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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.]

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

May 04, 2016

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

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

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

May 03, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 02, 2016

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

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

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

April 30, 2016

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

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

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

April 29, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 23, 2016

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

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

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

April 22, 2016

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

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

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

April 19, 2016

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

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

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

April 18, 2016

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

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

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

April 14, 2016

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

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

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

April 11, 2016

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

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

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

April 10, 2016

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

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

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

April 09, 2016

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

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

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

April 06, 2016

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

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

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

April 05, 2016

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

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

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SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall launch long-term initiative for CO2-free ironmaking for steel production

April 04, 2016

Swedish-Finnish steel company SSAB, mining company LKAB and power company Vattenfall have launched an initiative to develop a steel production process that emits water rather than carbon dioxide.

The aim of the HYBRIT (Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology) project is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from ironmaking to zero by eliminating the need to use fossil fuel for iron ore reduction. The idea is to replace the blast furnaces with an alternative process, using hydrogen produced from “clean” electricity.

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Opel outlines steps in engineering initiative for WLTP-based fuel consumption numbers and improved NOx reduction

March 29, 2016

Opel has outlined the details of its engineering initiative with respect to fuel consumption numbers and improved NOx reductions as announced last December. (Earlier post.)

Starting with the new Opel Astra from June 2016 onwards, and in addition to the official fuel consumption and CO2 information, Opel will publish fuel consumption numbers reflecting different driving behavior recorded under the WLTP test cycle. In addition, Opel will implement an initiative to improve NOx emissions on SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) diesel applications in new vehicles from August onwards.

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IIT team explores combustion, performance and emissions characteristics of HCNG blends in spark ignition engine

March 28, 2016

A new study by a team from the Engine Research Laboratory at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur explores the combustion, performance and emission characteristics of a prototype spark ignition engine operating with different blend ratios of HCNG (hydrogen and compressed natural gas blends). Their paper is published in the journal Fuel.

Use of lower carbon natural gas and carbon-free hydrogen have potential to reduce harmful emissions of criteria pollutants and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and and could displace a portion of conventional liquid fossil fuels, the IIT noted. However, both fuels pose different challenges for use in internal combustion (IC) engines.

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EPA report: diesel engine grant program has delivered major air, public health benefits

March 26, 2016

Clean diesel grants aimed at cleaning up old diesel engines have greatly improved public health by cutting harmful pollution that causes premature deaths, asthma attacks, and missed school and workdays, according to a new report by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Since its start in 2008, the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) program has significantly improved air quality for communities across the country by retrofitting and replacing older diesel engines. From 2009 to 2013, EPA awarded $520 million to retrofit or replace 58,800 engines in vehicles, vessels, locomotives or other pieces of equipment.

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Israel MoEP enforcing vehicle exclusion rules in Haifa Bay Low Emission Zone; $2.8M to retrofit 700 diesel trucks with DPFs

March 17, 2016

As part the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection’s (MoEP’s) action plan to reduce pollution in Haifa Bay in Israel, Israel Police are actively enforcing exclusion rules that bar heavy vehicles in downtown Haifa Bay at certain times of the day.

Data from the Haifa municipality shows that until January 2016, some 600 heavy vehicles (more than 12 tons) would be on the roads in downtown Haifa every day during rush hour. However, since Israel Police began actively enforcing rules, that number has fallen to 200 vehicles, a 60% decrease. The MoEP expects the number of heavy vehicles in the area to drop even further, as police continue to enforce the rules. As of March 14, 2016, they already handed out 192 tickets to violators, totaling NIS 96,000 (US$24,768) in fines.

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MIT Energy Initiative report on transforming the US transportation system by 2050 to address climate challenges

March 16, 2016

A new MIT Energy Initiative report spearheaded by John Heywood, Sun Jae Professor of Mechanical Engineering Emeritus at MIT, identifies three important paths forward reducing light-duty vehicle energy use and greenhouse gas emissions: improve the existing system and technologies for shorter-term benefits; conserve fuel by changing driver habits for nearer- to longer-term benefits; and transform the transportation system into one that is radically less carbon-intensive for longer-term benefits.

According to the report, “On the Road Toward 2050: Potential for Substantial Reductions in Light-Duty Vehicle Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” each element is separately important, but must collectively be pursued aggressively to achieve necessary emissions reductions. More research, development, and demonstration studies are needed to lay the foundation for such a long-term transformation.

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EPA to develop regulations for methane emissions from existing oil and gas wells; ICR coming in April

March 10, 2016

The US EPA will begin developing regulations for methane emissions from existing oil and gas sources—e.g., oil and gas wells. The agency announced plans to cut methane emissions from new oil and gas wells last year. (Earlier post.)

The expanded regulatory scope comes in support of the newly announced commitment by President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to new actions to reduce methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector, the largest industrial source of methane.

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Argonne and Marathon partner in DOE Optima initiative to co-optimize fuels and engines

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory is partnering with Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC) to support an ongoing effort by DOE to explore fuels and engines holistically in search of greater efficiency.

The collaboration between Argonne and MPC is designed to support the “Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines” initiative, which was recently launched jointly by the DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office and Bioenergy Technologies Office. (Earlier post.) The new collaboration leverages MPC’s and Argonne’s complementary capabilities in fuel design, analysis and production, as well as advanced engine combustion and emissions formation.

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Cal Energy awards GTI $1M grant to demo production-intent version of CWI 6.7L medium-duty natural gas engine with HD-OBD

The California Energy Commission awarded the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) a $1-million grant to demonstrate a production-intent advanced version of the Cummins Westport Inc. (CWI) ISB6.7 G natural gas engine. The advanced version engine meets the 2018 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Heavy-Duty On-Board Diagnostics (HD-OBD) requirements and will continue to meet California Air Resources Board’s (CARB’s) Optional Low NOx 0.1 g/bhp-hr emissions level.

This project lays the foundation for follow-on work to further reduce the NOx emissions from the current 0.1 g/bhp-hr level by 90% to 0.02 g/bhp-hr, the lowest of the CARB Optional Low NOx standards.

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EPA and NHTSA seeking comments on new data for Phase 2 Heavy-Duty National Program to reduce GHG

March 09, 2016

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have issued a Notice of Data Availability (NODA) related to the Phase 2 Heavy-Duty National Program proposed in July 2015 (earlier post) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption for new on-road heavy-duty vehicles and engines.

This NODA provides an opportunity to comment on the new information being made available by the EPA and by NHTSA, including memoranda and data, which been placed in the public dockets. Data relating to the potential stringency of the proposed standards includes:

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SDTC awards Nsolv $13M to commercialize warm solvent technology for heavy oil extraction; 80% reduction in GHG emissions

March 08, 2016

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) is awarding Nsolv $13 million in grant funding to commercialize its field-tested, proprietary warm solvent technology for in situ heavy oil extraction without the use of steam.

Among its benefits, the technology reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by lowering the amount of energy needed to remove heavy oil from the ground. Nsolv’s process uses zero water and very little natural gas to heat the solvent, resulting in an 80% reduction in GHG emissions compared to existing extraction methods.

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NASA awards Lockheed Martin team $20M for preliminary design work on new quiet supersonic passenger aircraft

March 04, 2016

NASA has awarded a contract for the preliminary design of a quiet, “low boom” supersonic flight demonstration aircraft—the first in a new series of ‘X-planes’ in NASA’s New Aviation Horizons initiative, introduced in the agency’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget. The 10-year New Aviation Horizons initiative has the goals of reducing fuel use, emissions and noise through innovations in aircraft design that departs from the conventional tube-and-wing aircraft shape.

NASA selected a team led by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company to complete a preliminary design for Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST). Lockheed Martin will receive about $20 million over 17 months for QueSST preliminary design work. The Lockheed Martin team includes subcontractors GE Aviation and Tri Models Inc.. The work will be conducted under a task order against the Basic and Applied Aerospace Research and Technology (BAART) contract at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

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Volkswagen AG timeline on diesel emissions scandal

March 03, 2016

As part of a response to a shareholder lawsuit in Germany alleging a violation of the company’s disclosure obligations under Germany’s capital markets law, Volkswagen AG has outlined the timeline and background events leading to the eruption of the diesel emissions scandal last fall.

The company emphasized that the material in the statement of defense submitted to the Braunschweig District Court (Landgericht Braunschweig) does not replace the independent investigation for the complete clarification of the diesel matter which is being conducted by the law firm Jones Day and is ongoing. Volkswagen said it was making the public announcement to correct the “selective and incomplete publication of documents in the media about the diesel matter and to avoid having partial excerpts of its statement of defense published in the media.”

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Initial results from French NOx emissions testing of 100 diesels show high discrepancies between official and on-the-road results

February 29, 2016

Two French environmental NGOs—France Nature Environment (FNE) and Réseau Action Climat (RAC)—along with European umbrella NGO Transport & Environment (T&E), have released initial test results from the Royal Commission’s inquiry into diesel engine NOx emissions in France. The initial results from 22 vehicles from different automakers highlight the discrepancy between the emissions levels measured in official testing and those emitted by cars on the road.

French environment minister Ségolène Royal established the commission last October following the Volkswagen scandal and concerns that the rigging of emissions testing procedures might be happening at other carmaking companies. The Royal Commission is testing 100 vehicles.

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Dearman: zero-emission transport refrigeration systems could have a major impact on air quality

February 26, 2016

New analysis by Dearman suggests that zero-emission transport refrigeration systems could cut overall engine pollution from refrigerated vehicles by up to 93% and have a major impact on air quality. One application of Dearman’s engine technology is to provide high efficiency, zero-emission transport refrigeration units (TRUs). (Earlier post.)

The findings of Dearman’s research indicate that equipping a Euro6-standard 17-tonne rigid body truck with a zero-emission refrigeration system, as opposed to a diesel-powered unit, would cut the vehicle’s overall engine emissions of particulate matter by 93%, and reduce NOx emissions by 73%.

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Study finds autonomous vehicles may plausibly nearly double, or nearly halve, road transport GHGs depending on the scenario

A study by a team from the University of Leeds (UK), University of Washington (USA) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory has found that vehicle automation might plausibly reduce road transport GHG emissions and energy use by nearly half—or nearly double them—depending on the scenario.

The researchers also found that many potential energy-reduction benefits may be realized through partial automation, while the major energy/emission downside risks appear more likely at full automation. In a paper describing the study published in the journal Transportation Research Part A, the authors also presented implications for policymakers and identify priority areas for further research.

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EPA announces availability of $26M for projects to reduce diesel emissions from existing fleet

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of $26 million in grant funding to establish clean diesel projects aimed at reducing emissions from the US’ existing fleet of diesel engines. Diesel-powered engines move approximately 90% of the nation’s freight tonnage, and today nearly all highway freight trucks, locomotives, and commercial marine vessels are powered by diesel engines.

EPA is soliciting proposals nationwide for projects that significantly reduce diesel emissions and exposure, especially from fleets operating in areas designated as having poor air quality. Priority for funding will be given to projects that engage and benefit local communities and applicants that demonstrate their ability to promote and continue efforts to reduce emissions after the project has ended.

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U Chicago, MIT study suggests ongoing use of fossil fuels absent new carbon taxes

February 24, 2016

A paper by a team from the University of Chicago and MIT suggests that technology-driven cost reductions in fossil fuels will lead to the continued use of fossil fuels—oil, gas, and coal—unless governments pass new taxes on carbon emissions. Their analysis is published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives.

While renewable energy has made promising gains in just the last few years—the cost of solar dropped by about two-thirds from 2009 to 2014—new drilling and extraction techniques have made fossil fuels cheaper and markedly increased the amount of oil and gas available. In the US alone, oil reserves have expanded 59% between 2000 and 2014, and natural gas reserves have expanded 94% in the same time.

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Diesel/2-methylfuran blends show higher brake thermal efficiency, higher NOx than diesel

February 22, 2016

Researchers at Wuhan University report on the first comprehensive study of the combustion and emissions performance of blends of diesel and the renewable fuel 2-methylfuran (MF) in compression-ignition engines. Their paper is published in the journal Fuel.

Among their findings were that diesel–MF blends show higher brake thermal efficiency (BTE) than pure diesel. However, diesel–MF blends also lead to higher NOx emissions than pure diesel and the NOx emissions are increased with the increase of MF fraction.

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Germany launches new study of oxymethylene ethers for optimizing clean diesel combustion

February 15, 2016

The German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) via FNR (Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e.V.), BMEL’s central project-coordinating agency in the area of renewable resources, is funding a 3-year study of oxymethylene ethers (OME) as clean diesel fuels with €800,000 (US$894,000).

Oxymethylene ethers (OME) are synthetic compounds of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen (CH3O(CH2O)nCH3). Due to their high oxygen concentration, they suppress pollutant formation in combustion. As diesel fuels, they reduce the emission of carbon black and NOx. Ford is currently leading a €3.5-million (US$3.9-million) research project, co-funded with the German government, to test cars running on monooxymethylene ether (OME1) and DME. (Earlier post.)

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CMU study concludes alt fuel vehicle incentives for OEMs result in increased fleet gasoline consumption and emissions

A study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University has concluded that regulatory incentives for OEMs for alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) intended to encourage a technology transition in the transportation fleet result in increased fleet-wide gasoline consumption and emissions. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

In the US, the main regulatory drivers for increased light-duty vehicle fuel efficiency are the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) CAFE standards and the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) GHG standard. The two standards are harmonized for comparable stringency, but there are differences. (Earlier post.)

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Study finds household and outdoor air pollution contributes to more than 5.5 million premature deaths worldwide per year

February 12, 2016

New research shows that household (indoor) and outdoor air pollution contribute to more than 5.5 million premature deaths every year. More than half of deaths occur in two of the world’s fastest growing economies, China and India.

In the context of the Global Burden of Disease 2013 study (earlier post), researchers from Canada, the United States, China and India quantified air pollution levels and attributable health impacts for 188 countries for the period 1990-2013. They found that in 2013 there were 2.9 million deaths (5.3% of all global deaths) caused by outdoor fine particulate air pollution and an additional 215,000 deaths from exposure to ozone. Further, indoor exposure to household air pollution from the use of solid fuels for cooking and heating was responsible for 2.9 million deaths in 2013.

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CMU study finds that coal retirement is needed for EVs to reduce air pollution

Electric vehicles charged in coal-heavy regions can create more human health and environmental damages from life cycle air emissions than gasoline vehicles, according to a new consequential life cycle analysis by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University. However, the anticipated—albeit now possibly delayed, per the recent Supreme Court decision—retirement of coal-fired power plants will make electric vehicles more competitive on an air emissions basis, the researchers found.

Among the findings of the study, published as an open-access paper in the journal Environmental Research Letters, was that battery electric vehicles with large battery capacity can produce two to three times as much air emissions damage as gasoline hybrid electric vehicles, depending on charge timing.

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New ICAO aircraft CO2 standard one step closer to final adoption after recommendation by CAEP

February 09, 2016

An aircraft CO2 emissions standard has made further and important headway at the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The new environmental measure was unanimously recommended by the 170 international experts on ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP), paving the way for its ultimate adoption by the UN agency’s 36-State Governing Council.

Under the CAEP recommendation, the new CO2 emissions standard would not only be applicable to new aircraft type designs as of 2020, but also to new deliveries of current in-production aircraft types from 2023. A cut-off date of 2028 for production of aircraft that do not comply with the standard was also recommended. In its current form, the standard equitably acknowledges CO2 reductions arising from a range of possible technology innovations, whether structural, aerodynamic or propulsion-based.

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Continental urea sensors for efficient SCR NOx aftertreatment in diesels; measuring level, quality and temperature

February 05, 2016

Continental has begun production of urea sensors for the first time to support more efficient exhaust-gas aftertreatment in diesel engines. The sensor measures the level, quality, and temperature of the aqueous urea solution in the “AdBlue” tank used in conjunction with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) for NOx reduction.

The sensor-aided denitrification supports fulfillment of the legal requirements and reinforces drivers’ trust that their car emits no more than the maximum permissible level of nitrogen oxides.

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U Toronto study measures GDI emissions in urban near-road environment

A study of emissions from gasoline direct injection (GDI) vehicles in an urban near-road environment in Toronto over a wide range of weather conditions (February 2014 to January 2015) found that—other than for NOx and CO—the GDI engines had elevated emissions compared to the Toronto fleet.

In four campaigns over the year-long study, the team from the University of Toronto measured emissions 15 meters from the roadway, then converted the measurements to fuel-based emission factors (EFs). BC (black carbon) EFs were in the 73rd percentile; BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene-xylenes) EFs were in the 80–90th percentile; and size-resolved PN (particle number) EFs were in the 75th percentile during wintertime measurements.

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European Parliament rejects proposed veto of plan to raise diesel NOx limits temporarily for RDE deployment

February 03, 2016

Members of the European Parliament voted yesterday to reject a proposed veto of the plan to raise NOx emission limits for diesel cars temporarily by up to 110% when the Real Driving Emissions (RDE) test procedure is introduced. The EU Commission promised a review clause and tabled a long-term legislative proposal to revamp the EU car approval regime, leading to the vote. (Earlier post.)

According to the European Commission, the transitional relaxation of limits is justified by the need to take account of technical uncertainties to do with the use of the new Portable Emission Measurement Systems (PEMS) device used for RDE testing, as well as “technical limits to improving the real world emission performance of currently produced diesel cars in the short-term.”

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Volkswagen Group begins EA189 diesel engine emission fixes in Europe; 2.0L Amarok first

In December 2015, the Volkswagen Group presented specific technical measures to the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) for the EA189 engines affected by the NOx issue. (Earlier post.) As agreed, the Group began implementing the measures in Germany at the end of January for 2.0L engines.

Volkswagen is starting with the Amarok (a mid-size pickup truck produced by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles), with the Passat to follow shortly. The installation of the new engine control software means that the Amarok now meets the limits required to comply with the EU5 emissions standard. Over the next few months, the measures will also be implemented on the engines with 1.2- and 1.6-liter displacements.

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FCA updating Euro 6 calibrations to improve emission performance under real driving conditions

February 02, 2016

FCA (Fiat Chrysler), as a voluntary measure, not mandated or requested by any regulatory authorities, will be updating its Euro 6 calibrations with new data sets to improve emission performance in real driving conditions. These new calibrations will be ready starting from April 2016 and will be available on all new vehicles sold on or after that date, and will be made available to all other owners of Euro 6 FCA vehicles at no charge, as part of vehicle calibration update programs that are implemented on a regular basis. This does not constitute a recall campaign, the company said.

In addition, FCA said it intends to accelerate its ongoing programs to expand application of Active Selective Catalytic Reduction (or SCR) technology that is already used in certain FCA vehicles, to make it available on other diesel engines families starting from the second quarter of 2017, well in advance of any applicable regulatory requirements.

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GM Ventures portfolio company SDCmaterials secures 1st supply agreement for cost-saving advanced catalyst products for autos

January 28, 2016

SDCmaterials, a developer of advanced catalyst products based on a novel materials fabrication and integration platform, announced a partnership and formalized a supply agreement with Car Sound, a leading manufacturer of catalysts and catalytic converters for the automotive aftermarket. Investors in SDCmaterials include the venture capital arms of General Motors, Volvo Group, and SAIC Motor as well as BASF Venture Capital.

The automotive catalytic converter, developed in the early 1970s primarily by General Motors and BASF/Engelhard and first deployed in 1975, changes exhaust pollutants into CO2, water vapor and nitrogen. The performance of existing catalyst technology degrades over time as precious metal particles agglomerate and surface area diminishes. SDC’s proprietary technology can both increase surface area of a given quantity of precious metal and reduce its agglomeration over time.

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European Commission proposing overhaul of type-approval framework to ensure strict compliance with EU requirements; centralized enforecement

The European Commission is proposing a major overhaul of the EU type-approval framework (Whole Vehicle Type-Approval System, WVTA). Under current rules, national authorities are solely responsible for certifying that a vehicle meets all requirements to be placed on the market and for policing manufacturers’ compliance with EU law. The new proposals will make vehicle testing more independent and increase surveillance of cars already in circulation, as well as give the EC itself enforcement capabilities.

The Commission was already reviewing the EU type-approval framework for motor vehicles prior to the Volkswagen revelations. It has since concluded on the need for more far-reaching reform to prevent cases of non-compliance from happening again. The proposal for a Regulation on the approval and market surveillance of motor vehicles complements efforts to introduce more robust emissions testing (Real Driving Emissions testing).

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ExxonMobil projects 25% energy demand increase between 2014-2040, 50% decline in carbon intensity; hybrids to be 40% of new car sales

January 25, 2016

Global energy demand will increase 25% between 2014 and 2040, driven by population growth and economic expansion, ExxonMobil forecasts in the 2016 edition of its annual The Outlook for Energy. At the same time, energy efficiency gains and increased use of renewable energy sources and lower carbon fuels, such as natural gas, are expected to help reduce by half the carbon intensity of the global economy.

During the period, the world’s population will increase by about 2 billion people and emerging economies will continue to expand significantly, according to the forecast. Most growth in energy demand will occur in developing nations that are not part of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Per capita income in those countries is likely to increase by 135%.

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Researchers find some solid-state hydrogen storage materials could serve as less toxic solid propellants for rockets

Researchers in China have found that amine metal borohydride—a novel hydrogen-enriched boron–nitrogen–hydrogen (BNH) hydrogen storage system—has potential as a solid propellant or additive for solid and hybrid rockets.

In a paper in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels, they investigated the combustion properties of two newly developed ethylene diamine aluminum borohydrides (Al(BH4)3·nEDA, n = 3, 2). They found the materials have high combustion heat of 32.20 and 36.90 MJ/kg for Al(BH4)3·3EDA and Al(BH4)3·2EDA, respectively, with ignition delay times of ∼2.0 ms.

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Ricardo and GTI partner on new lower-emissions medium- and heavy-duty natural gas engine technologies for California

January 20, 2016

Ricardo will partner with Gas Technology Institute (GTI) on two major contracts to enable natural gas engines to provide a viable, fuel-efficient, and less polluting alternative to diesel power for medium and heavy-duty commercial vehicles on the highways of California.

Despite California’s substantial progress in reducing emissions from heavy-duty trucks and other mobile sources, diesel trucks remain major contributors to statewide emissions of NOx, greenhouse gases (GHG), and diesel particulate matter (PM). By 2031, the South Coast Basin will exceed mandatory air quality standards unless NOx emissions are reduced 90% compared with today.

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European Parliament to vote on proposal to veto increased diesel emissions limits

January 19, 2016

The European Parliament will vote at the next plenary session on a proposal to veto a draft decision to raise diesel car emission limits for NOx by up to 110% when the Real Driving Emissions (RDE) test procedure is introduced.

Parliament’s Environment Committee argues that MEPs should veto plans to relax the limits because this would undermine the enforcement of existing EU standards.

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PSA Peugeot Citroën: tests confirm environmental performance of BlueHDi SCR technology for diesel NOx control

January 15, 2016

PSA Peugeot Citroën announced that the initial results obtained by the Peugeot 208 and Peugeot 508 in tests organized by the technical committee led by the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy comply with regulations and are aligned with homologated data.

The company said that the results confirm the effectiveness of its BlueHDi after-treatment system, in which selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology is positioned upstream of the particulate filter to eliminate up to 90% of the nitrogen NOx released by diesel engines, bringing NOx emissions down to levels near those of gasoline engines. At the same time, diesel engines maintain their advantage of 15% lower CO2 emissions and 20% greater fuel efficiency.

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California ARB rejects VW 2-liter diesel recall plan and issues Notice of Violation

January 12, 2016

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) is rejecting VW’s submitted recall plan for 2-liter diesel passenger vehicles sold in California between 2009 and 2015 which were sold with the software defeat devices. It also notified VW of violations of California air quality regulations associated with the company’s use of a defeat device in those cars.

This rejection only applies to VW’s diesel 2.0L vehicles, not 3.0L vehicles. The submission of the recall plan for 3.0L vehicles is due to ARB on 2 February 2016. ARB made public three separate official documents related to its actions: A transmittal letter signed by Executive Officer Richard W. Corey; the rejection of VW’s submitted recall plan; and the formal Notice of Violation. ARB said that VW’s recall plan fell short in a number of areas, including:

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ECS and Toyota request proposals for 2016-2017 ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship for projects in green energy technology

January 07, 2016

The Electrochemical Society (ECS), in partnership with the Toyota Research Institute of North American (TRINA), a division of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. (TEMA), is requesting proposals from young professors and scholars pursuing innovative electrochemical research in green energy technology.

The purpose of the annual ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship, established in 2014, is to encourage young professors and scholars to pursue research in green energy technology that may promote the development of next-generation vehicles capable of utilizing alternative fuels.

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US files civil complaint against Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche for alleged Clean Air Act violations

January 04, 2016

The US Department of Justice, on behalf of the US Environmental Protection Agency, has filed a civil complaint in federal court in Detroit, Michigan against Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operations, LLC, Porsche AG, and Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (collectively referred to as Volkswagen). The complaint alleges that nearly 600,000 diesel engine vehicles had illegal defeat devices installed that impair their emission control systems and cause emissions to exceed EPA’s standards, resulting in harmful air pollution. (Earlier post.)

The complaint further alleges that Volkswagen violated the Clean Air Act by selling, introducing into commerce, or importing into the United States motor vehicles that are designed differently from what Volkswagen had stated in applications for certification to EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

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Dalian team proposes jet controlled compression ignition to control PCCI phasing in a hybrid pneumatic engine

December 30, 2015

Researchers at the Dalian University of Technology have proposed a novel method to control premixed charge compression ignition (PCCI) phasing in internal combustion engines in all load operations. High-pressure air jet controlled compression ignition (JCCI) is based on a compound thermodynamic cycle and is implemented in a hybrid pneumatic engine (HPE) as proposed by Schechter in 1999.

The application of HPE is also beneficial to the fuel consumption and emissions because of its several flexible operation modes. A paper on the use of JCCI is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

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German KBA ratifies fixes for Volkswagen 1.2, 1.6 and 2.0L diesels; implementation begins in January

December 17, 2015

After a review, the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) has fully ratified the measures proposed by Volkswagen to address the NOx emissions issues in Europe for the 1.2-liter EA189 diesels as well as the 1.6- and 2.0-liter versions. (Earlier post.) The vehicle owners will shortly be informed about the next steps. Volkswagen will begin implementation right at the start of 2016.

The 1.2-liter and 2.0-liter engines will get a software update. Labor time will be just under half an hour. The 1.6-liter engines will also get a software update. In addition, a “flow rectifier” will be fitted in front of the air mass sensor. The labor time for implementing these measures will be less than an hour.

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SwRI-led AC2AT consortium launches second year of advanced emissions research with focus on improving aftertreatment and fuel efficiency strategies

The Advanced Combustion Catalyst and Aftertreatment Technologies (AC2AT) consortium, led by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), will focus on four research projects in its second year. (Earlier post.)

During the first year of work, the consortium made progress in its understanding of the complex nature of emissions from today’s high-performance, high-efficiency gasoline and diesel engines, said Dr. Cary Henry, a manager in SwRI’s Engine, Emissions, and Vehicle Research Division who leads the AC2AT consortium. This year’s focus will be on specific projects to improve aftertreatment and fuel efficiency strategies for these engines.

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Opel to begin publishing WLTP fuel consumption numbers in Q2 2016; improving SCR for NOx reductions

December 15, 2015

Beginning in Q2 2016, and in addition to the official fuel consumption and CO2 information, Opel will start publishing fuel consumption numbers recorded under the WLTP cycle, starting with the new Astra.

In addition, Opel’s diesel engineers have recently started working on an initiative to implement NOx emission improvements on SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) diesel applications. This is a voluntary and early improvement towards the RDE (Real Driving Emissions) legislation that goes into effect in Europe in 2017. Opel said it is committed to providing the testing authorities transparency.

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Study quantifies impact of fuel composition on PM emissions from gasoline direct injection engines

December 14, 2015

Researchers from Tsinghua University and Peking University have investigated the effects of fuel properties on particulate emissions gasoline direct injection engines (GDI). The study results, reported in the journal Fuel, demonstrated that the fuel composition has a significant on particulate emissions from GDI engines.

Although turbocharged GDI engines offer the attractive combination of both increased fuel efficiency and performance due to their higher volumetric efficiencies at high load, they also tend to produce more PM than PFI engines, with PM mass levels exceeding those of diesels equipped with diesel particulate filters, as well as conventional port-fuel injected vehicles. (Storey et al., 2014).

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HeidelbergCement and Joule partnering to explore carbon-neutral fuel application in cement manufacturing

Joule, a pioneer in the production of liquid fuels from recycled CO2, and HeidelbergCement, a German multinational building material company, are partnering to explore application of Joule’s technology to mitigate carbon emissions in cement manufacturing. Cement manufacturing is highly energy and emissions intensive, currently contributing about 6% of global CO2 (Zhang et al. 2014).

As part of the agreement, emissions (or offtake gas) from various HeidelbergCement factories could provide Joule with the waste CO2 required to feed its advanced Helioculture platform that effectively recycles CO2 back into fuel.

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Volkswagen AG provides details on investigations into NOx cheating; origin and fixes; new strategic direction

December 10, 2015

At a press conference in Germany today, Volkswagen Group executives provided details on the status of its investigation—which is being coordinated by a special committee of the Supervisory Board—into the diesel emissions debacle. (Earlier post.)

Approximately 450 internal and external experts are involved in the investigations, which are being conducted in two phases. An internal review, being conducted by a task force of experts from various Group companies with a clearly defined mandate and a deadline, is focused on the mandate to Group Audit by the Supervisory Board and the Management Board to investigate relevant processes, reporting and monitoring systems, and the associated infrastructure.

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U Wisconsin team investigates RCCI and GCI in single engine using adaptive dual-fuel injector

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have investigated blending the benefits of reactivity controlled compression ignition (RCCI) and gasoline compression ignition (GCI) using QuantLogic’s novel adaptive dual-fuel injector which is capable of direct injecting both gasoline and diesel fuel in a single cycle.

Working with Deyang Hou, the founder of injection technology company QuantLogic, they reported on the computational optimizations of RCCI and GCI in a paper in the International Journal of Engine Research.

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Volkswagen: CO2 “irregularities” issue largely concluded; no unlawful changes

December 09, 2015

In early November, the Volkswagen Group announced that during the course of its internal investigation into the diesel emission cheating issue, it had uncovered “irregularities” when determining type-approval CO2 levels. (Earlier post.) Some 800,000 vehicles in Europe could be affected, the company said.

Today, Volkswagen announced that, “following extensive internal investigations and measurement checks,” almost all of those model variants do correspond to the CO2 figures originally determined.

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Researchers develop alkali- and sulfur-resistant tungsten-based catalysts for SCR NOx control

December 07, 2015

Researchers at Fudan University, with colleagues at the University of Jinan and Chongqing University, have developed alkali- and sulfur-resistant tungsten-based catalysts for SCR NOx emissions control. A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Alkali metals and sulfur oxides are two kinds of the well-known poisons of catalysts used in the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) of NOx with NH3 from both stationary and mobile sources. At the 2015 AIChE Annual Meeting in Houston last month, Yasser Jangjou and William Epling presented a paper on sulfur poisoning of the SCR reaction, noting that sulfur is a common automotive catalyst poison even for the newer metal-exchanged small pore zeolite selective catalytic reduction (SCR) catalysts.

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Study: 87% of world’s population in 2013 lived in areas exceeding WHO PM2.5 guidelines

December 06, 2015

In 2013, 87% of the world’s population lived in areas exceeding the World Health Organization (WHO) Air Quality Guideline of 10 μg/m3 PM2.5 (annual average), according to a major international study published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Between 1990 and 2013, global population-weighted PM2.5 increased by 20.4%, driven by trends in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and China, according to the team’s findings. However, decreases in population-weighted mean concentrations of PM2.5 were evident in most high income countries. Additionally, the study found that the population-weighted mean concentrations of ozone increased globally by 8.9% from 1990–2013 with increases in most countries—except for modest decreases in North America, parts of Europe, and several countries in Southeast Asia.

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ICCT-led test of 73 Euro 6 diesels finds large difference in NOx results under NEDC and more realistic WLTC

December 02, 2015

A team from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) with colleagues from the US, China and Germany tested 73 Euro 6 diesel passenger cars on a chassis dynamometer over both the European type-approval cycle (NEDC, cold engine start) and the more realistic Worldwide harmonized light-duty test cycle (WLTC version 2.0, hot start) between 2012 and 2015. The cars featured three different types of NOx control technologies (8 EGR only, 40 LNT, and 25 SCR).

In a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they reported that while most vehicles met the Euro 6 legislative limit of 0.08 g/km of NOx over NEDC, the average emission factors rose significantly over WLTC. The findings, the team said, illustrate how diesel NOx emissions are not properly controlled under the current, NEDC-based homologation framework.

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Dearman begins on-vehicle testing of Gen 2 transport refrigeration system powered by liquid air engine; lighter, more efficient

November 28, 2015

Dearman has begun on-vehicle testing of the Generation 2 zero-emission transport refrigeration system. The system is powered by an innovative, liquid nitrogen Dearman engine, which replaces the standard diesel engine. (Earlier post.) As a result, the Dearman system is zero-emission, producing no harmful NOx or particulates, and it helps to significantly reduce CO2 emissions.

Dearman began testing a Generation 1 transport refrigeration system on a truck in early 2015. Since then the Dearman engine has been re-designed and it is already proving to be 30% lighter, 30% smaller, and 30% more efficient than its predecessor.

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VW’s relatively simple technical fixes for cheating 1.6 and 2.0L diesels accepted by KBA; 1.2L fix coming by end of month

November 25, 2015

The Volkswagen Group has proposed the specific technical fixes for the non-compliant 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter diesel EA 189 engines equipped with the software defeat device resulting in excessive NOxemissions to the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (Kraftfahrtbundesamt, KBA). Following an examination, these measures have been ratified by the KBA. (The remedies announced by Volkswagen AG apply only to affected TDI vehicles in Europe, and not to affected TDI vehicles in the United States and Canada.)

For the 1.6-liter diesel, a “flow transformer” will be fitted directly in front of the air mass sensor. This mesh will calm the swirled air flow in front of the air mass sensor and thus improving the measuring accuracy of the air mass sensor. The air mass sensor determines the current air mass throughput—a very important parameter for the engine management for an optimum combustion process.

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DUH charges that Renault Espace diesel emits 13-25 times Euro 6 NOx limit; Renault disputes

The 1.6-liter Renault Espace diesel is the latest vehicle to come in the emissions crosshairs of German environmental NGO Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH). DUH published results of emissions testing by the University of Bern showing that NOx emissions from New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) driven tests with a warm engine exceed the applicable limit for Euro 6 vehicles 13- to 25-fold.

Renault immediately issued a statement disputing the Umwelthilfe findings, and asserted that Espace complies with applicable regulations, just as do all Renault vehicles.

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Achates Power wins $9M from ARPA-E to develop gasoline compression ignition medium-duty multi-cylinder opposed-piston engine

November 24, 2015

Achates Power, the developer of a family of two-stroke compression-ignition opposed-piston engines (earlier post), has been selected by APRA-E under its OPEN 2015 solicitation (earlier post) for an award of more than $9 million to develop a multi-cylinder opposed piston engine operating with compression ignition that uses gasoline as the fuel.

The unthrottled nature of the compression ignition process provides high engine efficiency while achieving compliant exhaust emissions with conventional, low-cost aftertreatment. This—in addition to the opposed engine architecture—could increase fuel efficiency by 40-50% over the comparable spark-ignited gasoline engine, Achates said.

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Audi to revise auxiliary emission control devices for US V6 TDI 3L diesel, resubmit to EPA and ARB; mid-double-digit million euro cost

November 23, 2015

Audi will revise, document in detail, and resubmit for US approval certain parameters of the engine-management software used in the US version of the V6 TDI 3 liter diesel engine.

The action plan is the result of the discussions held between a delegation from Audi AG and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in response to the 2 November EPA notice of violation (NOV) in which Audi was informed that AECDs (Auxiliary Emission Control Devices) were not sufficiently described and declared in the application for US type approval. That will now be done with the updated software and the documentation. (Earlier post.)

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Study finds substantial increase in nanoparticles in air as it crosses the Baltic Sea; shipping emissions responsible for about half

A study by a team of international researchers has found that air crossing over the main basin of the heavily ship-trafficked Baltic Sea shows a “substantial” increase in the number of 50–400 nm particles (50–400N). An open-access paper on their work is published in the journal Oceanologia.

The researchers evaluated 10 months worth of data (September 2009 to June 2010) of atmospheric aerosol particle number size distribution at three atmospheric observation stations along the Baltic Sea coast: Vavihill (upwind, Sweden); Utö (upwind, Finland); and Preila (downwind, Lithuania).

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Volkswagen submits recall plan for 2-liter diesel cars to California Air Resources Board; ARB to respond

November 21, 2015

The Volkswagen Group of America (VW) submitted a recall plan to the California Air Resources Board (ARB) on Friday, responding to the violations described in ARB’s 18 September 2015 letter to VW concerning illegal defeat devices in 2-liter diesel-powered vehicles, model years 2009-2015. (Earlier post.)

The submission of the plan triggers a review by ARB of up to 20 business days of all elements of the plan. Based on ARB’s review, VW may be required to revise and resubmit all, or specific elements of the recall plan. ARB will also consult with US EPA during this process to develop a national recall plan.

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Propel Fuels reports strong consumer adoption of renewable diesel in SoCal; retail sales up 300% over biodiesel

November 18, 2015

Propel launched Diesel HPR across Southern California in August 2015, and consumer adoption of the fuel has risen 300% compared to its former biodiesel product (B20). (Earlier post.) Utilizing Neste’s NEXBTL renewable diesel, Propel’s Diesel HPR is a low-carbon, drop-in renewable fuel that meets the ASTM D-976 petroleum diesel specifications for use in diesel engines, while offering drivers better performance and lower emissions.

Performance features include a 75 cetane rating, 40 percent higher than regular diesel. Diesel HPR provides cleaner and more efficient combustion for more power and a smoother ride at a cost similar to or lower than petroleum diesel.

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Study finds EV deployment in China to increase Environmental Justice challenge there

November 16, 2015

A new study by a team from the University of Tennessee, Tsinghua University and the University of Minnesota has found that the wide-scale deployment of electric vehicles in China can increase the Environmental Justice (EJ) challenge in that country.

According to their findings, published in a paper in the ACS journalEnvironmental Science & Technology, most (∼77%, range: 41–96%) emission inhalation attributable to urban EVs use—i.e., from the shifting of transportation’s air pollution from urban tailpipes to rural power plants—is distributed to predominately rural communities the incomes of which are on average lower than the cities in which the EVs are used.

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VW: 430,046 MY 2016 vehicles in Europe affected by “CO2 issue”

November 14, 2015

On 3 November, Volkswagen AG announced that during the course of its internal investigation into the diesel emission cheating issue, it had uncovered “irregularities” when determining type-approval CO2 levels, affecting around 800,000 vehicles from the Group. (Earlier post.)

Volkswagen AG has now announced that of those affected vehicles, 430,046 units are MY 2016 vehicles from the Volkswagen (281,617 units, 65.5%); Škoda (83,262 units, 19.4%); SEAT (32,161 units, 7.5%); VW Commercial (17,253 units, 4%); and Audi (15,733 units, 3.7%) brands.

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Aramco opens R&D center in Detroit area; fuels research with focus on novel fuels/engines systems for reduced CO2

The Aramco Research Center-Detroit was inaugurated as one of three US-based research and development (R&D) centers aimed at expanding the global research capabilities of Saudi Aramco, the leading global integrated energy and chemicals company. The new facility, located in Novi, Mich., and owned and operated by US subsidiary Aramco Services Company, further strengthens the company’s global fuels research program.

Aramco’s fuels technology program is focused on reducing the overall environmental impact, cost and complexity of both current and future fuel-engine systems. With a global refining presence, Aramco brings a perspective into how fuels can be designed and matched to engines for higher performance and lower emissions. A planned outcome of Aramco’s research is to generate vehicle and fleet demonstrations to showcase the benefits of novel fuel/engine systems.

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Report finds road transportation sector in Canada likely to fall far short of 2050 GHG emissions reduction target

November 12, 2015

A new Conference Board of Canada report finds that Canada is unlikely to achieve an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2050. Even when taking into account reduced distances traveled per vehicle, improvements in fuel efficiency, and greater market penetration of alternative technology vehicles, Canada falls short of the 80-by-50 target.

Despite voluntary and regulatory initiatives that have improved the emissions efficiency of passenger and freight transportation, emissions from road transportation are increasing due to growing number of cars on the road and Canadians’ changing preference for light trucks. Canada’s road transport emissions were 40% higher in 2013 than in 1990. Between 1990 and 2013, transportation emissions accounted for nearly half of the growth of Canada’s total emissions levels, with road transport accounting for the largest share of transportation emissions.

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Mazda’s new Aqua-tech Paint System receives Prime Minister’s Award; lower VOCs than Three Layer Wet

November 09, 2015

Mazda Motor Corporation’s new paint system—the Aqua-tech Paint System—has received the Prime Minister’s Award (Manufacturing and Production Process Category) at the 6th Monodzukuri Nippon Grand Award ceremony. The Aqua-tech Paint System reduces emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) compared to Mazda’s previous oil-based paint systems without increasing energy consumption (and associated CO2 emissions).

Mazda had already achieved world-class low CO2 emission levels with the implementation of the Three Layer Wet Paint System. The company’s follow-on goal was to further reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions to world-class levels.

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Frost & Sullivan forecasts Gasoline Particulate Filters to climb from 50,335 units now to 4.2-4.6 million units by 2020

November 08, 2015

Gasoline direct injection (GDI) is a strategy to improve fuel efficiency that is rapidly gaining market acceptance. However, unlike conventional gasoline engines, gasoline direct injection engines produce particulate matter, as do diesels, and emission controls will become an issue the technology must address as standards for particle mass tighten, and also as standards for particle numbers emerge.

In a 2013 study, a team from Ford’s Research and Advanced Engineering group in Dearborn noted that because the efficiency advantage of homogeneous GDI is not as large as with diesel engines, the use of gasoline particulate filters (GPF) is a less practical solution to PM emissions aftertreatment. Accordingly, there are significant research efforts—including Ford’s own—aimed at understanding how PM emissions can be reduced by engine design (e.g., fuel injection timing, number of injections, fuel pressure, injector placement, etc.) and fuel properties. (Earlier post.) Nevertheless, Frost & Sullivan projects the number of engines equipped with GPFs will climb from 50,335 units today to 4.2–4.6 million units by 2020. (“Analysis of the GPF Market for Passenger Cars in Europe and North America”)

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EPA issues a second notice of violation to Volkswagen alleging emissions cheating in MY 2014-2016 3.0L diesels (Updated with VW response)

November 02, 2015

EPA issued a second notice of violation (NOV) of the Clean Air Act (CAA) to Volkswagen AG, Audi AG and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., alleging emissions cheating. This NOV is also being issued to Porsche AG and Porsche Cars North America. In response, VW AG in Germany issued a statement asserting that “no software has been installed in the 3-liter V6 diesel power units to alter emissions characteristics in a forbidden manner.” Volkswagen said it will cooperate fully with the EPA to “clarify this matter in its entirety.”

The NOV alleges that the VW Group companies developed and installed a software defeat device—specifically, code in the electronic control module (ECM)—in certain VW, Audi and Porsche light duty diesel vehicles equipped with 6-cylinder, 3.0-liter engines for model years (MY) 2014 through 2016 that results in increased NOx emissions of up to nine times EPA’s standard. The vehicles covered by the new NOV are the diesel versions of the 2014 VW Touareg, the 2015 Porsche Cayenne, and the 2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L, and Q5.

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DUH charges Zafira diesel emits up to 17x more NOx than permitted under certain conditions; Opel rebuts with its own testing

October 23, 2015

German environmental NGO Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) (earlier post) has charged that an Opel Zafira 1.6 CDTi diesel (Euro 6b) emits up to 17 times more NOx under certain driving situations than permitted by the Euro 6 limit value. Dynamometer testing for DUH was conducted at the Bern University of Applied Sciences (Berner Fachhochschule).

In three tests under the NEDC cycle with rotating rear wheels, the Zafira emitted between 2 to 4 times more NOx than allowed, according to the test report released by DUH. In three additional tests under normal test conditions—and thus with non-rotating rear wheels—however, the NOx values were below the legal value limit of 80 mg/km in each case.

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Volkswagen confirms EA288 diesel engines designed for EU5 and EU6 not affected by defeat device software

Volkswagen confirmed on Thursday that no software constituting an improper emissions control defeat device as defined in law is installed in vehicles with EA 288 EU5- or EU6-engines in the European Union. Consequently, new vehicles of the Volkswagen Group offered within the European Union with those engines comply with legal requirements and environmental standards.

Volkswagen Group had earlier confirmed that new EU6-compliant vehicles offered within the European Union fulfill all legal requirements and environmental standards. (Earlier post.)

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Rice University study of lung cells suggests anthropogenic carbon nanotubes are common pollutants

October 21, 2015

Rice University scientists, working with colleagues in France, have detected the presence of anthropogenic carbon nanotubes (CBTs) in cells extracted from the airways of Parisian children under routine treatment for asthma. These nanostructures are similar to those present in dusts and vehicle exhausts collected in Paris, as well as to those previously observed in ambient air in the USA, in spider webs in India, and in ice cores, the researchers found. These results suggest that humans are routinely exposed to CNTs.

The research, published in an open-access paper in the journal EBioMedicine, in no way ascribes the children’s conditions to the nanotubes, said Rice chemist Lon Wilson, a corresponding author of the new paper. But the nanotubes’ apparent ubiquity should be the focus of further investigation, he said.

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Mercedes-Benz to begin equipping top models with CO2 air conditioning systems starting in 2017; adapting other models for R1234yf

October 20, 2015

From 2017, Mercedes-Benz will offer in Europe the S- and E-Class as the first production passenger cars equipped with CO2 air conditioning systems. These completely newly developed systems are based on the DIN specifications defined by the automotive standards committee of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA).

Due to especially quickly available and high cooling performance, CO2 air conditioning systems swiftly provide for a pleasant feel-good climate inside vehicles even in very hot weather, the company said, while at the same time complying with legal requirements for low global warming potential refrigerants and avoiding the use of R1234yf, which Mercedes has found problematic. (Earlier post.)

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SwRI to launch 7th clean diesel engine consortium

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is launching Clean High-Efficiency Diesel Engine VII (CHEDE-VII), the seventh phase of the industry’s longest-running diesel research consortium. The kick-off meeting for the four-year, multi-client cooperative research program, which is open to potential new members, will be 5 November at SwRI headquarters in San Antonio.

Consortium members will select research topics related to low-emission, high-efficiency diesel engine technology. Building on more than 24 years of experience, CHEDE-VII will develop pre-competitive diesel engine technology initiatives to address the needs of industry five to 10 years into the future.

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New efficient hybrid optimization control method for diesel engine emissions and performance

October 19, 2015

Researchers at Iowa State have developed a new hybrid optimization control method to improve diesel engine emissions and performance. As reported in a paper in the International Journal of Engine Research, the hybrid method, which combines both particle swarm optimization (PSO) and genetic algorithm (GA) methods was able to locate a narrow window of operation which showed 27% lower NOx emissions and 60% lower particulate matter emissions than a standard PSO method.

The hybrid method was also able to locate the improvements using similar dynamometer time, indicating that the hybrid method is more efficient and more effective, the researchers said.

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Sandia CRF team provides experimental confirmation of oxidation scheme of lower emissions diesel alternative DME; new intermediates

October 17, 2015

An international team of researchers led by a group from the Combustion Research Facility (CRF) at Sandia National Laboratories recently provided experimental confirmation of the generally accepted low-temperature oxidation scheme of dimethyl ether (DME)—a lower soot and emissions alternative to diesel—at low temperatures (~540 K, 267˚C). Their paper was published in the ACS Journal of Physical Chemistry A.

Especially significant, they said, was detecting and identifying keto-hydroperoxide (hydroperoxymethylformate, HPMF, HOOCH2OCHO)—a previously undiscovered partially oxidized intermediate—thereby providing critical information needed to improve models.

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Volkswagen: reorienting diesel strategy, new Modular Electric Toolkit, MQB push on PHEVs, electric Phaeton

October 13, 2015

The newly-formed Volkswagen Brand Board of Management has made a number of major strategic product decisions, including a reorientation of the diesel strategy to use the most advanced emission aftertreatment technologies; the development of a standardized electric architecture (Modular Electric Toolkit, MEB) for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles; and an electric next-generation Phaeton.

Further, Volkswagen will accelerate its efficiency program and cut spending by some €1 billion per year.

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Argonne study finds lightweight material substitution increases vehicle-cycle GHGs, but results in total life-cycle benefit

October 12, 2015

A team at Argonne National Laboratory has taken a closer look at vehicle-cycle (all processes related to vehicle manufacturing) and vehicle total life-cycle (vehicle-cycle plus fuel cycle—i.e., the use phase) impacts of substituting lightweight materials into vehicles.

In a study published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they reported that while material substitution can reduce vehicle weight, it often increases vehicle-cycle greenhouse gas emissions GHGs—for example, replacing steel with wrought aluminum, carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CRFP), or magnesium increases the vehicle-cycle GHGs. However, lifetime fuel economy benefits often outweigh the vehicle-cycle, resulting in a net total life-cycle GHG benefit, they found. This is the case for steel replaced by wrought aluminum in all assumed cases, and for CFRP and magnesium except for high substitution ratio and low fuel reduction value.

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California ARB holding informational meeting on feasibility of measuring LEV III PM mass standards

October 10, 2015

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) will conduct a public meeting on 22 October to hear an update from ARB staff on the feasibility of measurement of LEV III particulate matter (PM) standards. The meeting is informational only, with no Board action anticipated.

PM emissions from light- and medium-duty vehicles are regulated by California’s Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV) regulations. LEV III (3rd generation) regulations were approved by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) in January 2012 as part of the Advanced Clean Cars (ACC) program. (Earlier post.) LEV III tightens the PM standard for light-duty vehicles (cars and trucks) and medium-duty passenger vehicles in two phases.

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DLR wrapping up ECLIF in-flight study of emissions from alternative aviation fuels; potential for improved fuel design

October 09, 2015

In a three-week series of flight tests lasting until 9 October 2015, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has been investigating how to reduce the impact of air transport on the climate by using alternative fuels. The testing is part of DLR’s Emission and Climate Impact of Alternative Fuels (ECLIF) project.

ECLIF is analyzing the emissions produced by alternative fuels using the full range of methods available at DLR—from combustion analysis in the laboratories of the DLR Institute of Combustion Technology and tests in the combustion chamber test facilities at the DLR Institute of Propulsion Technology, through to the exhaust gas measurements conducted by the DLR Institute of Atmospheric Physics now taking place during the flight trials.

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Dearman and Hubbard Products form technology partnership for zero-emission transport refrigeration

Dearman, the developer of the liquid air Dearman Engine—an innovative heat engine that uses liquid air (or liquid nitrogen) as a “fuel” and emits cold air as exhaust(earlier post)—has formed a technology partnership with Hubbard Products, Europe’s leading designer, manufacturer and supplier of commercial cooling equipment.

Both companies work together to further develop and bring to market a highly efficient and cost-effective zero-emission transport refrigeration system based around the Dearman engine. In September, Dearman presented an analysis showing that the 1 million transport refrigeration units currently on European streets have the equivalent impact on air pollution as up to 56 million diesel cars.

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Global MRV introduces first permanently embedded Micro PEMS for continuous onboard emissions analysis

October 08, 2015

Global MRV, a provider of portable emissions measurement systems (PEMS), has introduced the first on-board permanently embedded Micro PEMS that reports all regulated vehicle emissions and performance system data all the time. Called Firefly, the PEMS provides continuous analysis of diesel or internal combustion engine emissions. The patented Firefly unit is 11-inches long by 11-inches wide and 3-inches high, and weighs seven pounds (3.2 kg).

Global MRV is deploying Firefly technology to measure, report and verify the operations of light- and heavy-duty vehicles operating in normal driving conditions. Firefly collects and allows for the combined analysis of engine, GPS and emissions data; the unit is currently being tested in on-road vehicles and will be available to the market at the end of 2016.

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CPT and Eminox to collaborate on development of retrofit electric supercharging and aftertreatment solutions for heavy-duty vehicles

Controlled Power Technologies (CPT), a British developer of advanced automotive technology focused on the electrification of internal combustion engines, and Eminox, also based in the UK and a leading European manufacturer of exhaust gas control systems for heavy duty diesel vehicles, will collaborate to bring their technologies for reduced fuel consumption and emissions to the heavy duty vehicle retrofit market.

By combining CPT’s Cobra electric supercharger with Eminox’s SCRT technology, which itself combines CRT (continuously regenerating trap) and SCR (selective catalytic reduction) technology to reduce emissions of vehicles already in service, the companies plan to demonstrate a solution that can achieve Euro VI emissions standards and fuel economy improvements.

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Volkswagen of America temporarily withdraws application for US certification of MY 2016 vehicles; AECDs

October 07, 2015

In his prepared testimony for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing tomorrow (earlier post), Michael Horn, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, says that in discussions with EPA and the California ARB, Volkswagen said that its emissions control strategy also included a software feature that should be disclosed to and approved by the agencies as an auxiliary emissions control device (“AECD”) in connection with the certification process.

AECDs are allowed by the EPA, but they must be disclosed. As a result, Horn says, Volkswagen has withdrawn the application for certification of its model year 2016 vehicles. The company is working with the agencies to continue the certification process, he adds.

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New VW Group CEO: “swift and relentless clarification” of emissions scandal; technical solution to be presented to authorities

October 06, 2015

Speaking at a plant meeting in Wolfsburg, Matthias Müller, the new CEO of Volkswagen AG, promised employees “swift and relentless clarification” of the emissions scandal. He said that what had happened went against everything the Group and its people stand for and that there was no excuse.

Müller said that the company will shortly be presenting the technical solutions to the responsible authorities—in particular the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA)—for approval. Müller said that while in many instances a software update will be sufficient, some vehicles will also require hardware modifications. “We will keep our customers constantly informed about the measures and arrange workshop appointments.

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CWI ISL G Near Zero natural gas engine certified to near zero NOx; 90% below current standard

Cummins Westport Inc. (CWI) announced that its new ISL G Near Zero (NZ) natural gas engine is the first mid-range engine in North America to receive emission certifications from both US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Air Resources Board (ARB) in California that meet the 0.02 g/bhp-hr optional Near Zero NOx Emissions standards for medium-duty truck, urban bus, school bus and refuse applications.

Cummins Westport ISL G NZ exhaust emissions will be 90% lower than the current EPA NOx limit of 0.2 g/bhp-hr and also meet the 2017 EPA greenhouse gas emission requirements. CWI natural gas engines have met the 2010 EPA standard for particulate matter (0.01 g/bhp-hr) since 2001.

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