A team at the University of Calgary (Canada) has compared the energy intensities and lifecycle GHG emissions of unconventional oils (oil sands and oil shale) alongside shale gas, coal, lignite, wood and conventional oil and gas. In a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they report... Read more →


Regionally specific lifecycle CO2 emissions per mile traveled for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in the US can vary widely based on grid emission factors (i.e., the “carbon footprint” of electricity production and use), according to a new study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.... Read more →


In a new, comprehensive study, a team from Argonne National Laboratory, Stanford University and UC Davis ITS has estimated the well-to-wheels (WTW) GHG emissions of US production of gasoline and diesel sourced from Canadian oil sands. The analysis uses an expanded system boundary including land disturbance-induced GHG emissions and also... Read more →


TCF, the manager of the Garcia River Forest Project, would like to enable its increasing number of redwood trees to reach the 1,000-year-old status of some of their neighbors, like this one. Click to enlarge. In 2014, Volkswagen of America announced that starting with the launch of the zero-tailpipe emissions... Read more →


A study by Carnegie Mellon University researchers comparing life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from different natural gas pathways for medium and heavy-duty vehicles (MHDVs) found that the GHG reduction potentials of the pathways vary sharply between non-Class 8 MHDVs (e.g., pick-up trucks, parcel delivery trucks, and box trucks), Class... Read more →


A study by a team from the Environmental Defense Fund, in collaboration with a colleague from the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy at Columbia University has found that while switching a heavy-duty truck fleet from diesel to natural gas has the potential to produce climate benefits, realizing that potential would... Read more →


A team at the University of Toronto has examined the life cycle air emissions (climate change and human health) impact benefits and life cycle ownership costs of compressed natural gas (CNG) use directly in conventional vehicles (CV) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEV), and natural gas-derived electricity (NG-e) use in plug-in... Read more →


Compared to the gasoline-engined C 250, the Mercedes-Benz C 350 e plug-in hybrid (earlier post) can reduce full life-cycle (manufacture, use over 200,000 km and recycling) CO2 emissions by some 26% (9.6 tonnes) when charging with the European electricity mix and by up to 41% (15.1 tonnes) when charging with... Read more →


Switching from diesel fuel to natural gas may hold advantages for the US heavy-duty trucking fleet, but more needs to be done to reach the full environmental benefits, according to a new white paper released by the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, and Rice University.... Read more →


New LCFS pathway applications show Abengoa cellulosic ethanol with CI of 29.52 and 23.36 g CO2e/MJ

California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff has posted thirteen new Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) fuel pathway applications to the LCFS public comments website. Among them are two pathways for cellulosic ethanol produced by Abengoa Bioenergy at its Hugoton, Kansas plant. One pathway uses corn stover for feedstock, the other... Read more →


California ARB issues feedstock-only pathway for camelina-based fuels under LCFS; zero ILUC emissions results in very low CI fuels

The California Air Resources Board has issued Sustainable Oils Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Global Clean Energy Holdings, a feedstock-only pathway for the production of camelina-based fuels under the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). The feedstock-only CI (carbon intensity) is 7.58 gCO2e/MJ. A feedstock-only pathway allows a fuel producer... Read more →


A team led by researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has developed an integrated framework to determine and to compare greenhouse gas (GHG) intensities and production costs of cellulosic ethanol derived from corn stover, switchgrass, and miscanthus grown on high and low quality soils for three representative counties... Read more →


Thai researchers find waste chicken fat a good low-cost feedstock for renewable diesel

In a study investigating the effect of the water and free fatty acid (FFA) content in waste chicken fat from poultry processing plants on the production of renewable diesel (not biodiesel), researchers in Thailand have found that both higher FFA and water content improved the biohydrogenated diesel (BHD) yield. In... Read more →


Argonne National Laboratory released the newest version (3.0) of the online tool Water Assessment for Transportation Energy Resources (WATER) this week. This latest version of WATER allows, for the first time, biofuels manufacturers to analyze water consumption associated with use of cellulosic feedstocks such as residue left from lumber production... Read more →


ASG life-cycle study finds aluminum Ford F-150 “Best Full-size Truck of 2015” from environmental and economic perspective

According to the latest annual life-cycle study from the Automotive Science Group (ASG), the all-new lightweight aluminum 2015 Ford F-150 leads the full-size light-duty truck competition in all environmental and economic performance areas; accordingly, ASG selected the F-150 as its Best Full-size Truck of 2015. According to ASG and the... Read more →


CO2 emissions of the B-Class Electric Drive compared with the B 180 gasoline-engine variant [t/car]. Click to enlarge. The Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive (earlier post) delivers up to 64% lower CO2 emissions than the equivalent B 180 gasoline model (when charged with hydroelectricity), according to Mercedes-Benz and TÜV Süd. The... Read more →


Monte Carlo results for the net life cycle emissions of the renewable jet fuel from sugar cane. Credit: ACS, Moreira et al.. Click to enlarge. Brazilian researchers evaluating the lifecycle GHG emissions of a renewable jet fuel produced from sugar cane in Brazil using Amyris’ proprietary technology platform (earlier post)... Read more →


Substituting biofuels for marginal fossil-based liquid fuels results in the avoidance of significant GHG emissions that are not currently accounted for in the European Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC), according to a new analysis by the consultancy Ecofys. The study was commissioned by the European Oilseed Alliance (EOA), the European Biodiesel... Read more →


Study casting doubt on GHG benefits of corn stover ethanol draws sharp criticism by other researchers; Liska responds

A study published earlier this year in the journal Nature Climate Change that cast doubt on whether biofuels produced from corn residue could meet federal mandates for cellulosic biofuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60% compared to gasoline (earlier post) has drawn critical response published as correspondence in the... Read more →


Argonne releases GREET 2014 lifecycle analysis software; unified graphical toolbox and database

The GREET (The Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation Model) team at Argonne National Laboratory has released a new version of the widely used GREET lifecycle analysis tool, GREET 2014. GREET 2014 provides a fully graphical toolbox with which users can perform life cycle analysis simulations of... Read more →


Top: Components of well-to-wheels pathway. Middle: WTW efficiency for CNGVs. Bottom: WTW efficiency for EVs. Curran et al. Click to enlarge. A well-to-wheels analysis of the use of natural gas for passenger vehicles by a team of researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has found that, with a high... Read more →


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

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... Read more →


Results of a lifecycle analysis by a team at the University of Michigan suggest that multiple types of natural gas-powered vehicles—i.e., natural-gas burning ICE vehicles; battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) recharged with gas-generated electricity; and fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) using hydrogen produced from natural gas—all show promise for reducing environmental impacts, energy... Read more →


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... Read more →


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... Read more →


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... Read more →


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... Read more →


Contribution of modeled CO2 emissions from SOC to the life cycle of biofuel from corn residue. Error bars are ± one standard deviation. Liska et al. Click to enlarge. Using corn crop residue to make ethanol and other biofuels reduces soil carbon and under some conditions can generate more greenhouse... Read more →


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... Read more →


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... Read more →


WTW energy expended and GHG emissions for conventional fuels ICE and hybrid vehicles shows the potential for improvement of conventional fuels and ICE based vehicles. Source: EUR 26236 EN - 2014 Click to enlarge. Europe’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and its partners in the JEC Consortium—JRC, EUCAR (the European Council... Read more →


Lifecycle study explores production of NdFeB rare-earth magnets from primary production and recycling pathways

A lifecycle study comparing the virgin production route of neodymium−iron−boron (NdFeB) magnets with two hypothetical recycling processes found that recycling of neodymium, especially via manual dismantling, is preferable to primary production, with some environmental indicators showing an order of magnitude improvement. The choice of recycling technology is also important with... Read more →


Life cycle impact benchmarking between LIB packs with SiNW and graphite anode. Units of the X-axis values are different and shown under each impact category name on Y-axis. Credit: ACS, Li et al. Click to enlarge. A lifecycle assessment (LCA) of silicon nanowire (SiNW) anodes for Li-ion batteries (LIBs) by... Read more →


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... Read more →


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... Read more →


Top: Weighted CI (g CO2 e/MJ) of petroleum fuels and corn ethanol consumed in the US over time. Bottom: Weighted CI of petroleum fuels consumed in the US and California over time. Click to enlarge. The carbon intensity (CI) of corn ethanol—i.e., the greenhouse gas emissions produced via the production... Read more →


WTW energy demand and GHG emissions for EV and PHEV drivetrains for various electricity sources; gasoline ICE vehicle is solid square, hybrid the hollow square. Click to enlarge. A comprehensive analysis of well-to-wheel (WTW) primary energy demand and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the operation of conventional and alternative passenger... Read more →


BAL scientists engineer yeast to produce ethanol from brown seaweed; brown seaweed biorefinery

An international team of researchers from Bio Architecture Labs, a synthetic biology and enzyme design company focused on the production of biofuels and biochemicals from macroalgae (seaweed) (earlier post), reports the development of a synthetic yeast platform based on Saccharomyces cerevisiae that can efficiently produce ethanol from brown seaweed; the... Read more →


Schematic of fuel use in driving. Fw = fuel consumption due to mass-induced loads; Fx = fuel cons. due to aerodynamic resistance and accessory power loads; Ff = fuel cons. due to mechanical losses in the engine; Fl = fuel cons. due to mechanical losses outside of the engine; Fload... Read more →


Trends in well-to-wheel pathway-specific CI. In situ production began in 1974, so no value is computable for 1970. Click to enlarge. The carbon intensity (CI) of Alberta oil sands production has significantly decreased over the last 40 years, according to a new study by a team from Stanford University published... Read more →


TÜV SÜD Technical Inspectorate confirms BMW i3 can emit 30-50% less total life cycle greenhouse gases than comparable conventional vehicles

The BMW i3 battery electric vehicle can emit 30-50% less total life cycle greenhouse gases than comparable conventional vehicles depending upon the source of its electricity, according to its ISO 14040/14044 certificate from the TÜV SÜD Technical Inspectorate. (Earlier post.) Market launch for the i3 is on 16 November. The... Read more →


The study found that TCO for electric and diesel medium-duty urban delivery trucks were similar. The electric truck is relatively more cost-effective on the NYCC and when VKT demand is higher. Cost-competitiveness of the electric truck diminishes in drive cycles with higher average speeds. Credit: ACS, Lee et al. Click... Read more →


System boundaries (red line) schematic for liquid fuel carbon balance. For biofuels, because biogenic carbon is automatically credited within a product lifecycle, the boundary effectively excludes vehicle end-use CO2 emissions. DeCicco 2013. Click to enlarge. In a paper that could have a significant impact on climate policies for transportation fuels,... Read more →


The EROI ratio and GHG emissions/MJ of (a) algae-derived diesel and (b) algae-derived gasoline produced using HTL. The results are benchmarked against commercialized biodiesel or bioethanol as well as petroleum-derived versions of the drop-in fuels. Credit: Liu et al. Click to enlarge. A new life cycle analysis by a team... Read more →


European Parliament backs 6% cap on land-based biofuels, switchover to advanced biofuels; no mandate

In a vote on draft legislation, the European Parliament has backed a cap on the use of biofuels produced from starch-rich crops, sugars, oil and other crops grown on land and a speedy switchover to new biofuels from alternative sources such as seaweed and waste. The measures aim to reduce... Read more →


Change in total consumer expenditure for EVs and conventional vehicles (CVs) purchased in 2030 over the vehicle lifetime for 20% and 100% EV adoption scenarios. A negative value means the case has a lower TCE than the reference case. Credit: ACS, Choi et al. Click to enlarge. A team from... Read more →


EPA grants Aemetis’ sorghum ethanol and biogas the D5 advanced biofuel RIN category

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted Aemetis, an advanced fuels and renewable chemicals company formerly known as AE Biofuels, approval to produce ethanol using grain sorghum and biogas at its converted corn ethanol plant to generate D5 Advanced Biofuels Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs). Until now, the D5 Advanced... Read more →


The proposed Keystone XL pipeline for transporting oilsands-derived crude to Gulf Coast refineries would have “no material impact” on US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to a new Insight report by IHS CERA. In a June speech at Georgetown University, President Barack Obama said that the controversial Keystone XL pipeline... Read more →


Comparison of greenhouse gas emissions from new vehicles in 2020, EVs by state power mix. Percentages are relative to gasoline baseline. Click to enlarge. A report for policymakers issued by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) has found that in Arizona, Colorado and Nevada, electric vehicles offer the cleanest ride,... Read more →


GM to double models with 40 mpg highway or better by 2017; ongoing manufacturing efficiency improvements

Describing its product goals and tracking progress toward its 2020 manufacturing priorities in its 2012 Sustainability Report, General Motors reaffirmed its commitment to further reduce the energy used and the environmental impacts of building and operating an automobile. GM has made three product commitments for 2017 related to its sustainability... Read more →