurate data for years claiming that ethanol increases emissions, even though ethanol’s pollution reducing qualities have been demonstrated repeatedly. UAI says that the false information originated with EPA’s fuel effects study—“EPAct study”—and its vehicular emissions computer model called MOVES2014. This information is critically important because it sets the tone for EPA’s institutional bias against ethanol, and it impacts federal and state fuel policies that limit ethanol’s growth in the market—impairing US air quality, according to UAI.

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Faurecia Emissions Control reorients strategy, becomes Faurecia Clean Mobility

January 26, 2017

To align with industry megatrends and boost its long term growth, Faurecia Emissions Control Technologies has reoriented its strategy and become Faurecia Clean Mobility. Faurecia Clean Mobility is one of three Faurecia business groups, the other two being Automotive Seating and Interior Systems.

Faurecia Emissions Control Technologies developed exhaust systems and components, including mufflers, manifolds, catalytic converters, emissions control systems and complete exhaust systems. Faurecia defined three key areas for innovation within this segment:

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POSTECH, Hyundai team develops new more thermally robust catalyst for NOx reduction with diesel engines

January 23, 2017

A team from Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) in S. Korea, with colleagues from Hyundai Motors’s R&D group and the University of St. Andrews in the UK has developed a new, more thermally robust catalyst for NOx aftertreatment systems for diesel engines. A paper on their work is published in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

The catalyst—divalent copper ions fully exchanged into high-silica LTA zeolites(Cu-LTA)—demonstrated excellent maintenance of activity for NOx reduction with NH3 under vehicle-simulated conditions even after hydrothermal aging at 900 °C, a critical temperature that the current commercial Cu-SSZ-13 catalyst cannot overcome owing to thermal deactivation.

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California ARB releases proposed new plan to cut 2030 GHG by 40% v. 1990; more stringent LCFS, more ZEVs

January 21, 2017

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) released the proposed scoping plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030—the most ambitious target in North America. (Earlier post.) The plan builds on the state’s efforts to reduce emissions and outlines the most effective ways to reach the 2030 goal, including continuing California’s Cap-and-Trade Program.

Achieving the 2030 target under the proposed plan will continue to build on investments in clean energy and set the California economy on a trajectory to achieving an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

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CARB releases Midterm Review of ZEV regulation, LEV III GHG and PM standards; calls for post-2025 standards

January 19, 2017

When the California Air Resources Board (ARB) adopted the Advanced Clean Cars (ACC) program in 2012 (earlier post), the agency committed to conduct a comprehensive midterm review of three elements of the program: the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) regulation; the 1 mg/mi particulate matter (PM) standard; and the light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas standards for 2022 and later model years. ARB has now released the Midterm Review of Advanced Clean Cars Program—an extensive evaluation of the California passenger vehicle market and technology.

The Review finds that the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards currently in place for model years 2022-2025 are readily feasible at or below the costs estimated back in 2012. The report also finds that ZEV technology has seen significant development that, in many cases, is beyond what was envisioned just four years ago. The report indicates that existing programs in California will add at least 1 million zero-emission vehicles on its roads and highways by 2025.

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DOE Co-Optima initiative publishes report reviewing first 12 months; progress on fuels and engines

January 16, 2017

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Co-Optima initiative—a broad, joint effort to co-optimize the development of efficient engines and low greenhouse-gas fuels for on-road vehicles with the goal of reducing petroleum consumption by 30% by 2030 beyond what is already targeted (earlier post)—has published a year-in-review report for FY 2016—the initiative’s first 12 months.

Co-Optima’s premise is that current fuels constrain engine design—and thus engine efficiency. The researchers suggest that there are engine architectures that can provide higher thermodynamic efficiencies than available from modern internal combustion engines; however, new fuels are required to maximize efficiency and operability across a wide speed/load range. The report details the technical progress in a selection of projects across the initiative’s two main thrusts: spark ignition (SI) and advanced compression ignition (ACI).

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U of Birmingham scientists launch project to tackle global clean cold challenge

Scientists from the University of Birmingham launched a major research project to investigate how “clean cold” could help to achieve almost all of the United Nations’ (UN) global Sustainable Development Goals. The 17 Global Goals include abolishing poverty and hunger; providing good healthcare and education; raising peoples’ quality of life; and cleaning up the environment, while promoting economic growth.

Clean cooling technologies, which can support environmentally sustainable cold chains, include Dearman’s zero-emission transport refrigeration system (earlier post); solar-driven cooling for pack-houses; and even small transportable ammonia-water absorption refrigeration which can be used to transport medicine.

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Achates Power building 2.7L opposed-piston light-duty engine; exceeding CAFE 2025, Tier 3 targets at lower cost

January 13, 2017

Stemming from a major project partially funded with a $9-million grant from the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) to develop an opposed-piston two-stroke gasoline compression ignition engine (OPGCI) (earlier post), Achates Power announced it is developing a 2.7-liter, 3-cylinder (i.e., six-piston) light-duty version of its opposed piston engine (OPE) in both diesel- and gasoline-fueled versions. Achates will demonstrate the engine in 2018 in a driveable light-duty truck.

The 2.7-liter compression-ignition OPE will will be 30-50% more fuel efficient than comparable diesel and gasoline direct injection engines, reduce emissions and cost less than alternative technologies under development for meeting 2025 CAFE fuel economy and Tier 3 emission targets.

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EPA to maintain light-duty vehicle GHG standards unchanged through 2025

In an expected ruling, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy finalized her decision to maintain the current greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for model years 2022-2025 cars and light trucks. (Earlier post.) The EPA says that a wide variety of effective technologies are available to reduce GHG emissions from cars and light trucks, and that automakers are well positioned to meet the standards through model year 2025 at lower costs than the agency earlier predicted.

The standards are projected to result in average fleet-wide consumer fuel economy sticker values of 36 miles per gallon (mpg) by model year 2025, 10 mpg higher than the current fleet average. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has yet to weigh in on the results of its midterm evaluation for fuel economy standards.

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ICCT: New RDE regulations not enough to control diesel car NOx fully; additional actions required

Real-world NOx emissions from new diesel cars could still exceed the Euro 6 emission limit of 80 mg/km by a factor of three or more, even after the new Real-Driving Emissions (RDE) regulation takes effect, according to a new white paper released by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). However, taking specific actions beyond those mandated in the regulation—such as introducing spot checks for randomly selected vehicles and expanding the range of driving conditions covered by RDE testing—could reduce new diesel car NOx emissions to 96 mg/km—just 1.2 times the Euro 6 limit—by 2022.

For the study, the team analyzed an extensive set of diesel car emissions data using modeling of the boundary conditions of the RDE regulation. The researchers also examined the impact of ICCT’s proposed modifications.

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USDA: US corn-based ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 43% compared to gasoline, with additional benefits projected through 2022

A new lifecycle analysis of corn ethanol released by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) finds that GHG emissions associated with corn-based ethanol in the United States are about 43% lower than gasoline when measured on an energy-equivalent basis. Unlike other studies of GHG benefits, which relied on forecasts of future ethanol production systems and expected impacts on the farm sector, this study reviewed how the industry and farm sectors performed over the past decade to assess the current GHG profile of corn-based ethanol.

The new report, A Life-Cycle Analysis of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Corn-Based Ethanol, found greater lifecycle GHG benefits from corn ethanol than a number of earlier studies, driven by a variety of improvements in ethanol production, from the corn field to the ethanol refinery. Farmers are producing corn more efficiently and using conservation practices that reduce GHG emissions, including reduced tillage, cover crops and improved nitrogen management. Corn yields are also improving—between 2005 and 2015, US corn yields increased by more than 10%.

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Oberon Fuels, Mack Trucks, and New York City Department of Sanitation begin first customer demonstration of a DME-powered Mack Truck

January 12, 2017

Oberon Fuels, a producer of clean-burning Dimethyl Ether (DME) transportation fuel (earlier post), announced the first customer demonstration of a DME-powered Mack truck, a Mack Pinnacle. Oberon and Mack are working with the NYC Department of Sanitation (DSNY) to run the vehicle at the Fresh Kills Landfill and evaluate performance and overall drivability. The test is the first step in the city’s evaluation of both DME trucks and DME fuel as a potential long-term strategy to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 and to achieve the city’s goal of sending zero waste to landfill by 2030.

The goal of the demonstration is to gather data on the use of DME fuel and vehicles in urban, heavy-load fleets. At scale, such a program could convert hundreds of thousands of tons of organic waste into clean fuel, reducing emissions, waste, and costs for cities while improving overall air quality and creating jobs.

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EPA and CARB charge Fiat-Chrysler with using undeclared emission control devices in 3.0L diesels

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice of violation (NOV) to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. and FCA US LLC (collectively FCA) for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act for installing and failing to disclose at least eight auxiliary emissions control devices (AECDs) in light-duty model year 2014-2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks with 3.0-liter diesel engines sold in the United States. The undisclosed engine management software results in increased emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from the vehicles, the agencies said. The allegations cover roughly 104,000 vehicles.

EPA is working in coordination with the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which has also issued a notice of violation to FCA. There are about 14,000 of the affected vehicles on the road in California. EPA and CARB have both initiated investigations based on FCA’s alleged actions.

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WVU study fully characterizes pump-to-wheels methane emissions from HD natural gas vehicles and fueling stations

Researchers at West Virginia University have characterized pump-to-wheels methane emissions from heavy-duty (HD) natural-gas-fueled vehicles and the compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueling stations that serve them. The study, published as an open-access paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, greatly expands on very limited data on methane emissions from natural gas-fueled vehicles.

The WVU pump-to-wheels study is the first end-use paper in a collaborative scientific research series designed to measure and better understand the sources and amount of greenhouse-gas methane that is emitted across the natural gas supply chain.

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Volkswagen AG agrees to plead guilty and pay $4.3B in criminal and civil penalties; 6 execs and employees indicted

January 11, 2017

Volkswagen AG has agreed with the US government to resolve criminal and federal environmental and other civil claims against the company relating to the diesel emissions cheating débâcle. As part of the resolution, Volkswagen has agreed to plead guilty to three criminal felony counts, to pay penalties and fines totaling $4.3 billion, and to a series of measures to further strengthen its compliance and control systems, including the appointment of an independent monitor for a period of three years.

In addition, a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Michigan returned an indictment charging six VW executives and employees for their roles in the nearly 10-year conspiracy.

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Study finds living near major traffic linked to higher risk of dementia

January 09, 2017

People who live close to high-traffic roadways face a higher risk of developing dementia than those who live further away, according to a new study from Public Health Ontario (PHO) and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES).

The study, published in the medical journal The Lancet, found that people who lived within 50 meters of high-traffic roads had a 7% higher likelihood of developing dementia compared to those who lived more than 300 meters away from busy roads. The increase in the risk of developing dementia went down to 4% if people lived 50-100 meters from major traffic, and to 2% if they lived within 101-200 meters. At more than 200 meters, there was no elevated risk of dementia.

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EPA and CARB approve emissions modification for Gen 3 VW 2.0 liter diesel vehicles

January 06, 2017

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) approveda remedy proposed by Volkswagen that will reduce the excess NOx emissions from the Generation 3 (MY 2015) diesel 2.0 liter vehicles. With the approval, VW can offer vehicle owners the choice to keep and fix their car, or to have it bought back.

This modification will reduce excess emissions from the affected vehicles by 80-90%. The test data and technical information VW submitted to EPA and CARB demonstrated that the emissions modification being approved will not affect vehicle fuel economy, reliability, or durability. EPA and CARB confirmed those conclusions through independent testing and analysis at their own laboratories.

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ICCT: real-world NOx from Euro 6 diesel passenger cars more than 2x Euro VI diesel trucks

In Europe, the average amount of NOx present in exhaust emissions from modern diesel passenger cars under real-world conditions is more than double the levels from modern trucks and buses, according to a new briefing paper released by the independent research organization International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT).

The ICCT paper shows data for 24 Euro VI buses and trucks, some tested on a chassis dynamometer by the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT), and others tested on-road using portable emissions testing equipment by the German type-approval agency KBA. On average, NOx emissions of the heavy-duty vehicles tested were approximately 210 mg/km. Currently, NOx emissions of Euro 6 diesel passenger cars under real-world driving conditions are approximately 500 mg/km, as determined by testing carried out by KBA and other European type-approval agencies. In addition, the average conformity factor—the ratio of the test result to the regulatory limit—for the heavy-duty engines was less than 1, meaning that on-road emissions stayed below the Euro VI engine type-approval test limits.

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DOE awarding up to $7M to 8 universities for co-optimization of fuels and engines: Co-Optima

December 29, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to $7 million to projects at eight universities to accelerate the introduction of affordable, scalable, and sustainable high-performance fuels for use in high-efficiency, low-emission engines.

Under the Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines (Co-Optima) initiative (earlier post), DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office and Vehicle Technologies Office are collaborating to maximize energy savings and on-road vehicle performance, while significantly reducing transportation-related petroleum consumption and harmful emissions. The goal is to reduce petroleum consumption by 30% by 2030 beyond what is already targeted.

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EPA to begin work on proposed rulemaking for on-road heavy-duty ultra-low NOx standard for MY 2024

December 23, 2016

Earlier this year, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received several petitions from state and local government agencies from across the country and other organizations to increase the stringency of the on-highway heavy-duty engine NOx emission standards from 0.2 grams per brake horsepower-hour (g/bhp-hr) to 0.02 g/bhp-hr.

On 20 December, EPA formally responded, saying that it will initiate the work necessary to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking with the intention of proposing standards that could begin in Model Year 2024. This timeframe is consistent with the lead-time requirements of the Clean Air Act, and is aligned with a milestone implementation year for the EPA heavy-duty Phase 2 GHG program. (In the final HD Phase 2 rule, EPA had noted the evidence supporting the need for more stringent national NOx emissions standards.)

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Volkswagen Group receives all approvals from KBA for NOx fixes for EA189 TDI engines

December 22, 2016

The Volkswagen Group has now received all necessary official approvals within the remit of the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) for the modification of diesel vehicles with type EA189 engines. (Earlier post.) In close consultation with the relevant authorities, the Group brands concerned will successively notify European and international vehicle owners in the weeks ahead. All customers will then be able to make an appointment in the short term to have their vehicles modified at an authorized service center of their choice.

In Germany, customers are being notified in a two-step process. In the first step, all affected owners received a letter agreed with the authorities back in spring, notifying them that their vehicles are affected by the modification. Now that the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) has approved the technical solutions for all models, customers are to be requested with a second letter to arrange an appointment with a partner workshop of their choice.

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Study illustrates impact of ship emissions on Shanghai air quality

December 21, 2016

A multi-year quantitative study of the influence of ship emissions on urban air quality by a team from Fudan University found that ships could contribute 20–30% (2–7 μg/m3) of the total PM2.5 within tens of kilometers of coastal and riverside Shanghai during ship-plume-influenced periods. A paper on the study is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

In the study, multiyear measurements and a high-resolution air-quality model with hourly ship emission inventory were combined to determine the influence of ship emissions on urban Shanghai. The aerosol time-of-flight mass spectrometer (ATOFMS) measurements were carried out at an urban site from April 2009 to January 2013.

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Volkswagen reaches agreement with US and California on 3.0L diesels; $225M to environmental remediation, $25M to CA ZEV

December 20, 2016

Volkswagen AG and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. reached an agreement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State of California, by and through the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the California Attorney General, to resolve civil claims regarding approximately 83,000 affected 3.0L TDI V6 diesel engine vehicles in the United States (almost 15,000 of them in California).

The agreement, in the form of a proposed Consent Decree (national version, California version), is subject to the approval of Judge Charles R. Breyer of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, who presides over federal Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) proceedings related to the diesel matter in the United States. The proposed agreement would allow Volkswagen to recall more than 75% of affected 3.0L TDI V6 vehicles (approximately 63,000) to bring them into compliance with the emissions standards to which they were certified, if appropriate modifications are approved by EPA and CARB.

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DOE to award almost $20M to new research and development projects for advanced vehicle technologies

December 15, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is issuing a program-wide funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001629) for the Vehicle Technologies Office of up to $19.7 million, subject to appropriations, to support research and development of advanced vehicle technologies, including batteries, lightweight materials, and advanced combustion engines, as well as innovative technologies for energy efficient mobility.

The funding opportunity seeks projects in four areas of interest that apply to light, medium, and heavy-duty on-road vehicles, energy efficient mobility, and transportation infrastructure systems Battery500 Seedling Projects; Integrated Computational Materials Engineering Predictive Tools for Low-Cost Carbon Fiber; Emission Control Strategies for Advanced Combustion Engines; and Energy Efficient Mobility Research and Development.

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Faurecia acquires Amminex to accelerate efficient NOx reduction for passenger and commercial vehicles

December 14, 2016

Faurecia has increased its participation in the Danish company Amminex to 91.5% through a share purchase. (Earlier post.) Amminex has developed an Ammonia Storage and Delivery System (ASDS) which has demonstrated its efficiency to almost completely eliminate nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollutants from diesel engines. (Earlier post.)

Faurecia has worked closely with Amminex since mid-2009 and previously owned 42% of the company. At the recent Paris Motor Show, Faurecia showed the Amminex solution for commercial vehicles, as well as an ASDS system in a new format for passenger cars. In increasing its participation to 91.5%, Faurecia expects to intensify the development of this technology for both commercial vehicles and passenger cars.

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London to phase out diesel buses; all new single deckers for central London to be zero emission

December 13, 2016

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan recently committed to phasing out purchasing new pure diesel buses from the capital. No more pure diesel double-deck buses will be added to the capital’s fleet from 2018 and all new single-decks for central London will be zero-emission. The Mayor made the announcement along with unveiling the first double-decker hydrogen bus, manufactured by the Wrights Group. (Earlier post.)

London has committed to procuring roughly 300 zero emission buses by 2020, with 51 battery electric buses recently going into service on the 507/521 route, taking the number of completely electric bus routes to three, with 79 zero emission buses in total in the fleet.

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Study: growth in aviation and shipping GHG emissions will undo 43% of savings from rest of transport in Europe through 2030

December 12, 2016

Growth in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from shipping and aviation, based on demand for liquid fossil fuels, will undo nearly half (43%) of the

savings expected to be made by the rest of transport in Europe through to 2030, according to a new study by consultant CE Delft, commissioned by environmental NGO Transport & Environment.

Under measures already in place, land transport is expected to consume 43 Mtoe (million tonnes of oil equivalent) less energy per year in 2030 than it did in 2010, according to calculations on the European Commission’s projections for greenhouse gas emissions to 2050 by consultant CE Delft. Even this 43 Mtoe cut is less than half of what will be required from land transport under the EU’s proposed 2030 Effort Sharing Regulation.

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Imaging study: air pollution impairs function of blood vessels in lungs

December 10, 2016

Air pollution impairs the function of blood vessels in the lungs, according to a study of more than 16,000 patients presented at EuroEcho-Imaging 2016. EuroEcho-Imaging is the annual meeting of the European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging (EACVI), representing members around the world with an interest in all modalities of cardiovascular imaging.

The study examined the effect of air pollution on pulmonary haemodynamics (blood flow) in a population and in individuals. The population study assessed whether common levels of outdoor air pollution influence the echocardiography (ultrasound used to investigate the action of the hear) parameters conventionally used to evaluate the pulmonary circulation and right ventricular function.

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Cummins Westport ISB6.7 G midrange natural gas engine now in full production

December 09, 2016

Cummins Westport’s ISB6.7 G, a 6.7 liter midrange, factory-built natural gas engine is now fully available as a production engine for shuttle bus, medium duty truck, and vocational applications in North America. (Earlier post.) As previously announced, the engine has been available for school bus applications since May 2016 from Thomas Built Buses. The 6.7 liter engine platform has large OEM availability for midrange trucks, vocational trucks and mid size buses and the expansion of applications potentially available for the ISB6.7 G engine more than doubles its addressable market.

The ISB6.7 G is based on the Cummins ISB6.7 diesel engine platform, the industry leader in the Cummins midrange engine family, and operates exclusively on natural gas, including compressed, liquid, or renewable natural gas (RNG). The ISB6.7 G is the second engine from Cummins Westport (CWI) to receive emission certification from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Air Resources Board (ARB) in California for meeting the Optional Low NOx Emissions standards.

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Global Automakers calls on EPA to withdraw proposed determination on MY 2022-2025 GHG standards, get back in alignment with NHTSA, provide more time

December 08, 2016

Global Automakers, the trade association representing the US divisions of 12 international automakers (Aston Martin, Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Isuzu, Kia, Maserati, McLaren, Nissan, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota), has called on the EPA either to withdraw its proposed determination on MY 2022-2025 light duty vehicle greenhouse gas standards or to extend the comment period. On 30 November, EPA proposed leaving the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for those model years in place, based on its technical analysis that shows automakers are well positioned to meet the targets, and proposed a 30-day comment period. (Earlier post.)

The final standards are projected to result in an average industry fleet-wide level of 163 grams/mile of CO2 in model year 2025, which is equivalent to 54.5 mpg (4.31 l/100 km), if achieved exclusively through fuel economy improvements.

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CNG Fuels launches renewable biomethane in UK; heavy-duty fleet operators committing to use

December 04, 2016

In the UK, CNG Fuels launched its renewable biomethane fuel, the most cost-effective and lowest-carbon alternative to diesel for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). The fuel is 35%-40% cheaper than diesel, and emits 70% less CO2 on a well-to-wheel basis. It therefore offers fleet operators the chance to significantly reduce running costs and emissions. Retailers Waitrose, John Lewis and Argos, as well as hauler Brit European, have already committed to using the new biomethane fuel for their long-distance articulated trucks.

CNG Fuels is the UK’s leading supplier of CNG (compressed natural gas) fuel, and it is now sourcing its entire supply from biomethane. The biomethane is made from the gas harvested through the processing of waste generated by food production, which is then injected directly into gas pipelines. The gas is subsequently compressed at CNG Fuels’ own high-capacity refueling stations in Leyland (Lancashire) and Crewe (Cheshire).

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California ARB releases discussion draft of plan to cut GHG by 40% by 2030

December 02, 2016

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) released its initial draft plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030—the most ambitious target in North America. The 2030 Target Scoping Plan Discussion Draft builds on the state’s efforts to reach its more immediate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and outlines the most effective ways to reach the new 2030 goal, including continuing California’s Cap-and-Trade program.

In his January 2015 inaugural address, California Governor Jerry Brown identified five key climate change strategy “pillars,” which recognize that several major areas of the California economy will need to reduce their emissions to meet California’s ambitious climate change goals. These five pillars are:

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US FTA to award up to $2.75M for zero-emissions public transportation tech

December 01, 2016

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the availability of $2.75 million of funding for its Zero Emission Research Opportunity (ZERO) (FTA-2017-001-TRI). The ZERO program is to facilitate the advancement, production, and deployment of zero-emission public transportation vehicle technology and related infrastructure.

FTA intends to select, and enter into cooperative agreements with, multiple (up to three) nonprofit consortia to build on past research innovation and development efforts to facilitate the deployment of zero-emission vehicles and associated advanced technology. Eligibility for future ZERO funding opportunities in fiscal years 2017-2020 will be limited to those nonprofit consortia selected under this fiscal year 2017 notice.

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EPA proposes leaving light-duty vehicle GHG standards for MY 2022-2025 unchanged

November 30, 2016

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed leaving the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for light-duty vehicle model years 2022-2025 in place, based on its technical analysis that shows automakers are well positioned to meet the targets. The final standards are projected result in an average industry fleet-wide level of 163 grams/mile of CO2 in model year 2025, which is equivalent to 54.5 mpg (4.31 l/100 km), if achieved exclusively through fuel economy improvements.

As part of the rulemaking establishing the model year 2017-2025 light-duty vehicle GHG standards, EPA committed to conduct a Midterm Evaluation of standards for model years 2022-2025. The public comment period for this action begins today and will end on 30 December 2016. After the comment period has ended and consideration of the input, the Administrator will decide whether she has enough information to make a final determination on the model year 2022-2025 standards.

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California Air Resources Board posts revised draft of strategy to reduce “Super Pollutants”

November 29, 2016

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has posted a revised draft of California’s proposed Short-Lived Climate Pollutant (SLCP) Strategy. SLCPs are a category of pollutants which remain in the atmosphere for a relatively brief period, but have global warming potentials that are much higher than those of CO2. SLCPs may account for an estimated 40% of global warming, increasing the impacts of climate change.

SLCPs include black carbon (soot), methane and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)—the fastest-growing source of GHG emissions in California and globally—which are used as refrigerants, aerosol propellants and insulation.

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Update on DOE Co-Optima project to co-optimize fuels & engines; goal of 30% per vehicle reduction in petroleum

November 28, 2016

In October 2015, the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) launched a broad, joint effort to co-optimize the development of efficient engines and low greenhouse-gas fuels for on-road vehicles with the goal of reducing petroleum consumption by 30% by 2030 beyond what is already targeted. (Earlier post.) The intended application is light-, medium-, and heavy-duty markets including hybrid architectures.

The Co-Optima project team, which is leveraging the technical contributions of nine of DOE’s 17 national laboratories, has grown to more than 130 researchers, according to Robert Wagner, Director of the Fuels, Engines, and Emissions Research Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and a member of the Co-Optima leadership team, in a briefing at the lab earlier this month. In August 2016, DOE announced funding of up to $7 million further to support the initiative.

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Government of Canada to work with provinces, territories, and stakeholders to develop a clean fuel standard

November 26, 2016

The Government of Canada will consult with provinces and territories, Indigenous peoples, industries, and non-governmental organizations to develop a clean fuel standard. The standard would require reductions in the carbon footprint of the fuels supplied in Canada, based on lifecycle analysis. The overall objective of a clean fuel standard would be to achieve annual reductions of 30 megatonnes (Mt) of GHG emissions by 2030.

The approach would not differentiate between crude-oil types produced in or imported into Canada. These consultations would inform the development of a regulatory approach under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA).

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BMW, Dürr, BASF integrated paint process cuts 12 kt CO2 annually

November 23, 2016

The BMW Group saves 12,000 tons of CO2 annually during automotive production at its Munich plant by eliminating one step from the paint process. In other words, compared to a conventionally coated vehicle, a car coated with the shortened process can drive the first 420 kilometers with a net zero carbon footprint. In addition, the process saves as much energy as the amount needed by 250,000 Munich residents to wash one load of laundry every week.

These are the findings of a new TÜV-certified study conducted by the BMW Group together with the mechanical and plant engineering firm Dürr and BASF’s coatings experts.

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Big Blue Bus receives nearly $900K to purchase 58 new Cummins-Westport Near-Zero NOx engines

November 22, 2016

In California, Big Blue Bus (BBB) will receive $870,000 from the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee’s (MSRC) Near Zero Engine Incentive Program. Big Blue Bus will use the grant approved by the MSRC partially to fund the purchase of 58 new Cummins-Westport 8.9L ISL G Near-Zero (NZ) 0.02 NOx engines. The NZ engine is the first mid-range engine in North America to receive emission certifications from both the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (ARB) meeting the 0.02 g/bhp-hr optional Near Zero NOx Emissions standards. (Earlier post.)

The new engines will be installed over a period of 3 to 4 years, at a rate of 12 to 18 buses per year.

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S. Korean researchers develop new catalytic pathway for direct conversion of CO2 to liquid hydrocarbon fuels

November 21, 2016

A team led by Professor Jae Sung Lee at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), with colleagues at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), have developed a new pathway for the direct conversion of CO2 to liquid transportation fuels by reaction with renewable hydrogen produced by solar water splitting.

The new carbon capture and utilization (CCU) system is enabled by their discovery of a new catalyst that produces liquid hydrocarbon (C5+) selectivity of ∼65% and greatly suppresses CH4 formation to 2–3%. This selectivity is unprecedented for direct catalytic CO2 hydrogenation and is very similar to that of conventional CO-based Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis, the team reports in a paper published in Applied Catalysis B: Environmental.

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DOE to issue $47M FY17 Vehicle Technologies program-wide funding opportunity

November 17, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will soon issue its FY17 Vehicle Technologies Program Wide Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0001701). The FOA will have estimated funding of $47,150,000; DOE expects to post the full announcement (DE-FOA-0001629) in December.

DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office supports a broad technology portfolio of advanced highway transportation technologies. Research, development, and deployment efforts are focused on reducing the cost and improving the performance of a mix of near- and long-term vehicle technologies including advanced batteries, power electronics and electric motors, lightweight and propulsion materials, advanced combustion engines, advanced fuels and lubricants, and other enabling technologies. The upcoming FOA may include the following areas of interest (AOI):

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California ARB holding public workshop on how to spend VW’s $800M ZEV payment

November 15, 2016

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) is holding a public workshop on Friday, 2 December 2016, to provide suggestions for Volkswagen’s $800-million 10-year zero emission vehicle (ZEV) Investment Commitment in California.

The ZEV Investment Commitment is a component of California’s partial settlement with VW resulting from VW’s use of illegal defeat devices in 2.0 liter (2.0L) diesel cars that were sold into the State from model years 2009 to 2015. During the workshop, staff will discuss:

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Global Carbon Project: Low growth in global carbon emissions continues for third successive year

November 14, 2016

Global carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels did not grow in 2015 and are projected to rise only slightly in 2016, marking three years of almost no growth, according to researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Global Carbon Project. Decreased use of coal in China is the main reason behind the 3-year slowdown.

The projected rise of only 0.2% for 2016 marks a clear break from the rapid emissions growth of 2.3% per year in the decade to 2013, with just 0.7% growth seen in 2014. The new data shows emissions growth remained below 1% despite GDP growth exceeding 3%. Detailed data were made available in the open-access data journal Earth System Science Data (ESSD). This is the fifth update of the global carbon budget published by ESSD in the living data format.

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New statistical method to detect ozone pollution hot spots and monitor instrument failure; combining PCA and MEWMA

November 13, 2016

A new statistical method developed by researchers at KAUST (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia) can detect abnormal ozone levels within large bodies of monitored data. The monitoring methods can quickly and accurately detect ozone anomalies—localized spikes in ozone concentration indicated by sensor data.

The method could be used as an automatic tool, and could act as an early warning system for dangerous pollution levels and potential technical problems, said Assistant Professor Ying Sun from the University’s Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Science and Engineering Division.

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Study finds CO2 emissions trading more effective path to automotive CO2 reduction in Europe than tailpipe standards

November 11, 2016

A new study by researchers at MIT and colleagues in Europe has found that rather than adopting a standard for automotive fuel economy ratings, as the United States has done with its CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards for many years, the EU could achieve the same results for CO2 emission reduction at far lower cost to the economy by simply extending their existing emissions-trading system to encompass transportation rather than just electricity generation and energy intensive industry.

The European Union (EU) recently adopted CO2 emissions mandates for new passenger cars, requiring steady reductions to 95 gCO2/km in 2021. Switching from the automotive standards to the trading scheme could save as much as €63 billion, says the study’s lead author Sergey Paltsev, deputy director at MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change and senior research scientist at the MIT Energy Initiative. The results are published in the journal Transportation.

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Maersk Line, Ports of LA & Long Beach in 3-year project to measure air pollution benefits from $125M eco-upgrade; real-time tracking 24x7

November 10, 2016

Shipping company Maersk Line and the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are partnering to measure the environmental benefits of a $125-million upgrade for 12 Maersk container ships. This will involve the installation of high-tech equipment to track vessel emissions and energy efficiency over the next three years, enabling more transparency and ultimately reducing the environmental impact of vessels calling at the San Pedro Bay port complex.

The two ports are contributing a combined $1 million to real-time tracking systems that represent an industry leading application to pinpoint vessel emissions while ships are at sea and at berth. Unprecedented in its scope and scale, the three-year data collection and analysis project, called “The Connected Vessel Programme”, builds on the $125 million Maersk Line has invested in its “radical retrofit” program to reduce fuel consumption and increase the capacity of the vessels that regularly call at the San Pedro Bay ports.

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Argonne study on optimizing gasoline compression ignition at idle and low loads

November 09, 2016

Gasoline compression ignition—i.e., igniting gasoline purely by compression, as with a diesel, rather by using a spark—is a promising, high-efficiency, low-temperature combustion mode that offers low engine-out NOx and soot. (Earlier post.) GCI, however, is challenged by stable idle- to low-load operation (i.e., 0-2 bar BMEP) because it is challenging to ignite the low-reactivity gasoline purely through compression.

One way to address that challenge is through optimizing the injection system and injection strategy to ensure that the air-fuel mixture maintains a high level of reactivity. A team from Argonne National Laboratory now reports in a paper published in the International Journal of Engine Research on the effects of injector nozzle inclusion angle, injection pressure, boost, and swirl ratio on gasoline compression ignition combustion.

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Study finds pollution emitted near equator has biggest impact on global ozone

Since the 1980s, air pollution has increased worldwide, but it has increased at a much faster pace in regions close to the equator. Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Colorado, Boulder and their colleagues have now shown that this changing global emissions map is creating more total tropospheric ozone worldwide compared to the amount of pollution being emitted, signaling an effect that could be difficult to reign in without strategic policy planning.

In the study, published in Nature Geoscience, the team used a global chemical transport model to simulate changes in tropospheric ozone concentrations from 1980 to 2010, and to separate the influences of changes in the spatial distribution of global anthropogenic emissions of short-lived pollutants, the magnitude of these emissions, and the global atmospheric methane concentration. They found that the increase in ozone burden due to the spatial distribution change slightly exceeds the combined influences of the increased emission magnitude and global methane.

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ORNL-led team developing breakthrough high-temperature, high-strength Al alloy for advanced light-duty engines

November 08, 2016

A team led by researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is developing a lower-cost cast aluminum (Al) alloy capable of at least a 50 ˚C temperature increase over the current cylinder head alloys 319 and 356 for use in light duty engines. The new alloy is also targeting a better than 25% increase in strength at 300 ˚C compared to the older alloys at 250 ˚C, as well as excellent hot tearing resistance.

The work, led by Dr. Amit Shyam at ORNL, is part of a 4-year project consisting of a CRADA partnership with FCA and foundry giant Nemak. (Earlier post.)

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DOE FY17 SBIR Phase I Release 2 topics include fuel cells, EV batteries, engines

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the 2017 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Phase I Release 2 topics, including three subtopics focused on hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. The fuel cell subtopics include innovative materials for bipolar plates; liquid organic hydrogen carriers; and emergency hydrogen refuelers.

The Phase I Release 2 topics also include four vehicle subtopics, including electric drive vehicle batteries; SiC device qualification for electric drive vehicle power electronics; fuel efficiency improvement technologies for conventional stoichiometric gasoline direct injection multi-cylinder internal combustion engines; and wide-range high-boost turbocharging system. Further, a technology transfer opportunity is the use of a new Argonne catalyst for reducing NOx.

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Oil and Gas Climate Initiative to invest $1B over 10 years in low-emissions tech

November 04, 2016

The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) will invest $1 billion over the next ten years to develop and to accelerate the commercial deployment of innovative low-emissions technologies.

Led by the heads of ten oil and gas companies that aim to lead the industry response to climate change, OGCI member companies—BP, CNPC, Eni, Pemex, Reliance Industries, Repsol, Royal Dutch Shell, Saudi Aramco, Statoil and Total—together represent one fifth of the world’s oil and gas production. The OGCI was established following discussions during the 2014 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, and was officially launched at the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in New York in September 2014.

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Wrightspeed and the Ratto Group introduce range-extended electric refuse truck; 15 trucks over next 12 months

November 02, 2016

Wrightspeed, the leading manufacturer of range-extended electric vehicle (REV) powertrains for heavy-duty applications, and The Ratto Group, a Santa Rosa, California-based refuse, yard waste and recycling collection and processing company, unveiled the first commercial application of a range-extended electric refuse truck. Ratto and Wrightspeed will roll out 15 Route-equipped trucks—retrofits of trucks in Ratto’s fleet—over the next 12 months to meet community needs.

With the support of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, communities in Sonoma and surrounding counties will be serviced by a fleet of clean, quiet trucks from The Ratto Group, powered by Wrightspeed’s range-extended powertrain, The Route. (Earlier post.) Designed to deliver economic, environmental and performance benefits in both OEM-installed new vehicles and existing fleet retrofits, The Route is a scalable solution that has been recognized by The State of California for its ability to help meet progressive climate and air quality mandates. Wrightspeed was awarded $7 million in grants by the California Energy Commission to further develop the technology for broad-based adoption.

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UNICEF: 300M children worldwide breathing air exceeding WHO pollution guidelines by 6x or more

October 31, 2016

Almost one in seven of the world’s children, 300 million, live in areas with the most toxic levels of outdoor air pollution—six or more times higher than international guidelines set by the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO)—according to a new UNICEF report.

The report, “Clear the Air for Children”, uses satellite imagery to show that some 2 billion children live in areas where outdoor air pollution, caused by factors such as vehicle emissions, heavy use of fossil fuels, dust and burning of waste, exceeds WHO minimum air quality guidelines. The findings come a week ahead of the COP 22 in Marrakesh, Morocco, where UNICEF is calling on world leaders to take urgent action to cut air pollution in their countries.

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ICCT-led analysis of turbocharged, downsized engine tech finds lower costs and greater benefits than 2012 EPA/NHTSA analysis; 48V, e-boost, Miller

A new white paper published by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), in collaboration with Eaton, Ricardo, JCI, BorgWarner, Honeywell, and the ITB Group, analyzes current turbocharged, downsized gasoline engine technology developments and trends.

The assessment, which relies on data from publicly available sources and data and information from the participating automotive suppliers, provides an update to the technology assessments performed by US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to inform the 2017–2025 fuel economy and GHG rule.

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JILA team identifies missing piece in how fossil fuel combustion contributes to air pollution

JILA physicists and colleagues have identified a long-missing piece in the puzzle of exactly how fossil fuel combustion contributes to air pollution and a warming climate. Performing chemistry experiments in a new way, they observed a key molecule that appears briefly during a common chemical reaction in the atmosphere. JILA a partnership of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado Boulder. Their paper appears in Science.

The reaction combines the hydroxyl molecule (OH, produced by reaction of oxygen and water) and carbon monoxide (CO, a byproduct of incomplete fossil fuel combustion) to form hydrogen (H) and carbon dioxide (CO2).

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Mercedes-Benz powering ahead with €3B strategic engine initiative; increasing electrification, 48V; diesel and gasoline; cylinder deactivation

October 30, 2016

Following the launch of the new Mercedes-Benz four-cylinder OM 654 diesel engine in spring 2016 in the E 220d (earlier post), 2017 will see the addition of four more members to the all-new family of engines: six-cylinder in-line engines in both diesel (OM 656) and gasoline (M 256) versions; a new four-cylinder gasoline engine (M 264); and a new biturbo V8 (M 176) with cylinder deactivation. Mercedes-Benz is investing a total of around €3 billion (US$3.3 billion) in its strategic engine initiative.

The scaling of state-of-the-art technologies and electrification options from 12 V to 48 V to high-voltage plug-in applications makes it possible to configure the appropriate powertrain for every vehicle. There will be world premieres for new advanced technologies, such as the Integrated Starter-Alternator (ISG); the 48 V electrical system; and the electric auxiliary compressor (eZV).

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IMO sets 2020 date for ships to comply with low sulfur fuel oil requirement; 5000 ppm

October 29, 2016

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), the regulatory authority for international shipping, decided to implement a global sulfur cap of 0.50% m/m (mass/mass) (5,000 ppm) on fuel oil starting 1 January 2020 during its Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), meeting for its 70th session in London.

The cap represents a significant cut from the 3.5% m/m (35,000 ppm) global limit currently in place and demonstrates a clear commitment by IMO to ensuring shipping meets its environmental obligations.

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Air purification in parking garages could reduce PM10 by up to half in areas in downtown Eindhoven

October 28, 2016

Eliminating particulate matter (PM10) from underground car parks in the city center of Eindhoven could result in local reductions in the concentration of these particles of up to 50%, according to a study by researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). The team based its fingings on air flow models and computer simulations of the city center.

The simulations, reported in a paper in Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics, suggest the potential effectiveness of an initiative by the environmental innovation company ENS Technology to use underground car parks as air purification sites, or “lungs of the city”.

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Lung Association report highlights health and climate costs of petroleum-based transportation and the benefits of shifting to ZEVs

October 27, 2016

A new report produced by the American Lung Association concludes that over-reliance on petroleum-based fuels for transportation costs the 10 ZEV states in the US (California and nine other states that have adopted the California Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program) an estimated $37 billion in health expenses and climate costs every year—with California costs alone hitting $15 billion.

Of that $37 billion, health costs added up to $24 billion in 2015; the $24 billion represents the monetized sum of harmful emissions responsible for an estimated 220,000 work-loss days, more than 109,000 asthma exacerbations, hundreds of thousands of other respiratory impacts, and 2,580 premature deaths.

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PM2.5 pollution linked to blood vessel damage in healthy young non-smoking adults

October 26, 2016

Fine particulate matter air pollution (PM2.5) may be associated with blood vessel damage and inflammation among young, healthy adults, according to new research in Circulation Research, an American Heart Association journal.

Air pollution is known to contribute to cardiovascular disease and related deaths. In 2004, the American Heart Association released a scientific statement, updated in 2010, warning of the risk and recommending that people talk to their doctor about avoiding exposure to air pollution specific to their area. What remained unclear, however, was how air pollution actually affects the blood vessels to increase the risk of disease.

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Large-scale study finds long-term exposure to air pollution linked to high blood pressure

October 25, 2016

Long-term exposure to air pollution is linked to a greater incidence of high blood pressure, according to the largest study to investigate the effects of both air pollution and traffic noise by following more than 41,000 people in five different countries for five to nine years.

The study, published in the European Heart Journal, found that among adults up to one extra person per 100 people of the same age group living in the most polluted areas of cities would develop high blood pressure (hypertension) compared to those living in the less polluted areas. This risk is similar to the effect of being overweight with a body mass index (BMI) between 25-30 compared to people with normal weight (BMI 18.5-25). High blood pressure is the most important risk factor for premature illness and death.

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Study finds ethanol blending appears to reduce significantly genotoxic emissions from gasoline direct injection vehicles

October 24, 2016

A research team from Empa (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology) and the University of Applied Sciences Bern, Laboratory for Exhaust Emission Control, reports that ethanol blending appeared to reduce genotoxic emissions from a flex-fuel Euro-5 gasoline direct injection (GDI) vehicle (a Volvo V60 with a 1.6 L engine) under transient and steady driving conditions.

In a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, the researchers reported that particle number emissions when operating the vehicle in the hWLTC (hot started worldwide harmonized light-duty vehicle test cycle) with E10 and E85 were lowered by 97% and 96% respectively compared with that of E0. CO emissions dropped by 81% and 87%, while CO2 emissions were reduced by 13 and 17%. Emissions of selected polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were lowered by 67–96% with E10 and by 82–96% with E85, and the genotoxic potentials dropped by 72% and 83%, respectively.

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ICL study of 39 new Euro-6 diesels finds huge variability in NOx emissions with an average 4.5x the type approval limit

October 21, 2016

A new study by researchers from Imperial College London(ICL) of 39 new Euro 6 diesel passenger cars has foundhuge variability” in the on-road NOx emissions of Euro 6 diesel passenger cars, with results ranging from 1 to 22 times the type approval limit. All but 2 exhibited higher NOx than the limit.

The average NOx emission from the test cars of 0.36 g km-1 equates to 4.5 times the type approval limit; this rose to 5.4 times for urban driving. They attributed the increase in urban cycle NOx emissions in part to more frequent acceleration events. (Urban driving emissions could be reduced by more effective management of traffic flows (e.g., earlier post), easing of congestion and promotion of eco-driving, though further work is required to confirm this, they suggested.)

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CARB approves $363M plan that includes putting more clean vehicles in disadvantaged communities; low-carbon transportation, ZEVs, scrap-and-replace pilot

The California Air Resources Board has adopted a revised funding plan for proceeds from the cap-and-trade program that includes putting more clean vehicles in disadvantaged communities. The investments range from supporting increased numbers of zero-emission heavy-duty trucks and buses to rebates for low- and zero-emission passenger vehicles.

The revised plan for fiscal year 2016-17 keeps much of the original funding plan (approved in June 2016) intact while addressing the smaller budget appropriation of $363 million under AB 1613 and additional direction from the Legislature. Key highlights of the revised plan include:

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Coming HEI study suggests air pollution regulations likely contributors to improvements in air quality and children’s health

October 20, 2016

The Health Effects Institute (HEI) will soon publish a study by Frank Gilliland and his colleagues at the University of Southern California the findings of which suggest that US and California regulations directed at reducing emissions of mobile-source pollutants were likely contributors to improvements in air quality between 1985 and 2012 that were in turn associated with improvements in children’s respiratory health.

The researchers analyzed pollutant monitoring and pulmonary health effects information as well as multiple covariates that they had collected over more than 20 years from participants in several cohorts recruited into the Children’s Health Study (CHS) in Southern California. The children lived in communities that differed in sources and levels of the outdoor pollutants PM, NO2, and ozone.

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DOE awarding up to $80M for supercritical CO2 pilot plant

October 18, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding up to $80 million for a six-year project to design, build, and operate a 10-MWe (megawatts electrical) supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) pilot plant test facility in San Antonio, TX. The project will be managed by a team led by the Gas Technology Institute (GTI), Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), and General Electric Global Research (GE-GR).

The new facility will support the future commercialization of sCO2 Brayton cycle energy conversion systems by testing and demonstrating the potential energy efficiency and cost benefits of this technology. Today the average efficiency of the US fleet of steam Rankine cycle power plants is in the lower 30% range. This new facility has the potential to demonstrate greater than 50% cycle efficiency. If successfully developed, the supercritical CO2 power cycles could provide significant efficiency gains in geothermal, coal, nuclear, and solar thermal power production.

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