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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.]

Volkswagen & Audi to pay >$14.7B in US to settle 2.0L diesel emissions case; $2B of that to promote ZEVs

June 28, 2016

Under a class action settlement agreement filed today (earlier post), Volkswagen and Audi in the US will pay more than $14.7 billion to settle complaints arising from its cheating on emissions from its 2.0-liter diesel engines. The class settlement creates a funding pool of up to $10.033 billion for affected consumers; companion settlements with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (ARB) call for an additional $4.7 billion for environmental impact. (California’’s share represents one-quarter of the total national mitigation funding of $4.7 billion dollars.)

The class-wide settlement in the Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation will provide owners and lessees of Volkswagen and Audi 2.0-liter diesel vehicles substantial compensation through buybacks and lease terminations, government-approved emissions modifications, and cash payments, while fixing or removing these polluting vehicles from the road.

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IEA: 7% increase in total energy investment could cut premature deaths from air pollution in half by 2040

June 27, 2016

A new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts that energy policy choices backed by a 7% increase in total energy investment through 2040 could cut premature deaths from air pollution roughly in half by 2040. Under such a scenario, premature deaths from outdoor air pollution would decline by 1.7 million in 2040 compared with the report’s main scenario, and those from household pollution would fall by 1.6 million annually.

The IEA World Energy Outlook (WEO) special report on Energy and Air Pollution highlights the links between energy, air pollution and health. The report, the IEA’s first in-depth analysis of air quality, identifies contributions the energy sector can make to curb poor air quality—the fourth-largest threat to human health, after high blood pressure, poor diets, and smoking.

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Beijing Foton launches “China Internet Super Truck Global Innovation Alliance”; Auman Energy Super Truck

June 23, 2016

Chinese truck and utility vehicle manufacturer Beijing Foton has launched the China Internet Super Truck Global Innovation Alliance and showcased the Auman EST (Energy Super Truck) at an event in Athens, Greece.

The Internet super truck project is a collaboration that brings together Foton Motor Group, Cummins, and Daimler AG and aims at building Internet-driven super trucks that are green, efficient, safe, and intelligent through the integration of global resources, the effective use of new energies, the establishment of vehicle networks, and the implementation of intelligent truck-loading technology.

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Volkswagen Group to begin equipping TSI and TFSI engines with gasoline particulate filters from June 2017

The Volkswagen Group will begin equipping the Group’s new TSI and TFSI gasoline direct injection engines with gasoline particulate filters (GPF). This initiative, announced by Group CEO Matthias Müller at the Group’s annual general meeting, will begin with the 1.4 liter TSI engine in the new VW Tiguan and the Audi A5 in June 2017.

This will reduce particulate emissions from the direct injection gasoline engines by up to 90%. Up to 7 million Volkswagen vehicles could be equipped with this technology each year by 2022.

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Ricardo investigating potential for its split-cycle engine in large engine market

Ricardo is exploring the value proposition for applications of its novel split-cycle combustion engine (earlier post). In a poster-session paper presented at CIMAC Congress 2016 in Finland, Ricardo described the use of this split-cycle concept in high- and medium-speed engines for power generation to achieve efficiencies of 60% from units of 1–30 MW mechanical output.

Ricardo, in collaboration with the University of Brighton, has been developing the split-cycle engine with an eye toward improving the thermal efficiency of heavy-duty engines. The engine is based on a fundamentally new split-cycle combustion concept using a recuperated split-cycle with isothermal compression via cryogenic injection. The technology has the potential to realize brake thermal efficiencies in the order of 60% across a number of applications, Ricardo says.

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Sainsbury trialing Dearman liquid air engine in refrigerated truck

June 22, 2016

Sainsbury’s has become the first company to introduce a refrigerated delivery truck cooled by a liquid nitrogen powered engine (earlier post), which will eliminate all emissions associated with refrigeration. Supplied by cooling technology specialist Dearman and its partners, the zero-emission cooling unit replaces the traditional diesel engine used to chill the vehicle and will significantly cut emissions.

During the three-month trial, the vehicle will save up to 1.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide; the equivalent of driving more than 14,500 km in a modern family car. The trial will also save 37 kg of NOx and 2 kg of particulate matter, compared to a similar diesel system. The truck will operate from Sainsbury’s Waltham Point depot, delivering chilled goods to stores in the London area.

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Canada publishes proposed regulations for criteria pollutants from locomotives

June 18, 2016

The Government of Canada has published proposed Locomotive Emissions Regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part I. This marks Canada’s first regulation of air pollutant emissions from locomotives. The proposed regulations will criteria air contaminants (CACs), from locomotives operated by railway companies under federal jurisdiction through increasingly stringent emission standards and reduced idling. CACs include NOx; particulate matter (PM); hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO); and sulfur oxides (SOx).

The emission standards set out in these proposed regulations will also align with those of the United States. Canada and the US are also working together on approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from locomotives under the Canada-US Regulatory Cooperation Council.

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Mercedes-Benz Trucks boosts power, lowers emissions and fuel consumption with latest generation OM 470 engine

June 17, 2016

At the upcoming IAA this fall, Mercedes-Benz Trucks will showcase the latest generation of the OM 470 six-cylinder in-line engine, which incorporates numerous new developments to achieve a further reduction in fuel consumption of up to 5%.

Mercedes-Benz is also introducing a new top-of-the-range variant with a power output of 335 kW (456 hp). All the heavy-duty engines benefit from new low-friction engine oils. The Mercedes PowerShift 3 twelve-speed transmissions have been modified for optimum efficiency and the driving strategy of the anticipatory cruise control system Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) has been refined. The Actros additionally benefits from aerodynamic improvements.

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CARB, NOAA, NASA and San Jose State University scientists team up to study ozone transported across Pacific

As California continues to reduce local sources of ozone, ozone entering the state from the Pacific makes up a larger fraction of measured ozone levels. Current ozone levels in the San Joaquin Valley are predominantly caused by local emissions, but as air quality standards become lower, any contribution from global ozone levels needs to be understood.

This summer dozens of scientists from State and federal agencies and universities are using four different aircraft with more than 200 flight hours, balloons that measure ozone aloft, and a laser-based instrument that measures ozone above the ground up to 12,000 feet, to investigate ozone which enters California from the Pacific Ocean. The three-month research project (mid-May to mid-August) will help scientists learn if ozone entering the state from the Pacific has an effect on air quality at the surface in the San Joaquin Valley.

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EU investing >€3M in research into ultra-efficient aero engines; ULTIMATE project

June 14, 2016

The EU is investing more than €3 million in innovative aero-engine technologies in the three-year ULTIMATE project, short for Ultra Low emission Technology Innovations for Mid-century Aircraft Turbine Engines. The 3-year project, which launched in September 2015, targets radical concepts for new aero engines, in line with the EU’s long-term emissions reduction target for 2050. The project is being presented in a paper (Grönstedt et al.) at the ASME Turbo Expo 2016 conference this week in Seoul, South Korea.​

The project team, coordinated by Chalmers University of Technology, includes four of the largest engine manufacturers in Europe: Rolls-Royce (UK), MTU Aero Engines (Germany), Safran Aircraft Engines (France) and GKN Aerospace (Sweden), four universities: Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden), Cranfield University (UK), Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece) and Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace (France), the research institute Bauhaus Luftfahrt (Germany) and the technology management company Arttic (France).

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Daimler investing >€7B in next 2 years in green tech; fuel cell plug-in, BEV architecture; 48V

June 13, 2016

At its TecDay event in Stuttgart, Daimler said it will invest more than €7 billion (US$7.9 billion) in green technologies in the next two years alone. Shortly, smart will be the only automaker worldwide to offer its entire model range both powered by internal combustion engines or operating on battery power. Mercedes-Benz will put the first fuel-cell-powered vehicle with plug-in technology into series production: the GLC F-CELL. In addition, the company is developing a dedicated vehicle architecture for battery-electric motor cars.

Following the company’s recent introduction of the new OM 654 diesel family (earlier post), Daimler will introduce a new family of gasoline engines in 2017, which will again set efficiency standards and will be the first ever to be equipped with a particulate filter (earlier post). The 48-volt on-board power supply will be introduced at the same time and starter-generators will become part of the standard specification. The 48V system will make fuel savings possible that previously were the exclusive domain of the high-voltage hybrid technology.

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Ricardo: achieving light-duty diesel RDE NOx compliance in urban driving is possible, at a price

June 11, 2016

A range of aftertreatment technology options are available to automakers seeking to achieve compliance with the impending EU Real Driving Emissions (RDE) regulations, according to the results of a Ricardo research project presented recently at the SIA Powertrain international conference and exhibition in Rouen, France. The SIA conference was focused on clean compression-ignition engines of the future.

Future RDE emissions legislation and fleet average CO2 targets represent a challenge for automakers wishing to provide cost-effective light duty diesel vehicles. But while the costs of implementation can be significant, a range of technologies is available which, applied in a combination and manner appropriate to needs of the vehicle, can deliver compliant performance in terms of both NOx and CO2.

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California to award $9M for 27 BYD zero-emission trucks at two rail yards, one freight transfer yard in Southern California

June 10, 2016

The State of California is awarding $9 million to the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) for 27 zero-emission trucks to replace diesel-powered heavy-duty tractors used in rail yards and large-scale freight distribution centers. The funds come from the California Climate Investments (CCI) program and are designed to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG), while also reducing petroleum usage and improving air quality in residential communities.

The two types of trucks funded by this grant are the most common at every major freight location in the US, providing a model for truck electrification that could be scaled to any facility. The project will demonstrate 23 battery-electric 80,000-pound (GVWR) Class 8 yard trucks, also known as “yard goats,” which are used to move heavy freight containers short distances within freight yards, warehouses, distribution centers and port terminals.

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US DRIVE releases comprehensive cradle-to-grave analysis of light-duty vehicle GHGs, cost of driving and cost of avoided GHGs

June 09, 2016

The US DRIVE Cradle-to-Grave Working Group has published the “Cradle-to-Grave Lifecycle Analysis of US Light-Duty Vehicle-Fuel Pathways: A Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Economic Assessment of Current (2015) and Future (2025–2030) Technologies” Argonne National Lab Report.

The study provides a comprehensive lifecycle analysis (LCA), or cradle-to-grave (C2G) analysis, of the cost and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of a variety of vehicle-fuel pathways, as well as the levelized cost of driving (LCD) and cost of avoided GHG emissions. The study also estimates the technology readiness levels (TRLs) of key fuel and vehicle technologies along the pathways. The study only addresses possible vehicle-fuel combination pathways—i.e., no scenario analysis.

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Germany’s KBA greenlights diesel emissions fix for 1.1M more VW Group cars; 2.5M in total

June 08, 2016

Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) has given the go-ahead for the modification of around 1.1 million more Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Audi vehicles. The KBA has thus so far approved more than 2.5 million Group vehicles for the modification to correct the diesel emissions cheating issue.

The approval includes the Volkswagen Tiguan; Caddy from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles; and a series of A4, A5, A6 and Q5 vehicles, all fitted with EA 189 2.0-liter TDI engines.

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Global companies form below50 to scale up low-carbon sustainable fuels; Audi in from automotive sector

June 06, 2016

Global companies are partnering with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), Roundtable for Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) and Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) in a new global initiative called below50, to promote the best-of-breed of sustainable fuels that can achieve significant carbon reductions, and to scale-up their development and use.

A key outcome of the Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative (LCTPi), below50 is intended to grow a global corporate market for sustainable low-carbon transport fuels (LCTFs). Any company which produces, uses and/or invests in fuels that are at least 50% less carbon intensive than conventional fossil fuels can join below50.

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KBA approves software solution for VW 2.0L EA 189 diesels; more than 800K units to be retrofitted

June 03, 2016

Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) has approved the technical solutions proposed by Volkswagen for the Volkswagen Passat, CC and Eos models with 2.0l TDI EA 189 engines. (Earlier post.)

More than 800,000 vehicles affected by the diesel compliance issue are now to be recalled as soon as possible. The affected owners will receive letters from Volkswagen and can then arrange a service appointment. This is a continuation of the retrofit campaign for affected vehicles started by Volkswagen early this year. (Earlier post.)

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Santa Monica signs 5-year deal with Clean Energy for renewable LNG for bus fleet; deploying CWI Near-Zero NOx engine

June 02, 2016

The City of Santa Monica, California has awarded Clean Energy a multi-year liquefied natural gas (LNG) contract to fuel its Big Blue Bus (BBB) fleet of vehicles. The 5-year deal, worth an estimated $3 million per year, will enable BBB to continue using Clean Energy’s Redeem brand of renewable natural gas (RNG), rated up to 90% cleaner than diesel. BBB began using Redeem by Clean Energy in January 2015. (Earlier post.)

BBB, one of the first transit agencies in the nation to contract for Redeem, will also become one of the first agencies to incorporate the new Cummins-Westport 8.9L ISL G Near-Zero 0.02 NOx engine, 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. (Earlier post.) ARB has defined this certified Near Zero NOx emission level as equivalent to a 100% battery truck using electricity from a modern combined cycle natural gas power plant.

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Mercedes-Benz investing ~€3B in new engine technology; new diesel family, particulate filters for gasoline engines

May 27, 2016

Mercedes-Benz is investing about €3 billion (US$3.4 billion) in engine technology to ensure further improvements in fuel consumption and emissions in gasoline and diesel engines in current as well as current vehicles, according to Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, Daimler Board of Management Member for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.

With the new E 220d, Mercedes-Benz introduced the completely newly developed four-cylinder diesel engine OM 654 (earlier post)—the first of a modular new diesel engine family that fulfills future RDE emissions requirements and that will be applied throughout the entire portfolios of Mercedes-Benz Cars and also at Mercedes-Benz Vans.

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Pasha, Port of LA and California ARB partner on $26.6M Green Omni Terminal demo project; emerging zero and near-zero emission tech

May 26, 2016

Pasha Stevedoring and Terminals L.P. and the Port of Los Angeles are launching the Green Omni Terminal Demonstration Project, a full-scale, real-time demonstration of zero and near-zero emission technologies at a working marine terminal.

At full build out, Pasha will be the world’s first marine terminal able to generate all of its energy needs from renewable sources. The $26.6-million project is funded in part by a $14.5-million grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for reducing greenhouse gases and other pollutants. As part of the project, Pasha will integrate a fleet of new and retrofitted zero-emission electric vehicles and cargo-handling equipment into its terminal operations and demonstrate the latest generation of advanced technology for capturing ship emissions from vessels unable to plug into shore power at berth.

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10-year study shows how air pollution fosters heart disease; accelerated plaque build-up in arteries

May 25, 2016

Long-term exposure to particulate air pollution has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, but the biological process has not been understood. A major, decade-long study of thousands of Americans has now found that people living in areas with more outdoor pollution—even at lower levels common in the United States—accumulate deposits in the arteries that supply the heart faster than do people living in less polluted areas. The study is published in The Lancet.

Previous epidemiological studies have shown associations between particle matter and heart disease. It has been unclear, however, how exposure to particulate matter leads to diseases of the cardiovascular system. Earlier studies had been shorter and had depended for their analysis on existing datasets collected for other purposes.

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Study finds 80% reduction in atmospheric CO as a result of gasoline car emissions policies

May 24, 2016

New research published today (23 May) in Scientific Reports has found a marked and progressive 80% decline in atmospheric CO (carbon monoxide) in SE England since 1997, following adoption of strict controls on gasoline vehicle emissions begin in the 1990s. The decline is strongest (approximately 50 ppb per year) in the 1997–2003 period but continues post 2003.

The successful reduction of carbon monoxide in the UK is also matched by high percentage reductions across Europe over the same time period. This suggests that recent rises of carbon monoxide in newly developed countries can be reversed in a 20-year time frame with similar technological and policy implementations. The open-access study is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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ULEMCo delivers first hydrogen-diesel dual-fuel refuse trucks to Fife Council in Scotland

May 23, 2016

ULEMCo, the developer of a hydrogen-diesel dual fuel conversion system for commercial vehicles, has delivered its first hydrogen dual-fuel refuse vehicles to Fife Council in Scotland. The trucks, which deliver reduced CO2 emissions as well as improving air quality for the local community, are planned for use in densely populated urban areas, where improving air quality is a major concern.

The dual-fuel engines are equipped with hydrogen injection and a separate ECU control system. A diesel pilot injection initiates combustion of the hydrogen, which is stored onboard at 350 bar. CO2 emissions under dual fuel mode are approximately 70% less than a comparable diesel vehicle, according to the company.

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Cummins unveils SmartEfficiency initiative for transit buses; diesel, hybrid and near-zero NOx engines

May 20, 2016

Cummins Inc. unveiled the SmartEfficiency initiative for transit buses, which focuses on improved uptime and reliability. As part of the SmartEfficiency initiative, Cummins revealed the 2017 L9 diesel and 2017 B6.7 hybrid engine systems; the ISL G Near Zero (NZ) NOx natural gas engine (earlier post); the isolated engine coolant loop system for the 2017 L9 and ISL G; and a new SmartSupport service program.

Available in 2017, the L9 for transit applications will continue to use the modular aftertreatment architecture. A SmartEfficiency-driven improvement is the isolated coolant loop for transit buses using an L9 or ISL G powertrain, which improves reliability and reduces downtime.

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ITF launches global initiative to decarbonize transport

May 19, 2016

The International Transport Forum (ITF) at the OECD has launched a major global initiative towards carbon-free transport. Transport activity currently contributes 23% of global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, with the share expected to rise. The long-term objective of the project is to define a commonly-acceptable pathway to achieve zero transport emissions by around 2050.

The Decarbonizing Transport project, announced during the Annual Summit of transport ministers in Leipzig, Germany aims to provide a common assessment tool based on a comprehensive modeling framework supported by dialogue with key stakeholders; to enable countries and other stakeholders to translate roadmaps into actions that deliver results grounded in quantitative data; and to support actions to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals along with the decarbonization of the transport sector.

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Ford first automaker to use captured CO2 to develop foam and plastic for vehicles

May 16, 2016

Ford Motor Company is the first automaker to formulate and test new foam and plastic components using carbon dioxide as feedstock. Researchers expect to see the new biomaterials in Ford production vehicles within five years.

Formulated with up to 50% CO2-based polyols, the foam is showing promise as it meets rigorous automotive test standards. It could be employed in seating and underhood applications, potentially reducing petroleum use by more than 600 million pounds annually. CO2-derived foam will further reduce the use of fossil fuels in Ford vehicles and increase the presence of sustainable foam in the automaker’s global lineup.

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Report: Ontario targeting 5% EV share of all new vehicles sold by 2020, 12% by 2025 as part of C$7B climate plan

Canada’s Globe and Mail reports that as part of a more C$7-billion (US$5.4-billion), 4-year climate change plan, the Ontario government will invest C$285 million (US$221 million) in electric vehicle incentives; implement lower carbon fuel standards; and invest C$280 million (US$217 million) to help school boards buy electric buses and trucking companies switch to lower-carbon trucks, including by building more liquid natural gas fueling stations.

The Globe and Mail obtained a copy of the currently confidential 57-page Climate Change Action Plan, which lays out a strategy from 2017 to 2021. The document outlines contains about 80 different policies, grouped into 32 different actions. The Globe had previously uncovered details of the plan, but this is the first time the full blueprint has been revealed. The strategy is scheduled to be further reviewed by cabinet ministers and fine-tuned, sources told the Globe and Mail, with public release slated for June.

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Stanford team develops nanofiber air filters for efficient high-temperature removal of PM2.5

A team at Stanford has developed high-efficiency (>99.5%) polyimide-nanofiber air filters for the removal of PM2.5 from exhaust streams. In a paper published in the ACS journal Nano Letters, the researchers report that the new polyimide nanofibers exhibit high thermal stability. The PM2.5 removal efficiency was kept unchanged when temperature ranged from 25–370 °C.

The filters feature high air flux with very low pressure drop. A field-test showed that the new nanofibers could effectively remove >99.5% PM particles from car exhaust at high temperature. Some versions of the filters removed PM2.5 with efficiency higher than 99.98%—the standard of HEPA filters defined as filters with filtration efficiency >99.97% for 0.3 μm airborne particles.

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U. Minnesota team develops Lagrangian technique to identify NOx hotspots; opportunity for connected vehicles and big data

May 15, 2016

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have introduced a new method for identifying NOx emissions hotspots using high-fidelity Lagrangian vehicle data to explore spatial interactions that may influence emissions production.

Their study, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, finds that the two transit buses under study—a conventional powertrain transit bus and a series electric hybrid bus—emit higher than regulated emissions because on-route operation does not accurately represent the range of engine operation tested according to regulatory standards. Using Lagrangian hotspot detection, they demonstrated that NOx hotspots occurred at bus stops, during cold starts, on inclines, and for accelerations.

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WHO: Air pollution levels rising in many of the world’s poorest cities

May 12, 2016

More than 80% of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that exceed World Health Organization (WHO) limits, according to the organization. While all regions of the world are affected, populations in low-income cities are the most impacted.

According to the latest urban air quality database, 98% of cities in low- and middle income countries with more than 100 000 inhabitants do not meet WHO air quality guidelines. However, in high-income countries, that percentage decreases to 56%.

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Argonne rolls out updated version of AFLEET alternative fuels and advanced vehicles analysis tool

May 10, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE’s) Argonne National Laboratory is releasing an updated version of its AFLEET tool to reflect the latest advances in alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies and updated emissions data. Sponsored by the DOE Clean Cities program, AFLEET (Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation Tool) is a free, publicly-available tool that provides users with a roadmap for assessing which types of vehicles and fuels are right for them. The 2016 AFLEET Tool and user guide are available online. Although anyone can download and use the tool, AFLEET was designed for managers that purchase and maintain a fleet of vehicles.

The latest version includes, for the first time: gaseous hydrogen fuel cell vehicles; state-based (rather than national-based) fuel pricing, private station fuel pricing and fueling infrastructure costs. Updates to existing inputs include new light-duty vehicle costs; vehicle air pollutant emission factors derived from the Environmental Protection Agency’s emissions modeling system, MOVES 2014a; and petroleum use and greenhouse gas and relative air pollutant emissions from the 2015 GREET model, Argonne’s leading fuel life-cycle analysis model that is now in its twentieth year.

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Volvo Trucks introduces new one-box aftertreatment system

May 06, 2016

Volvo Trucks North America recently introduced a new one-box design for its Exhaust Aftertreatment System (EATS), resulting in increased flexibility, increased fuel capacity and a more aerodynamic vehicle. Standard with Volvo D11- and Volvo D13-equipped vehicles, the one-box EATS offers greater flexibility with the vehicle.

The smaller packaging benefits Volvo’s on-highway lineup—VNM, VNL and VAH models—with increased frame rail space for additional fuel capacity or to mount APUs or any other frame-mounted accessories. On the vocational side, the one-box system provides the Volvo VHD better back-of-cab clearance and up to 12 inches of frame rail space to provide body builders greater flexibility for equipment installation.

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

May 04, 2016

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

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

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

May 03, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 02, 2016

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

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

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

April 30, 2016

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

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

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

April 29, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 23, 2016

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

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

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

April 22, 2016

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

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

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

April 19, 2016

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

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

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

April 18, 2016

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

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

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

April 14, 2016

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

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

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

April 11, 2016

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

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

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

April 10, 2016

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

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

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

April 09, 2016

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

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

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

April 06, 2016

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

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

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

April 05, 2016

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

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

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

April 04, 2016

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

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

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

March 29, 2016

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

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

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

March 28, 2016

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

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

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

March 26, 2016

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

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

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

March 17, 2016

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

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

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

March 16, 2016

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

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

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

March 10, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 09, 2016

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

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

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

March 08, 2016

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

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

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

March 04, 2016

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

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

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Volkswagen AG timeline on diesel emissions scandal

March 03, 2016

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

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

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

February 29, 2016

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

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

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

February 26, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 24, 2016

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

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

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

February 22, 2016

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

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

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

February 15, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 12, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 09, 2016

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

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

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

February 05, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 03, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 02, 2016

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

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

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

January 28, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 25, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 20, 2016

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

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

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

January 19, 2016

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

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

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

January 15, 2016

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

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

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

January 12, 2016

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

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

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

January 07, 2016

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

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

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

January 04, 2016

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

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

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

December 30, 2015

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

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

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

December 17, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 15, 2015

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

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

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

December 14, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 10, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 09, 2015

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

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

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

December 07, 2015

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

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

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

December 06, 2015

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

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

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

December 02, 2015

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

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

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