[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.]
Clean Energy to build new CNG stations for multiple transit agencies and large school district; agreements with trucking, refuse and others
August 26, 2015
Clean Energy Fuels Corp. will construct new compressed natural gas (CNG) stations for Arlington Transit (ART) in Arlington County, Virginia; Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE) in Long Island, NY; and North Kansas City (MO) School District, which is set to become the largest school district in the US to transition its school bus fleet to CNG. The company also announced additional agreements across transportation market segments of transit, refuse, trucking and the bulk fuel market.
Transit. NICE has awarded Clean Energy the contract to design, build and operate and maintain a new CNG station that will, upon completion, replace its existing Mitchel Field station, and operate and maintain the existing CNG stations. The five-year contract valued at just over $13 million will extend the partnership between NICE and Clean Energy and will support a fleet of over 200 CNG buses. Clean Energy currently supports another 100 CNG buses at an additional station and provides a total of 4.6 million GGEs of CNG annually for the NICE bus fleet. Completion of the new station is expected for summer 2017.
Berkeley Lab researchers advance hybrid bioinorganic approach to solar-to~chemicals conversion; 50% electrical-to-chemical, 10% solar-to-chemical efficiencies
August 25, 2015
A team of researchers at the US Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have hit a new milestone in their development of a hybrid bioinorganic system for solar-to-chemical energy conversion. (Earlier post.) The system first generates renewable hydrogen from water splitting using sustainable electrical and/or solar input and biocompatible inorganic catalysts. The hydrogen is then used by living cells as a source of reducing equivalents for conversion of CO2 to the value-added chemical product methane.
The system can achieve an electrical-to-chemical efficiency of better than 50% and a solar-to-chemical energy conversion efficiency of 10% if the system is coupled with state-of-art solar panel and electrolyzer, said Peidong Yang, a chemist with Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division and one of the leaders of this study. A paper on their work is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
CMU analysis finds BEVs powered with natural gas-based electricity have about 40% of the lifecycle GHGs of a conventional gasoline vehicle
August 21, 2015
According to a new lifecycle analysis by a team at Carnegie Mellon University, a battery electric vehicle (BEV) powered with natural gas-based electricity achieves around an average 40% lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction when compared to a conventional gasoline vehicle. Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), either with a 30- or 60-km range, when powered by natural gas electricity, have the second lowest average emissions. Both BEVs and PHEVs provide large (more than 20%) emissions reductions compared to conventional gasoline, but none of them is a dominant strategy when compared to gasoline hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), the team found.
Gaseous hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles have comparable life cycle emissions with conventional gasoline, offering limited reductions with 100-year global warming potential (GWP) yet leading to increases with 20-year GWP. Other liquid fuel pathways using natural gas—methanol, ethanol, and Fischer–Tropsch liquids—have larger GHG emissions than conventional gasoline even when carbon capture and storage technologies are available. The study is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.
Synbio company Intrexon and Dominion partner to commercialize bioconversion of natural gas to isobutanol in Marcellus and Utica Basins
August 20, 2015
Intrexon Energy Partners (IEP), a joint venture of synthetic biology company Intrexon Corporation and external investors (earlier post), and Dominion Energy, a subsidiary of Dominion Resources, have entered into an agreement to explore the potential for commercial-scale biological conversion of natural gas to isobutanol in the Marcellus and Utica Shale Basins.
Intrexon’s proprietary methanotroph bioconversion platform uses optimized microbial cell lines to convert natural gas into higher carbon compounds such as isobutanol and farnesene under ambient temperatures and pressures. This novel approach avoids costly, resource-intensive thermochemical gas-to-liquids (GTL) conversion methods, and offers a biofuel that does not utilize sugar or other plant-based feedstock.
NREL examines potential of blending ethanol with condensate for flex-fuels and high-octane mid-level blends
July 21, 2015
A team at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), with a colleague at EcoEngineering, has explored the potential of blending ethanol with natural gasoline (condensate) to produce flex-fuels (ASTM D5798-13a) and high-octane, mid-level ethanol blends (MLEBs). A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.
The study addresses two current market conditions: first, more ethanol is produced domestically than can legally be blended in E10 (the ethanol blend wall). Second, as a result of recent increases in crude oil and natural gas production in the US, condensate—a component of natural gas liquids (NGLs) found in rich gas—is produced in abundance and could potentially serve as a lower-cost blendstock. Current US production of condensate is estimated at 1.5 × 108 m3 annually compared to 9.7 × 107 m3 annually 10 years ago.
Argonne, Ford and FCA partnering to study natural gas and gasoline blending for 50% cut in gasoline, 10% boost in efficiency and power density
July 14, 2015
Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory are partnering with Ford Motor Company and FCA US LLC in pre-competitive research to study blending natural gas and gasoline using natural gas direct injection to enable more efficient engines. The project is a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) resulting from the 2014 DOE Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA).
The project’s objective is to understand potential benefits and demonstrate targeted blending of gasoline and natural gas in an engine that uses half as much gasoline and shows a 10% increase in overall efficiency and a 10% improvement in power density.
DOE selects 16 research projects for more than $19M in funding to advance Solid Oxide Fuel Cell technology
The Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has selected 16 solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology research projects for a total of more than $19 million ($19,358,915) in funding.
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, NETL issued two funding opportunities announcements (FOAs) to support programs that enable the development and deployment of this energy technology. The projects selected under the two FOAs will receive funding through NETL’s Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Program. The FOAs were awarded with two primary objectives: to design, construct, and field-test a SOFC prototype system; and to support innovations that improve the reliability, robustness, and endurance of SOFC cell and stack technology.
Audi launches next-gen A4 with new Millerized TFSI engine; g-tron model w/ Audi e-gas
June 29, 2015
Audi has unveiled the new-generation Audi A4 and A4 Avant, developed with a high priority on the reduction of CO2 emissions. Among other developments, the new A4 is the launch vehicle for the new high-efficiency 2.0L TFSI based on Miller cycle, introduced by Audi earlier this year at the Vienna Motor Symposium. (Earlier post.) The A4 Sedan and the A4 Avant will be launched in the market this fall.
The new models deliver CO2 emissions as low as 95 grams per kilometer (152.9 grams per mile) for the A4 Sedan 2.0 TDI ultra with 110 kW (150 hp). The new A4 Sedan has the best drag coefficient in its class at 0.23, while Avant has cd 0.26. Further, although compared with the previous model the car’s dimensions have grown, its weight has been reduced by up to 120 kilograms (265 lbs), depending on the engine. The body of the new Audi models is one of the lightest in its class due to an intelligent material mix and lightweight construction.
Stanford launches major new natural gas research initiative
June 13, 2015
Stanford University has launched a new research initiative to study comprehensively the development and use of natural gas. The new program will expand Stanford’s research on energy and the environment by focusing additional resources on the growing importance of natural gas.
US production has risen almost 50% in the past 10 years, and global demand for gas is anticipated to outpace all other fossil fuels. More than 35 professors and research staff from a dozen Stanford academic departments have already affiliated with the Natural Gas Initiative.
Hybrid-electric powertrain for road sweepers; natural gas genset
June 06, 2015
Empa, ETH Zürich and the road sweeper manufacturer Bucher Municipal have jointly developed a pioneering hybrid-electric powertrain for road sweepers in a CTI (Switzerland’s Commission for Technology and Innovation) project. The concept is based on a natural gas-driven engine, which provides power to the electric motors. Compared to conventional sweepers, the energy consumption has been halved and CO2 emissions reduced by more than 60%.
Bucher Municipal, the European market leader in compact sweeping vehicles, is currently working on a concept study based on its CityCat platform to investigate possible commercialization of the new technologies.
EPA draft assessment finds no widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water resources from fracking
June 05, 2015
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft assessment on the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing activities on drinking water resources in the United States. The assessment, done at the request of Congress, found that hydraulic fracturing activities in the US are carried out in a way that have not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources.
The assessment followed the water used for hydraulic fracturing from water acquisition; chemical mixing at the well pad site; well injection of fracking fluids; the collection of hydraulic fracturing wastewater (including flowback and produced water); and wastewater treatment and disposal. The assessment also identified potential vulnerabilities in the water lifecycle—some of which are not unique to hydraulic fracturing—that could impact drinking water.
CMU study compares lifecycle GHGs of natural gas pathways for MHDVs; MD BEVs can deliver large reductions, but diesel hard to beat for Class 8
May 27, 2015
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 8 transit buses, and Class 8 MHDVs (e.g., refuse trucks and tractor-trailers).
Battery-electric (BEVs), LPG, and CNG pathways could reduce life cycle GHG emissions for non-Class 8 MHDVs compared to the baseline petroleum fuels. Similarly, BEVs achieve emission reductions for transit buses. On the other hand, none of natural gas pathways, CNG, LNG, and F-T liquids, achieve any emission reductions per unit of freight-distance moved for Class 8 trucks compared to conventional diesel. The study is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Lifecycle study finds fuel switching from diesel to natural gas could produce net climate damage absent reductions in CH4 emissions and improved vehicle efficiency
May 20, 2015
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 require a combination of significant reductions well-to-wheels methane emissions (i.e., addressing leakage) and efficiency improvements in the natural gas vehicles themselves. Otherwise, fuel switching can produce net climate damages (more radiative forcing) for decades.
The results, published in an open access paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, suggest that policymakers wishing to address climate change should use caution before promoting fuel switching to natural gas, the authors concluded.
Canada targets cutting GHGs 30% below 2005 levels by 2030; new regulations for oil and gas, power, petrochemicals
May 15, 2015
Canada Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced that Canada plans to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. Canada formally submitted its target, referred to as an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Canada will continue to take cooperative action with its continental trading partners, particularly the United States, in integrated sectors of the economy, including energy and transportation.
Minister Aglukkaq also announced the Government’s intention to develop new regulatory measures under its sector-by-sector approach that would build on actions already taken on two of Canada’s largest sector sources of GHG emissions: transportation and electricity. The new regulations include:
Cummins Westport introducing new ISB6.7 G mid-range natural gas engine
May 06, 2015
At the opening reception at ACT Expo in Dallas, TX, Cummins Westport Inc. will unveil the ISB6.7 G, a 6.7-liter medium-duty, factory-built dedicated natural gas engine for school bus, shuttle bus, medium-duty truck and vocational applications. (Earlier post.) The new ISB6.7 G is currently in field trials with full production expected to commence in mid-2016.
The ISB6.7 G natural gas engine is based on the Cummins ISB6.7 diesel engine platform, the industry leader in the Cummins medium-duty engine family. The ISB6.7 G will operate exclusively on natural gas (CNG or LNG) utilizing Cummins Westport’s proprietary spark-ignited, stoichiometric combustion with cooled exhaust gas recirculation (SEGR) technology, first introduced with the 8.9-liter ISL G.
2016 Ford F-150 offers ability to run on compressed natural gas, propane
May 05, 2015
Ford will offer the 2016 F-150 with an available gaseous-fuel prep package that enables 5.0-liter V8-powered models to run on compressed natural gas or propane, making Ford the only manufacturer of a CNG/propane-capable half-ton pickup.
The 2016 Ford F-150 with 5.0-liter V8 engine will be available to order this summer with a factory-installed, gaseous-fuel prep package that includes upgraded intake and exhaust valves and valve seats.
Momentum Fuel Technologies introduces CNG storage system for Class 6-8 trucks
Newly launched Momentum Fuel Technologies, a division of Rush Enterprises, which operates the largest network of commercial vehicle dealerships in North America, introduced a complete compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel storage system for Class 6 to Class 8 trucks, offering support from design and manufacturing, to sales and ongoing service throughout the product life cycle.
The company plans to offer both side-mount and back-of-cab mount systems. Side-mount systems include a 40DGE (diesel gallon equivalent) with a range of 176-220 miles (283-354 km) and 45DGE with a range of 198-248 miles (319-399 km). The initial back-of-cab mount system will be 110DGE with a range of 506-633 miles (814-1,019 km). The company expects to offer another back-of-cab mount system, 150DGE with a range of 660-825 miles (1,062-1,328 km) in fall 2015.
Opinion: Have Natural Gas Prices Bottomed?
April 29, 2015
by Leonard Brecken of Oilprice.com
Last Friday we finally got confirmation of where all the natural gas supply has been coming from as Cabot (COG) reported its earnings. Just like Chesapeake (CHK), they reduced natural gas output, but on a much grander scale. CHK has yet to report and will do so on May 6th providing even more color on the subject.
Last month they announced a 2% reduction in NGAS volumes to 1-3% for 2015 vs. 3-5%. But the ramp up of supply from Marcellus, and to a lesser extent Utica, and a corresponding flat to up rig count in natural gas rigs in those areas appears to be the reason why NGAS has crashed some 30% despite a relatively cold winter in the mid-west and East especially. The magnitude of the supply increase is simply stunning, begging the question: what was Cabot’s management thinking by increasing NGAS production in Marcellus by some 40% to 162 BCF in 1Q15 and up 12.5% sequentially from 4Q14? And, to boot, 4Q14 was up over 13% sequentially from 3Q14!
The Game-Changing Water Revolution: Interview with Stanley Weiner
April 15, 2015
by James Stafford for Oilprice.com
Globally, water demand is threatening to dangerously outpace supply, while in the US, dry states such as Texas and California are suffering from shortages and the future forebodes more suffering. For the North American shale boom, the lack of water is suffocating. Amid this doom and gloom, a water revolution is emerging, led by energy industry figures who realized the endless potential of tapping into new water sources and processing them with advanced desalination technology that, for the first time ever, is economically feasible.
The water revolution is here, according to Stanley Weiner, CEO of STW Resources-a Texas-based company that has the exclusive North American license for Dutch-developed next-generation Salttech desalination technology. [Earlier post.] In an interview with James Stafford Oilprice.com, Weiner discusses:
Researchers find that abiotic methane can charge deepsea Arctic gas hydrates
April 14, 2015
Researchers from the Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE) at the Arctic University of Norway have discovered a growing Arctic abiotic methane- and methane hydrate–charged sediment drift on oceanic crust in the deep Fram Strait of the Arctic Ocean. This is a previously undescribed process of hydrate formation; most of the known methane hydrates in the world are formed with methane from the decomposition of organic matter (biotic methane).
Their study, reported in the journal Geology, suggests that abiotic methane could supply vast systems of methane hydrate throughout the Arctic.
Lux: alternative fuels in China could replace up to 483B GGE in 2020; coal-to-ethanol conversion offers near-term potential
China’s shift toward alternative fuels in order to cut its reliance on imported oil is creating large opportunities, notably in natural gas vehicles (NGVs) and in the conversion of coal to ethanol, according to a new report from Lux Research. China is seeking to reduce its imports of oil from the current 50% of domestic demand. Further, its plans to limit coal-fired power plants due to pollution problems, means that oversupplied coal is available for conversion to alternative fuels.
Lux Research analysts evaluated China’s alternative fuels landscape to assess opportunities and identified potential domestic partners across diverse feedstocks, technologies and fuels. Among their findings:
UPS to add 1,400 new CNG vehicles over next year; building 15 new CNG fueling stations
April 02, 2015
|UPS CNG package truck. Click to enlarge.|
UPS announced plans to purchase and deploy 1,400 new CNG vehicles over the next year, representing a 27.5% increase to UPS’ current industry-leading alternative fuel and advanced technology fleet of 5,088 vehicles worldwide.
To support the purchase and planned deployment of the 1,400 new CNG vehicles, UPS plans to build 15 compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations. Twelve of the CNG stations will be in new natural gas vehicle deployment areas, and three will replace existing CNG stations with more robust, higher capacity equipment.
U Toronto LCA suggests that with CNG as primary vehicle energy source, EVs best targeted at non-attainment areas
April 01, 2015
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 battery electric vehicles (BEV), using a gasoline-fueled conventional vehicle as a reference.
Among their findings, published in a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, are that policies should for the foreseeable future focus on the niche adoption of plug-in vehicles in non-attainment regions, as CNG vehicles are likely more cost-effective at providing overall life cycle air emissions impact benefits.
Total natural gas vehicle sales in US down 6.5% in 2014 due to 34% drop in light-duty sales; medium- and heavy-duty up
March 29, 2015
In 2014, light-, medium-, and heavy-duty natural gas vehicle (NGV) production/sales in the US totaled just over 18,000 vehicles, down 6.5% from 2013, according to NGVAmerica’s 2014 NGV Production/Sales Report. The report is based on the organization’s annual survey of OEMs and approved aftermarket suppliers.
The heavy-duty market segment grew at a healthy pace, up 30% over 2013. The medium-duty market segment also grew steadily, up 24% over 2013. The light-duty segment fell 34% from 2013, mostly related to a drop in orders from the gas and oil exploration and production (E&P) sector.
BLM issues final rule for fracking on public lands; new rule on deepsea blowout preventers coming
March 22, 2015
The US Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has released final rule covering hydraulic fracturing on public and American Indian lands. As of 30 June 2014, there were approximately 47,000 active oil and gas leases on public lands, and approximately 95,000 oil and gas wells. Of wells currently being drilled, more than 90% use hydraulic fracturing. This final rule will supplement the existing requirements, which will remain in place. The rule applies only to development on public and tribal lands—which represent about 25% of US unconventional oil and gas—and includes a process so that states and tribes may request variances from provisions for which they have an equal or more protective regulation in place.
The Department will also propose a rule in the coming weeks that raises the bar on blowout preventers for offshore wells and well control measures based on technological progress advanced by industry, said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell during her remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) several days prior to the release of the fracking rule. Other reforms will also include important measures to target where oil and gas leasing occurs and protect sensitive areas that are too special to drill.
Study: natural gas heavy-duty trucking fleet could benefit economy, but has mixed environmental effects
February 20, 2015
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.
The recent shale-driven emergence of natural gas as an abundant, inexpensive fuel in the US has raised the possibility of a “momentous shift” in the level of natural gas used in transportation. The cost advantage of natural gas over diesel fuel is particularly appealing for vehicles with a high intensity of travel and thus fuel use. In the paper, the team investigated the possibility that natural gas could be utilized to provide fuel cost savings, geographic supply diversity and environmental benefits for the heavy-duty trucking sector—and whether it can enable a transition to lower carbon transport fuels.
DOE workshop report on common opportunities and challenges in expanding use of H2 and natural gas vehicles
|Hydrogen and natural gas share a number of common entry to market barriers. Image from DOE EERE Fuel Cell Technologies Office. Click to enlarge.|
Sandia National Laboratories, supported by the DOE’s Vehicle Technologies and Fuel Cell Technologies Offices, recently released the workshop report “Transitioning the Transportation Sector: Exploring the Intersection of Hydrogen Fuel Cell and Natural Gas Vehicles.”
Held in September 2014, the workshop considered common opportunities and challenges in expanding the use of hydrogen and natural gas as transportation fuels. Organized by Sandia, the American Gas Association, and Toyota, the workshop included participants from the auto industry, freight delivery fleets, gas suppliers, gas storage developers, utilities, academia, industry associations, national laboratories, and federal and state governments.
New black silicon-supported catalyst for photoreduction of CO2 to methane
February 16, 2015
Researchers at the University of Toronto have developed a catalyst comprising of black silicon nanowire supported ruthenium ( Ru/SiNW) for the photochemical and thermochemical reduction of gaseous CO2 to methane (methanation) in the presence of hydrogen under solar-simulated light. An open access paper on their work is published in the new journal Advanced Science.
The Ru/SiNW catalysts activated the Sabatier reaction at a rate of 0.74 mmol g−1 h−1 under 14.5 suns intensity of solar-simulated irradiation in a hydrogen atmosphere at 15 psi and a H2:CO2 ratio of 4:1. The team suggested that much higher reaction rates could be achieved by optimizing the dispersion of the Ru over the SiNW support.
ICCT reviews real-world tractor-trailer fuel economy in US, China and Europe
February 15, 2015
The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has published a new paper reviewing and summarizing data on commercial vehicle sales and real-world fuel consumption for heavy-duty tractor-trailers in the three key markets of the US, China and Europe, which together account for more than 70% of HDV sales worldwide.
The review found that in the US, average tractor-trailer fuel consumption rates for the entire fleet are approximately 39 L/100 km (6 mpg). For the newest US models, fuel consumption is typically between 33 and 36 L/100 km (6.5–7 mpg). A fleet-wide analysis done for the European Commission estimates tractor-trailer fuel consumption at roughly 31 L/100 km (7.6 mpg), while tests of individual vehicles done by trucking magazines suggest somewhat higher average rates of consumption at approximately 36 to 38 L/100 km (6.5 to 6.2 mpg). Chassis dynamometer testing performed as part of the regulatory development process in China reveals that tractor-trailers seem to have much higher fuel consumption rates, on average, than in the US and the EU, with laboratory results yielding an average of 44 L/100 km (5.4 mpg).
Extensive materials genome modeling study suggests best adsosrbent materials for natural gas storage already designed; 70% of ARPA-E target
February 03, 2015
Using a materials genome approach, a collaboration between EPFL, the University of California at Berkeley, Rice University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology has searched for high-performance adsorbent materials to store natural gas in a vehicular fuel tank.
In their study, published in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science, they simulated more than 650,000 designs for nanoporous materials. They found that the best candidates for natural gas storage have already been designed—but that those best materials meet only 70% of the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) targets for natural gas storage on vehicles. (Earlier post.)
Researchers ID structure of key intermediate in enzyme converting methane to methanol; potential for synthetic fuels
January 26, 2015
A team from the University of Minnesota and Michigan State University has identified the structure of the key intermediate “Q” in the enzyme methane monooxygenase (MMO). MMO catalyzes the O2-dependent conversion of methane to methanol in methanotrophic bacteria, thereby preventing the emission into the atmosphere of approximately one billion tons of this potent greenhouse gas annually.
Q is one of the most powerful oxidizing intermediates occurring in nature. Exploiting this extreme oxidizing potential is of great interest for bioremediation and the development of synthetic approaches to methane-based alternative fuels and chemical industry feedstocks, the authors noted in their paper, published in the journal Nature. The insight gained into the formation and reactivity of Q from the structure reported is an important step towards harnessing this potential, the authors suggested.
Obama Administration recommends designating most of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as Wilderness
On Sunday, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) released its revised proposed comprehensive conservation plan and final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the 19.64-million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The FWS’ preferred alternative recommends an additional 12.28 million acres—including the Coastal Plain—for designation as “Wilderness”. (“Wilderness” (with a capital “W”) refers to designated Wilderness areas, with accompanying restrictions.) The FWS also recommends four rivers—the Atigun, Hulahula, Kongakut, and Marsh Fork Canning—for inclusion into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Currently, more than 7 million acres of the refuge are managed as Wilderness. However, more than 60% of the refuge—including the Coastal Plain—does not carry that designation. Implementation of the preferred alternative would change that.
China Yuchai LNG engine powers the “Fuel Efficient Heavy-Duty Truck of the Year 2014” in China
China Yuchai International announced that a “K-Gold” model C&C truck equipped with the YC6K1340N liquid natural gas (LNG) engine has won the “Fuel Efficient Heavy-Duty Truck of the Year 2014” at China’s largest annual commercial vehicle event.
At 13 liters, the YC6K1340N engine has the largest displacement and highest torque power among comparable natural gas engines in China. Variants in the K13N range span power ratings from 340-440 PS (250-324 kW, 335-434 hp), with 1950 N·m of torque at 1200 ~ 1500 rpm. By utilizing lean-burn technology, it reduces average energy consumption by approximately 25% compared with diesel engines of similar size and power. The model YC6K1340N is the only engine in China that utilizes the JACOBS in-cylinder brake technology, and has LNG braking power up to 17 kW/L.
California approves another $18M for clean energy projects; $12M for alternative vehicles
January 15, 2015
The California Energy Commission approved nearly $18 million to fund projects that will help the state meet its climate and energy goals. Twelve million dollars will go toward three alternative fuel projects, $4 million will help fund two geothermal projects and $3.5 million will help fund local energy efficiency projects.
The three alternative fuels projects will receive funding through the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP), which supports technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on petroleum-based fuels. Recipients include:
Navigant forecasts LD natural gas vehicles to account for 2.8% of global vehicle parc by 2024
December 31, 2014
|Cumulative light-duty NGV sales by segment. Source: Navigant. Click to enlarge.|
In a new report, Navigant Research forecasts that light-duty natural gas vehicle (LD NGV) sales will grow 119% between 2014 and 2024, culminating in 42.1 million NGVs on the world’s roads and accounting for 2.8% of all vehicles on the roads.
Overall, Navigant expects the worldwide market for LD NGVs to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.6% between 2014 and 2024, with the number of passenger car sales growing at a slightly slower rate (5.3% CAGR) than light trucks (5.6% CAGR). Asia Pacific will remain the largest market, with more than 2.0 million LD NGVs sales in 2024.
Rice U team uses new computational methodology to identify high capacity MOFs for on-board natural gas storage
December 18, 2014
Researchers from Rice University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley have developed a computational methodology to support the experimental exploration of potential high-capacity metal organic frameworks (MOFs) for use in on-board storage of natural gas. The advantages to using MOFs as a storage medium are many and start with increased capacity over the heavy, high-pressure cylinders in current use.
In a paper in the ACS Journal of Physical Chemistry C, they report identifying 48 materials with higher predicted deliverable capacity (at 65 bar storage, 5.8 bar depletion, and 298 K) than MOF-5—the currently best available for the natural gas storage application. The best material identified by the researchers has a predicted deliverable capacity 8% higher than that of MOF-5.
Westport Innovations acquires alt fuel systems company Prins Autogassystemen for €12.2M
December 03, 2014
Natural gas engine and vehicle company Westport Innovations Inc. has acquired Netherlands based Prins Autogassystemen Holding B.V. for €12.2 million (US$15.1 million) through a combination of €6.6 million (US$8.2 million) in assumed liabilities and €5.6 million (US$6.9 million) in cash.
Founded in 1986, Prins is a leading developer of high quality alternative fuel systems powered by liquefied petroleum gas (LPG or propane), compressed natural gas (CNG), and liquefied natural gas (LNG) for light-, medium-, and heavy-duty applications. Prins operations in Europe will be combined under the Westport Applied Technologies business unit.
Start-up Eco-Motive developing dual-fuel “H” engine; parallel, independently fueled piston banks
December 01, 2014
|The H-engine—basically two separate engines housed within the same engine block—comprises two switchable parallel piston banks, independently fueled by gasoline and CNG. Click to enlarge.|
Startup Eco-Motive has developed what it calls the first dual-fuel “H” engine; it recently received a patent (#8807098) on the design. The H-shaped engine comprises parallel left-side and right-side vertical inline piston banks, each having a crankshaft and pistons, a cylinder head, and individual fuel feeds, but sharing a common power transmission system. Each piston bank operates independently of the other but is housed within the same engine block and has separate lubrication systems.
The Eco-Motive H-motor—basically two separate engines housed within the same engine block—can be powered by either gasoline or compressed natural gas (CNG), at the driver’s decision. The chosen engine is mechanically or electrically selected via an engine bank selector box using a selector control which selects the fuel type and engages a drive gear on the crankshaft of the selected engine, and transfers power to the transmission. The selector control actuates a transfer system that prevents simultaneous operation of both engines. The vehicle stays in that fuel mode until changed by the driver.
UT Austin to lead $58M study of methane hydrate in Gulf of Mexico; $41M from DOE
October 22, 2014
A research team led by The University of Texas at Austin has been awarded approximately $58 million to analyze methane hydrate deposits under the Gulf of Mexico. The grant, one of the largest ever awarded to the university, will allow researchers to advance the scientific understanding of naturally occurring methane hydrate so that its resource potential and environmental implications can be fully understood.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) is providing $41,270,609, with the remainder funded by industry and the research partners. Methane hydrate—natural gas trapped in an ice-like cage of water molecules—occurs in both terrestrial and marine environments. Prior programs in Alaska have explored gas hydrate reservoir potential and alternative production strategies, and additional testing programs are in development. While not part of this new program, the DOE further intends to evaluate production methods on terrestrial methane hydrate deposits in Alaska.
More on the Mercedes-Benz 2014 B-Class alternative drive systems: electric and natural gas
October 21, 2014
|B-Class Electric Drive (right) and B-Class Natural Gas Drive (left). Click to enlarge.|
Mercedes-Benz earlier gave the already successful B-Class a thorough facelift, giving particular attention to an upgrade of the interior. (Earlier post.) The revamped B-Class offers a choice of five diesel models with fuel ranging from 3.6 to 5.0 l/100 km (65.3 to 47 mpg US) and four gasoline engines at between 5.4 and 6.6 l/100 km (43.6 and 35.6 mpg US) as well as the B-Class Electric Drive (earlier post) and the B 200 Natural Gas Drive.
Both alternative drive models feature the modular “ENERGY SPACE” bodyshell concept: the underbody houses either the lithium-ion battery (B-Class Electric Drive) or one large and two smaller natural gas tanks and a 14‑liter gasoline tank (B 200 Natural Gas Drive). The B-Class Electric Drive and the B-Class Natural Gas Drive also differ in design from the gasoline and diesel models—particularly in the shaping of the front and rear aprons and the side skirts.
California Energy Commission to award up to $2.25M for R&D on advanced ignition systems for Class 3-8 natural gas engines
October 10, 2014
The California Energy Commission has issued a funding notice (PON-14-501) to support the applied research and development of advanced high-energy ignition systems capable of overcoming the challenges of igniting natural gas fuel under high boost pressures with heavy exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) for spark-ignited Class 3-8 engines.
Ignition characteristics of natural gas fuel represent challenges to engine manufacturers working to satisfy tighter emission standards, achieve lower fuel consumption and higher engine performance, and respond to market demand for extended maintenance options. Funded projects must involve the development and demonstration of one or both of the following concepts for new or existing ignition systems:
Westport updates HPDI 2.0 dual fuel system with new Delphi injectors, upgraded LNG storage and supply
October 01, 2014
|1st-generation Westport HPDI Injector and next-generation injector. (CNW Group/Westport Innovations Inc. Click to enlarge.|
Westport Innovations Inc. is updating its second-generation Westport high pressure direct injection (Westport HPDI 2.0) (earlier post) development program with a new family of high-pressure fuel injectors, co-developed with Delphi Automotive PLC. The new injectors are designed to provide lower cost, smaller size and improved packaging compared to prior generation Westport HPDI injector designs.
The new generation injectors are running in engine tests today and are on display at the Delphi booth at the IAA Commercial Vehicles Show in Hanover, Germany.
MAN shows TGX parallel diesel hybrid truck concept, previews CNG in TGM trucks at IAA; gearbox cooperation with Scania
September 28, 2014
|MANs TGX hybrid concept at IAA. Click to enlarge.|
At the IAA, MAN (part of the Volkswagen Group) presented a concept diesel-electric parallel hybrid version of its long-haul TGX truck. (MAN showed the Metropolis research truck, a range-extended electric refuse collection truck developed in collaboration with Benteler Engineering Services for use in the city, at IAA 2012, earlier post.) Also at IAA, MAN gave a preview of the CNG technology in trucks with a TGM distributor chassis; the CNG trucks are due in the market in 2016. (MAN has an established line of CNG-powered buses.)
TGX Hybrid. The MAN TGX concept hybrid will be driven by a parallel hybrid system, supplied by a 440 hp (328 kW) diesel engine and an electric motor with 130 kW drive power. The electric motor acts as an alternator when coasting and braking. A MAN TipMatic gearbox transfers power to the rear axle.
Groundbreaking in Turkmenistan for major synthetic gasoline plant; first full-scale Haldor Topsøe TIGAS facility
September 27, 2014
In August, a groundbreaking ceremony was held in Ovadan-Depe near the capital of Ashgabad in Turkmenistan to launch the construction of a major plant focused on the conversion of natural gas into synthetic gasoline. The plant will be based on Haldor Topsøe’s TIGAS (Topsøe Improved Gasoline Synthesis) technology (earlier post) and will become the first full-scale large commercial facility using this technology.
The plant has been awarded by the national gas company Turkmengas, and Topsøe will be working alongside the Japanese contractor Kawasaki Heavy Industry Ltd. and the Turkish contractor Rönesans Turkmen to engineer and construct the facility. The plant will be become operational in approximately four years from now with a daily production capacity of 15,500 bbl of synthetic gasoline.
ORNL study finds best current use of natural gas for cars is efficient production of electricity for EVs
September 24, 2014
|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 PTW (pump-to-wheels) efficiency and the potential for high electrical generation efficiency with NGCC (natural gas combined cycle) turbines, natural gas currently is best used in an efficient stationary power application for charging EVs.
However, they also noted, high PTW efficiencies and the moderate fuel economies of current compressed natural gas vehicles (CNGVs) make them a viable option as well. If CNG were to be eventually used in hybrids, the advantage of the electric generation/EV option shrinks. Their open access paper is published in the journal Energy.
Westport unveils proprietary enhanced spark-ignited natural gas system; up to 10% improvement in power and torque over diesel
September 23, 2014
Westport Innovations Inc. unveiled the first generation of its new, proprietary enhanced spark-ignited (ESI) natural gas system. The new approach to natural gas combustion technology is designed to provide vehicle and engine original manufacturers (OEMs) with a “downsized” natural gas solution that is cost competitive while providing similar levels of power, torque, and fuel economy to a larger diesel engine.
Using 100% dedicated natural gas as fuel, Westport’s new technology optimizes the combustion and thermal efficiencies of the engine by taking advantages of the positive properties of natural gas. The Westport ESI combustion system is targeted at sub 9L engines for Class 6 and 7 trucks applications and is also adaptable for sub 2L applications for use in automotive and non-automotive applications.
Facelifted Mercedes-Benz B-Class with diesel, gasoline, natural gas and electric drives debuting at Paris show
September 12, 2014
Mercedes-Benz has given its B-Class range—more than 350,000 of which have been sold worldwide since market launch in late 2011—a major facelift including exterior and interior enhancements along with redefined design and equipment lines. Sales of the new B-Class commenced on 12 September, with the world première taking place during the Paris Motor Show (4 to 19 October). The revamped models will be making their way to dealerships from 29 November 2014.
Buyers have a wide choice of powertrains: five diesel models with fuel ranging from 3.6 to 5.0 l/100 km (65.3 to 47 mpg US); four gasoline engines at between 5.4 and 6.6 l/100 km (43.6 and 35.6 mpg US); alternative drive systems (B 200 Natural Gas Drive and B-Class Electric Drive); as well as optional 4MATIC all-wheel drive. The sports tourer also features a Cd value of less than 0.25. Prices in Europe will start from €27,102.25 (around US$35,000) for the B 180.
Soros signals Argentina’s shale is biggest place to be; doubles stake in YPF SA
September 04, 2014
by James Stafford of Oilprice.com
One of the world’s legendary investors is upping his bet on Argentina’s shale oil and gas industry in a show of confidence for shale production in South America’s largest unconventional prize—and a big boost for both supermajors and smaller players making big waves in the heart of new discovery areas.
George Soros has doubled his stake in YPF SA, the state-owned oil company in Argentina, which sits atop some of the world’s largest shale oil and gas resources, and is about to get even larger following a new discovery over the last couple of weeks of a second key shale play.
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.