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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.]

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

November 28, 2015

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

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

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

November 25, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 24, 2015

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

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

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

November 23, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 21, 2015

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

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

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

November 18, 2015

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

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

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

November 16, 2015

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

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

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

November 14, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 12, 2015

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

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

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

November 09, 2015

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

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

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

November 08, 2015

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

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

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

November 02, 2015

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

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

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

October 23, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 21, 2015

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

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

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

October 20, 2015

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

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

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SwRI to launch 7th clean diesel engine consortium

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

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

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

October 19, 2015

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

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

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

October 17, 2015

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

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

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

October 13, 2015

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

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

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

October 12, 2015

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

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

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

October 10, 2015

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

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

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

October 09, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 08, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 07, 2015

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

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

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

October 06, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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Freudenberg-NOK wins first regular-production order for dry gas-lubricated frictionless engine seals

October 05, 2015

Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies (Freudenberg-NOK) has won its first major order for its new generation of dry gas-lubricated automotive seals—a first in the automotive market. The frictionless Levitex seals, a subject of the company’s research for years, will go into an engine for a global platform in 2017. The new seals function with a cushion of air, reducing both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. CO2 reductions can be as high as 1 gram per kilometer driven.

Freudenberg-NOK initially will produce Levitex seals in Europe, although the company plans to expand product into North America in the future as customer demand grows.

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ARB posts discussion draft of new proposed mobile-source emissions reduction strategy through 2030; Advanced Clean Cars 2 regulation

October 02, 2015

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff has published a discussion draft of a proposed strategy for further regulation and reduction of mobile source—cars, trucks, and off-road equipment—emissions. The approach described is designed to meet simultaneously federal air quality standards; achieve greenhouse gas emission reduction targets; reduce petroleum consumption; and decrease health risk from transportation sources through 2030.

ARB staff developed this strategy using a multi-pollutant scenario planning tool (Vision 2.0) that quantifies changes in ozone and PM2.5 precursor emissions; GHG emissions; petroleum usage; and diesel toxics emissions as various technologies become widespread in vehicle and equipment fleets.

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VW says complete investigation of emissions scandal will take several months; suspending General Meeting in November; report on solutions next week

In a statement issued following its meeting on 30 September the Executive Committee of Volkswagen AG’s Supervisory Board said that it has concluded that the completion of investigations into the emissions testing scandal will take at least several months.

For this reason, the Executive Committee will propose to the Supervisory Board that the Extraordinary General Meeting scheduled for 9 November should not be held. The Executive Committee Members all agreed that, in view of the time available and the matters to be considered, it would not be realistic to provide well-founded answers which would fulfill the shareholder’s justified expectations.

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Volkswagen of America CEO to testify before House Subcommittee next week on emissions affair; request for all related documents

As part of its ongoing investigation into Volkswagen’s emissions issues, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce has scheduled a hearing for Thursday, 8 October. The hearing is entitled, “Volkswagen’s Emissions Cheating Allegations: Initial Questions.”

Volkswagen Group of America President and CEO Michael Horn and the Environmental Protection Agency are scheduled to testify as the subcommittee investigates Volkswagen’s alleged efforts to circumvent emissions requirements for certain models of diesel engine passenger vehicles. Members are working to understand the facts and circumstances surrounding Volkswagen’s reported Clean Air Act violations and what they mean for consumers and the general public.

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EPA tightens ground-level ozone standard to 70 ppb

October 01, 2015

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its final rule revising the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone to 70 parts per billion (ppb) from 75 ppb to protect public health. Ground-level ozone forms when nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) react in the air.

EPA examined nearly 2,300 studies in this review of the ozone standards including more than 1,000 new studies published since the last review of the standards in 2008. Scientific evidence shows that ozone can cause a number of harmful effects on the respiratory system, including difficulty breathing and inflammation of the airways. EPA estimates that the public health benefits of the updated standards will range from $2.9 to $5.9 billion annually in 2025 (outside of California), outweighing the estimated annual costs of $1.4 billion.

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Ricardo demonstrates processes for evaluating light-duty diesel emissions under coming Real Driving Emissions (RDE) regs

Despite the continuing and significant reductions in the legislated limits of light-duty diesel vehicle NOx emissions under the European Euro 1 through 5 regulations of recent years, many studies have demonstrated that real-world NOx emissions appear not to have been reduced as significantly. The Volkswagen emissions scandal has certainly spotlighted this issue, but more by the intentionality of the cause rather than by the effect.

This divergence between type-approval limits and real world emissions was one of the primary drivers for the proposed introduction of Real Driving Emissions (RDE) (earlier post)—put forward in the European Commission’s CARS 2020 Action Plan (earlier post)—in European Euro 6c legislation as early as 2017. The objective of this proposed regulation is that future vehicles certified to a given type approval threshold for NOx output will, subject an incremental Conformity Factor to be defined in the regulation, not exceed this level in normal on-road driving conditions.

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Volkswagen AG to refit diesel vehicles with EA 189 EU5 engines; solution to be presented by end of October

September 29, 2015

Volkswagen AG announced that it will retrofit the some 11 million vehicles equipped with the 2.0-liter EA 189 Euro 5 diesel tainted by the software emissions defeat device. (Earlier post.) New vehicles with EU6 engines currently available are not affected by the cheat, Volkswagen said.

The scope of the retrofit is not yet clear—e.g., software only, or software and new hardware—but Volkswagen and the other Group brands whose vehicles are affected will present the technical solutions and measures to the responsible authorities in October.

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Norwegian/Finnish studies find Euro 6 cars exceeding NOx and CO2 type limits in real-world conditions; below on PM

Emission measurements conducted by Institute of Transport Economics in Norway, in collaboration with VTT in Finland, show that new Euro 6 cars with diesel engines are struggling with NOx emissions well in excess of regulatory type limits when in real traffic.

Since 2011, TØI and VTT have conducted emission measurements of 12 heavy vehicles with Euro VI engines, and seven Euro 6 diesel cars. In addition, they measured emissions from several gasoline vehicles (Euro 5 and 6) and Euro 5 diesel vehicles. All vehicles were tested in laboratory under conditions that as far as possible should correspond to the actual use of the vehicles.

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Lux: VW “actually in a strong position to innovate their way out of this mess”

September 28, 2015

Reflecting on the implications of the still evolving Volkswagen emissions testing scandal (“a vehicle emissions scandal of unprecedented proportions”), analysts at Lux Research suggest that one outcome of the crisis could be an aggressive push by Volkswagen to accelerate the push towards plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.

VW was slowly moving beyond conventional gasoline and diesel engines anyway, Lux noted, with plans of putting out 20 more plug-in vehicles by 2020 (earlier post)—such as the production version of the Audi e-tron quattro. (Earlier post.) Volkswagen has also invested in next-generation batteries, including lithium-sulfur and solid-state. (Earlier post.)

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Study uncovers role of longer-chain unburned hydrocarbon emissions from diesels in London air pollution; calls for regulatory shift

September 27, 2015

Researchers at the University of York (UK) have found that longer-chain unburned hydrocarbons released from diesel—which are not currently explicitly considered as part of air quality control strategies—represent only 20–30% of the total atmospheric hydrocarbon mixing ratio but contribute more than 50% of the total atmospheric hydrocarbon mass and are a dominant local source of secondary organic aerosols (SOA) in London—and by extension to other developed megacities.

The study found that 60% of the winter primary hydrocarbon hydroxyl radical reactivity in London is from those diesel-related hydrocarbons; the authors predicted that the longer-chain HCs contribute up to 50 % of the ozone production potential in London. The results, they said in an open access paper published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, suggest the need for a shift in policy focus onto gas-phase hydrocarbons released from diesels as this vehicle type continues to displace gasoline world-wide.

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VW: ~5M VW vehicles affected by emissions scandal; working on technical solution; suspension of some employees starting

September 25, 2015

Volkswagen said that an internal assessment following the revelation of cheating on emissions testing in EA 189 2.0L diesels (earlier post) has concluded that approximately five million Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand vehicles are affected worldwide. In the heat of the initial discovery of the emissions testing cheating, Volkswagen had said that up to 11 million vehicles worldwide could be affected. (Earlier post.)

Certain models and model years of these vehicles (such as the sixth generation Volkswagen Golf, the seventh generation Volkswagen Passat and the first generation Volkswagen Tiguan) are equipped exclusively with type EA 189 diesel engines. Also as previously announced, all new Volkswagen Passenger Car brand vehicles that fulfill the EU6 norm valid throughout Europe are not affected. This therefore also includes the current Golf, Passat and Touran models.

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California ARB to begin enhanced testing of modern light-duty diesel engines to detect emissions cheating (updated)

The California Air Resources Board sent a letter to automobile manufacturers notifying them that ARB will begin using enhanced testing procedures for modern light-duty diesel vehicles to determine compliance with emission levels to which they were originally certified.

ARB developed its enhanced screening techniques as it dug into the anomalous emission results from Volkswagen’s 2.0L diesel engine; Volkswagen subsequently admitted its use of the software defeat device on emissions testing, triggering that emission control scandal that erupted exactly one week ago. (Earlier post.)

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VW Group restructuring in response to emissions testing scandal; greater focus on the modular toolkits; Klinger out, Horn stays

Following its appointment of Matthias Müller as the new CEO of the Group (earlier post), the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG approved a new management structure for the Group and the brands as well as for the North America region. The changes follow in the wake of the diesel emissions testing scandal that led to the resignation of former CEO Martin Winterkorn.

The interim Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Berthold Huber, said that the new structure strengthens the brands and regions; gives the Group Board of Management the necessary leeway for strategy and steering within the company; and lays a focus on the targeted development of future-oriented fields.

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Porsche boss Müller appointed CEO of the Volkswagen Group; also remains Chairman of Porsche AG until a successor is found

At its meeting in Wolfsburg today, the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG appointed Matthias Müller, currently Chairman of Porsche, the new CEO of Volkswagen AG with immediate effect. (Porsche is a Volkswagen Group company.)

Former CEO Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn resigned on Wednesday in light of the Volkswagen diesel emissions testing scandal. (Earlier post.) Müller will continue as Chairman of Porsche until a successor has been found.

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Honda launches new “Green Path” initiatives for manufacturing and operations; new $210M paint line at Marysville with new 4C2B process

Honda has announced several initiatives under its new “Green Path” approach to reducing the total life-cycle environmental impact of its products and operations in North America. Among these is a $210-million investment in a new, more environmentally responsible auto-body painting facility and innovative paint process at its Marysville, Ohio auto plant (MAP), the largest of Honda’s eight auto plants in North America. MAP produces the Honda Accord Sedan and Coupe along with the Acura TLX and ILX for customers in more than 100 countries.

Honda has established a voluntary goal to reduce its total GHG emissions—including customer use-phase—by 50% by the year 2050, compared to 2000 levels; this works out to a reduction of 90% per unit sales—a difficult task, noted Ryan Harty, a former Honda R&D engineer who now manages Honda’s new Environmental Business Development Office.

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BMW: “We don’t cheat”; diesel is needed to hit CO2 targets; call for WLTP and RDE

As the Volkswagen emission testing scandal threatens to spill over onto other automakers, BMW yesterday issued a sharp statement in response to a report in Auto Bild suggesting emissions from an X3 test were out of the norm.

The BMW Group does not manipulate or rig any emissions tests. We observe the legal requirements in each country and fulfill all local testing requirements. In other words, our exhaust treatment systems are active whether rolling on the test bench or driving on the road. Clear, binding specifications and processes are in place through all phases of development at the BMW Group in order to avoid wrongdoing.”

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VW CEO Winterkorn resigns over crisis; “further personnel consequences” coming; Exec. Committee filing criminal complaint

September 23, 2015

Volkswagen Group CEO Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn resigned today, taking upon himself responsibility for the emissions cheating scandal that has quickly engulfed the company. In a statement, the Executive Committee of Volkswagen AG’s Supervisory Board noted that Dr. Winterkorn had no knowledge of the manipulation of emissions data, and thanked Dr. Winterkorn “for towering contributions in the past decades and for his willingness to take responsibility in this critical phase for the company. This attitude is illustrious.”

The Executive Committee also said it was adamant on taking the necessary steps to ensure a new beginning for the tarnished company. As part of that, it is expecting “further personnel consequences” in the coming days. The company is also voluntarily submitting a complaint to the State Prosecutors’ office in Brunswick. The Executive Committee believes that criminal proceedings may be relevant due to the irregularities. Volkswagen will support the investigations of the State Prosecutor “in all forms.

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New ORNL non-precious metal catalyst shows promise as low-cost component for low-temperature exhaust aftertreatment

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have developed a ternary mixed oxide catalyst composed of copper oxide, cobalt oxide, and ceria (dubbed “CCC”) that outperforms synthesized and commercial platinum group metal (PGM) catalysts for CO oxidation in simulated exhaust streams while showing no signs of inhibition—i.e., the clogging of the catalyst by NOx, CO and HC.

PGM catalysts are the current standard for emissions aftertreatment in automotive exhaust streams. However, in addition to their high cost, PGM catalysts struggle with CO oxidation at low temperatures (<200 °C) due to inhibition by hydrocarbons in exhaust streams. The new ORNL catalyst shows great potential as a low-cost component for the low temperature exhaust streams that are expected to be a characteristic of future automotive systems, the researchers noted in their paper in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

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Volkswagen: new EU 6 diesels clear of software cheat, but up to 11M EA189 diesels worldwide affected

September 22, 2015

In a statement issued this morning, Volkswagen AG said that new vehicles from the Volkswagen Group with EU 6 diesel engines currently available in the European Union comply with legal requirements and environmental standards. The engine control software in those vehicles does not affect handling, consumption or emissions, the company said.

Although the engine management software that enabled the cheating on NOx targets (earlier post) is installed in other Volkswagen Group vehicles with diesel engines, the company added, for the majority of those engines the software does not have any effect. However, the software “discrepancies” do relate to vehicles with the Type EA189 2.0-liter diesel engines—involving some eleven million vehicles worldwide. (Earlier post.)

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Study links California regulations, significant declines in cancer risk from exposure to air toxics

A study by a team from the California Air Resources Board (ARB) has found that the collective cancer risk from exposure to seven toxic air contaminant (TACs) has declined 76% during the period from 1990 to 2012, and linked that result from air quality regulations targeting these TACs. The study appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Of the seven TACs, diesel particulate matter (DPM) is the most important; DPM is emitted mainly from trucks and buses and is responsible for most of the airborne cancer risk in California, according to ARB. However, in the study DPM is not measured directly. Based on a novel surrogate method, DPM concentrations declined 68% during the period, even though the state’s population increased 31%; diesel vehicle-miles-traveled increased 81%; and the gross state product (GSP) increased 74%.

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Volkswagen of America debuts 2016 Passat; 38 mpg highway from the 1.8 TSI

Although the timing arguably could have been better, Volkswagen of America proceeded with the planned debut of the restyled 2016 Volkswagen Passat in New York on Monday. The midsize sedan, built in Volkswagen’s LEED Platinum-certified factory in Chattanooga, will offer three engine options—1.8-liter TSI gasoline; 2.0-liter diesel TDI; and 3.6-liter gasoline VR6—as well as a strong suite of new connectivity and driver assistance features. (The European market Passat GTE plug-in hybrid (earlier post) is not slated to come to the US yet.)

Although the emissions control calibration of the applications of the 2.0 TDI in earlier models in the US is at the core of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)/California Air Resources Board (ARB) charges against Volkswagen (earlier post), both agencies are now testing all the 2016 model year Passat models for certificates of conformity, Volkswagen said.

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Background on the 2.0L diesel engines at the core of the Volkswagen emissions testing debacle

September 21, 2015

Last Friday, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (ARB) charged that Volkswagen (Jetta, Beetle, Golf, Passat) and Audi (A3) passenger cars equipped with 2.0-liter diesels in the US have used a software defeat device to cheat on the results of NOx testing, and thus have violated the US Clean Air Act. According to the charges, the software, when it detected regulatory testing on a dyno, ran a different, more emissions-stringent engine calibration to meet test requirements than when it detected regular use. (Earlier post.) As a result, real-world NOx emissions increased by a factor of 10 to 40 times above the EPA compliant levels, depending on the drive cycle.

According to the charges, Volkswagen admitted to the software device. Both agencies have launched investigations; Volkswagen—which in addition to recall costs for the approximately 500,000 vehicles affected faces civil penalties and injunctive relief—says that it will fully cooperate and has launched its own external investigation; eager lawyers are ramping up for class action suits against the automaker; Volkswagen AG lost almost one-fifth of its market value on Monday; and some Volkswagen suppliers are also feeling a crunch.

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EPRI-NRDC report finds widespread vehicle electrification and a cleaner grid could lead to substantial cuts in GHG by 2050

Widespread adoption of electric transportation, including electrification in the off-road sector, could lead to substantial reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and could modestly improve air quality, according to a new analysis released by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The report, “Environmental Assessment of a Full Electric Transportation Portfolio”, is based on a projection that by 2050 electricity replaces traditional fuels for approximately half of light- and medium-duty transportation and a significant portion of non-road equipment. This study builds on the 2007 Environmental Assessment of Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles by EPRI and NRDC (earlier post), which showed that plug-in hybrid electric vehicles could contribute to reductions in national greenhouse gas emissions, while also leading to improved air quality. As with the earlier assessment, this study consists of two separate, but related, analyses: greenhouse gas emissions from 2015-2050, and air quality impacts in 2030.

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Volkswagen Group orders external investigation of emissions testing violations, pledges full support to EPA and ARB

September 20, 2015

On Friday, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (ARB) charged that, based on ARB testing, Volkswagen and Audi passenger cars equipped with 2.0L diesels have used a software defeat device to cheat on the results of NOx testing, and thus have violated the US Clean Air Act. (Earlier post.)

On Sunday, Volkswagen Group CEO Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn said that Volkswagen does “not and will not tolerate violations of any kind of our internal rules or of the law”, and said that the company “will cooperate fully with the responsible agencies, with transparency and urgency, to clearly, openly, and completely establish all of the facts of this case.” Volkswagen has ordered an external investigation as well.

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EPA and California ARB charge Volkswagen with using software defeat device to circumvent NOx testing in 4-cylinder 2.0L diesels

September 18, 2015

EPA has issued a notice of violation (NOV) of the Clean Air Act (CAA) to Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (collectively referred to here as Volkswagen). The NOV alleges that Volkswagen and Audi cars from model years 2009-2015 equipped with 2.0-liter, four-cylinder diesels include software (a “defeat device”) that circumvents EPA emissions standards for NOx. California is separately issuing an In-Use Compliance letter to Volkswagen, and EPA and the California Air Resources Board (ARB) have both initiated investigations based on Volkswagen’s alleged actions.

In response, Volkswagen said that it is cooperating with the investigation, and is unable to comment further at this time. VW may be liable for civil penalties and injunctive relief for the violations alleged in the NOV. The allegations cover roughly 482,000 diesel passenger cars sold in the United States since 2008. Affected diesel models include:

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NRC Canada team investigates effect of gasoline particulate filter on PM from light-duty GDI engine

September 17, 2015

A team led by researchers from the National Research Council Canada has investigated the effect of the use of a gasoline particulate filter on the size and morphology of PM emitted from a light-duty gasoline-direct-injection (GDI) vehicle over the FTP-75 and US06 transient drive cycles.

Using transmission-electron-microscope (TEM) image analysis, they compared PM from a 2012 Ford Focus powered by a 2.0-liter wall-guided GDI engine, operating under globally stoichiometric condition, to the results for the same vehicle equipped with a catalyzed gasoline particulate filter (GPF). A paper describing their results is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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Air pollution could claim 6.6 million lives per year by 2050, double current rate; small domestic fires and ag the worst offenders

If air pollution emissions continue to rise at the current rate, some 6.6 million people could prematurely die annually by 2050, double the current rate of 3.3 million people per year, according to a study carried out by a team led by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz. The largest sources of air pollution are not industry and transport but small domestic fires and agriculture. Results of the study are published in the journal Nature.

Exposure to air pollution is particularly acute in Asia, especially in China and India, where three-quarters of the world’s pollution-related deaths occur. The team headed by Johannes Lelieveld, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, reported that 1.4 million people per year in China and 650,000 people in India die every year as a consequence of air pollution. In the EU exposure to fine particles and ozone claims 180,000 lives a year, including 35,000 in Germany. In many countries, air pollution accounts for roughly ten-times more deaths than road accidents.

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Bosch leading Direct4Gas consortium to develop direct injection for monovalent natural gas engines

September 11, 2015

Bosch is leading a consortium in a German government-funded project to develop a direct injection system for monovalent natural gas engines—i.e., engines that run exclusively on CNG. Compared with present systems that use manifold gas injection, a direct injection system for natural gas could deliver as much as 60% more torque at low rpm, and offer the prospect of an even more dynamic driving experience in the CNG cars of the future.

Today’s CNG vehicles are generally bivalent, running on gasoline and CNG with engines designed for gasoline direct injection. For CNG operation, they are fitted with an additional manifold injection system for methane. However, because methane behaves differently from gasoline when injected directly, it is important to optimize the combustion process for methane.

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Achates Power proposes EPA/NHTSA medium- and heavy-duty engine standard require 15% decrease in fuel consumption and emissions

September 10, 2015

Achates Power, Inc., the developer of a family of efficient compression-ignition opposed-piston two-stroke (OP2S) engines (earlier post), proposed more stringent engine fuel efficiency and emission standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles at a recent public hearing held by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on “Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles – Phase 2”.

Earlier this year, NHTSA and EPA jointly announced the proposed Phase 2 standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. (Earlier post.) While these vehicles as a whole will have to curb fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by up to 24% between the 2018 and 2027 model years, the agencies are proposing separate engine standards requiring only a 4% decrease.

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Crowdsourcing air pollution measurements: iSPEX-EU 2015

September 06, 2015

A collaboration led by researchers at Leiden University in The Netherlands has launched a Europe-wide citizen campaign—iSPEX-EU 2015—to use a smartphone add-on and app to measure atmospheric aerosols (tiny particles), resulting in a broad-based data set with high spatio-temporal resolution.

Atmospheric aerosols play an important but as-yet poorly understood role in climate and air quality, with significant impacts on the environment, health, and air traffic. Satellite-based aerosol monitoring is, despite its global coverage, limited in spatial and temporal resolution (with global coverage up to once a day with a ground resolution of a few kilometers only), and lacks sufficient information on aerosol particle characteristics. Therefore, the researchers say, a different strategy is needed to overcome these current limitations.

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UCL, BP team study on combustion and emissions characteristics of a range of fuel molecules from lignocellulosic biomass

September 01, 2015

A team from University College London and BP’s Fuels and Lubricants Research group has investigated the combustion and emissions characteristics of a range of fuel molecules which can be produced from lignocellulosic biomass through a variety of processing routes.

The researchers suggested that their results can be used to aid in selecting at what stage lignocellulose should be chemically modified so as to produce a viable biofuel molecule with optimal combustion characteristics and exhaust gas emissions. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

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Air pollution associated with increased heart attack risk despite “safe” levels

August 31, 2015

Particulate matter and NO2 air pollution are associated with increased risk of severe heart attacks despite being within European recommended levels, according to research presented at ESC Congress by Dr. Jean-Francois Argacha, a cardiologist at University Hospital Brussels (UZ Brussel-Vrije Universiteit Brussel), in Belgium.

The study investigated the effect of short term exposure to air pollution on the risk of ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI)—a deadly type of heart attack that is caused by a prolonged blockage of blood supply in the heart. This type of myocardial infarction has the worst prognosis and is caused by thrombotic occlusion of a coronary artery that damages the heart.

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Renault Trucks and partners launch EDIT project to cut distribution vehicles’ fuel consumption by 13%

August 27, 2015

After Optifuel Lab 2 (earlier post), the laboratory vehicle which brought together technological innovations designed to reduce long-distance trucks’ fuel consumption, Renault Trucks is extending its research to distribution vehicles.

Renault Trucks and six partners—Valeo, Lamberet, Michelin, BeNomad, INSA de Lyon (LamCoS) and IFSTTAR (LICIT)—have launched the EDIT (Efficient Distribution Truck) project, which aims to reduce distribution vehicles’ fuel consumption by 13% compared with a current production vehicle.

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Health Effects Institute to release Executive Summary of ACES new-technology diesel results this fall

August 21, 2015

The Health Effects Institute (HEI) it will publish an Executive Summary of the Advanced Collaborative Emissions Study (ACES) this fall. The Summary will be the synopsis and final publication from the program to characterize the emissions and assess the health effects of new-technology diesel exhaust (NTDE) from heavy-duty diesel engines that meet the 2007 and 2010 regulations enacted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (Earlier post.) HEI is an independent, non-profit research institute funded jointly by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the worldwide motor vehicle industry.

To meet new emissions limits, diesel-engine manufacturers developed new exhaust aftertreatment systems and the petroleum industry introduced new ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel needed to allow the new emissions controls to work. HEI—in collaboration with the Coordinating Research Council, a nonprofit organization with extensive expertise in emissions characterization—launched ACES in response to requests to characterize the emissions and health effects of NTDE.

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GWU team develops low-cost, high-yield one-pot synthesis of carbon nanofibers from atmospheric CO2

A team led by Dr. Stuart Licht at The George Washington University in Washington, DC has developed a low-cost, high-yield and scalable process for the electrolytic conversion of atmospheric CO2 dissolved in molten carbonates into carbon nanofibers (CNFs.) The conversion of CO2 → CCNF + O2 can be driven by efficient solar, as well as conventional, energy at inexpensive steel or nickel electrodes.

The structure is tuned by controlling the electrolysis conditions, such as the addition of trace transition metals to act as CNF nucleation sites; the addition of zinc as an initiator; and the control of current density. An open access paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Nano Letters; the work was also presented at ACS’ 250th National Meeting & Exposition this week in Boston.

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CMU analysis finds BEVs powered with natural gas-based electricity have about 40% of the lifecycle GHGs of a conventional gasoline vehicle

According to a new lifecycle analysis by a team at Carnegie Mellon University, a battery electric vehicle (BEV) powered with natural gas-based electricity achieves around an average 40% lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction when compared to a conventional gasoline vehicle. Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), either with a 30- or 60-km range, when powered by natural gas electricity, have the second lowest average emissions. Both BEVs and PHEVs provide large (more than 20%) emissions reductions compared to conventional gasoline, but none of them is a dominant strategy when compared to gasoline hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), the team found.

Gaseous hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles have comparable life cycle emissions with conventional gasoline, offering limited reductions with 100-year global warming potential (GWP) yet leading to increases with 20-year GWP. Other liquid fuel pathways using natural gas—methanol, ethanol, and Fischer–Tropsch liquids—have larger GHG emissions than conventional gasoline even when carbon capture and storage technologies are available. The study is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

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UC Riverside team characterizes impact on PM of fuels with varying aromatics and octane rating; benefit of increased ethanol fraction

August 18, 2015

Researchers at the University of California-Riverside have characterized the effect of decreased aromatic content fuels combusted in advanced vehicle technologies on emissions of particulate matter (PM). In a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they present the changes in PM emissions for different fuels, engine technologies, and operating conditions. Among their findings is that an increased ethanol fraction in gasoline could help reduce PM mass and black carbon (BC) from gasoline direct injection engines (GDI).

Typical commercial gasoline comprises varying concentrations of aromatic hydrocarbons and octane ratings; the impacts on PM such as black carbon (BC) and water-soluble and insoluble particle compositions of these differences are not well-defined. The UC Riverside study tested seven 2012 model year vehicles, including one port fuel injection (PFI) configured hybrid vehicle; one PFI vehicle; and six GDI vehicles.

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Berkeley Earth study calculates that air pollution contributes to 1.6M deaths per year in China

August 14, 2015

In an analysis of hourly air pollution data (PM2.5,PM10, SO2, NO2, O3 and CO) from more than 1500 sites in China, Berkeley Earth has calculated that the observed air pollution contributes to ~1.6 million deaths/year in China [0.7–2.2 million deaths/year at 95% confidence]—roughly 17% of all deaths in China. The calculated mortality is somewhat higher than the 1.2 million deaths/year previously estimated from a Huai River study using Chinese air pollution measurements and mortality data. A paper on the analysis has been accepted for publication in the journal PLoS ONE.

In the study, the independent non-profit applied Kriging interpolation (a geostatistical interpolation technique) to four months of data to derive pollution maps for eastern China. Consistent with prior findings, the greatest pollution occurs in the east; however, significant levels are widespread across northern and central China and are not limited to major cities or geologic basins. Sources of pollution are widespread, but are particularly intense in a northeast corridor that extends from near Shanghai to north of Beijing.

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JRC: Increased use of renewables results in growing GHG emission savings in the EU; transport contribution only 5%

August 07, 2015

Greenhouse gasses (GHG) emission savings due to final renewable energy consumption in electricity; cooling/heating; and transport sectors rose at a compound annual growth rate of 8.8% from 2009 to 2012, confirming renewables’ potential in climate change mitigation, according to a new report by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s in-house science service. Nearly two thirds of the total savings came from renewable energy development in Germany, Sweden, France, Italy and Spain.

The report assesses data on the use of renewable energy, submitted by EU Member States every two years, as required by EU legislation on renewable energy. The report estimates that in 2012, when total GHG emissions reached the equivalent of 4546 Mt CO₂, the deployment of all renewables in the EU avoided the equivalent of 716 Mt CO₂ emissions. According to the report, the highest contribution by renewables in climate change mitigation in the EU in 2012 came from renewable electricity, which covered 64% of the savings, due to high penetration of wind and solar power, followed by renewable heating and cooling (31%) and renewable transport (5%).

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EPA releases final Clean Power Plan; 32% reduction in CO2 from power plants by 2030

August 03, 2015

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released the final Clean Power Plan (CPP). The rules establish the first national standards to limit CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel-fired power plants, with a target of a 32% reduction against a 2005 baseline by 2030. The 32% reduction target is 9% more aggressive than in the draft proposal of the CPP released in 2014. (Earlier post.)

The 2030 target is in alignment with the Administration’s earlier economy-wide emissions targets, including the goal of reducing emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 and to 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. Under the Clean Power Plan, by 2030, renewables will account for 28% of national capacity, up from 22% in the proposed rule.

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Researchers engineer first low-methane-emission, high-starch rice; benefits for GHG control, food and bioenergy

July 30, 2015

Rice—the staple food for more than half of the world’s population—is one of the largest manmade sources of atmospheric methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Now, however, with the addition of a single gene from barley (SUSIBA2), a team of researchers in China, Sweden and the US has engineered a strain of rice—now named SUSIBA2—that can be cultivated to emit virtually no methane from its paddies during growth.

The new strain also delivers much more of the plant’s desired properties, such as starch for a richer food source and biomass for energy production. SUSIBA2 rice is the first high-starch, low-methane rice that could offer a significant and sustainable solution. A paper on the work is published in the journal Nature.

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Aclima partnering with Google to map outdoor air quality with Street View vehicles

July 29, 2015

Aclima, Inc., a San Francisco-based company that designs and deploys environmental sensor networks, is partnering with Google Earth Outreach to map and better to understand urban air quality. Google Street View cars can be equipped with Aclima’s mobile sensing platform to measure nitrogen dioxide; nitric oxide; ozone; carbon monoxide; carbon dioxide; methane; black carbon; particulate matter; and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

As a pilot, in August 2014, Aclima instrumented three Google Street View vehicles to perform a month-long system test in the Denver metro area during the DISCOVER-AQ study conducted by NASA and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The cars clocked 750 hours of drive time and gathered 150 million data points, correlated with data from EPA stationary measurement sites. EPA provided scientific expertise in study design and instrument operations as part of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Aclima.

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Euro Parliament Environment Committee votes for tightened air pollution targets

July 16, 2015

The Environment Committee (ENVI) of the European Parliament tightened up a European Commission proposal and called for more ambitious national caps on emissions of six main pollutants in order to cut emissions by 70% across the EU and save €40 billion (US$44 billion) in air pollution costs by 2030. MEPs also want to include emissions reduction ceilings on mercury, and a midpoint target for most caps of 2025.

The report by rapporteur Julie Girling (European Conservatives and Reformists, ECR, UK) on the National Emissions Ceiling directive (NEC) was adopted by 38 votes to 28, with 2 abstentions. The report will be put to a plenary vote in Strasbourg in October.

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Study finds single exposure to roadway PM induces transient pulmonary stress; possible need to regulate non-tailpipe-related pollution

July 13, 2015

A study by researchers in Israel and the US has found that single (“sub-clinical”) exposure to extracts from particulate material (PM) collected in a near roadway environment can induce a transient oxidative stress and inflammation in mice’ lungs. The researchers attributed this largely to the dissolved metals (such as Cu, Fe, Mn, V, Ni, and Cr) that are part of roadway emissions.

The local response was largely self-resolved by 48 h, suggesting that it could represent a subclinical response to everyday-level exposure. Removal of soluble metals by chelation markedly diminished the pulmonary response. The paper appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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U Calgary study finds oil shale most energy intensive upgraded fuel followed by in-situ-produced bitumen from oil sands

July 10, 2015

A team at the University of Calgary (Canada) has compared the energy intensities and lifecycle GHG emissions of unconventional oils (oil sands and oil shale) alongside shale gas, coal, lignite, wood and conventional oil and gas. In a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they report that lignite is the most GHG intensive primary fuel followed by oil shale. Oil shale is the most energy intensive fuel among upgraded primary fossil fuel options followed by in-situ-produced bitumen from oil sands.

Based on future world energy demand projections, they estimate that if growth of unconventional heavy oil production continues unabated, the incremental GHG emissions that results from replacing conventional oil with heavy oil would amount to 4–21 Gt-CO2eq over four decades (2010 by 2050). Taking this further, they estimated that the warming associated with the use of heavy oil amounts to this level of emissions could lead to about 0.002−0.009 °C increase in earth surface temperature, based on mid-21st century carbon-climate response model estimates.

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JRC provides initial results and qualitative trends of study of regulated gaseous emissions under NEDC and new WLTP; data from 21 vehicles

July 09, 2015

A team from the European Commission-Joint Research Centre (JRC) reports initial results of regulated gaseous emissions (CO2, NOx, CO, and THC) from Euro 4, 5, and 6 vehicles measured at JRC under the existing New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) and newly developed Worldwide Harmonized Light Duty Test Procedure (WLTP) in a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology. Based on their testing, the team also provides some analysis of initial qualitative trends.

In 2009, the World Forum for the Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) launched a project with the aim to develop a worldwide harmonized light duty test cycle (WLTC) and test procedure (WLTP) more representative of real-world driving conditions and emissions that other existing driving cycles used for vehicle testing and certification.

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Berkeley Lab analysis finds autonomous electric taxis could greatly reduce US LDV GHG emissions

July 06, 2015

Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have found that the per-mile greenhouse gas emissions of an electric autonomous taxi in 2030 would be 63-82% lower than a projected 2030 hybrid vehicle driven as a privately owned car and 90% lower than a 2014 gasoline-powered private vehicle. Their paper appears in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The autonomous vehicles (AVs) gain their through three synergistic effects, the researchers found: (1) future decreases in electricity GHG emissions intensity; (2) smaller vehicle sizes resulting from trip-specific autonomous taxi deployment (i.e., “right-sizing,” where the size of the taxi deployed is tailored to each trip’s occupancy needs); and (3) higher annual vehicle-miles travelled (VMT), increasing high-efficiency (especially battery-electric) vehicle cost-effectiveness.

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Fraunhofer developing process to ferment steel exhaust gases to fuels and chemicals

July 02, 2015

Fraunhofer researchers in Germany have developed a process for the conversion of CO-rich exhaust gases from steel plants into fuels and specialty chemicals. With the aid of genetically modified strains of Clostridium, the research team ferments the gas into alcohols and acetone, converts both substances catalytically into a kind of intermediary diesel product, and from produce kerosene and special chemicals.

Participants include the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME in Aachen, as well as the Institute for Environment, Safety, and Energy Technology UMSICHT in Oberhausen and the Institute for Chemical Technology ICT in Pfinztal. The technology came about during one of Fraunhofer’s internal preliminary research projects and through individual projects with industrial partners. The patented process currently operates on the laboratory scale.

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Researchers find Nissan LEAF creates less CO2 than Toyota Prius hybrid in west US and Texas, but more in N. Midwest

July 01, 2015

Regionally specific lifecycle CO2 emissions per mile traveled for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in the US can vary widely based on grid emission factors (i.e., the “carbon footprint” of electricity production and use), according to a new study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University. Under some conditions, the battery electric Nissan LEAF can produce higher emissions than a Toyota Prius hybrid. The paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The team characterized the vehicle emissions across the United States under alternative assumptions for regional electricity emission factors, regional boundaries, and charging schemes. Among the findings were that:

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4 more cities sign Global Clean Bus Declaration raising total to >40K ultra-low emission buses by 2020; London to trial BYD electric double-decker

June 30, 2015

Four additional cities—Amsterdam, Lima, Catalonia (Barcelona) and Rome—signed up to the Global Clean Bus Declaration at the 1st global Clean Bus Summit in London.

The Global Clean Bus Declaration, developed by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson in partnership with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, launched in Buenos Aires in March 2015 with 20 original signatories. Bus manufacturers including BYD, Volvo, Wright Bus, Optare, Mercedes, Evo Bus, and Alexander Dennis attended the London summit and committed to supporting cities in delivering fleets of new ultra-low emission buses. The World Bank and Green Investment Bank have also signed up to this commitment.

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Volvo Trucks approves 100% renewable diesel for all Euro 5 engines, prepping certification for Euro 6

June 22, 2015

After extensive field testing of renewable diesel HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oils), Volvo Trucks has approved the fuel for all Euro 5 engines and is preparing certifications for Euro 6 engines. HVO (such as Neste’s NEXBTL) is produced from renewable raw materials such as vegetable and animal fats and acts as regular diesel. HVO can reduce CO2 emissions between 30-90%, depending upon the raw material.

In 2013, Volvo Trucks started a field test together with Renova, DHL Freight and OKQ8 to see how the use of 100% HVO affected engine performance and components. The six field test trucks were equipped with Euro 5 engines and covered approximately one million kilometers (621,000 miles) in commercial service over a two-year period.

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EPA and NHTSA propose Phase 2 GHG and fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks

June 19, 2015

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are jointly proposing Phase 2 standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles to improve fuel efficiency and cut greenhouse gas emissions. The proposal builds on the Phase 1 fuel efficiency and GHG emissions standards already in place for model years 2014-2018. (Earlier post.)

Three years in development, the proposed Phase 2 vehicle and engine performance standards would cover model years 2021-2027, and apply to semi-trucks, large pickup trucks and vans, and all types and sizes of buses and work trucks. They would achieve up to 24% lower CO2 emissions and fuel consumption than an equivalent tractor in 2018, based on the fully phased-in standards for the tractor alone in a tractor-trailer vehicle.

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EPA takes first steps toward regulating commercial aviation GHGs with endangerment finding under CAA

June 11, 2015

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to find under section 231(a) of the Clean Air Act that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from commercial aircraft engines endanger the health and welfare of Americans by contributing to climate change. At the same time, the agency issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) that provides information on the process for setting international CO2 emissions standards for aircraft at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and describes and seeks input on the potential use of section 231 of the Clean Air Act to adopt a corresponding standard domestically.

The finding applies to GHG emissions from engines used in US subsonic jet aircraft with a maximum takeoff mass (MTOM) greater than 5,700 kilograms and in subsonic propeller driven (e.g., turboprop) aircraft with a MTOM greater than 8,618 kilograms. Examples of covered aircraft would include smaller jet aircraft such as the Cessna Citation CJ2+ and the Embraer E170, up to and including the largest jet aircraft: the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 747. Other examples of covered aircraft would include larger turboprop aircraft, such as the ATR 72 and the Bombardier Q400. The actions do not apply to small piston-engine planes or to military aircraft.

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Up close and personal with Volkswagen’s e-Golf carbon offset project: Garcia River Forest

June 08, 2015

TCF, the manager of the Garcia River Forest Project, would like to enable its increasing number of redwood trees to reach the 1,000-year-old status of some of their neighbors, like this one. Click to enlarge.

In 2014, Volkswagen of America announced that starting with the launch of the zero-tailpipe emissions battery-electric 2015 e-Golf (earlier post), it would invest in projects to offset the carbon emissions created from the e-Golf on a full lifecycle basis: production, distribution and up to approximately 36,000 miles (57,936 km) of driving.

Last week, Volkswagen provided a close-up look at one of the projects in which it is investing: the Garcia River Conservation-Based Forest Management Project, located in Mendocino County, California. This project, to which Volkswagen contributes along with companies such as UPS, repairs and preserves a ~24,000-acre native redwood forest, increasing carbon sequestration and storage, while also helping to restore the natural wildlife habitat. Emission reductions produced by the project are verified by an approved third party and registered with the Climate Action Reserve (Project ID CAR102).

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Harvard SPH large-scale study links PM2.5 levels below EPA standards with higher death rates

June 05, 2015

A new study by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that death rates among people over 65 are higher in zip codes with more fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) than in those with lower levels of PM2.5. It is the first study to examine the effect of soot particles in the air in the entire population of a region, including rural areas.

The harmful effects from the particles were observed even in areas where concentrations were less than a third of the current standard set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (12 μg/m3 of annual average PM2.5, 35 μg/m3 daily). The open-access study is published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

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Sandia RAPTOR turbulent combustion code selected for next-gen Summit supercomputer readiness project

May 28, 2015

RAPTOR, a turbulent combustion code developed by Sandia National Laboratories mechanical engineer Dr. Joseph Oefelein, was selected as one of 13 partnership projects for the Center for Accelerated Application Readiness (CAAR). CAAR is a US Department of Energy program located at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility and is focused on optimizing computer codes for the next generation of supercomputers.

Developed at Sandia’s Combustion Research Facility, RAPTOR, a general solver optimized for Large Eddy Simulation (LES, a mathematical model for turbulence), is targeted at transportation power and propulsion systems. Optimizing RAPTOR for Summit’s hybrid architecture will enable a new generation of high-fidelity simulations that identically match engine operating conditions and geometries. Such a scale will allow direct comparisons to companion experiments, providing insight into transient combustion processes such as thermal stratification, heat transfer, and turbulent mixing.

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Europe moves forward with Real Driving Emissions testing procedure; more to do

May 22, 2015

Earlier this week, member states in the European Commission’s Technical Committee - Motor Vehicles (TCMV) gave support to the EC proposal for Real Driving Emissions (RDE) testing requirements.

The goal of RDE, which began its development in January 2011 and is targeted for implementation in the upcoming EU6c Emission Regulation in 2017, is to add emissions measurement under real-world driving as an additional type approval requirement. The goal is more closely to match certified output of tailpipe pollutants such as NOx and particulate matter to real world use; research has shown that real-world emissions—particularly that of NOx from diesels—have been far exceeding regulatory levels. (e.g., Earlier post.)

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Early exposure to PM2.5 associated with increased risk of childhood autism; causality unproven

May 21, 2015

Exposure to fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) during pregnancy through the first two years of a child’s life may be associated with an increased risk of the child developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a condition that affects one in 68 children, according to a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health investigation of children in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The research is funded by The Heinz Endowments and published in the July edition of Environmental Research.

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Study concludes air pollution directly affects cognition

May 19, 2015

Results of new analysis conducted by German and Swiss researchers suggests that air pollution directly affects cognition and is not mediated by lung function; put another way, the two are independent risk factors for cognitive decline. Although earlier studies showed that both air pollution and impaired lung function can cause cognitive deficits, it was up to now unclear whether air pollution diminishes cognition by reducing breathing ability first or whether air pollution represents an independent risk factor for cognitive deficit.

The researchers, who analyzed data from a study of 834 elderly German women, presented their findings at ATS 2015 in Denver.

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Tenneco showcasing new large engine SCR system for marine applications

Tenneco will showcase its complete urea-dosing control, fluid handling and catalyst solution for selective catalytic reduction (SCR) aftertreatment at the 2015 BariShip Maritime Fair in Imabari, Japan, 21-23 May. The system features an integrated soot blower option, providing effective NOx reduction and overall catalyst performance when high sulfur fuels are used or engines operate at low exhaust temperature levels.

Tenneco’s SCR aftertreatment system features a complete dosing control solution specifically designed for marine engine applications up to 7,500 kW or 10,000 hp. The system enables auxiliary and propulsion engines to meet EPA Tier IV and IMO Tier III regulatory requirements and provides precise and reliable delivery of liquid urea via a proprietary, high-performance injector design, a precision mechatronic fluid delivery pump, and customizable remote monitoring and controls.

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Canada targets cutting GHGs 30% below 2005 levels by 2030; new regulations for oil and gas, power, petrochemicals

May 15, 2015

Canada Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced that Canada plans to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. Canada formally submitted its target, referred to as an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Canada will continue to take cooperative action with its continental trading partners, particularly the United States, in integrated sectors of the economy, including energy and transportation.

Minister Aglukkaq also announced the Government’s intention to develop new regulatory measures under its sector-by-sector approach that would build on actions already taken on two of Canada’s largest sector sources of GHG emissions: transportation and electricity. The new regulations include:

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California ARB posts discussion document for developing Advanced Clean Transit (ACT) regulation

May 09, 2015

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has posted a discussion document for upcoming workshops on the development of the Advanced Clean Transit (ACT) regulation.

The proposed Advanced Clean Transit regulation will consider strategies to achieve additional criteria pollutant emissions reductions from transit fleets and to accelerate purchases of zero emission buses as part of an overall strategy to transform all heavy duty vehicles to zero emission or near zero emission vehicles to meet air quality and efficiency improvement goals. ARB staff Staff is evaluating four potential broad elements to the Advanced Clean Transit regulation:

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ITF report finds self-driving shared vehicles could take up to 90% of cars off city streets; total kilometers travelled increases

April 30, 2015

A fleet of self-driving shared cars combined with high-capacity public transport could make 90% of conventional cars in mid-sized cities superfluous under certain circumstances, according to a study published by the International Transport Forum (ITF) at the OECD. Even during peak hours, only about one-third (35%) of the current number of cars would be needed to provide the same number of trips as today.

However, while the number of cars is drastically lower, total vehicle kilometers travelled (VKT) increase—more than doubling in one scenario at peak periods due to detours for pick-ups/drop-offs, repositioning and a shift from bus trips to shared cars. The additional travel could increase environmental impacts, if the fleets used conventional engines. If a fleet of electric vehicles were used instead, a fleet of shared self-driving vehicles would need only 2% more vehicles, however, to accommodate battery re-charging times and reduced travel range.

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California Governor orders more stringent GHG reduction target for the state: 40% below 1990 levels by 2030

California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued an executive order (B-30-15) to establish a California greenhouse gas reduction target of 40% below 1990 levels by 2030—the most aggressive GHG reduction target enacted by any government in North America to reduce GHG emissions over the next decade and a half.

Under the order, all state agencies with jurisdiction over sources of greenhouse gas emissions will need to implement measures, pursuant to statutory authority, to achieve reductions of greenhouse gas emissions to meet the 2030 and 2050 greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets. The California Air Resources Board (ARB) will also update the Climate Change Scoping Plan to express the 2030 target in terms of million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

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U Toronto studies find traffic emissions spread farther than thought; 25% of cars causing 90% of pollution

April 28, 2015

A trio of recently published studies from a team of University of Toronto engineers has found that air pollution could be spreading up to three times farther than thought, contributing to varying levels of air quality across cities.

Past research on tailpipe criteria pollutants has shown poor air quality anywhere between 100 to 250 meters of major roadways. But in an open access paper published in the recent edition of the journal Atmospheric Pollution Research, U of T chemical engineer Greg Evans and his partners at Environment Canada have found that concentrations of pollutants from traffic are still double at a distance of 280 meters downwind from highway 400 north of Toronto.

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U. Mich, Ford team studies effect of ethanol in reducing PM from DISI engines; insights into fueling strategies to reduce soot

April 26, 2015

A team from the University of Michigan and Ford’s Research and Advanced Engineering group in Dearborn has studied the effects of ethanol on reducing particulate emissions from a direct injection spark ignition (DISI) engine by comparing neat anhydrous ethanol with a baseline fuel of reference grade gasoline (indolene).

In a paper published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels, they reported that ethanol produced over an order of magnitude less soot under all operating conditions compared to indolene; however, ethanol produced measurable soot at cold coolant and early fuel injection timing conditions.

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Emissions testing shows Lighting Hybrids hydraulic hybrid drive delivers significant reduction in NOx, up to 18% improved fuel consumption

April 21, 2015

The LH gasoline hydraulic hybrid shows an extreme reduction in NOx compared to a diesel baseline. Source: Lightning Hybrids. Click to enlarge.

Lightning Hybrids (LH), a provider of hydraulic hybrid drive systems for fleet vehicles such as shuttle buses, delivery vehicles and work trucks (earlier post), has released some results from its ongoing emissions testing with SGS Environmental Testing Corporation. Broadly, the test results show significant reductions in NOx, particularly against a non-hybrid diesel baseline, and fuel economy improvements of up to 18% for the vehicle and under the drive cycles tested.

By design, LH noted, a hybrid drive system provides benefits during a vehicle’s braking and subsequent acceleration phases, so not all drive cycles will take equal advantage of the system. For example, an urban delivery truck which stops many times per mile will benefit strongly, whereas a truck that spends most of its time on the highway would not be a good candidate for any form of hybridization.

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CMU study finds controlled EV charging can reduce generation cost, but at greater health and environmental costs depending upon the generation mix

April 16, 2015

In a study focused on the PJM portion of the US electricity grid, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) found that although charging electric vehicles at night (when electricity is cheap and wind power is typically more plentiful) could lower electricity costs, doing so also creates more air emissions, and that the health and environmental costs from these emissions outweigh the electricity cost savings. A paper describing the work is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Results from the study also suggest that with sufficient coal plant retirement and sufficient wind power, controlled charging could result in positive net benefits instead of negative. The result of the analysis depends on the details of the region, notes CMU Professor Jeremy Michalek, corresponding author—i.e., other parts of the US and the world could be different. The question of electricity costs vs. health and environmental cost is important to ask everywhere, Michalek said.

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