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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.]

EIA data shows ongoing trend of rising CO2 emissions from energy consumption after several years of decreases

September 29, 2014

The September 2014 Monthly Energy Review (MER) published on Friday by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has provided more data to support a trend in rising CO2 in the US that began in 2013.

In 2012, according to the EIA, carbon dioxide emissions from energy consumption (in million metric tons of carbon dioxide) dropped to 5,267 MMT, the lowest level since 1990 (5,039 MMT). However, in 2013, CO2 emissions from energy consumption climbed to 5,396 MMT. In the September MER, the 6-month total (January to June) for 2014 registers 2,737 MMT—up from the 2013 January-June total of 2,664 MMT and the 2012 January-June total of 2,583 MMT.

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BIO says EPA inaction on RFS rule causing an increase in GHG emissions

September 23, 2014

Increased greenhouse gas emissions equal to 4.4 million additional cars on US roads are likely as a result of EPA inaction on finalizing the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rules, according to a new white paper issued by The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). The white paper updates earlier BIO’s March 2014 study, “Estimating Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Proposed Changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard Through 2022.”

That study demonstrated that if EPA reduced biofuel use under the RFS, as the agency proposed in November 2013, the United States would experience an increase in greenhouse gas emissions and forego an achievable decrease in emissions.

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Promising results from Mercedes-Benz fleet test of Clariant high-octane cellulosic E20

Clariant, Haltermann and Mercedes-Benz have fleet-tested high-octane sunliquid 20 fuel—containing 20% cellulosic ethanol produced from straw—since January. (Earlier post.) The test found that the use of sunliquid 20 improves engine efficiency—more than compensating for its 4% lower energy content compared to E10. For drivers, this means with sunliquid 20, CO2emissions are reduced while consumption remains the same.

Use of sunliquid 20 also resulted in a 50% improvement in particle emissions count in contrast to the EU 5 reference fuel. The cellulosic ethanol in sunliquid 20 demonstrates greenhouse gas emission savings of up to 95% across the entire value chain (well-to-wheel perspective) without competing with food production or agricultural acreage.

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Canada aligns with US on light-duty vehicle GHGs, Tier 3 regulations and heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency

Canadian Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced developments on three new regulatory initiatives to further support Canada’s efforts to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to provide cleaner air through lower air pollutant emissions from cars and trucks. These vehicles and fuels regulatory initiatives are aligned with those of the United States.

GHG regulations. The final Regulations Amending the Passenger Automobile and Light Truck Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations for model year 2017 and beyond will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on 8 October. These regulatory amendments represent further action to reduce GHG emissions while building on the existing Regulations for 2011-2016 model year vehicles.

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Peugeot introducing new Euro-6 versions of 3-cylinder gasoline and 4-cylinder diesel engines

September 15, 2014

Peugeot is introducing new Euro 6-compliant versions of its three-cylinder PureTech gasoline and four-cylinder BlueHDI diesel engines. All are equipped with Stop & Start (S&S) technology. Each engine is also coupled with Peugeot’s third-generation Efficient Automatic Transmission 6 (EAT6) transmission.

The introduction of the new engines has reduced the average weighted CO2 emissions of Peugeot’s European range to 111.2 g/km, as measured at the end of May 2014. That compares with 115.1 g/km at the same point in 2013, putting PSA Peugeot Citroën at the top of the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) ranking.

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Study: surface ozone in India in 2005 damaged 6M tonnes of crops, enough to feed 94M people in poverty

September 04, 2014

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Smog in India. Ozone, the main component of smog, is a plant-damaging pollutant formed by emissions from vehicles, cooking stoves and other sources. New research shows that ozone pollution damaged millions of tons of wheat, rice, soybean and cotton crops in India in 2005. Credit: Mark Danielson/Flickr

Surface ozone pollution in India damaged 6 million metric tons (6.7 million US tons) of India’s wheat, rice, soybean and cotton crops in 2005, according to a new study published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

India could feed 94 million people with the lost wheat and rice crops, or about a third of the country’s poor, according to Sachin Ghude, an atmospheric scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) in Pune, India and lead author of the new study. There are about 270 million Indians that live in poverty, according to the study.

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EPA staff policy assessment recommends reduction in ozone standard from 75 ppb to 60-70 ppb

August 31, 2014

The staff of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (OAQPS) has released the final version of the policy assessment (PA) for the review of the ozone (O3) National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).

Among the staff recommendations are to further reduce the primary ozone standard from the current 75 ppb (parts per billion) to a revised level within the range of 70 ppb to 60 ppb—and preferably below 70 ppb.

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Study finds external effects negate Hong Kong local efforts to reduce ozone pollution; multiregional policies needed

August 29, 2014

Researchers from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department and UC Irvine present in a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology direct evidence that increasing regional effects have negated local control efforts for O3 (ozone) pollution in Hong Kong over the past decade.

The researchers analyzed the daily maximum 8 h average O3 and Ox (=O3+NO2) concentrations observed during the high O3 season (September–November) at Air Quality Monitoring Stations. They found that the locally produced Ox showed a statistically significant decreasing trend over 2002–2013 in Hong Kong. Analysis by an observation-based model confirmed this decline in in situ Ox production, which the team attributed to a reduction in aromatic hydrocarbons.

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Study: open trash burning worldwide significantly worsening air pollution; unaccounted for in emission inventories

August 28, 2014

Unregulated open trash burning around the globe is pumping far more pollution into the atmosphere than shown by official records. A new study led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) estimates that more than 40% of the world’s garbage is burned in such fires, emitting gases and particles that can substantially affect human health and climate change.

The new study provides the first rough estimates, on a country-by-country basis, of pollutants such as particulates, carbon monoxide, and mercury that are emitted by the fires. Such pollutants have been linked to serious medical issues. The researchers also estimated emissions of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas produced by human activity. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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US MARAD study finds marine use of natural gas substantially reduces some air pollutants and slightly reduces GHG emissions

August 26, 2014

A recently released total fuel cycle analysis for maritime case studies shows that natural gas fuels reduce some air quality pollutants substantially, and reduce major greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions slightly, when compared to conventional petroleum-based marine fuels (low-sulfur and high-sulfur). The study was released by the US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Maritime Administration (MARAD) and was conducted through a cooperative partnership with the Maritime Administration, the University of Delaware and The Rochester Institute of Technology.

They also found that the upstream configuration for natural gas supply matters in terms of minimizing GHG emissions on a total fuel cycle basis, and that the current infrastructure for marine fuels may produce fewer GHGs. Continued improvements to minimize downstream emissions of methane during vessel-engine operations will also contribute to lower GHG emissions from marine applications of natural gas fuels.

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Black carbon linked to increased cardiovascular risk; exacerbated by co-exposure to motor vehicle emissions

Black carbon (BC) from incomplete biomass and fossil fuel combustion is the most strongly light-absorbing component of particulate matter (PM) air pollution and a major climate-forcing emission. A new international study led by McGill University (Canada) Professor Jill Baumgartner suggests that black carbon may also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. The team’s findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS).

China’s particulate matter (PM) air pollution significantly exceeds health guidelines and is driven by industrial emissions, motor vehicles, and household use of biomass and coal fuels. Baumgartner and her colleagues measured the daily exposure to different types of air pollutants, including black carbon, in 280 women (mean age 51.9 y) in China’s rural Yunnan province, where biomass fuels are commonly used. They found that found that BC exposure from biomass smoke is more strongly associated with blood pressure—which directly impacts cardiovascular risk—than total PM mass, and that co-exposure to motor vehicle emissions may strengthen BC’s impact. Air pollution mitigation efforts focusing on reducing combustion pollution are likely to have major benefits for climate and human health.

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MIT study finds air quality co-benefits of US carbon policies can significantly offset costs, depending upon the policy

August 25, 2014

The human health benefits associated with improvements in air quality related to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions improvements can offset 26–1,050% of the cost of US carbon policies, depending upon the type of policy, according to a new study by a team from MIT. (Air quality co-benefits are additional to climate benefits realized from reduced CO2 emissions.)

In a paper published in the journal Nature Climate Science, the MIT researchers took a systems-level approach to analyzing how climate policies influence air quality, focusing on US emissions of O3 and PM2.5 precursors through 2030. They assessed the costs and air-quality-related benefits of three potential national-scale climate policies, examining the entire pathway linking climate policies, economic sector responses, emissions, regional air quality, human health and related economic impacts.

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EPA report shows progress in reducing urban air toxics across US; 50% reduction from mobile sources since 1990

August 22, 2014

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Second Integrated Urban Air Toxics Report to Congress—the final of two reports required under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to inform Congress of progress in reducing public health risks from urban air toxics (also referred to as hazardous air pollutants or HAPs). HAPs are defined as those pollutants that cause or may cause cancer or other serious health effects, such as reproductive effects or birth defects, or adverse environmental and ecological effects.

Using national emissions and air quality data, the Urban Air Toxics Report shows the substantial progress that has been made to reduce air toxics across the country since the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. Among the results highlighted is the removal of an estimated 1.5 million tons per year of HAPs from mobile sources, which represents a 50% reduction in mobile source HAP emissions. With additional fleet turnover, EPA expects these reductions to grow to 80% by the year 2030.

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3rd generation Audi TT reduces full lifecycle GHGs by 11% compared to predecessor

August 18, 2014

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Lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions for 2nd and 3rd generation TTs. Click to enlarge.

Audi’s new third-generation TT reduces life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions by 11% compared to its predecessor. This results in a reduction of around 5.5 tonnes of GHGs—CO2, methane, nitrous oxide and halogenated organic emissions—over its entire lifecycle. At the same time, Audi has increased the power output in the new TT by up to 14%.

A number of technologies have contributed towards the positive life cycle assessment of the Audi TT, including lightweight construction. Using an intelligent combination of materials, Audi engineers have, for the second time in a row, succeeded in reducing the car’s unladen weight.

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Emissions study suggests E10 + renewable hydrocarbons a high bioenergy alternative for conventional cars

August 14, 2014

Researchers from VTT Technical Research Center of Finland and Neste Oil analyzed the exhaust emissions from three different spark ignition engine technologies—multipoint fuel injection (MPFI); direct-injection spark-ignition (DISI); and flex-fuel (FFV)—using different biofuels—low- and high-concentration ethanol blends; isobutanol; and biohydrocarbons. They report their findings in a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Among their conclusions was that the combination of ethanol or isobutanol with renewable hydrocarbon components (i.e., drop-in biohydrocarbons) could offer an option to achieve a high-bioenergy-content gasoline that is compatible with conventional gasoline-fueled cars (i.e., those limited to a 10% ethanol blend) without a significant change in emissions.

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Volkswagen and Audi launch sustainability programs for US introduction of e-Golf BEV and A3 e-tron PHEV; carbon offsets with 3Degrees and solar energy

August 05, 2014

Volkswagen of America, Inc. introduced several e-mobility sustainability initiatives to commence with the US launch of the battery-electric e-Golf (earlier post). These begin with an investment in carbon reduction projects via a partnership with 3Degrees to offset emissions created from e-Golf production, distribution and from the estimated emissions produced from keeping the vehicle charged through the initial 36,000 miles of its life. VoA made the announcement at the Management Briefing Seminar, hosted by the Center for Automotive Research.

Volkswagen of America also selected SunPower as VW’s official solar energy partner; Bosch Automotive Service Solutions as its preferred home-charging and installation services provider; and ChargePoint to provide charging stations to the VW dealer network and to provide US e-Golf owners access to consumers to more than 18,000 charging stations nationwide. The 2015 e-Golf will go on sale later this year at participating dealerships in select states.

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U Mich professor finds fuel cycle analysis for evaluating CO2 impacts of liquid fuels is fatally flawed; calls for focus on CO2 removal

July 28, 2014

Fuel cycle analysis (FCA)—or “well-to-wheels analysis”—is a type of lifecycle analysis (LCA) that examines fuel products and their supply chains, and that has greatly influenced climate-related research priorities and public policies for transportation fuels.

However, in a major review of methods for evaluating the net CO2 impacts of liquid transportation fuels, Professor John DeCicco at the University of Michigan Energy Institute (UMEI) compared FCA to other methods of analysis, and found “flaws fatal enough to raise serious concerns about the role of FCA in shaping fuel-related CO2 mitigation strategies. Instead, DeCicco proposes “setting the lifecycle paradigm aside” and focusing on the problem of carbon dioxide removal.

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Delphi to debut new Tech Truck at IAA CV show; new high-pressure fuel injection system and new HPDI injector for natural gas

July 27, 2014

Delphi Automotive PLC will unveil the second generation of its Technology Truck concept highlighting future technologies at the upcoming IAA Commercial Vehicles show being held 25 Sept - 2 Oct in Hannover, Germany.

Among the technologies Delphi will unveil is the next-generation fuel injection system for commercial vehicles applications. The system, which builds on the performance of its 2700 bar F2 common rail technologies, includes a patented fuel injector and will help vehicle manufacturers meet future legislated emissions and fuel efficiency levels. Also at IAA, Delphi will showcase the new second-generation High Pressure Direct Injection (HPDI) natural gas injector for heavy-duty engine applications. Delphi co-developed the new HPDI injector with Westport.

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IHS: continued legislative focus on pollutants to drive sensor market for internal combustion engines

July 24, 2014

The global market for sensors used in internal combustion engines (ICE) is on the road of steady growth for the next few years, propelled by increasing utilization in engine management and exhaust aftertreatment, according to a new report from IHS Technology. IHS projects that sensor shipments for ICEs will top 1.34 billion units in 2019, up from about 1.08 billion in 2013. Overall, IHS expects a six-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2013 to 2019 of 3.6%.

The report—“Powertrain Sensor Market Tracker – H1 2014”—is part of the Semiconductors & Components service of IHS Technology. The report examines more than 20 sensors attached to the engine, fuel and exhaust systems of passenger vehicles. The list includes pressure sensors, devices to monitor flow and temperature, ceramic sensors for the gases nitrogen oxide (NOx) and oxygen, in addition to knock sensing, position and speed.

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Argonne VERIFI researchers applying GSA to investigate combustion engine parameters; seeking cleaner and more efficient engines

July 18, 2014

Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, as part of the new Virtual Engine Research Institute and Fuels Initiative (VERIFI) (earlier post), are using global sensitivity analysis (GSA)—a specific form of uncertainty analysis which breaks down the uncertainty into constitute parts—to investigate a number of parameters in the internal combustion process. By gaining a better understanding of how these parameter uncertainties affect outcomes, the VERIFI researchers, along with colleagues at the University of Connecticut, are seeking to create cleaner and more efficient engines.

The parameters being investigated include the relationships between the diameter of the nozzle in the fuel injector; the dynamics of the fuel spray; the proportion of fuel to air in the combustion chamber; and the exhaust products. In an SAE paper presented at the World Congress this year, the researchers described the results of the first demonstration of GSA for engine simulations.

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UK study finds low carbon policy has bolstered UK automotive sector, but trucks neglected and biofuels stalled

July 17, 2014

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Value of low carbon investments by year and cumulative. Click to enlarge.

A major new report published at the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership’s Annual Conference shows the UK automotive sector has been revitalized by consistently applied policy centered on cutting carbon.

Carried out for LowCVP by E4tech and the Centre for Automotive Industry Research at Cardiff Business School, the study was conducted between March and June 2014. The broad industry survey, supplemented by in-depth interviews with senior executives showed that a consistent and sustained policy approach can produce both green results and growth. The link between consistently applied policy and a win-win in terms of investment and emissions performance was validated by the survey involving more than 120 senior industry and stakeholder respondents.

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New Mercedes C-Class Estate offers new 1.6L diesel, diesel hybrid options; gasoline plug-in hybrid model coming

July 15, 2014

Mercedes-Benz is adding a new Estate (wagon) model to its C-Class family starting in September 2014. The powertrain range for the Estate, which includes diesel, gasoline and hybrid options, features a new 1.6-liter 4-cylinder diesel (OM 626) produced by Renault. Compared with the predecessor Estate, certain members of the line-up consume in excess of 20% less fuel.

Depending on its configuration, the single-stage turbocharged engine generates 85 or 100 kW (116 or 136 hp) of power from a displacement of 1598 cc and delivers 280 or 300 N·m (207 or 221 lb-ft) of rated torque. Fuel consumption for both variants is rated at 4.3 l/100 km (54.7 mpg US) NEDC.

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Jaguar shares details about new Ingenium family of efficient gasoline and diesel engines

July 10, 2014

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Ingenium engine. Click to enlarge.

Jaguar Land Rover has revealed some details about its new Ingenium family of efficient diesel and gasoline engines. The powerplants—designed, engineered and manufactured by Jaguar Land Rover—deliver class-leading levels of torque, horsepower and refinement while reducing emissions and fuel consumption.

Design goals for the new engine family included: configurable and flexible to enable seamless installation in a range of new Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles; scalable up and down to create smaller or larger displacement variants in the future; able to accommodate a range of powertrain layouts including rear-, all- and four-wheel drive; engineered to support manual and automatic transmissions as well as electrified hybrid drive systems; and easily accepting of new advances in engine technologies as they become available.

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EPA selects ANSYS for simulation software to develop advanced test engine

July 09, 2014

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Streamlines showing intake process for an SI engine in a FORTE simulation. Source: ANSYS. Click to enlarge.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected ANSYS simulation solutions to model in-cylinder combustion to develop an advanced test engine that will demonstrate fuel-saving and emissions-reducing technologies. The EPA’s test engine will help establish the feasibility of meeting recently issued fuel standards through improvements to combustion chamber geometries, fuel injection strategies, fuel composition, valve timing and intake conditions.

While physical prototyping and direct tests on real engine hardware can guide engine design, they are very costly and time-intensive. By using ANSYS FORTÉ, the EPA can experiment with engine design in a virtual setting. As a result, its engineers can quickly and inexpensively make multiple design iterations. ANSYS acquired FORTÉ as part of its acquisition of Reaction Design earlier this year. (Earlier post.)

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Critical review finds actual measurement data on segments of natural gas lifecycle sparse or lacking

July 08, 2014

After a critical review of the literature on the air impacts of increased natural gas acquisition, processing, and use, a team of US researchers has determined that that actual measurement data on various individual segments of the natural gas life cycle are sparse or critically lacking.

National and state regulators primarily use generic emission inventories to assess the climate, air quality, and health impacts of natural gas systems. These inventories rely on limited, incomplete, and sometimes outdated emission factors and activity data, based on few measurements, they found. In their paper, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they make a number of recommendations to maximize the benefits and minimize the negative impacts of the natural gas resource.

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Report finds progress in UK Low Carbon Emissions Bus uptake, but a need to review incentives

July 06, 2014

Despite the recent uptake of low carbon emission buses (LCEBs) in the UK, significant barriers remain to sustained market growth, and there are risks of current progress being disrupted, according to a new report prepared for the UK LowCVP by Transport & Travel Research Ltd, in partnership with TRL.

LCEBs are defined as vehicles producing at least 30% fewer lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than a current Euro-III-equivalent diesel bus of the same total passenger capacity. The well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions, expressed in grams of carbon dioxide equivalent measured over a standard test, take into account both the production of the fuel and its consumption.

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Caterpillar and Argonne’s VERIFI undertake cooperative virtual engine design, control project; first VERIFI CRADA

July 03, 2014

Low-temperature combustion regimes show great efficiency and emissions potential, but they present optimization and control challenges that must be addressed before they enter the engine mainstream.

Caterpillar Inc. has entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Argonne National Laboratory and its recently formed Virtual Engine Research Institute and Fuels Initiative (VERIFI), where experts are developing new engine combustion models that incorporate accurate descriptions of two-phase flows, chemistry, transport phenomena and device geometries to provide predictive simulations of engine and fuel performance.

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SwRI engineers win SAE award for paper on impact of octane and cooled EGR on engine performance and efficiency

A team of engineers from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has received the prestigious SAE International Harry L. Horning Memorial Award for a 2012 technical paper (2012-01-1149) investigating different octane-rated gasolines and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) levels.

Institute Engineer Dr. Charles Roberts, Assistant Director Dr. Terry Alger and Research Technologist Barrett Mangold, all of SwRI’s Engine, Emissions and Vehicle Research Division, received the award at the SAE World Congress in Detroit in April. Former SwRI employee Jess Gingrich is also a co-recipient.

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NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2 reaches orbit

July 02, 2014

by Jack Rosebro

At 2:56 AM PST today, NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2 (OCO-2) was successfully launched into orbit from Space Complex 2 West at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base, riding on a two-stage Delta II 7320-10 launch vehicle. Consisting of a single observing instrument, the Observatory is designed to provide precise measurements of atmospheric CO2, and is NASA’s first satellite mission dedicated to studying concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

OCO-2 will not be measuring CO2 directly; but rather the intensity of the sunlight reflected from the presence of CO2 in a column of air. This measurement is unique like a fingerprint, and can be used for identification. The OCO-2 instrument will use a diffraction grating to separate the incoming sunlight into a spectrum of multiple component colors.

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Berkeley Lab/U. Hawaii team provides direct experimental evidence for mechanism for PAH formation in combustion; cleaner fuels could result

July 01, 2014

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (Berkeley Lab) and the University of Hawaii have provided direct experimental evidence for the validity of a proposed mechanism for the first step in the process that transforms gas-phase molecules into solid particles such as soot and other carbon-based compounds.

The finding could help combustion chemists make more-efficient, less-polluting fuels and help materials scientists fine-tune their carbon nanotubes and graphene sheets for faster, smaller electronics. In addition, the results could have implications for the burgeoning field of astrochemistry, potentially establishing the chemical process for how gaseous outflows from stars turn into carbon-based matter in space.

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China iCET releases 2014 Green Car China report ranking mainstream cars by green and health impacts

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Only hybrids performed very well on both the green rating and the smog index. Source: iCET. Click to enlarge.

China’s Innovation Center for Energy and Transportation (iCET) recently released its 2014 Green Car China Annual Report, an evaluation of mainstream vehicles on sale in China by their lifecycle impacts and their health impacts.

Based on the lifecycle impact assessment, every vehicle obtains a green score (0-10). The higher the green score, the lower the environmental impact (i.e., the greener it is). After normalizing the health impacts of tailpipe emissions, every vehicle also obtains a smog index score (1-8). The lower the smog score, the more eco-friendly it is.

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Cummins progressing with lightweight downsized T2B2 diesel for pickup; 40% improvement in fuel economy over gasoline V8

June 23, 2014

Cummins reports that it, along with partners Johnson Matthey and Nissan, is on plan in a 4-year, $30-million ($15 million from the US Department of Energy) research project to deliver a light-duty diesel engine with fuel economy 40% improved over that of baseline gasoline V8 engine for a half-ton pickup truck while also meeting the requirements of US Tier2 Bin2 tailpipe emissions. (Earlier post.)

At the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Annual Merit Review meeting in Washington, DC last week, Michael Ruth from Cummins noted that the DOE program target for the project is a fuel economy (CAFE) target of 26 mpg (9.05 l/100 km), and as such would not meet the GHG requirement of 28 mpg (8.4 l/100 km) for a vehicle of that size. However, he added, the internal goal is “significantly higher,” and is targeting the GHG limit.

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Ford moving to vehicle testing with advanced 2.3L MiGTDI engine research project; Tier 3 SULEV30 target with 25% fuel economy improvement

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The 2.3L MiGTDI engine. Source: Ford. Click to enlarge.

Ford is now three-fourths of the way into a 4-year, $30-million project (supported by $15 million from the US DOE) with Michigan Technological University (MTU) (earlier post) to demonstrate a 25% fuel economy improvement in a mid-sized sedan using a downsized, advanced gasoline turbocharged direct injection (GTDI) engine with no or limited degradation in vehicle level metrics, while demonstrating that the vehicle is capable of meeting Tier 3 Bin 30 (CA LEV III SULEV30) emissions on the FTP-75 cycle. (Earlier post.)

The original project target was Tier 2 Bin 2 emissions, but in August 2013, it was agreed to shift that to the Tier 3 target—essentially the same with combined NOxand NMOG emissions, but more strict with CO and PM.

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Researchers propose CO2 recycling to improve Fischer-Tropsch GTL efficiency and reduce total CO2 emissions

June 21, 2014

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Overview of the CUGP processes. Credit: ACS, Zhang et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers in South Korea are suggesting two new carbon-dioxide-utilized Gas-to-Liquids processes (CUGP) to increase the overall efficiency of conventional Fischer-Tropsch GTL. In a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they report that the two CUGP options increase carbon efficiency by 21.1−41.3% and thermal efficiency by 15.7−40.7%, with total CO2 emissions reduced by 82.0−88.4%, compared to different conventional F-T processes.

This results in a decrease in total CO2 emissions to less than 5g CO2/MJ F-T product, compared to a range of 27.0 to 36.2g CO2/MJ F-T product for the conventional processes.

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Study suggests GTL blending could increase overall US refinery efficiency by improving diesel efficiency

June 20, 2014

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Impact of GTL diesel blending (5% penetration relative to refinery crude input) on US average overall refinery efficiency. Credit: ACS, Forman et al. Click to enlarge.

A team from Sasol Synfuels, Jacobs Consultancy and Argonne National Laboratory has used results from a US industry-wide linear programming (LP) modeling study of individual US refineries to examine the impacts of a number of significant and looming changes—such as shifts in refinery crude slates; regional and seasonal variation; gasoline/diesel (G/D) production ratio; and GTL diesel blending—on US refinery, unit, and product efficiencies. (LP is the the primary tool for analysis and optimization in the refining industry.)

Results of their study, which appear in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, suggest that refinery and product-specific efficiency values are sensitive to crude quality; seasonal and regional factors; and refinery configuration and complexity—which in turn are determined by final fuel specification requirements and regulations. Additional processing of domestically sourced tight light oil could marginally increase refinery efficiency, but these benefits could be offset by crude rebalancing, they found.

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ABB: tests show up to 27% fuel savings on ship with Onboard DC Grid

June 16, 2014

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Dina Star with Onboard DC Grid. Click to enlarge.

ABB, the power and automation technology group, released third-party testing results showing that ABB’s Onboard DC Grid helps vessels reduce their fuel consumption, cut noise and trim their environmental impact. The measurements and tests, conducted by Pon Power in collaboration with ABB on Myklebusthaug Offshore’s platform supply vessel Dina Star, identified reduction of specific fuel oil consumption of up to 27%. (Earlier post.)

Dina Star is powered by four Caterpillar 3516 engines in combination with a C32 in a variable speed application. These are the first documented results from a vessel outfitted with ABB’s Onboard DC Grid, which allows engines to run at variable speeds for top fuel efficiency at each load level.

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Upcoming Mazda2 will offer new SKYACTIV 1.5-liter diesel

June 10, 2014

The upcoming new Mazda2 (known as Demio in Japan) will feature the SKYACTIV-D 1.5, a newly developed 1.5-liter clean diesel engine making use of the company’s next-generation SKYACTIV technology. Mazda unveiled the 1.5-liter diesel unit in the Mazda Hazumi concept at the Geneva Motor Show in March. (Earlier post.)

Similarly to the next generation SKYACTIV-D 2.2 clean diesel engine available in models such as the Mazda CX-5, the SKYACTIV-D 1.5 was developed in the pursuit of ideal combustion despite a very low compression ratio. (Earlier post.) The engine offers dynamic performance, including torque equal to a 2.5-liter gasoline engine and linear acceleration all the way up the rpm range. It also features excellent environmental performance without resorting to expensive NOx aftertreatment systems.

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Dearman Engine signs MOU with Hubbard Products for integration of liquid air engine TRU; report details liquid air benefits

June 04, 2014

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Dearman liquid air engine in a TRU system. Click to enlarge.

The Dearman Engine Company has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Hubbard Products Ltd to manage the vehicle integration of the Dearman engine liquid air transport refrigeration system (TRU) (earlier post). Part of the worldwide Zanotti group, Hubbard Products is the UK’s principal designer, manufacturer and supplier of refrigeration systems and units and the leaders in refrigeration for commercial vehicles and refrigerated vans.

The objective of this collaboration is to advance the technical, commercial and industrial development of the Dearman engine transport refrigeration system to a stage where Hubbard can manufacture, integrate and market cooling systems incorporating the Dearman engine in commercial volumes. The announcement of the MOU was concurrent with a release of a report—Liquid Air on the Highway—detailing the environmental benefits of the liquid air engine.

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EPA proposes rule for nationwide 30% cut in GHG from existing power plants by 2030 relative to 2005

June 02, 2014

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the already widely-discussed (albeit without much detail) “Clean Power Plan” proposal, which mandates a national average 30% cut in greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants from 2005 levels by 2030. Power plants accounted for 32% (2,064 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent) of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions in the United States in 2012, according to the EPA.

Specifically, the EPA is proposing state-specific rate-based goals for carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector, as well as emission guidelines for states to use in developing plans to attain the state-specific goals. Each state’s goal is different, because each state has a unique mix of emissions and power sources to plug in to each part of the formula. The Clean Power Plan broadly proposes:

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ICCT-sponsored study of in-use testing of 3 Tier2-Bin5, CA LEV-II light-duty diesels finds wide variation of emissions against the limits

In-use testing of three light duty diesel vehicles—certified to US-EPA Tier2-Bin5 and California LEV-II ULEV emissions limits—found a wide variation in real world emissions performance relative to the regulatory limits.

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) contracted with the Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions at West Virginia University to conduct in-use testing of three light-duty diesel vehicles (two 2.0L diesels and one 3.0L diesel) over pre-defined test routes exhibiting diverse driving conditions. The test vehicles were equipped with NOx after-treatment technologies including: one lean-NOx trap (LNT) and two urea-based selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems.

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Environment Canada/MECA team assesses black carbon emissions in GDI engine exhaust; evaluation of prototype gasoline particulate filter

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BC mass emissions for all four GDI and PFI vehicles over the three different driving patterns. Solid bars represent low ambient temperature measurements whereas open, dashed bars represent standard temperature measurements. Credit: ACS, Chan et al. Click to enlarge.

Although gasoline direct injection engines (GDI) are a favorable technology for reducing fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, recent studies have shown that GDI vehicles could emit more PM than traditional PFI (gasoline port fuel injection) vehicles as well as heavy-duty diesel trucks equipped with diesel particulate filters. This may result in the need for new emissions control strategies—such as a gasoline particulate filter (GPF)—to enable compliance with California LEV III and US EPA Tier 3 particulate emissions standards.

Now, a team from Environment Canada and Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association (MECA) report on an evaluation of emissions from two pairs of GDI and PFI (gasoline port fuel injection) vehicles over two different drive cycles and at different ambient temperatures to understand how solid particle number and BC mass relationships vary under the influence of different factors. Their paper appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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Study estimates global black carbon emissions up 72% from 1960-2007; BC emissions intensity down 52%

May 31, 2014

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Black carbon emissions and BC emissions intensity per year. Credit: ACS, Wang et al. Click to enlarge.

A study led by a team from Peking University has estimated that global black carbon (BC) emissions increased from 5.3 teragrams/year in 1960 to 9.1 teragrams per year in 2007 (+72%). These estimates are 11-16% higher than produced by in previous inventories, the researchers noted in a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Over the same period, BC emission intensity—the amount of BC emitted per unit of energy production—decreased by 52% for all the regions under assessment, especially China and India.

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Study finds airplane traffic a major contributor to particle pollution in Los Angeles

May 29, 2014

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Spatial pattern of PN concentration. Inset shows wind direction. Credit: ACS, Hudda et al. Click to enlarge.

Results of a new study suggest that emissions particle emissions from airplane traffic at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) are a major source of particle number (PN) concentrations in the Los Angeles area that are of the same general magnitude as the entire urban freeway network. The results also indicate that the air quality impact areas of major airports may have been seriously underestimated.

The study by a team from the University of Southern California and the University of Washington, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, measured the spatial pattern of particle number (PN) concentrations downwind from the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) with an instrumented vehicle (a gasoline hybrid) that enabled coverage of larger areas than allowed by traditional stationary measurements.

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MIT study finds significant economic and environmental benefits from designing US LDVs to use higher octane gasoline (98 RON)

In a companion study to an SAE paper presented in April (earlier post), researchers at MIT have quantified the net economic and CO2 emissions benefit that could be obtained by utilizing 98 RON gasoline in light-duty vehicles, based on reasonable assumptions for possible refinery changes and the evolution of the LDV fleet. The paper, they note, is the first modern, peer-reviewed publication to address the costs and benefits of introducing higher octane gasoline.

According to the analysis, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, greater use of 98 RON gasoline in appropriately tuned vehicles could further reduce annual gasoline consumption in the US by 3.0–4.4%. Even accounting for the increase in refinery emissions from production of additional high-RON gasoline, net CO2 emissions are reduced by 19–35 Mt/y in 2040 (2.5–4.7% of total direct LDV CO2 emissions). The MIT team estimated the annual direct economic benefit to be $0.4–6.4 billion in 2040, and the annual net societal benefit—including the social cost of carbon—to be $1.7–8.8 billion in 2040.

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UCS analysis finds Hyundai-Kia with best sales-weighted new vehicle environmental performance in US in 2013

May 27, 2014

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Click to enlarge.

In its sixth sales-weighted analysis of emissions from 8 major automakers’ 2013 model year vehicles, the Union of Concerned Scientists’ (UCS) latest Automaker Rankings report found that Hyundai-Kia unseated Honda as the “Greenest Automaker.” Honda came in second, with Toyota, Nissan, and Volkswagen in a three-way tie for third place.

For the first time since UCS began the Automaker Rankings report in 2000, all eight major automakers reduced their average greenhouse gas (GHG) and smog-forming emissions compared to their fleet averages from 1998, the model year examined in the first report. The Automaker Rankings report examines the emissions of both global warming and smog-forming pollution from of the automakers. Due to strong federal and state emissions standards, the average new car has gotten 43% cleaner since 1998.

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Study shows two-stroke scooters dominant source of air pollution in many cities; asymmetric polluters

May 23, 2014

A study by European researchers has found that two-stroke (2S) scooters, although constituting a small fraction of the fleet, can dominate urban vehicular pollution through organic aerosol and aromatic emission factors up to thousands of times higher than from other vehicle classes. The study by the team led by researchers from the Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland, appears in the journal Nature Communications.

The team calls 2S scooters “asymmetric polluters” as their emission factors (EFs) and evidence from air quality measurements before and after bans on scooters in Asian cities suggest they may dominate vehicular pollution despite their relatively small numbers.

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UNECE: claim that diesel on-road vehicles are the cause of increased lung cancer is misleading

A discussion paper published by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) asserts “with a high degree of reliability that it is misleading to claim that people’s exposure to diesel engines of road motor vehicles is the cause of increased risk of lung cancer.

According to the review by the discussion paper, 83% of particulate matter emissions in European Union countries and 97% in the US and Canada, are generated by other economic sectors—mainly the commercial, institutional and household sector. The claim that emissions from diesel engine exhausts from road transport are the main cause of lung cancer in humans thus “needs to be seriously challenged,” the paper concluded. This, however, does not mean that measures to improve the environmental performance of the transport sector can stop, the authors added. Rather, those efforts must continue “in an aggressively well-targeted way.”

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OECD: rising air pollution-related deaths taking heavy toll on society; more should be done to reduce transport emissions

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Deaths from outdoor air pollution by region in 2005 and 2010. From 2005 to 2010, the death rate rose by 4% worldwide, by 5% in China and by 12% in India. OECD. Click to enlarge.

Outdoor air pollution kills some 3.5 million people across the world every year, and causes health problems from asthma to heart disease for many more, according to data collected by the World Health Organization (WHO). (Earlier post.) This pollution is costing advanced economies plus China and India an estimated US$3.5 trillion a year in premature deaths and ill health; these costs will rise without government action to limit vehicle emissions, according to a new report published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD): “The Cost of Air Pollution: Health Impacts of Road Transport”.

In OECD countries, around half the cost is from road transport, according to the report, with diesel vehicles producing the most harmful emissions. Traffic exhaust is a growing threat in fast-expanding cities in China and India, as the steady increase in the number of cars and trucks on the road undermines efforts to curb vehicle emissions.

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ARB: carbon intensity of biomethane from wastewater sludge could be as low as -65.27 g CO2e/MJ

May 22, 2014

The staff of the California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff has posted three new Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) fuel pathway applications to the LCFS public comments website: one for corn ethanol (from Heartland Corn Products in Minnesota) and one ARB staff-developed pathway (with two scenarios) for the production of biomethane from the mesophilic anaerobic digestion of wastewater sludge at a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) located at a publicly-owned treatment works (POTW).

Under the LCFS, the baseline CI value for gasoline was 95.86 g CO2e/MJ; for diesel fuel, 94.71 g CO2e/MJ. Staff estimated the carbon intensities (CIs) for biomethane produced under two alternative scenarios; under the first scenario, the CI of biomethane is 10.86 g CO2e/MJ; under the second, the CI is -65.27 g CO2e/MJ—i.e., it generates a credit.

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Ford researchers: global light-duty CO2 regulatory targets broadly consistent with 450 ppm stabilization

May 15, 2014

An analysis by researchers at Ford Motor Company Research and Advanced Engineering in Dearborn and Ford Forschungszentrum in Germany concludes that existing global light-duty vehicle CO2 regulations through 2025 are broadly consistent with the light-duty vehicle (LDV) sector contributing to stabilizing CO2 at an atmospheric concentration of approximately 450 ppm—a target often proposed in the literature as preventing dangerous climate change. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

In the study, the Ford team derived regional CO2 targets for new LDVs while still providing an integrated view of the global LDV fleet—a perspective critical to the planning needs for global automotive firms. The teams calls the time-varying LDV targets “CO2 glide paths”.

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SwRI forms Advanced Combustion Catalyst and Aftertreatment Technologies consortium

May 14, 2014

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has formed the Advanced Combustion Catalyst and Aftertreatment Technologies (AC2AT) consortium. The four-year joint-industry consortium, scheduled to kick off 27 June 2014, will be open to engine and vehicle manufacturers and affiliated businesses in the automotive industry, including catalyst formulators, substrate and component manufacturers, and emission control system integrators.

The focus of the program will be to develop the tools and technologies necessary for the synergistic application of catalysts to advanced engine technologies. Annual membership will be $95,000. SwRI will pursue patents for technology developed by the AC2AT program, and participants will receive a royalty-free license to use AC2AT-developed technology.

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WHO data: global annual PM10 increased by 6% during recent 3-year period; based on data from 851 cities

May 08, 2014

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Regional city‐population weighted comparisons in annual mean PM10 for a three‐year period, by region, for cities present in both versions of the AAP database. The mean for the World is based on weighting by regional urban population. Source: WHO. Click to enlarge.

Air quality in most cities worldwide that monitor outdoor (ambient) air pollution fails to meet World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for safe levels, putting people at additional risk of respiratory disease and other health problems, according to WHO’s expanded ambient (outdoor) air pollution (AAP) in cities database 2014.

WHO’s 2014 AAP database consists mainly of urban air quality data—annual means for PM10 and/or PM2.5—and covers 1,600 cities across 91 countries. Only 12% of the people living in cities reporting on air quality reside in cities where this complies with WHO air quality guideline levels. About half of the urban population being monitored is exposed to air pollution that is at least 2.5 times higher than the levels WHO recommends—putting those people at additional risk of serious, long-term health problems, the UN organization said.

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BASF to introduce new LNT+CS4F emissions system at Vienna Motor Symposium

May 06, 2014

BASF will introduce its innovative LNT+CS4F emissions control system for diesel engines at the International Vienna Motor Symposium, 8-9 May 2014 in Vienna, Austria. The new system combines the features of a Lean NOx Trap (LNT) and a multifunctional catalyzed soot filter (CS4F).

The LNT+CS4F can remove PM (Particulate Matter), as well as CO (Carbon Monoxide), HC (Hydrocarbons) and NOx (Nitrogen Oxides) from diesel-engine exhaust, helping automakers meet strict new emissions regulations including Euro 6c.

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Study finds rising temperatures increase risk of unhealthy ozone levels absent sharp cuts in precursors

May 05, 2014

Ozone pollution across the continental United States will become far more difficult to keep in check as temperatures rise, according to new work led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The study shows that Americans face the risk of a 70% increase in unhealthy summertime ozone levels by 2050, assuming continued greenhouse gas emissions with resultant significant warming (IPCC Scenario A2 and RCP (Representative Concentration Pathway) 8.5.)

However, the study also showed that a sharp reduction in the emissions of ozone precursors would lead to significantly decreased levels of ozone even as temperatures warm. Without those cuts, almost all of the continental United States will experience at least a few days with unhealthy air during warmer summers, the research shows. Heavily polluted locations in parts of the East, Midwest, and West Coast in which ozone already frequently exceeds recommended levels could face unhealthy air during most of the summer.

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Caterpillar investigating 6-stroke engine cycle as low-emission solution

Caterpillar engineers have been exploring a novel 6-stroke compression ignition engine cycle in search of a low-emission system that retains fuel efficiency. In a paper presented at the SAE 2014 World Congress, they reported on their investigations of the 6-stroke cycle for near-stoichiometric and lean operation.

The primary difference between the conventional 4-stroke and Caterpillar 6-stroke cycle is the addition of a second compression and combustion stroke immediately following the primary combustion event. The fourth stroke omits the conventional exhaust event in order to recompress the combustion gases. This approach differs from the traditional 6-stroke approach in which water is injected into the cylinder after recompression to extract additional expansion work from the hot combustion products, the team noted.

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A pathway to gasoline compressed ignition using naphtha fuels; higher efficiency, lower cost

May 02, 2014

A new study by Dr. Gautam Kalghatgi and his colleagues at Saudi Aramco provides further support a pathway for significant improvements in the efficiency of a gasoline engine (i.e., spark ignited, SI) by running it in compression ignition mode with naphtha fuels. (Earlier post.) This latest work, presented at SAE 2014 World Congress, shows that moving to higher compression ratios (CR) and lower fuel cetane numbers (DCN) from an SI base engine offers a better trade-off than increasing DCN with a lower CR. In other words, using only cetane to improve CI fuel consumption is less beneficial than relying on a low cetane fuel and higher compression ratio.

Past work done by Kalghatgi and his team, as well as by Prof. Bengt Johansson at Lund University and others, has demonstrated that using low-octane gasoline in diesel engines has the potential to achieve very high efficiency while reducing the cost of diesel engines by lowering injection pressures and requiring less expensive exhaust aftertreatment. Broadly, this approach is termed Gasoline Compression Ignition (GCI).

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Cambridge study of near-term alternative London bus technologies finds lean-burn CNG most costly with greater climate impact than diesel

May 01, 2014

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Annual GHG emissions relative to BASE Scenario (BASE Scenario = 949 kt CO2e on a 100-year GWP basis) for differing London bus fleet technology options. Lean-burn CNG is disadvantaged by unburned HC and natural gas pipeline leaks. Credit: ACS, Chong et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have conducted a comprehensive environmental cost–benefit analysis of near-term alternative bus technologies. The study considered emissions of non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC), CO, NOx, PM2.5, sulfur dioxide (SO2), and ammonia (NH3), as well as the lifecycle climate impact of CO2 and non-CO2 greenhouse gases (GHG) on a CO2-equivalent basis.

Their findings indicated that emission control strategy retrofits are the least costly near-term intervention to reduce urban air pollution. Although hybrid buses provide net GHG reductions and air quality improvements, associated costs are higher and more uncertain than emission retrofits. Lean-burn (spark ignition) compressed natural gas (LB-CNG) delivers the lowest health impacts due to the significant reduction of PM2.5, but has relatively high associated CO2e emissions that negate the health benefits, they found. As a result, current LB-CNG vehicles are the most costly of all of the modeled technologies, they concluded. Their study appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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UK to invest $841M from 2015-2020 to boost ultra low emission vehicle industry

April 29, 2014

The UK government announced plans to invest £500 million (US$841 million) between 2015 and 2020 to boost the ultra low emission vehicle (ULEV) industry and help drivers both afford and feel confident using electric cars.

The automotive industry is worth £11.2 billion (US$18.8 billion) to the UK economy, the government said. The production of ultra low emissions vehicles is a major part of growth both now and for the future. Full details of the elements of the €500-million plan will be published by autumn 2014; briefly, the different schemes include:

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Study finds São Paulo switch from ethanol to gasoline dropped local ozone levels by 20%, increased CO and nitric oxide concentrations

A study by a pair of researchers at Northwestern University found that when fuel prices drove residents of São Paulo, Brazil, to switch from ethanol to gasoline in their flexible-fuel vehicles, local ozone levels dropped 20%. At the same time, nitric oxide and carbon monoxide concentrations tended to go up.

The four-year study by chemist Franz M. Geiger and Alberto Salvo, formerly with Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and now an associate professor of economics at the National University of Singapore, is the first real-world trial looking at the effects of human behavior at the pump on urban air pollution. Their paper appears in the journal Nature Geoscience.

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EPA Report: data show automakers on track in meeting Greenhouse Gas Standards after first year

April 26, 2014

On Friday, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a Manufacturers Performance Report that assesses the automobile industry’s progress toward meeting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for cars and light trucks in the 2012 model year—the first year of the 14-year program.

The report shows that automakers’ combined calculated overall GHG performance was, on average, 286 grams of GHG/mile, 9.8 grams of GHG/mile better than what the 2012 standards of 296 grams/mile required. This industry-wide over-compliance means that consumers bought vehicles with lower greenhouse gas emissions than the 2012 model year standards required. Because of the program’s multi-year structure, EPA will not make formal compliance determinations for the 2012 model year until 2015.

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EIA Annual Energy Outlook explores implications of behavior and demographics on light-duty vehicle energy demand

April 18, 2014

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Light-duty VMT is beginning to decouple from traditional drivers. Source: EIA. economic Click to enlarge.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) is in the process of staging the release of the full Annual Energy Outlook 2014 (AEO2014), its annual report on projected energy use and analysis of select energy topics. The roll-out began on 7 April and will conclude on 30 April. Included in AEO2014 is a set of eight “Issues in Focus” articles, exploring topics of special significance, including changes in assumptions and recent developments in technologies for energy production and consumption.

The most recent of these In Focus articles explores the impact of demographics and behavior on light-duty vehicle (LDV) energy demand. LDVs accounted for 61% of all transportation energy consumption in the United States in 2012—8.4 million barrels of of oil equivalent per day—and represented nearly 10% of world petroleum liquids consumption. LDV energy use is driven by both LDV fuel economy and travel behavior, as measured by vehicle miles traveled (VMT). LDV VMT per licensed driver peaked in 2007 at 12,900 miles per year and has since decreased to 12,500 miles in 2012.

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EPA: US greenhouse gases dropped 3.4% in 2012 from 2011; down 10% from 2005 levels

April 16, 2014

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US greenhouse gas emissions by gas. Source: EPA. Click to enlarge.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its 19th annual report of overall US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, showing a 3.4% decrease in 2012 from 2011. The Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, which is submitted annually to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, presents a national-level overview of annual greenhouse gas emissions since 1990.

Total emissions of the six main greenhouse gases in 2012 were equivalent to 6,526 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. These gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride. According to the report, GHG emissions in 2012 showed a 10% drop below 2005 levels, and were only slightly above the emissions in 1994 (6,520 million metric tons).

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2015 VW Jetta to debut at New York Show; new EA288 diesel version already LEV3/Tier 3 compliant

April 14, 2014

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2015 Jetta. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen is presenting the world premiere of the redesigned 2015 Jetta sedan at the 2014 New York International Auto Show. In addition to its three four-cylinder gasoline engines (2.0-liter naturally aspirated and 1.8T and 2.0T TSI Gen 3 turbocharged EA888 engines) and the a 1.4-liter turbocharged full hybrid version, the new Jetta offers the new EA288 2.0-liter diesel (earlier post).

The 2.0-liter 150-horsepower (112 kW) EA288 TDI Clean Diesel engine offered in the 2015 Jetta already conforms to the upcoming LEV3/Tier 3 emissions standard (earlier post) in the USA. Compared to the previous engine, the efficiency of this new generation TDI was improved by another 8%. The Jetta TDI Clean Diesel with a manual transmission delivers a manufacturer-estimated 32 city/45 highway mpg (7.35/5.23 l/100 km); its combined fuel economy is projected to be around 37 mpg (6.36 l/100 km).

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World Bank/ICCT report provides guidance to reducing black carbon emissions from diesels in developing countries

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Historical Trends in Black Carbon Emissions from Surface Transportation (teragrams of black carbon per year). Source: Minjares et al. Click to enlarge.

The World Bank has published a report, undertaken by a team from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), intended to inform efforts to control black carbon emissions from diesel-based transportation in developing countries. The report proposes approaches for integrating black carbon emission reduction considerations in cost-benefit assessment and applies an analytic framework to four simulated projects to illustrate the associated opportunities and challenges at a project level.

The transportation sector accounted for approximately 19% of global black carbon emissions in the year 2000, according to the report. Road transportation accounted for 9% of global black carbon, with diesel engines responsible for nearly 99% of those emissions. In the near term, black carbon emissions from mobile engines are projected to decline as a consequence of policies implemented in the US, Canada, Europe, and Japan. However, black carbon emissions are projected to increase in the next decade as vehicle activity increases, particularly in East and South Asia.

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IPCC: GHG emissions accelerating despite mitigation efforts; major institutional and technological change required to keep the heat down

April 13, 2014

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Decomposition of the decadal change in total global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion by four driving factors; population, income (GDP) per capita, energy intensity of GDP and carbon intensity of energy. WG III Summary for Policymakers. Click to enlarge.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a policymaker’s summary of Working Group III’s (WG III) latest report showing that despite a growing number of climate change mitigation policies, annual anthropogenic GHG emissions grew on average by 1.0 giga tonne carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2eq) (2.2%) per year from 2000 to 2010 compared to 0.4 GtCO2eq (1.3%) per year from 1970 to 2000. Total anthropogenic GHG emissions were the highest in human history from 2000 to 2010 and reached 49 (±4.5) GtCO2eq/yr in 2010. The global economic crisis 2007/2008 only temporarily reduced emissions.

The increase in anthropogenic emissions comes directly from energy supply (47%); industry (30%); transport (11%); and buildings (3%) sectors, the WG reported with medium confidence. Globally, economic and population growth continue to be the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion.

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LMU study finds 20% of gases from combustion of R1234yf MAC refrigerant consist of highly toxic carbonyl fluoride (correction and update)

April 11, 2014

Chemists at Ludwig Maximilians Universität München report that 20% of the gases produced by the combustion of R1234yf—the approved low global warming potential refrigerant for mobile air conditioning (MAC) systems, the adoption of which has met with resistance from German automakers (earlier post)—consist of the highly toxic chemical carbonyl fluoride.

Carbonyl fluoride is structurally related to phosgene (which contains chlorine in place of fluorine), which was used as a chemical weapon during the First World War. Kornath and his co-workers have just published the results of their investigation in the journal Zeitschrift für Naturforschung B.

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European Court of Auditors finds 2/3 of EU-funded transportation projects underutilized

A report published by the European Court of Auditors (ECA)—the official institution that audits EU finances—found that two-thirds of urban transport projects co-financed by EU structural funds are underutilized. Weaknesses in project design and inadequate mobility policy were two of the main contributory factors identified.

The EU auditors analysed the performance of 26 public urban transport projects in 11 cities in five Member States. For each project, the audit team met the relevant stakeholders involved in implementing the audited projects. The auditors also physically visited the co-financed facilities, and the operating and maintenance centres. They found that overestimation of users and the lack of coordination between modes of transport, parking policy and the absence of urban mobility plans contributed to underutilization.

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ERTRAC publishes roadmap on energy carriers and powertrains; role for power-to-gas

April 07, 2014

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Main technology trends and the vision share of engines in Europe. [ERTRAC / EUCAR] Click to enlarge.

The European Road Transport Research Advisory Council (ERTRAC) has published a new roadmap assessing energy carriers and powertrains in the context of the European target to achieve a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions from transport by 2050. ERTRAC is the European Technology Platform (ETP) for Road Transport recognized and supported by the European Commission. ERTRAC has more than 50 members, representing all the actors of the Road Transport System: transport industry, European associations, EU Member States, local authorities, European Commission services, etc.

The analysis concludes that while the goal is challenging, it is also realizable; however the overall high-level goals need to be segmented into precise targets for the different industries and stakeholders. For the topic of future road mobility these are the development of alternative and decarbonized fuels and energy carriers; and higher powertrain efficiency leading to cleaner mobility and reduction in resource demand.

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NRC report offers guidance on development of Phase 2 rules to reduce fuel consumption and GHG from medium-and heavy-duty vehicles; more natural gas and aerodyanamics, expanded lifecycle considerations

April 03, 2014

Expanding the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel and greater use of aerodynamic devices on trailers are among the 17 overarching strategies recommended by a new National Research Council report for reducing fuel consumption by tractor-trailers, transit buses, commercial vehicles, trucks, and other medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (MHDVs).

The report follows a 2010 Research Council report the findings and recommendations of which informed the “Phase I Rule” on fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles issued jointly by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and US Environmental Protection Agency. (Earlier post.) The new report offers guidance for the “Phase II Rule” under development, which is directed at technologies and programs in the post-2018 time frame. (Earlier post.) The committee will expand upon this new work and issue a final report in 2016 that will cover a broader range of technologies and approaches that address the 2025-2030 time frame.

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Full lifecycle CO2 of new Mercedes C-Class 10% less than outgoing model

March 31, 2014

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CO2 emissions of the C 180 in comparison to its predecessor [t/car]. Source: Mercedes-Benz. Click to enlarge.

Over the course of its entire life cycle—from its manufacture through 200,000 kilometer of driving to its recycling—the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class (earlier post) produces around 10% fewer CO2 emissions than its predecessor at the time of its market exit (compared to the time of its launch in 2007 the improvement is much higher, at around 28%). The C 180 (115 kW) with manual transmission was taken as the base variant of the new C-Class at market launch for the lifecycle analysis; it was compared with the corresponding preceding model. The analysis was validated by TÜV SÜD Management Service GmbH.

Over the entire lifecycle of the C 180, the lifecycle analysis yields a primary energy consumption of 521 gigajoules (corresponding to the energy content of around 16,000 liters of gasoline); an environmental input of approx. 35 tonnes of CO2; around 19 kilograms of non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC); around 25 kilograms of nitrogen oxides (NOx); and 37 kilograms of sulfur dioxide (SO2). For CO2 emissions—and likewise for primary energy consumption—the use phase dominates with a share of 78 and 74% respectively.

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DOE awards $17M to FY 2014 SBIR Phase II projects; includes Si/graphene anodes, motor windings, exhaust treatments

The US DOE recently awarded $17 million to 17 FY 2014 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II projects to further develop Phase I projects and to produce a prototype or equivalent within two years. The selected 17 awards represent the best of nearly 1,000 ideas submitted for the FY 2012/13 Broad Based Topic Solicitation, DOE said.

The selected projects include 6 vehicle-related technologies and 2 hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, as well as new hydropower, heat pump, solar and manufacturing technologies. Vehicle technologies span a range from new Si/graphene Li-ion anode materials and composites for motor windings to diesel aftertreatment and advanced lubricants. Selected vehicle and hydrogen technology projects are:

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Engine testing shows environmental and performance benefits of hydrotreated vegetable oil as renewable diesel fuel

March 25, 2014

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Comparison of power loss and fuel consumption among BD, HVO and iso-HVO. Source: Kim et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers in South Korea from SK Innovation and Chungbuk National University compared the engine and emissions performance of 16 different blends of petro-diesel, biodiesel (BD), hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO, i.e., drop-in renewable diesel); and iso-HVO (isomerized-hydrotreated vegetable oil) on an engine dynamometer and chassis dynamometer with a 1.5-liter diesel engine and passenger car.

The results, reported in a paper in the journal Fuel, show that iso-HVO has much better engine performance than BD and slightly better than HVO, but slightly worse than petro-diesel. On the emissions side, iso-HVO and HVO blended diesel emit less THC and CO than BD, even though iso-HVO blended diesel emits similar level of NOx and PM to blended BD. All three kinds biofuels at 50% blend ratios showed a decrease of particle concentrations at all size ranges compared to petro-diesel.

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WHO links 7 million premature deaths annually to air pollution; 12.5% of total global deaths

The World Health Organization now estimates that in 2012 around 7 million people died—one in eight (12.5%) of total global deaths—as a result of air pollution exposure. This new estimate more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk, according to WHO, which is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system.

WHO says that the new data reveal a stronger link between both indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure and cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and ischemic heart disease (an insufficient supply of blood—and thus oxygen—to the heart), as well as between air pollution and cancer. This is in addition to air pollution’s role in the development of respiratory diseases, including acute respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.

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Study finds lubricating oil the dominant source of primary organic aerosol from both diesel and gasoline vehicles

March 20, 2014

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Comparison plot showing mass fractions (Fm) of chemically characterized components of lubricating oils and POA. Credit: ACS, Worton et al. Click to enlarge.

Findings from a study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and Berkeley National Laboratory suggest that lubricating oil is the dominant source of primary organic aerosol (POA) from both gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. Unburned diesel fuel makes an additional smaller contribution, with an additional smaller contribution from unburned gasoline. A paper on the work is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Motor vehicles are major sources of organic carbon emissions, with implications for human health and air quality, especially in urban areas. The emitted organic carbon is in the form of both primary particulate matter (PM) and gas phase organic compounds of a wide range of volatilities that can be oxidized in the atmosphere to form secondary organic aerosol (SOA). (Earlier post.) The majority of fine PM from vehicles is carbonaceous in the form of either black (BC) or organic carbon, the latter of which is directly emitted as primary organic aerosol (POA).

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Joint Research Centre review concludes no serious risk in use of R1234yf MAC refrigerant under normal and foreseeable conditions

March 07, 2014

A scientific review of research regarding the safety aspects of the use of refrigerant R1234yf in Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) systems, published by the European Commission, concludes that there is no evidence of a serious risk in the use of this refrigerant in MAC systems under normal and foreseeable conditions of use.

The review, carried out by Europe’s Joint Research Centre, provided an in-depth analysis of testing and a subsequent report on the refrigerant’s safety by KBA (Kraftfahrt Bundesamt, the German authority responsible for market surveillance and product safety for road vehicles) in order to ascertain whether the results stemming from the tests were well founded and supported by a rigorous and scientific methodology.

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EPA finalizes Tier 3 fuel and emissions standards

March 03, 2014

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its Tier 3 emission standards for gasoline sulfur content; evaporative emissions; and tailpipe emissions from passenger cars, light-duty trucks, medium-duty passenger vehicles, and some heavy-duty vehicles. EPA had issued the proposed standards last March. (Earlier post.)

The Tier 3 standards, which come into effect starting in 2017, consider the vehicle and its fuel as an integrated system. The gasoline sulfur standard will make emission control systems more effective for both existing and new vehicles, and will enable more stringent vehicle emissions standards since removing sulfur allows the vehicle’s catalyst to work more efficiently. The Tier 3 standards are also closely coordinated with California’s LEV III standards as well as with EPA’s and California’s programs for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from light-duty vehicles.

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KSPG awarded $342M in contracts for new compact EGR valve

February 26, 2014

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Compact EGR valve. Click to enlarge.

Pierburg GmbH, a member of the KSPG Group, has been awarded contracts worth a lifetime total of €250 million (US$342 million) for a newly developed compact exhaust-gas recirculation valve. (Earlier post.) Ordered by European and North American automakers, the valve will be installed in engines designed to comply with the Euro 6 emission norm.

The valve recently became a standard feature from a German premium carmaker. The other valves ordered will be installed in 2014 and 2015 when certain new engines go into production at the European and US plants of further manufacturers. With its comparatively compact footprint, the valve takes into account the continuous shrinkage of engine space on present car ranges.

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Obama directs EPA and DOT to develop and issue next phase of fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by March 2016

February 18, 2014

President Obama has directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) to develop and to issue the next phase of medium- and heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards by March 2016. Under this timeline, the agencies would issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) by March 2015.

This second round of fuel efficiency standards will build on the phase 1 standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (model years 2014 through 2018) issued in 2011. (Earlier post.) Under the phase 1 program, trucks and buses built in 2014 through 2018 will reduce oil consumption by a projected 530 million barrels and greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution by approximately 270 million metric tons.

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Study concludes that NG leakage higher than reflected in inventories; transportation fuel climate benefits questioned

February 14, 2014

A review of 20 years of technical literature on natural gas (NG) emissions in the United States and Canada comprising more than 200 papers has concluded that official inventories consistently underestimate actual CH4 emissions due to leakage from the natural gas system. “Atmospheric tests covering the entire country indicate emissions around 50 percent more than EPA estimates,” said lead author Adam Brandt at Stanford University. The study, which is authored by researchers from seven universities, several national laboratories and federal government bodies and other organizations, is published in the journal Science.

Among the other high-level findings of the review are that (i) the natural gas and oil sectors are important contributors to the leakage; (ii) many independent experiments suggest that a small number of “superemitters” could be responsible for a large fraction of leakage; (iii) recent regional atmospheric studies with very high emissions rates are unlikely to be representative of typical natural gas system leakage rates; and (iv) assessments using 100-year impact indicators show system-wide leakage is unlikely to be large enough to negate climate benefits of coal-to-NG substitution.

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Chevy buying carbon credits from US colleges; new formula helps fund campus energy-efficient projects

February 12, 2014

Chevrolet is investing in clean energy efficiency initiatives of US colleges and universities through its voluntary carbon-reduction initiative. The funding opportunity is open to all US universities and colleges; a campus determines whether its performance in reducing carbon emissions will qualify based on new methodologies that Chevrolet developed through the Verified Carbon Standard.

To develop the new methodologies, Chevrolet worked with an advisory team led by the Climate Neutral Business Network with support from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, the US Green Building Council and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

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Calif. ARB releases GHG scoping plan update; more ZEVs, “LEV IV”, MD and HD regulations; ZEV for trucks; more LCFS

February 11, 2014

The California Air Resources Board released the draft proposed first update to the AB 32 Scoping Plan, which guides development and implementation of California’s greenhouse gas emission reduction programs. The Air Resources Board is required to update the Scoping Plan every five years.

Among the actions proposed or considered in the transportation sector include aggressive implementation of the light-duty Zero Emission Vehicle standard; LEV IV emissions regulations for the light-duty fleet post-2025 (GHG reductions of about 5% per year); Phase 2 GHG regulations for medium and heavy-duty (MD and HD) vehicles; a possible ZEV regulation for trucks; more stringent carbon reduction targets for the Low Carbon Fuel Standard; and others.

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Brunel engineers optimizing CAI combustion in 2-stroke camless gasoline DI engine

February 10, 2014

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Operating range of 2-stroke CAI fueled with gasoline, E10 and E85. Zhang et al. (2013a) Click to enlarge.

Researchers at Brunel University in the UK, led by Professor Hua Zhao, Head of Mechanical Engineering and Director, Centre for Advanced Powertrain and Fuels (CAPF), are investigating optimizing the performance of controlled autoignition (CAI) combustion in a four-valve camless gasoline direct injection engine running in a two-stroke cycle. Most recently, this has entailed an exploration of boosting strategies, as described in a new paper published in the International Journal of Engine Research, as well as an exploration of the effects of ethanol blends.

Controlled autoignition (e.g., homogeneous charge compression ignition, HCCI) combustion processes offer the promise of simultaneously reducing fuel consumption and NOx emissions. Accordingly, the processes have been extensively researched over the last decade and adopted on prototype gasoline engines (e.g., GM’s ongoing work, earlier post).

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New study suggests reported PAH emissions in oil sands region greatly underestimated

February 04, 2014

Results from a new modeling assessment of contamination in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region (AOSR) suggest that officially reported emissions of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in that region have been greatly underestimated.

The study, which was carried out by University of Toronto Scarborough Environmental Chemistry professor Frank Wania and his PhD candidate Abha Parajulee, is published as an open access paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

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State Department releases Keystone XL Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

February 01, 2014

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Incremental well-to-wheels GHG emissions from WCSB Oil Sands Crudes Compared to Well-to-Wheels GHG Emissions from Displacing Reference Crudes Click to enlarge.

The State Department released the long-anticipated and voluminous Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Final Supplemental EIS) for the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline project. The document is posted on State’s Keystone project site, which it has run since the beginning of the Keystone XL Presidential permit process in 2008.

The analysis in the Final Supplemental EIS builds on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement released on 1 March 2013 (earlier post) as well as the documents released in 2011 as part of the previous Keystone XL Pipeline application. Notable changes since the prior Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement include an expanded analysis of potential oil releases; an expanded climate change analysis; an updated oil market analysis incorporating new economic modeling; and an expanded analysis of rail transport.

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Study finds butanol-gasoline blends effective to control soot from CI engines under Low Temperature Combustion

January 31, 2014

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(Left) Thermal efficiency and (right) soot from different gasoline-butanol blends at different EGR rates. Yang et al. Click to enlarge.

A study by a team at Tianjin University found that the addition of n-butanol to gasoline for use in a compression ignition engine (CI) under Low Temperature Combustion (LTC) conditions has a significant effect on soot reduction. The peak soot value of a 30% butanol blend (B30) was 85% lower than that of pure gasoline; the EGR rate that corresponds to the peak value of soot is also decreased with the higher n-butanol fraction. Their study is published in the journal Fuel.

Partially Premixed Combustion involving the injection of gasoline fuel into CI engines is being explored by other researchers as a means to reducing simultaneously NOxand soot emissions. High octane fuels such as gasoline are preferred for high-efficiency and clean combustion at high engine loads, the Tianjin researchers note.

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DNV GL paper suggests near-term success for LNG in shipping; alternative fuel mix to diversify over time

January 29, 2014

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Well-to-Propeller GHG emissions results for marine alternative fuels. Source: DNV GL. Click to enlarge.

DNV GL has released a position paper on the future alternative fuel mix for global shipping. While LNG is expected to be an early success, the picture becomes more diversified over time, as more than 20% of shipping could adopt hybrid propulsion solutions featuring batteries or other energy storage technologies, according to the paper.

DNV and GL merged in September 2013 to form DNV GL—the world’s largest ship and offshore classification society, the leading technical advisor to the global oil and gas industry, and a leading expert for the energy value chain including renewables and energy efficiency. According to DNV GL, the main drivers for the use of alternative fuels in shipping in the future can be classified in two broad categories: (a) Regulatory requirements and environmental concerns, and (b) availability of fossil fuels, cost and energy security.

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New ceramic hollow fiber substrate for catalytic converters cuts fuel consumption, size and manufacturing costs

January 28, 2014

A new ceramic hollow fiber substrate for catalytic converters designed by Dr. Benjamin Kingsbury and colleagues at Imperial College London could cut the size and precious metal loading of the devices in automobiles while reducing fuel consumption and and manufacturing costs. Kingsbury has founded MicroTech Ceramics Ltd. as a spin-out to commercialize the technology.

The new structure can achieve a 2-3% fuel saving in engines (through the elimination of backpressure), or offer high performance cars an equivalent increase in engine power. It also enables the size of catalytic convertors to be reduced by around 50%, offering engine and exhaust system designers greater freedom. The new substrate can use up to 80% less rare metal, a development that could significantly reduce costs for vehicle manufacturers.

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Report argues advanced HD natural gas vehicles foundational for California to hit air and climate goals; near zero-emission potential

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Five technology paths for very-low-NOx and GHG emissions from heavy-duty natural gas engines. Click to enlarge.

Gladstein, Neandross & Associates (GNA), a consulting firm specializing in market development for low emission and alternative fuel vehicle technologies, infrastructure, and fuels for both on- and off-road applications, released a report examining the critical role that ultra-low-emission heavy-duty (HD) natural gas engines can play in helping California achieve its air quality, climate protection and petroleum-displacement goals.

The “Pathways to Near-Zero-Emission Natural Gas Heavy Duty Vehicles” report, authored by GNA on behalf of Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas), showcases the technologies currently under development that could deliver near-zero-emission heavy-duty natural gas engines by the end of this decade.

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DOE to award $49.4M for advanced vehicle technologies research; meeting Tier 3 emissions

January 22, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award $49.4 million to projects to to accelerate research and development of new vehicle technologies. The new program-wide funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0000991) (earlier post), was announced by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz at the Washington Auto Show.

The funding opportunity will contains a total of 13 areas of interest in the general areas of advanced light-weighting; advanced battery development; power electronics; advanced heating, ventilation, air conditioning systems; advanced powertrains (including the ability to meet proposed EPA Tier 3 tailpipe emissions standards); and fuels and lubricants. These areas of interest apply to light, medium and heavy duty on-road vehicles.

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Study first to quantify amount of US pollution resulting from Chinese manufacturing for exports

January 21, 2014

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Average annual percentage of black carbon pollution related to Chinese exports. Credit: Lin et al. Click to enlarge.

Chinese air pollution blowing across the Pacific Ocean is often caused by the manufacturing of goods there for export to the US and Europe, according to findings of a new study to be published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

China is responsible for only a small percentage of the annual pollution in the US, but powerful global winds known as “westerlies” can push airborne chemicals across the ocean in days, particularly during the spring, causing dangerous spikes in contaminants. Dust, ozone and carbon can accumulate in valleys and basins in California and other Western states.

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Study finds engines emit exhaust nanoparticles even when not fueled during engine braking

January 19, 2014

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Exhaust particle size distributions measured by ELPI (color map) and particle concentration measured by CPC (white line) during individual engine braking conditions (speed change from 32 km/h to 0 km/h). The starting point of engine braking is marked by a vertical green line, and the end point is marked by a vertical red line. The exhaust sample was taken from the exhaust manifold. Credit: ACS, Rönkkö et al. Click to enlarge.

A new study finds that as much as 20–30% of the number of vehicle engine exhaust particles larger than 3 nm may be formed during engine braking conditions—i.e., during decelerations and downhill driving while the engine is not fueled. However, the authors note, these particles have not been taken into account in emission regulations and in the assessment of associated health risks.

The study by researchers in Finland and Greece, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, suggests that both the characteristics of these particles and the mechanism by which they form seem to differ significantly from those of soot and nucleation particles. The study also indicates that the particles were non-volatile, formed before the catalyst, and originating from engine oil. Results thus indicate that the emissions of engine braking particles can be reduced using exhaust particle filtration systems.

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Dearman liquid air engine moving into performance mapping, in-vehicle trials; diesel hybrid potential

January 17, 2014

The Dearman liquid air engine—an innovative heat engine that uses liquid air (or liquid nitrogen) as a “fuel” and emits cold air as exhaust (earlier post)—completed its shakedown testing milestone at the end of 2013 at Imperial College, London, and is moving into a three-month program of tests and performance mapping.

The developer, Dearman Engine Company (DEC), confirms that the engine remains on track for integration and installation on a vehicle by MIRA (Motor Industry Research Association) in the first half of this year. The project—in partnership with MIRA, Air Products and Loughborough University and jointly funded by the consortium partners and the UK Government (IDP8)—will demonstrate and test the Dearman Engine on a refrigerated truck providing zero-emission cooling and power during 2014, before moving to full on-road field trials.

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Mayor of London: all new London taxis will need to be zero-emission capable from 2018

January 16, 2014

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced plans that would require all new taxis presented for licensing in the capital to be zero-emission capable from 1 January 2018, with the expectation that they will automatically operate in zero-emission mode while in areas where the capital’s air quality is at its worst—such as parts of central London.

The Mayor confirmed his plan at Transport for London’s (TfL’s) “New Taxis for London” event, at which he met five manufacturers developing zero emission capable taxis—Frazer-Nash, Nissan, Karsan, London Taxi Company and Mercedes-Benz. The new zero-emission capable taxis being developed include both plug-in full series hybrid vehicles and full electric models.

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Comprehensive modeling study finds electric drive vehicle deployment has little observed effect on US system-wide emissions

January 15, 2014

The results of a new, comprehensive modeling study characterizing light-duty electric drive vehicle (EDV) deployment in the US over 108 discrete scenarios do not demonstrate a clear and consistent trend toward lower system-wide emissions of CO2, SO2, and NOx as EDV deployment increases.

As explained in their paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, the researchers from North Carolina State Univesity and the University of Minnesota found that, while the scenario parameters can influence EDV deployment—even to a most extreme scenario of adoption—this EDV deployment does not in turn produce a discernible effect on total system-wide emissions. There are three reasons for this lack of observed effect, they concluded: (1) at present the overall share of emissions from the LDV sector is only 20% of US CO2 emissions; (2) EDV charging can still produce comparable emissions to conventional vehicles depending on the grid mix; and (3) the effect of other sectors on emissions is significant.

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Audi using supplementary port fuel injection to address particulates from gasoline direct injection

January 14, 2014

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Elements of the dual injection system. Red is for the high-pressure direct injection system, blue for the low pressure MPI system. Credit: Audi. Click to enlarge.

The 2.0-liter EA888 Gen3 engine featured in Audi’s all-road shooting brake plug-in hybrid concept unveiled at the North American International Auto Show this week (earlier post) features—as does its production ilk—a dual injection system that combines direct injection with indirect injection into the intake manifold. In part-load operation, the indirect injection supplements direct gasoline injection to improve fuel economy and to reduce the output of particulates from the engine. (Earlier post.)

Audi says the approach is sufficient to meet Euro 6 particle limits without the use of a particulate filter. (Earlier post.) The EU has set a standard for 6 × 1012 number/km limits between 2014 and 2017, tightening to 6 × 1011 number/km. (Earlier post.)

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FTA to award up to $24.9M to low- or no-emissions transit bus projects

January 10, 2014

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the availability of $24.9 million of Fiscal Year 2013 funds (FTA-2014-001-TRI) for the deployment of low- or no-emission (LoNo) transit buses. Of that amount, $21.6 million is available for buses and $3.3 million is available for supporting facilities and related equipment.

The LoNo Program provides funding for transit agencies for capital acquisitions and leases of zero emission and low-emission transit buses, including acquisition, construction, and leasing of required supporting facilities such as recharging, refueling, and maintenance facilities.

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Study finds that suburban sprawl cancels carbon-footprint savings of dense urban cores in US

January 07, 2014

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East Coast metropolitan statistical areas (J), with a larger map of New York metropolitan area (K, outer line) and New York City (K, inner line) highlight the consistent pattern of relatively low GHG urban core cities and high GHG suburbs. Credit: ACS, Jones and Kammen. Click to enlarge.

Although population-dense cities contribute less greenhouse-gas emissions per person than other areas of the country, these cities’ extensive suburbs essentially wipe out the climate benefits, according to a new study by Christopher Jones and Daniel Kammen at UC Berkeley. The average carbon footprint of households living in the center of large, population-dense urban cities is about 50% below average, while households in distant suburbs are up to twice the average.

The study, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T), used local census, weather and other data—37 variables in total—to approximate greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the energy, transportation, food, goods and services consumed by US households. A key finding is that suburbs account for half of all household greenhouse gas emissions, even though they account for less than half the US population.

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Researchers identify new nitrated PAH compounds from combustion that are hundreds of times more mutagenic than parent PAHs

January 06, 2014

A team led by researchers at Oregon State University has discovered novel nitrated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (NPAH) compounds produced by combustion sources or formed in the atmosphere that are hundreds of times more mutagenic than their parent PAHs, which are known carcinogens. The findings were published in the ACS journal Environmental Science and Technology.

These new compounds were not previously known to exist, and raise additional concerns about the health impacts of heavily-polluted urban air or dietary exposure. It has not yet been determined in what level the new compounds might be present, and no health standards now exist for them.

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Study finds light-duty gasoline vehicles responsible for about half of PM2.5 mass, 14% of PM10 in road tunnel

December 24, 2013

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Contributions of various primary sources to tunnel PM mass. Credit: ACS, Bozlaker et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers led by a team from the University of Houston have characterized the platinum group elemental composition of PM2.5 and PM10 emissions—mainly from gasoline-fueled light-duty vehicles (LDVs)—in the Washburn Tunnel in Houston Texas as a mechanism for better determining the contribution of LDVs to particulate emissions.

In a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they noted that previous investigations of the metals content in airborne tunnel PM have focused on non-platinum group elements. However, because these elements are also emitted by many other natural and anthropogenic sources, isolating the vehicular sources in urban environments is complicated. By quantifying Rh, Pd, and Pt in addition to these elements, they can facilitate more accurate estimates of LDVs’ contributions to ambient PM—the presence of these elements in tailpipe emissions is attributed to the three-way catalytic converters commonly used in gasoline-driven automobile emission control systems.

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Ford researchers report detailed study of the effect of different ethanol blend levels on emissions from FFVs

December 23, 2013

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FTP cycle-weighted tailpipe emissions of N2O, NOx, and the sum of NMOG and NOx. The minimum in NOx and NMOG emissions for midlevel ethanol blends points to future opportunities for emission reductions from FFVs. Credit: ACS, Hubbard et al. Click to enlarge.

A team at Ford Motor Company’s Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn conducted a detailed study of the effect of ethanol blend level in emissions, using a 2006 model Mercury Grand Marquis flexible fuel vehicle (FFV) operating on E0, E10, E20, E30, E40, E55, and E80 on a chassis dynamometer. The study thus included the current predominant market fuel (E10); a range of possible future midlevel ethanol blends (E20−E40); and the new range for high-level ethanol blends (E55, E80).

The number of blends they studied is about twice that of previous studies, and delivers a more detailed picture of the effect of ethanol blend level on emissions. Further, they reported data for engine-out emissions and tailpipe emissions; operating temperatures (engine-out and catalyst); and ethanol concentrations used in the engine control strategy. Comparing these data allows for differentiation between fuel chemistry and engine calibration effects—the two general mechanisms by which increased ethanol content in fuel affects the emissions.

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