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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.]

San Pedro Bay Ports release draft of 2017 Clean Air Action Plan Update; $7-$14 billion price tag

July 21, 2017

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach released the draft of their proposed 2017 Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) Update. The document outlines a new set of aggressive near-term and long-term strategies for the nation’s busiest harbor complex to further reduce harmful air pollution from all port-related sources, assist the state in meeting aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals, and ultimately achieve zero emissions for trucks and terminal equipment.

A preliminary analysis estimates the cost of implementing the 2017 CAAP at $7 billion to $14 billion. Given the magnitude of the investment, the draft plan calls for the ports to intensify their funding advocacy and increase collaboration with their partners to finance the new strategies.

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California to receive additional $153M in final settlement with Volkswagen

July 20, 2017

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) filed a consent decree for its final settlement with the Volkswagen Group of America (VW). The company will be required to pay an additional $153.8 million to California over the company’s use of illegal defeat devices in 2009-2016, 2.0 and 3.0 liter diesel passenger cars. Before today, VW had paid $533 million to California, of which $422 million will flow to the state through a mitigation trust. Volkswagen also is making $800 million in ZEV-related investments in the state.

The additional consent decree was negotiated by attorneys and technical experts from CARB and the California Attorney General’s Office, and is subject to court approval. The overall VW settlement is the largest ever for violations of vehicle air quality rules.

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Researchers characterize aggregate indoor and outdoor PM2.5 exposure

In an initial step toward developing a comprehensive global impact assessment framework for PM2.5 emissions, an international team of researchers from the US and Europe has characterized the primary PM2.5 intake fraction—the long-term population intake mass per unit mass emitted into different indoor and outdoor environments.

Intake fractions from residential and occupational indoor sources ranged from 470 ppm to 62,000 ppm—mainly as a function of air exchange rate and occupancy. Indoor exposure typically contributes 80−90% to overall exposure from outdoor sources. In a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, the researchers suggested that their framework facilitates improvements in air pollution reduction strategies and life cycle impact assessments.

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GWU team demonstrates highly scalable, low-cost process for making carbon nanotube wools directly from CO2

July 19, 2017

Researchers at George Washington University led by Dr. Stuart Licht have demonstrated the first facile high-yield, low-energy synthesis of macroscopic length carbon nanotubes (CNTs)—carbon nanotube wool—from CO2 using molten carbonate electrolysis (earlier post).

The resulting CNT wool is of length suitable for weaving into carbon composites and textiles and is highly conductive; the calculated cost to produce the CNTs is approximately $660 per ton, compared to the current $100,000+ per ton price range of CNTs. A paper on the work is published in the journal Materials Today Energy.

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Daimler launches diesel plan; expands recall to >3M units, accelerating next-gen diesel launch

July 18, 2017

The Daimler Board of Management has approved a comprehensive plan for diesel engines consisting of a substantial expansion of the current service action for vehicles in customers’ hands as well as a rapid market launch of the completely new OM 654 diesel engine family (earlier post).

Since March, Mercedes-Benz has offered its customers of compact-class cars an improvement in NOx emissions for one engine version. Approximately 45% of those cars have since been updated. A voluntary service action is also being carried out for V-Class customers—so far with approximately 75% of the vehicles in Germany. To improve the emissions of additional model series, Daimler has now decided to extend the service action to include more than three million Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

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ifo Institute study projects ban on combustion engines in 2030 would affect 600K jobs in German manufacturing

In Germany, legislation banning permits for new cars and light trucks with internal combustion engines as of 2030 is currently under consideration. A new study by the ifo Institute projects that such a ban could lead to significant losses in terms of jobs and added value in Germany. More than 600,000 jobs, or 10%, of jobs in German in manufacturing would currently be directly or indirectly affected by a ban. In the automotive industry alone a ban would endanger 436,000 jobs, while up to 130,000 jobs at small and medium-sized companies would be at risk.

Such a ban would also impact a total of 13% (amounting to around €48 billion) of gross value added. The study was commissioned by the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA).

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EPA proposes maintaining current NOx standards

Based on its review of scientific evidence, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposes retaining the current national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for oxides of nitrogen (NOx). EPA proposes that the current NAAQS don’t need to be changed because they provide the appropriate public health protection, with an adequate margin of safety, including for older adults, children and people with asthma.

There are currently two primary standards for NOx. NO2 is the component of oxides of nitrogen of greatest concern for health and is the indicator for the primary NAAQS. The two primary NO2 standards are: a 1-hour standard established in 2010 at a level of 100 parts per billion (ppb) and based on the 98th percentile of the annual distribution of daily maximum 1-hour NO2 concentrations, averaged over 3 years; and an annual standard, originally set in 1971, at a level of 53 ppb and based on annual average NO2 concentrations.

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China study connects ozone pollution to cardiovascular health

July 17, 2017

Exposure to ozone, long associated with impaired lung function, is also connected to health changes that can cause cardiovascular disease such as heart attack, high blood pressure and stroke, according to a new study of Chinese adults. The findings associated ozone exposure with markers of platelet activation and increased blood pressure. Ozone concentrations were lower than the levels capable of influencing pulmonary function, which is the main basis for current regulatory standards.

The study, by a team from Duke University, Tsinghua University, Duke Kunshan University and Peking University, appears in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

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São Paulo study finds concentration of ultrafine particulates rose by 1/3 in switch from ethanol to gasoline

The concentration of ultrafine particles less than 50 nanometers in diameter rose by one-third in the air of São Paulo, Brazil, when higher ethanol prices induced drivers to switch from ethanol to gasoline, according to a new study by a Northwestern University chemist, a National University of Singapore economist and two University of São Paulo physicists.

The research team also found when São Paulo drivers—some two million of them—switched back to ethanol because prices had gone down, the concentration of ultrafine particles also went down. This lockstep movement illustrates a very tight correlation between fuel choice and nanoparticles in the air. The study is published in the journal Nature Communications.

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Making tip extraction for fume removal work for robotic welding applications

By Mike Hattingh, RoboVent

What’s the best way to control weld fumes from robotic welding? Overhead hoods and full work cell enclosures have long been the standard solution. But new tip extraction technologies are now offering another alternative for many manufacturers who rely on robotic welding.

Overhead hoods are a straightforward solution for many robotic welding applications. Hoods keep toxic weld fumes out of the ambient facility air and make them easier to collect. They work well for smaller parts that are easily enclosed and do not require cranes to move.

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Study finds PM from biodiesel blends may be 50-80% less toxic per unit PM mass than from petroleum diesel

July 15, 2017

In a study published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels, a team from the University of Vermont reports that particulate matter from the combustion of biodiesel blends may be 50–80% less toxic per unit PM mass emitted than PM from petroleum diesel, depending on feedstock.

There is growing consensus that PM toxicity is linked to the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) on PM and the subsequent oxidative stress induced in cells. However, the relative toxicity of biodiesel emissions compared to petroleum diesel remains unclear. In the study, the team examined the relationships between biodiesel fuel blend, exhaust particle oxidative potential (OP), and PM composition.

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Study finds modern diesel cars emit fewer carbonaceous particulates than gasoline cars

July 14, 2017

A new study by an international team led by researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Switzerland has found that modern diesel passenger cars equipped with diesel particulate filters (DPFs) emit fewer carbonaceous particulates than gasoline-powered vehicles. The open-access study is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Carbonaceous PM is made up of black carbon, primary organic aerosol (POA) and—especially—secondary organic aerosol (SOA), which is known to contain harmful reactive oxygen species and can damage lung tissue. The researchers first quantified carbonaceous PM from Euro 5 gasoline and DPF-equipped diesel cars, then constrained the measurements using source apportionment investigations to provide a comprehensive assessment of the current state and future trends in gasoline and diesel vehicular pollution.

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Tata Motors and MAHLE partner to develop a prototype Secondary Loop Mobile Air Conditioning System on a vehicle

Tata Motors Limited and MAHLE have signed a joint development agreement for designing and developing a Secondary Loop Mobile Air Conditioning System (SL-MAC), under the aegis of United Nations Environment.

In the SL-MAC system, the alternative refrigerants first cool a secondary fluid/coolant, which in turn cools the air to comfortable temperatures inside the vehicle cabin. This process allows the safe use of slightly flammable refrigerants that have a low GWP and in turn achieves high cooling capacity, minimizing the losses and achieving an optimized overall thermodynamic efficiency in the process. This is in contrast to the conventional mobile AC system, where the cabin air is directly cooled by the refrigerant HFC-134a, which is ozone safe but has a high GWP.

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DOE awarding $19.4M to 22 advanced vehicle technologies projects; Mercedes-Benz, GM Li-S battery projects

July 12, 2017

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding $19.4 million to 22 new cost-shared projects to accelerate the research of advanced battery, lightweight materials, engine emission control technologies, and energy efficient mobility systems (EEMS). Among the awardees are Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America and GM, with separate projects on Li-sulfur batteries, as two of the fifteen Phase 1 “Battery Seedling” Projects.

The Battery Seedling projects are aimed at innovative battery materials and approaches that complement the Vehicle Technologies Office Battery500 Consortium’s research to more than double the specific energy (to 500 watt-hours per kilogram) of lithium battery technologies. These projects enable smaller, safer, lighter weight, and less expensive battery packs that ultimately will make electric vehicles more affordable. Promising phase 1 awardees will be competitively down-selected at the end of 18 months for a second phase of research.

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ICCT working paper highlights benefits of current and emerging light-duty diesel technology; “promising pathway for compliance”

July 11, 2017

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), one of the organizations at the root of uncovering the Volkswagen diesel emission scandal (earlier post), has published a new analysis of developments and trends in advanced diesel engine technology.

The ICCT team—John German and Aaron Isenstadt—concluded that diesels have and will retain two significant advantages over gasoline engines: significantly better fuel economy and cargo hauling and towing ability. Those attributes make diesels a strong option for customers who put a high priority on towing or fuel economy and manufacturers that want to market high fuel economy, they conclude. “Diesels offer a promising pathway for compliance and another option in manufacturers’ toolboxes.

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IndianOil and LanzaTech to construct first refinery Offgas-to-Bioethanol production facility

Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IndianOil), India’s flagship national oil company and LanzaTech signed a Statement of Intent to construct the world’s first refinery offgas-to-bioethanol production facility in India.

The basic engineering for the 40-million liter per year (10.6 million gallons US/year) demonstration facility will begin later this year for installation at IndianOil’s Panipat Refinery in Hayrana, India, at an estimated cost of 350 crore rupees (US$55 million). It will be integrated into the existing site infrastructure and will be LanzaTech’s first project capturing refinery off-gases. LanzaTech’s first commercial facility converting waste emissions from steel production to ethanol will come online in China in late 2017.

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Volkswagen Group developing lean-burn combustion for monovalent natural gas engine as part of $27M EU GasOn research project

July 10, 2017

Volkswagen Group Research and its partners in the EU-funded GasOn research project are developing an innovative monovalent natural gas engine. Based on a 2.0-liter diesel engine, the unit permits very high compression. Extremely lean combustion (λ~2) leads to low consumption and initially to very low engine-out emissions.

Initial test results reported to the consortium for the period through October 2016 suggested a lean mixture with λ = 1.8 and a compression ratio of 14 seemed possible.

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US charges Audi manager with conspiracy to cheat US emissions tests; sacrificing NOx control for a sound system

The US has charged a former Audi manager via criminal complaint for his role in a conspiracy to defraud US regulators and customers by implementing defeat device software in thousands of Audi diesel vehicles to cheat US emissions tests.

Giovanni Pamio, 60, an Italian citizen, is charged with conspiracy to defraud the US, wire fraud, and violation of the Clean Air Act. Pamio was formerly head of Thermodynamics within Audi’s Diesel Engine Development Department in Neckarsulm, Germany. According to the complaint, from in or about 2006 until in or about November 2015, Pamio led a team of engineers responsible for designing emissions control systems to meet emissions standards, including for nitrogen oxides (NOx), for diesel vehicles in the US. The complaint cited a cooperating witness (CW1)—an Audi employee who works in Audi’s Diesel Engine Development Department—as well as contemporaneous documentation in the Statement of Probable Cause.

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ICCT analysis finds 2025 European automotive CO2 standards can be met even if diesel share drops to 15%

July 07, 2017

Diesel has played a major role in the European Union’s efforts to reduce CO2 emissions from the automotive fleet; the market share of fuel-efficient new diesel cars in the European Union has remained above 50% since 2010. However, in the wake of emission control scandals, increasing concern over NOx-baed air-quality problems in city centers and emerging anti-diesel policy measures, the diesel market share is expected to fall significantly.

This projected shift in market share has raised some concerns over the cost of attainting CO2 emission targets. However, a new analysis by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) suggests that the EU could achieve a hypothetical 70 g/km (as measured according to the New European Driving Cycle – NEDC) passenger vehicle CO2 target in 2025 with both lower net cost and reduced NOx emissions, even with a significantly reduced diesel share.

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HEI study finds no heart effects of ozone exposure in healthy older adults; lungs affected at relatively low exposures

The largest systematic study ever conducted of human volunteers exposed to ozone air pollution has found no evidence of effects on the heart in its healthy, older participants, but did find effects on the volunteers’ ability to breathe, even at low ambient levels.

HEI Research Report 192, Multicenter Ozone Study in oldEr Subjects (MOSES): Part 1. Effects of Exposure to Low Concentrations of Ozone on Respiratory and Cardiovascular Outcomes—published by the Health Effects Institute—measured a large number of cardiovascular and respiratory endpoints in 87 healthy, older participants who were exposed to 0, 70, or 120 parts per billion ozone for 3 hours while exercising moderately.

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France launches new climate plan; Euro 7 lead; targeting ending the sale of vehicles emitting GHGs by 2040

Nicolas Hulot, France’s new minister responsible for environment and energy, presented the country’s new climate plan at a press conference at the Ministry. Prepared at the request of the President and the Prime Minister, the climate action plan is divided into six main themes: render the Paris Agreement irreversible; improve the daily life of the French; end the use of fossil energy and engage in carbon neutrality; make France the Nº 1 green economy; encourage the potential of ecosystems and agriculture; and intensify international mobilization on climate diplomacy.

Among the many actions outlined in the plan is the targeting of ending the sale of cars emitting greenhouse gases (“gaz à effet de serre”) by 2040. (The plan at this current level of detail does not specify whether or not that is tailpipe emissions or full lifecycle emissions, factoring in upstream for electric vehicles.) France also intends to initiate an ambitious (“ambitieuse”) Euro 7 standard at the European level.

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Hagens Berman files class-action fuel economy and emissions lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler and Cummins over SCR defect in RAM 2500 and 3500 diesels

July 05, 2017

Class-action law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro has filed a new class-action lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler (FCA) and Cummins charging that the automaker knowingly sold more than 135,000 RAM 2500 and 3500 trucks over the past four model years equipped with a Cummins diesel engine with a defect in the selective catalytic converter (SCR) system used for NOx control. The defect leads to lower fuel economy, non EPA-compliant emissions levels, and costly and frequent vehicle repairs, the complaint charges.

According to the lawsuit, RAM owners report that efforts to fix the faulty emissions system significantly affect engine performance and mileage, with miles per gallon dropping as much as 25%. When the SCR system breaks down, the filter gets clogged, requiring more fuel to be injected to burn it off, according to the complaint. This reduces the truck's fuel economy, according to the complaint.

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European countries struggle to meet emission limits due to emissions from agriculture and transport

July 04, 2017

Eleven EU Member States breached air pollution ceilings in 2015 mostly due to high emissions from agricultural and transport sources, according to new data and a briefing released by the European Environment Agency (EEA). The briefing includes information on countries’ 2015 emissions and national ceilings for different pollutants.

Member States recently reported the first information under the new EU National Emission Ceilings (NEC) Directive (/2284/EU). The EEA briefing NEC Directive reporting status 2017, gives a progress update on how Member States are meeting their emission ceilings under the NEC Directive. The briefing also provides an assessment of the projected emissions reported for 2020 and 2030 in relation to the Member States’ reduction commitments for those years set in the new NEC Directive.

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IEA: improving efficiency of road-freight transport critical to reduce oil-demand growth; three areas of focus

July 03, 2017

Improving the efficiency of road-freight transport is critical to reducing the growth in oil demand, carbon emissions and air pollution over the next decades, according to the International Energy Agency’s latest report, The Future of Trucks: Implications for energy and the environment.

Although trucks are a major contributor to the growth in transport-fuel consumption and emissions, the sector receives far less attention and policy focus than passenger vehicles, the IEA noted. Only four countries have energy-efficiency standards for heavy trucks, compared with some 40 countries with passenger-vehicle standards. Yet the growth in oil demand from trucks has outpaced all other sectors—including passenger cars, aviation, industry and petrochemical feedstocks—since 2000 and contributed 40% to global oil demand growth, a similar contribution as cars.

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Lux Research: question is when--not if--a diesel ban will happen

Based on its analysis of government responses to the Volkswagen diesel scandal as well as to the ongoing publication of research highlighting the adverse effects of NOx and particulate matter on public health, Lux Research has concluded that the question is when—not if—a diesel ban will happen.

Lux Research compiled a non-exhaustive list of major global cities that have either called for a ban or are introducing restrictions to limit the number of diesel vehicles—a step we believes will eventually move towards a ban. The market research organization ranked each city on the likelihood of an eventual ban on diesel vehicles:

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China study finds associations between PM2.5 constituents and blood inflammation and coagulation

June 30, 2017

In a new study, a team from China has investigated the effects of various constituents of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) on blood inflammation and coagulation. The researchers found robust associations of the constituents—organic carbon (OC), elemental carbon (EC), nitrate (NO3), and ammonium (NH4+)—with at least 1 of 8 inflammatory markers.

On average, an interquartile range increase in the four PM constituents corresponded to increments of 50%, 37%, 25%, and 26% in inflammatory biomarkers, respectively. Only sulfate (SO42–) or NH4+ was robustly associated with coagulation markers (corresponding increments: 23% and 20%). A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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London launches $111M program to upgrade around 5000 older buses to Euro VI emissions standard

June 29, 2017

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, launched a £86.1-million (US$111 million) program to retrofit around 5,000 older buses with a new exhaust system that will upgrade the vehicles to Euro VI emissions standards. By September 2020 the entire bus fleet will be at least Euro VI standard, with the emissions from the retrofitte buses cut by up to 95%.

Transport for London (TfL) will work with bus operators and five chosen suppliers to install the new bespoke exhaust systems which will reduce nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. Diesel Particulate filters will also be installed alongside this Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) equipment to reduce air pollution.

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Study of 60M US seniors strengthens link between air pollution and premature death

A new study of 60 million Americans—about 97% of people age 65 and older in the United States—finds that long-term exposure to airborne fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone increases the risk of premature death, even when that exposure is at levels below the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) currently established by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers found that men, blacks, and low-income populations had higher risk estimates from PM2.5 exposure compared with the national average, with blacks having mortality risks three times higher than the national average.

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Study finds Neste renewable diesel significantly reduces PM emissions in off-road mobile machinery; lower number and mass

A study led by researchers at Tampere University of Technology in Finland found that the use of neat Neste MY Renewable Diesel in working machines—a Wille 355B compact utility machine and Wille 855C multi-purpose wheel-loader—efficiently reduces particulate matter emissions compared to EN590 diesel with 7% biodiesel. With renewable diesel, both the number of particles as well as particulate mass were reduced in nearly all of the operating cycles of the working machines.

Both machines were certified to European Stage IIIA standards for non-road mobile machinery (NRMM). The 2009 Wille 355B uses a 36 kW naturally aspirated engine; the 2014 Wille 855C uses a 97 kW common rail turbo with intercooler.

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LiquidPiston receives $3M Rapid Innovation Fund award from US Army for 2kW hybrid-electric genset

June 28, 2017

LiquidPiston, Inc. (LPI), a developer of advanced multi-fuel-capable rotary combustion engine technology, has been awarded a $3-million Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) award from the US Army to develop an innovative ultra-portable 2kW diesel Compact Artillery Power System (CAPS). The RIF process is extremely selective, with only five percent of whitepapers ultimately being selected for the award.

CAPS is a compact, lightweight, quiet, low-vibration and efficient hybrid-electric diesel generator set capable of supplying up to 2kW of electric power while running on Jet Propellant 8 (JP8) or diesel fuel. The CAPS Genset prototype objectives include less than 30 pounds (13.6 kg) (dry weight), 1.5 ft3 (bounding volume), and less than 60db at 7 meters. This is a 75% reduction in generator weight compared to the MEP-501A, the current 2kW JP8 generator in use today, which weighs 124 pounds (56.3 kg).

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UPS commits to aggressive goals for more alternative vehicles, fuel and renewable power by 2025

June 27, 2017

UPS announced new sustainability goals to add more alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles to its fleet while increasing its reliance on renewable energy sources. The goals, available in the company’s 2016 Corporate Sustainability Report, support UPS’ commitment to reduce its absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from global ground operations 12% by 2025, a goal developed using a methodology approved by the Science Based Targets initiative.

UPS has a goal that 25% of the electricity it consumes will come from renewable energy sources by 2025—a significant increase from the 0.2% in 2016. In addition, by 2020 UPS plans that one in four new vehicles purchased annually will be an alternative fuel or advanced technology vehicle, up from 16% in 2016. The company also set a new goal that by 2025, 40% of all ground fuel will be from sources other than conventional gasoline and diesel, an increase from 19.6% in 2016.

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Study finds anthropogenic PM and dust undercutting global solar energy production

According to a new study led by a team at Duke University, airborne particulate matter and dust are cutting solar photovoltaic energy output by more than 25% in certain parts of the world, with roughly equal contributions from ambient PM and PM deposited on photovoltaic surfaces. The regions hardest hit are also those investing the most in solar energy installations: China, India and the Arabian Peninsula. An open-access paper on the study appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

With colleagues at the Indian Institute of Technology-Gandhinagar (IITGN) and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Michael Bergin, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Duke University and lead author of the study, measured the decrease in solar energy gathered by the IITGN’s solar panels as they became dirtier over time. The data showed a 50% jump in efficiency each time the panels were cleaned after being left alone for several weeks.

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Stock-flow modeling suggests energy transition within transportation will take several decades

June 26, 2017

Using a stock-flow model based on data from Norway, a researcher at the country’s Institute of Transport Economics (TØI) has calculated the energy transition time lag for motor vehicles under a number of scenarios.

In his paper in the journal Energy Policy, Lasse Fridstrøm finds that in the most optimistic scenario for the energy transition affecting Norwegian registered vehicles, zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) would constitute 90% of the flow of new passenger cars in 2024; however, 90% penetration of ZEVs into the stock of passenger cars would not occur until 2039.

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Parker Aerospace offering lubrication, combustion, & thermal management systems to cut aircraft engine weight, fuel consumption, and emissions

June 24, 2017

Parker Aerospace, a business segment of Parker Hannifin Corporation is introducing technologies designed to enhance the efficiency of aerospace engines in the areas of lubrication, combustion, and thermal management systems.

Engine lubrication innovations include the first-time use of composite materials for engine lubrication reservoirs, deploying oil demister technology to reduce emissions, and the development of sophisticated test rigs to optimize engine lubrication systems. Among the Parker Aerospace innovations in engine combustion are ecology tanks, enhanced combustor and fuel atomization nozzle design, and flexible lines for fuel manifolds. Parker Aerospace is also developing highly efficient, low-profile thermal management equipment to save envelope and weight on the engine.

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Volvo Technology Award for wave piston design

June 23, 2017

The Volvo Group’s new truck engines are more fuel efficient as a result of their new piston design which adds waves to the piston crown to improve the use of oxygen. (Earlier post.) The engineers (John Gibble, Frank Löfskog, Michael Balthasar, and Jan Eismark) behind the innovation have now received the Volvo Technology Award 2017. The new wave design has now been patented.

In the case of a standard piston, the injector is located at the top of the cylinder and the fuel is sprayed toward the sides of the cylinder through a number of orifices in the injector. The combination of heat and pressure causes the fuel to ignite before it reaches the cylinder wall.

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CMU study finds SOA levels in cities like LA will remain high despite cleaner cars; nonlinear relationship between SOA and NOx

June 22, 2017

The findings of a study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, with colleagues at UC Berkeley, suggest that changing atmospheric NOx levels over the next two decades will likely significantly reduce the effectiveness of stricter new gasoline vehicle emissions standards in reducing concentrations of secondary organic aerosol (SOA). The study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Secondary organic aerosol is a major component of atmospheric fine particles, which negatively affect the human body and the earth’s climate. SOA production depends on both precursor concentrations (e.g., intermediate volatility organic compound (IVOC) emissions from vehicles) and atmospheric chemistry (SOA yields due to the photo-oxidation of exhaust). The study, led by CMU Professor Allen Robinson (earlier post), found a strongly nonlinear relationship between SOA formation and the ratio of non-methane organic gas to oxides of nitrogen (NOx) (NMOG:NOx). As an example, changing the NMOG:NOx from 4 to 10 ppbC/ppbNOx increased the SOA yield from dilute gasoline vehicle exhaust by a factor of 8.

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Baker Institute expert urges focus on larger light-duty trucks and SUVs to reduce gasoline use, emissions

June 20, 2017

Larger trucks and SUVs with powerful, high-displacement engines are the low-hanging fruit for any policymaker seeking the most efficient path to reducing gasoline use and the associated emissions, according to an issue brief by an expert in the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

The brief’s author, Gabriel Collins, the Baker Botts Fellow in Energy and Environmental Regulatory Affairs, suggests that capital investments focused on the larger vehicles Americans favor can most rapidly save the largest quantities of fuel and avoid more emissions at less cost.

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Volkswagen unveils the new Gen 6 Polo; standard start/stop and regeneration; 1.0 TGI natural gas engine

June 17, 2017

Volkswagen unveiled the new sixth-generation Polo at an event in Berlin. With more than 14 million units sold to date, the Polo is one of the world’s most successful compact cars. The sixth generation has a fully new sportier exterior design, and is bigger than its predecessor in every dimension.

In many parts of Europe the new Polo is due to launch before the year is out, with a number of Euro 6 engines being used phase by phase. The range of power output options at the start of sales will extend from 48 kW / 65 PS to 110 kW / 150 PS. For the first time, the Polo will be available with a natural gas engine—the newly developed 1.0 TGI with an output of 66 kW / 90 PS.

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CIEH criticizes UK gov for shifting air quality problem to local authorities, CAZ strategy; wants vehicle crackdown, more ZEVs, ULEVs

June 15, 2017

The UK’s Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has criticized the Government’s air quality plans for unfairly shifting the burden to solve the problem to local authorities, while abdicating themselves of responsibility.

The membership body for environmental health professionals released details of its submission to the Government’s consultation on plans to improve air quality in the UK. CIEH’s chief complaint is the Government has failed to recognize poor air quality is a national issue. CIEH asserts that solving air pollution in the UK requires action from central government rather than offloading responsibility onto local authorities, who are being set-up for failure if the proposed plans are to go ahead.

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European EAGLE project to develop gasoline engine with 50% peak efficiency; Renault to manufacture prototype

European researchers have launched a new project to obtain a gasoline engine at least 20% more efficient than current engines and adapted for future electrified powertrains. The EAGLE (Efficient Additivated Gasoline Lean Engine) European research project is led by the French research organization IFP Energies nouvelles, with the participation of eight partners from Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

The EAGLE project will combine and evaluate different advanced technologies to achieve its aim of developing an innovative engine able to deliver peak brake thermal efficiency of 50% while reducing particulate and NOx emissions and while using a conventional engine architecture. It will also reach real driving Euro 6 values with no conformity factor.

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Greaves and Pinnacle partner to launch opposed-piston gasoline/CNG lean burn engine for 3-wheelers

June 14, 2017

Greaves Cotton Limited, one of the leading engineering companies in India with core competencies in diesel and gasoline engines, farm equipment and gensets, and Pinnacle Engines, the developer of a high compression ratio, four-stroke, spark-ignited (SI), opposed-piston, sleeve-valve architecture engine (earlier post), announced a technology partnership for the launch of a novel opposed-piston gasoline/CNG lean burn BSVI-compliant engine for 3-wheelers in India. This will make India one of the lead markets to adopt this technology.

The Pinnacle engine architecture features low heat loss and low surface-area-to-volume in the combustion chamber, resulting in less energy loss, contributing to greater fuel efficiency. The Variable Compression Ratio (VCR) allows for reduced pumping work (PMEP) from de-throttling (increased air flow), reducing heat loss and knock resistance.

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ARB study compares in-use NOx emissions from diesel, hydraulic hybrid diesel and LNG refuse trucks

June 12, 2017

A team from the California Air Resources Board (ARB), in partnership with the City of Sacramento, has characterized the in-use emissions from model year (MY) 2010 or newer diesel, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and hydraulic hybrid diesel engines during real-world refuse truck operation. A paper on their study is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The team used a portable emissions measurement system (PEMS) to quantify the emissions from five trucks: two diesels equipped with selective catalytic reduction (SCR), two LNG’s equipped with three-way catalyst (TWC) and one hydraulic hybrid diesel equipped with SCR. The engines were certified to the MY 2010 (0.2 g NOx/bhp-hr) or interim MY 2010 (0.5 g NOx/bhp-hr) standard over typical refuse operation.

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Climeworks launches world’s first commercial plant to capture CO2 from air; potential for CO2-neutral fuels

June 09, 2017

Switzerland-based Climeworks, a spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH), recently launched the world’s first commercial plant that captures atmospheric CO2 for supply and sale to a customer. The Swiss direct air capture company—which has also partnered with Audi in that company’s e-fuels initiative (earlier post)—launched the commercial-scale Direct Air Capture (DAC) plant, featuring its patented technology that filters carbon dioxide from ambient air.

The plant is now supplying 900 tonnes of CO2 annually to a nearby greenhouse to help grow vegetables. The plant is a historic step for negative emissions technology—earmarked by the Paris climate agreement as being vital in the quest to limit a global temperature rise of 2 °C. Climeworks aims to capture 1% of global CO2 emissions by 2025.

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Ricardo study provides insights into lean, clean and RDE-compliant gasoline engine technologies

June 08, 2017

Gasoline engines can operate lean to improve fuel economy, potentially reducing CO2 emissions significantly. Further, advances in combustion development for gasoline have led to the potential for reduced engine-out NOx emissions for homogeneous lean operation compared to stratified lean operation. However, NOx emissions control at the tailpipe remains a major issue, as reducing NOx emissions is a significant challenge in an excess-oxygen environment. The conventional three-way catalyst (TWC) is thus not an option for lean gasoline exhaust conditions.

At the SIA Powertrain international conference and exhibition at Versailles this week, Ricardo engineers reported on a detailed simulation study to determine the applicability of different engine operating modes (stoichiometric, lean homogeneous and lean stratified) in meeting Euro 6d Real Driving Emissions (RDE) limits for gasoline engines using lean operation zones in C-segment applications.

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Study projects emission impacts of inexpensive, efficient EVs: 36% further reduction in LDV GHG by 2050, or 9% economy-wide

June 07, 2017

A new study by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder projects the emission impacts of the widespread introduction of inexpensive and efficient electric vehicles into the US light duty vehicle (LDV) sector. The work is reported in a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Under their optimistic scenario (OPT)—which is based on the assumption that EVs are market-competitive with gasoline vehicles, in particular after 2025—they find 15% and 47% adoption of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in 2030 and 2050, respectively. Compared to the reference case, in which gasoline vehicles (ICEVs) remain dominant through 2050 (BAU), OPT results in 16% and 36% reductions in LDV greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for 2030 and 2050, respectively, corresponding to 5% and 9% reductions in economy-wide emissions.

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Researchers use Google Street View cars for high-resolution air pollution mapping

Engineering researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and colleagues have demonstrated a measurement approach to for urban air pollution mapping at 4–5 orders of magnitude greater spatial precision than possible with current central-site ambient monitoring.

The team equipped two Google Street View vehicles with the fast-response Aclima Ei measurement and data acquisition platform and repeatedly sampled every street in a 30-km2 area of Oakland, CA, over the course of a year, developing the largest urban air quality data set of its type. The resulting maps of annual daytime NO, NO2, and black carbon at 30 m-scale revealed stable, persistent pollution patterns with “surprisingly” sharp small-scale variability attributable to local sources, up to 5–8× within individual city blocks. A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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UCLA, ARB, WVU measure on-road particle numbers for heavy-duty diesel and CNG trucks in California

June 03, 2017

In a new study, a team from UCLA, with colleagues from the California Air Resources Board (ARB) and West Virginia University, measured total particle number emission factors (PNEFs) from six newly certified heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) powered by diesel and CNG totaling over 6,800 miles of on-road operation in California. They calculated distance-, fuel- and work-based PNEFs for each vehicle. A paper describing their findings is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

They found that distance-based PNEFs of the vehicles equipped with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) diesel particulate filters (DPFs) in the study had decreased by 355–3,200 times compared to a previous retrofit DPF dynamometer study. Fuel-based PNEFs were consistent with previous studies measuring plume exhaust in the ambient air. On-road PNEFs showed route and technology dependence.

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New composite reduces rare earth element usage in three-way catalytic converters

June 02, 2017

The high-performance, three-way catalytic (TWC) converter is one of the workhorses of emissions reduction for gasoline engines. The TWC reduces NOx to nitrogen and oxygen; oxidizes CO to CO2, and oxidizes unburnt hydrocarbons to carbon CO2 and water. However, TWCs require the use of the rare-earth element Cerium (Ce), which is increasing in price and can suffer from supply problems.

Now, researchers at Kumamoto University in Japan, led by Professor Masato Machida, have developed a new composite material—a CeO2-grafted MnFeOy (CeO2/MnFeOy) as a substitute for the conventional CeO2 material in three-way catalysts. A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research.

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EU greenhouse gas emissions from transport increased for the second year in a row in 2015; on-road up 1.6%

Total European Union greenhouse gas emissions increased by 0.5% in 2015—the first annual increase since 2010—according to new European Environment Agency (EEA) data. Transport was a key reason for that increase: better fuel efficiency in that sector was not enough to counter the effects of an increasing demand for transport.

Higher emissions were caused mainly by increasing road transport, both passenger and freight, and slightly colder winter conditions in Europe, compared to 2014, leading to higher demand for heating. Gains in the fuel efficiency of new vehicles and aircrafts were not enough to offset the additional emissions caused by a higher demand in both passenger and goods transport. Road transport emissions—about 20% of total EU greenhouse gas emissions—increased for the second year in a row in 2015, by 1.6%. Emissions from aviation, representing about 4% of the EU total emissions, increased by 3.3% in 2015.

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Study finds air quality models significantly underestimate traffic as source of NOx in Europe

June 01, 2017

Traffic contributes more to NOx emissions in Europe than previously thought, according to a new study by a team at the University of Innsbruck. Using urban eddy covariance measurements, the researchers found that traffic-related NOx emissions in current operational air quality models can be significantly underestimated by up to a factor of 4 across countries with a sizeable fraction of diesel-powered cars in their fleet. An open-access paper on their work appears in Scientific Reports.

Large metropolitan areas throughout Europe consistently breach maximum permissible values of NOx; furthermore, this phenomenon appears to be spreading, with many smaller scale cities and towns—including their surrounding rural areas—seeing frequent NO2 concentration violations, the researchers noted.

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UK Government awards more than US$141M to 38 driverless and low carbon vehicle projects

The UK Government recently awarded £109.7 million (US$141 million) of government funding, alongside significant funding from industry, to help develop the next generation of driverless and low-carbon vehicles, as part of the Industrial Strategy and the government’s Plan for Britain.

The awards are divided between funding from the Advanced Propulsion Center (APC) – 7 projects with support up to £62 million (US$80 million); the Office for Low Emissions Vehicles (OLEV) – 7 projects with support up to £16.7 million (US$21.5 million); and the second round of the connected autonomous vehicles competition (CAV2) – 24 projects with support up to £31 million (US$40 million).

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CPT, TU Wien study finds 48V mild diesel hybrid cuts engine-out NOx 9%, 4.5% fuel economy improvement

May 31, 2017

A joint study by Controlled Power Technologies (CPT) and Austria’s Technische Universität Wien (TU Wien) into 48V diesel mild hybrid technology verified a 9% reduction of NOxin raw engine-out emissions, while retaining the fuel economy and CO2 benefits of diesel engine technology.

The cost effectiveness of this approach is further underscored by its impact on lean NOx trap (LNT) and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) aftertreatment systems, which have less raw NOx emissions to process, potentially allowing for a reduction in exhaust system cost and complexity, and a longer service life.

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Study finds POMDME-diesel blends cut soot up to 34% with no NOx increase

A study by a team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Aerothermochemistry and Combustion Systems Laboratory and the University of Kaiserslautern (Germany) has found that blends comprising poly (oxymethylene) dimethyl ethers (POMDME) and diesel show a significant reduction in soot emissions of up to to 34% with no significant increase in NOx.

The team examined blends of 5% and 10% POMDME in diesel in a single-cylinder heavy-duty diesel engine to gain an overview of the blend’s impact on engine performance and exhaust emissions. A paper on their work appears in the journal Fuel.

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Loughborough team develops novel system to enhance SCR operation to reduce NOx further

Researchers at Loughborough University in the UK have developed a novel system that enhances SCR operation to further reduce NOx emissions and improve diesel engine efficiency.

The Ammonia Creation and Conversion Technology (ACCT) created by academics from the University’s School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering effectively increases the capacity of existing on-engine aftertreatment systems.

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First liquid nitrogen hybrid bus completes trials; HORIBA MIRA and Dearman

May 30, 2017

A hybrid bus that runs on both diesel and liquid nitrogen has completed a series of trials to bring it one step closer to the road. The hybrid bus—CE Power—is the first to be powered by liquid nitrogen and has been built by engineers at HORIBA MIRA as part of an Innovate UK consortium.

The bus utilizes alternative propulsion to address urban air pollution challenges and features a high-efficiency, zero-emission Dearman Engine (earlier post), powered by liquid nitrogen, alongside a conventional diesel engine. The hybrid system enables the bus to reduce noxious tail-pipe emissions, improving local air quality.

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KAUST team develops computational model for simulating soot production in gasoline direct injection engines

Researchers at KAUST have developed a computational model capable of simulating soot production inside gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines.

Although today’s passenger vehicle engines are cleaner and more fuel efficient, GDI exhaust can still contain significant numbers of nanoscopic soot particles that are small enough to penetrate the lungs and bloodstream. This new computer model could help car makers improve their engines to cut soot formation.

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Study links PM2.5 pollution to heart damage

May 26, 2017

Research presented at the annual CMR (cardiovascular magnetic resonance) imaging conference of the European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging (EACVI) links PM2.5 pollution to heart damage. Among the sources of urban PM2.5 are diesel and gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines (earlier post).

There is strong evidence that particulate matter (PM) from road vehicles is associated with increased risk of heart attack, heart failure, and death, said lead author Dr. Nay Aung, a cardiologist and Wellcome Trust research fellow, William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London, UK. “This appears to be driven by an inflammatory response—inhalation of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) causes localized inflammation of the lungs followed by a more systemic inflammation affecting the whole body.

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International team uncovers mechanisms of VW, Fiat software defeat device code

May 24, 2017

An international team of researchers has uncovered the mechanisms of two families of software defeat devices for diesel engines: one used by the Volkswagen Group to pass emissions tests in the US and Europe, and a second found in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. To carry out the analysis, the team developed new static analysis firmware forensics techniques necessary automatically to identify defeat devices and confirm their function.

After testing some 900 firmware images, the researchers were able to detect a potential defeat device in more than 400 firmware images spanning eight years. Both the Volkswagen and Fiat vehicles use the EDC17 diesel ECU manufactured by Bosch, the researchers noted. Using a combination of manual reverse engineering of binary firmware images and insights obtained from manufacturer technical documentation traded in the performance tuner community, the researchers identified the defeat devices used, how the devices inferred when the vehicle was under test, and how that inference was used to change engine behavior. “Notably,” the team wrote in a paper presented at the 38th IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy this week, “we find strong evidence that both defeat devices were created by Bosch and then enabled by Volkswagen and Fiat for their respective vehicles.

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Swiss team concludes that particulate filters should be mandatory for GDI engines

Based on a three-year study of toxic and environmentally relevant pollutants from gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines, Swiss researchers have concluded that some GDI engines emit just as many soot particles as unfiltered diesel cars did in the past. Further, the GDI particles carry numerous carcinogenic substances. Based on this current data, they recommend that particulate filters be mandatory for GDI engines.

In the spring 2014, the GasOMeP project (Gasoline Vehicle Emission Control for Organic, Metallic and Particulate Non-Legislative Pollutants) got underway. The Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), Bern University of Applied Sciences, the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, several industrial partners and Empa were all involved. The project was funded by the ETH Domain’s Competence Center for Energy and Mobility (CCEM) and coordinated by Empa chemist Norbert Heeb, who has made a name for himself in the last 25 years by analyzing diesel emissions and studying filter systems.

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US sues Fiat Chrysler over diesel emissions

May 23, 2017

The Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the US Department of Justice (DOJ-ENRD) has filed a lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler for using software defeat devices in nearly 104,000 Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles (Model Years 2014-2016) with 3.0-liter diesel engines.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had issued a notice of violation (NOV) to FCA over the alleged violations of the Clean Air Act in January 2017. (Earlier post.) The undisclosed engine management software results in increased NOx emissions from the vehicles, EPA said. Since then, FCA US has been working with the EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), including extensive testing of the vehicles, to clarify issues related to the emissions control technology.

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Researchers show mechanism by which diesel exhaust particles trigger respiratory “flare-ups”

Researchers at Imperial College London, working with colleagues from King’s College London and University of British Columbia, have demonstrated a mechanism by which diesel exhaust particles directly affect the lungs to initiate symptoms such as a tightening of the airways and cough. These triggered respiratory reflexes can potentially worsen underlying conditions, such as asthma.

Previous research has shown a strong association between urban air pollution and respiratory symptoms such as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, but the underlying mechanism has been unclear. In the study, published as an open-access paper in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the team showed that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the exhaust particles directly stimulate nerves in the lungs, causing a reflex response in the airways.

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European Commission opens infringement procedure against Italy over insufficient action on Fiat Chrysler emission control strategies

May 18, 2017

The European Commission has launched an infringement procedure against Italy for failure to fulfil its obligations under EU vehicle type-approval legislation with regards to Fiat Chrysler (FCA) automobiles. The Commission sent a letter of formal notice asking Italy to respond to concerns about insufficient action taken regarding the emission control strategies employed by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles group (FCA).

Under current EU law, national authorities are responsible for checking that a car type meets all EU standards before individual cars can be sold on the Single Market. When a car manufacturer breaches the legal requirements, national authorities must take corrective action (such as ordering a recall) and apply effective, dissuasive and proportionate penalties laid out in national legislation.

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European PaREGEn project targeting improved gasoline direct-injection fuel-efficiency and reduced particle emissions

European partners last October launched the 36-month, €12.1-million (US$13.5-million) Particle Reduced, Efficient Gasoline Engines (PaREGEn) project. Supported with €9.95 million (US$11.1 million) of EC funding, the PaREGEn project seeks to demonstrate, at up to TRL 7, a new generation of gasoline direct-injection engined mid- to premium-sized passenger vehicles achieving a 15% reduction in CO2 emissions through the optimal combination of advanced engine and robust aftertreatment technologies.

The vehicles will also comply with upcoming Euro 6 RDE limits with particle number emissions measured to a ⌀ 10 nm threshold. Ricardo is coordinating the research initiative as part of a 16-partner consortium, representing all sectors of the European automotive industry.

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Federal court approves $225M settlement in VW 3.0L diesel case; California receives $66M plus two new VW ZEV models

The Volkswagen Group will pay $225 million, including $66 million to California, for harm resulting from the sale of its 3.0-liter diesel passenger cars that included emissions control “defeat devices,” under partial Consent Decrees (earlier post) approved by a Federal court.

In addition, VW will contribute to California’s ZEV market by introducing two new ZEV models, plus the electric e-Golf, or its replacement, by 2019. One of those new vehicles must be an electric SUV. The company will also introduce a second SUV by 2020. It must collectively sell at least 35,000 of these various ZEV models between 2019 and 2025.

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FEV study finds optimizing engine for renewable diesel use reduces fuel consumption and emissions

May 17, 2017

A recent study conducted by engineering company FEV, commissioned by Neste Corporation, a leading global producer of renewable diesel, shows that modifying and optimizing engine control parameters to work optimally with pure HVO-type (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) renewable diesel—such as Neste MY Renewable Diesel—offers as-yet untapped potential to reduce fuel consumption, CO2 and other regulated emissions.

Neste Renewable Diesel has already been shown to be able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% on a full lifecycle basis compared to conventional fossil diesel. The FEV study showed that depending on the test cycle, optimizing engine control parameters for pure Neste MY Renewable Diesel can result in:

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New international study finds lab testing of diesel NOx emissions underestimates real-world levels by up to 50%

May 15, 2017

A new international study has found that laboratory tests of nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel vehicles significantly underestimate the real-world emissions by as much as 50%. A paper on the work is published in the journal Nature.

The research, led by the International Council on Clean Transportation and Environmental Health Analytics, LLC., in collaboration with scientists at the University of York’s Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI); University of Colorado; and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, assessed 30 studies of vehicle emissions under real-world driving conditions in 11 major vehicle markets representing 80% of new diesel vehicle sales in 2015. Those markets include Australia; Brazil; Canada; China; the European Union; India; Japan; Mexico; Russia; South Korea; and the United States.

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Study finds fleet switch from PFI to GDI engines will result in net reduction in global warming

May 12, 2017

A new study quantifying emissions from a fleet of gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines and port fuel injection (PFI) engines finds that the measured decrease in CO2 emissions from GDIs is much greater than the potential climate forcing associated with higher black carbon emissions from GDI engines. Thus, the researchers concluded, switching from PFI to GDI vehicles will likely lead to a reduction in net global warming.

The study, by a team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, University of Georgia, Aerodyne Research, California Air Resources Board (ARB), Ohio State University, UC Berkeley, and UC San Diego is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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Alberta Innovates & NRCan awarding $26.2M to three oil sands clean tech projects; industry kicking in $43.3M

Alberta Innovates has teamed up with Natural Resources (NRCan) and industry partners to take three clean oil sands technologies to commercial demonstration. This announcement is a result of NRCan’s Oil and Gas Clean Tech Program. NRCan is contributing $21 million and Alberta Innovates is investing $5.2 million, for a total of $26.2 million over two years.

The three industry partners, Cenovus Energy, Field Upgrading, and MEG Energy are investing $43.3 million in commercial demonstration in the three projects intended to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of bitumen production and upgrading.

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New light-driven photo-electrochemical cell produces hydrogen from contaminated gas, including air

May 08, 2017

Researchers from the University of Antwerp and KU Leuven (University of Leuven), Belgium, have developed an all-gas-phase solid and stand-alone photo-electrochemical (PEC) cell that produces hydrogen gas from volatile organic contaminated air and light. The device recovers part of the energy stored in airborne organic pollutants by the production of hydrogen, while mineralizing the contaminants to less harmful CO2.

The PEC degrades organic contaminants and snd produces the hydrogen gas—without applying any external bias—in separate electrode compartments. Oxidation of volatile organic compounds (VOC) occurs at the photo-anode, while hydrogen is produced at the (dark) cathode on the opposite side of a proton-conducting solid electrolyte membrane. A paper on the work is published in the journal ChemSusChem.

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IAV develops new close-coupled diesel exhaust gas aftertreatment system for improved emissions reduction

IAV has developed a particularly closed-coupled diesel exhaust gas aftertreatment (EAT) system. The design allows the diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) and particular filter/selective catalytic reduction (DPF/SCR) units to reach optimum working temperature more quickly which, even when driving in the low-load range, significantly cuts emissions.

Under the EU6 standard, diesel engines are still allowed to emit up to 80 mg NOx/km milligrams of nitrogen oxides per kilometer—not only under the legal framework in the cycle but also in respect of increasingly tighter RDE requirements. Future diesel powertrains will need to be capable of meeting limit values that are even tighter than EU6.

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ICCT study examines current & projected use of heavy fuel oil in Arctic shipping; growth in BC emissions points to need for policies

A new study by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) estimates heavy fuel oil (HFO) use, HFO carriage, the use and carriage of other fuels, black carbon (BC) emissions, and emissions of other air and climate pollutants for the year 2015, with projections to 2020 and 2025.

According to the report, potentially large increases in BC emissions may occur in the Arctic, further exacerbating warming, if ships are diverted from the Panama and Suez canals to take advantage of shorter routes to and from Asia, Europe, and North America. If even a small percentage (1%–2%) of large cargo vessels are diverted from the Panama and Suez Canals through the Arctic over the next decade, BC emissions could rise significantly—jumping up to 46% from 2015 to 2025.

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Optimizing Fume Control for Robotic Welding

May 05, 2017

By Craig Widtfeldt, RoboVent

The automotive industry has made tremendous progress towards greener, more sustainable manufacturing processes. But how green are robotic welding cells?

Robotic welding, by its nature, produces large volumes of toxic fumes that are dangerous to both human health and the environment. Manufacturers engaged in robotic welding of automotive parts must have an effective air quality system in place to meet OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulations. If these systems are not well designed, manufacturers may be wasting energy and putting their plant out of environmental compliance. Here are five steps to make the air quality systems more energy efficient and sustainable.

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US EPA settles with three trucking companies over California diesel rule; $201K in penalties

The Environmental Protection Agency announced settlements with three companies totaling $201,000 in penalties for violating California’s Truck and Bus Regulation. The companies either failed to install particulate filters on their own heavy-duty diesel trucks or failed to verify that trucks they hired for use in California complied with the state rule.

The California Truck and Bus Regulation was adopted into federal Clean Air Act plan requirements in 2012 and applies to diesel trucks and buses operating in California. (Earlier post.) The rule requires trucking companies to upgrade vehicles they own to meet specific NOx and particulate matter performance standards and also requires trucking companies to verify compliance of vehicles they hire or dispatch. Heavy-duty diesel trucks in California must meet 2010 engine emissions levels or use diesel particulate filters that can reduce the emissions of diesel particulates into the atmosphere by 85% or more.

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Singapore Airlines & CAAS partner on “Green Package” flights; biofuels, optimized operations and fuel-efficient A350-950

May 04, 2017

Singapore Airlines (SIA), in partnership with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), has started operating a series of 12 “green package” flights over a three-month period on its non-stop San Francisco-Singapore route. The green package flights are the first to combine the use of biofuels, fuel-efficient aircraft—SIA’s Airbus A350-900—and optimized flight operations. CAAS is facilitating the use of optimized flight operations and Air Traffic Management (ATM) best practices which reduce fuel burn and carbon emissions for the flights.

The first of the 12 flights, SQ31, departed San Francisco at 1121hrs (San Francisco Time) on 1 May 2017 and arrived in Singapore at 1910 hrs (Singapore Time) on 2 May with 206 passengers on board. Over the three-month period, flight SQ31 will be powered by a combination of HEFA (Hydro-processed Esters and Fatty Acids), a sustainable biofuel produced from used cooking oils, and conventional jet fuel. The biofuel, produced by AltAir Fuels, will be supplied and delivered to San Francisco by SkyNRG in collaboration with North American Fuel Corporation (NAFCO), a wholly owned subsidiary of China Aviation Oil (Singapore), and EPIC Fuels.

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Delphi to spin off powertrain segment as new independent company

May 03, 2017

Delphi Automotive PLC intends to execute a tax-free spin-off of its Powertrain Systems segment into a new, independent publicly traded company (“Powertrain”). Immediately following the transaction, which is expected to be completed by March 2018, Delphi shareholders will own shares of both companies: Delphi Automotive with its Electrical/Electronic Architecture and Electronics & Safety businesses and Powertrain.

The convergence of technologies underpinning industry megatrends is driving greater demand for advanced electronics and increased computing power to meet consumer preferences for more safety, efficiency, and connectivity. At the same time, regulations for emissions and fuel economy are becoming increasingly stringent globally, requiring advanced engine management and electrification systems to enhance vehicle performance and meet customer demand. Kevin Clark, president and CEO of Delphi Automotive, said that the change will create two independent companies, each with a distinct product focus, a proven business model, and the flexibility to pursue accelerated investments in advanced technologies.

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Kenworth developing hydrogen fuel cell, Near Zero NOx CNG series hybrid Class 8 prototypes for SoCal ports; CNG hybrids

Kenworth continues its advancements on low/zero emission projects focused on Kenworth T680 day cabs for drayage tractor operation in Southern California ports, which are backed by $9 million in government grants awarded last August.

Kenworth is developing a prototype Class 8 hydrogen fuel cell tractor, using the Ballard Power Systems fuel cell to recharge the battery pack. The hydrogen fuel cell series hybrid T680 day cab tractor uses lithium-ion batteries to power a dual-rotor electric motor, driving the rear tandem axle through a 4-speed automated transmission. Kenworth’s hydrogen truck is expected to be ready for initial track and on-road testing in the fourth quarter of this year.

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Cummins Westport announces MY 2018 natural gas engine line-up; near zero NOx

May 01, 2017

Cummins Westport (CWI) announced its model year 2018 dedicated natural gas engines for regional haul truck / tractor, vocational and transit, school bus, and refuse applications at the Alternative Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo in Long Beach, California. The new lineup comes with a change in names, following Cummins tradition of using B, L, and X series letters, followed by engine displacement. The letter “N” denotes engines that are fueled by natural gas.

The new B6.7N, L9N, and ISX12N engines feature Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (ARB) Optional Low NOx certification, On-Board Diagnostics (OBD), Closed Crankcase Ventilation (CCV) systems, and performance and reliability improvements. (Earlier post.) The new ISX12N features a redesigned fuel system with fewer parts and improved performance.

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Schaeffler highlights latest version of UniAir electrohydraulic valve control at Vienna

April 28, 2017

At the Vienna Motor Symposium, Schaeffler is highlighting the latest generation of its UniAir fully-variable electrohydraulic valve control system, first introduced in volume production in 2009. The latest generation of UniAir also now allows vehicles in the upper-class automobile market to operate more economically and with lower emissions.

UniAir controls the engine valves based on cycles and offers an extended range of strategic options for matching engine operation to specific situations and requirements. This technology makes it possible to achieve significant reductions in fuel consumption and emissions, as well as a significant improvement in torque curves. By using UniAir, customized operating strategies for modern combustion processes, such as the Miller and Atkinson cycles, can also be realized in accordance with customer requirements.

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FTA announces $55M for FY 2017 Low-No funding

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the availability of $55 million of Fiscal Year 2017 funds (FTA-2017-003-TPM-LowNo) for the purchase or lease of low- or no-emission vehicles as well as related equipment or facilities (Low-No). Only $31.5 million is available under the Continuing Resolution that expires on 28 April 28 2017.

The main purpose of the Low-No Program is to support the transition of the US transit fleet to the lowest polluting and most energy efficient transit vehicles. The Low-No Program provides funding to State and local governmental authorities for the purchase or lease of zero-emission and low-emission transit buses, including acquisition, construction, and leasing of required supporting facilities.

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California Assembly weighing integrating air pollution performance into GHG cap-and-trade

April 27, 2017

The California Assembly is considering a bill (AB-378) that would integrate air quality performance into the state’s greenhouse-gas (GHG) cap-and- trade program. Assembly Bill 378 was proposed by by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, who heads the Assembly’s Committee on Natural Resources. CNR passed the proposal on Monday.

This bill creates a framework for grading industrial facilities’ air quality performance and creating a uniform air pollution standard that facilities must meet to receive allocation of free allowances from the California Air Resources Board (ARB) beginning in 2021.

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New study shows that inhaled nanoparticles can travel into the blood and accumulate

April 26, 2017

A study by researchers from the University of Edinburgh and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands has found that nanoparticles, such as those found in air pollution, can travel into the blood and accumulate in diseased blood vessels. The study, published in the journal ACS Nano, suggests that air pollution nanoparticles are able to get into the bloodstream to cause heart disease.

This research shows for the first time that inhaled nanoparticles can gain access to the blood in healthy individuals and people at risk of stroke. These nanoparticles tend to build-up in diseased blood vessels where they could worsen coronary heart disease—the cause of a heart attack.

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Continental Powertrain: dual focus on electrification and efficient ICE; boosting electric drive spending by €300M by 2021

Continental’s Powertrain division is strategically focused on two parallel efforts. The first is the full value creation from the growing demand for the most efficient combustion engine technologies that also deliver the lowest emissions. The second is to benefit from the prospective growth in environmentally friendly, electrified and fully electric drive systems.

Continental will spend an additional €300 million (US$327 million) on its business with electric drives alone by 2021. This step, as well as additional plans, are part of the new global “Powertrain Strategy 2020+”.

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Continental showcases “Super Clean Electrified” connected, optimized 48V mild hybrid diesel; post-Eu6d

April 25, 2017

At the 38th International Vienna Motor Symposium this week, Continental is showcasing a 48-volt hybrid diesel vehicle which meets very stringent RDE (real driving emissions) limits on CO2 and NOx. The Continental Super-Clean Electrified Diesel combines electrification-based engine optimization and an electrically heated catalyst integrated in the exhaust aftertreatment system to achieve a 60% reduction in real-world NONOxx emissions and a simultaneous 2% reduction in CO2 emissions measured against the baseline Euro 6b vehicle.

The first 48-volt diesel hybrid has already gone into production in Europe, and a second production launch is already in the pipeline for 2017.

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Air Canada to operate biofuel flights in support of environmental research on contrails and emissions

April 24, 2017

Air Canada is participating in the Civil Aviation Alternate Fuel Contrail and Emissions Research project (CAAFCER), a research project led by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) to test the environmental benefits of biofuel use on contrails.

This project will use advanced sensing equipment mounted on a research aircraft operated by the NRC to measure the impact of biofuel blends on contrail formation by aircraft on five biofuel flights operated by Air Canada between Montreal and Toronto in the coming days, weather permitting. During these flights the National Research Council of Canada will trail the Air Canada aircraft with a modified T-33 research jet to sample and test the contrail biofuel emissions. The sustainable biofuel is produced by AltAir Fuels from used cooking oil and supplied by SkyNRG.

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Clemson research developing integrated modeling and control systems to reduce particulates from GDI engines

April 21, 2017

Simona Onori, an assistant professor at Clemson University, has received a $500,000 Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation to advance her work to develop integrated modeling and control for aftertreatment systems to reduce fine-particle emissions from gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines.

GDI engines now account for about 60% of the US market, and their use worldwide is forecast to grow. GDI engines have better fuel economy and lower carbon-dioxide emissions than more conventional port fuel injection engines; however, the technology results in higher fine-particle emissions. The research Onori and her team are doing focuses on gasoline particulate filters (GPF). While the dynamics of diesel engine particulate filters (DPF) are well understood, particulates produced in GDI engines have substantially different characteristics.

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California ARB petitions US EPA for “Tier 5” stricter locomotive emissions standards

April 14, 2017

In an effort to accelerate the movement to zero- or near-zero emission locomotives, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) has petitioned the US EPA take action to adopt more stringent emission standards for locomotives. These new standards are to include standards for newly manufactured locomotives (which ARB refers to as “Tier 5”), and a new standard for Tier 4 locomotives upon remanufacture.

ARB is also requesting new remanufacturing standards equal to or more stringent than current Tier 4 emission levels for Tier 2 and 3 locomotive engines. ARB Chair Mary Nichols said the moves are needed to clean up the air in “high-risk” communities in and around the nation’s railyards.

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Elemental boron effective photothermocatalyst for the conversion of CO2 for fuels and chemicals

April 11, 2017

Researchers in Japan and China developed an efficient method for CO2 reduction over elemental boron catalysts in the presence of only water and light irradiation through a photothermocatalytic process. This could form the basis of a new, more efficient process for converting the greenhouse gas CO2 into a useful carbon source for the production of fuels and chemical products.

The “self-heating” boron catalyst makes particularly efficient use of sunlight to reduce CO2, serving as a light harvester, photothermal converter, hydrogen generator, and catalyst in one. A paper on their work is published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

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MIT Energy Initiative launches 3-year study on future of transportation; technology, fuel, infrastructure, policy, and consumer preference

As part of MIT’s five-year Plan for Action on Climate Change, the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) has launched a major study—“Mobility of the Future”—to explore how consumers and markets will respond to potentially disruptive technologies, business models, and government policies. The scope of this study is ground transportation with an emphasis on the movement of people.

There are many potentially disruptive forces at work in the mobility space, all of which could shape the landscape. MITEI has organized a multidisciplinary team from across MIT to examine the complex interactions among these elements and their implications for the future.

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ICCT: alternative jet fuels unlikely to deliver the bulk of GHG emission reductions needed by aviation

April 10, 2017

A new study by a team at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has concluded that the large-scale deployment of alternative jet fuels (AJFs) and the ability of the aviation sector to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through their use will be capped by a number of factors: the sustainability and availability of feedstock; the production cost; and the extent to which those fuels will be commercialized.

Based on the study, the ICCT team suggests that while the use of AJFs can deliver some GHG savings, it is unlikely that AJF alone can meet the bulk of the GHG reductions projected to be needed. The authors recommended that ICAO stipulate a GHG reduction threshold in order for a given AJF to qualify under CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation), and to include indirect emissions in its life-cycle accounting.

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GM, Ford R&D execs stress importance of improved, advanced fuels for future engine efficiency gains, GHG goals

April 03, 2017

In separate presentations at the 2017 SAE High Efficiency IC Engine Symposium in Detroit, R&D executives from GM and Ford each stressed the importance of improved, advanced fuels—among other technology developments—for their future engine efficiency gains and for long-term CO2 emissions goals.

David Brooks, Director for General Motors Global Propulsion Systems R&D located in Pontiac, gave a more medium-term perspective, emphasizing a pragmatic approach toward reducing CO2 with an eye to 2025. Meeting regulatory targets while keeping vehicles affordable will require the synergistic integration of fuels and engine technologies, he noted.

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For Greener Manufacturing, Think IAQ

by Craig Widtfeldt, RoboVent

The next generation of cars will be cleaner and greener than ever—but a lot of the manufacturing processes that go into them are still pretty dirty. From the frame to the muffler, automotive manufacturing still involves welding, cutting, grinding and machining. These processes can create problems for indoor air quality (IAQ) and hurt your sustainability metrics.

The Problem with Particulates. Welding, cutting, grinding and machining all create particulates with varying levels of toxicity. These particulates have serious health impacts if not controlled in the factory environment. If they are vented to the outdoors, there are also environmental issues to consider. Controlling toxic particulates from manufacturing processes is one of the most important things auto manufacturers can do to improve their sustainability and protect their workers.

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Study finds vehicles more important source of urban atmospheric ammonia than farms

March 31, 2017

Vehicle tailpipes are a more important source of ammonia’s contribution to urban air pollution than is agriculture, according to a study by researchers from the US and China. The paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Atmospheric ammonia (NH3) reacts with nitric and sulfuric acids to form nitrate and sulfate aerosols, a key component of fine particulate matter (PM2.5). About 80% of airborne ammonia comes from farming practices such as fertilization, so it seems a likely suspect for the ammonia in haze particles to come from plumes of large farms and then be transported to urban centers. Instead, the research team found that ammonia emissions from cities are much larger than recognized, occur at the very times when unhealthy particulate matter is at its worst, and when agricultural emissions are at daily or seasonal lows.

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Ricardo developing advanced simultation capability for IMPERIUM project for HD emissions reductions

Current state-of-the-art heavy duty diesel engines are both highly efficient and offer low emissions. However, in real-world driving, fuel efficiency and emissions aftertreatment technologies interact with each other and also vary according to the vehicle application, its prevailing operating conditions and its mission.

The IMPERIUM project (IMplementation of Powertrain control for Economic, low Real driving emIssions and fuel ConsUMption) is a major EU-funded research initiative (€10 million total, €6.6 million from the EU) comprising a total of 17 industrial and academic partners. The main objective of the project is to reduce fuel consumption by 20% (diesel and urea) against the project’s 2014 Euro VI baseline vehicle, while keeping the vehicle within the legal limits for pollutant emissions.

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London and Paris launch car scoring initiative based on real-world emissions; ICCT the technical lead

March 29, 2017

Mayor of Paris and Chair of C40 Cities Anne Hidalgo and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced they are working together to create schemes to score new cars based on their real-world emissions and their impact on air quality and to provide that data in an accurate and accessible form to the public. Other cities have committed to work with the C40 Cities toward adoption of similar schemes.

The initiative announced today by Paris and London is supported by The Real Urban Emissions (TRUE) Project, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the FIA Foundation, and the Joshua and Anita Bekenstein Charitable Fund. This new undertaking will capture detailed information on pollutants from vehicle exhaust using remote-sensing equipment and portable emissions monitoring systems. The ICCT will be the lead technical organizational partner managing vehicle testing and data analysis in the TRUE Project.

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National Academies report finds EPA’s controlled human exposure studies of air pollution are warranted

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carries out controlled human inhalation exposure (CHIE) studies in which volunteer participants agree to be intentionally exposed by inhalation to specific pollutants at restricted concentrations over short periods to obtain important information about the effects of outdoor air pollution on human health.

A new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine finds these studies are warranted and recommends that they continue under two conditions: when they provide additional knowledge that informs policy decisions and regulation of pollutants that cannot be obtained by other means; and when it is reasonably predictable that the risks for study participants will not exceed biomarker or physiologic responses that are of short duration and reversible.

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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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