[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.]
EPA proposes adding renewable diesel and naphtha from landfill biogas and butanol pathways to RFS
May 21, 2013
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a proposed rulemaking for modifications to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) program. The proposal also includes various changes to the E15 misfueling mitigation regulations (E15 MMR), ultra low sulfur diesel survey requirements as well as other technical amendments.
The proposed rules include various changes related to biogas, including changes related to the revised compressed natural gas (CNG)/liquefied natural gas (LNG) pathway and amendments to various associated registration, recordkeeping, and reporting provisions. It also adds new pathways for renewable diesel, renewable naphtha, and renewable electricity (used in electric vehicles) produced from landfill biogas.
California Energy Commission adopts $100M investment plan for 2013-2014 for green vehicles and fuels
May 09, 2013
The California Energy Commission unanimously adopted the 2013-2014 Investment Plan Update to support the development and use of green vehicles and alternative fuels. The update sets funding priorities for the approximately $100 million in annual state funds under the Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuels and Vehicle Technology (ARFVT) Program, created by Assembly Bill 118.
Funding priorities through the ARFVT Program support fuel and vehicle development to help attain the state’s climate change policies. In addition, the program funds projects that assist in fulfilling Governor Brown’s Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) Action Plan, with a target of installing enough infrastructure to support 1 million ZEVs by 2020, and a 2025 target of having 1.5 million ZEVs on the state’s roads.
US DOE to award up to $20M for research on methane hydrates
May 08, 2013
The US Department of Energy (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory has issued a solicitation (DE-FOA-0000891) for up to $20 million in funding for projects that focus on the following three technical topic areas: (1) characterization of methane hydrate deposits; (2) response of methane hydrate reservoirs to induced environmental change; and (3) response of methane hydrate systems to natural environmental change.
Selected projects will be intended to support program goals to determine the (1) likelihood of methane hydrates as a potential energy resource and (2) their role in the natural environment. The objective of the program is to fund research that significantly advances the current state of knowledge or technology with respect to methane hydrate science.
New USGS oil and gas assessment for Bakken and Three Forks formations boosts estimates of recoverable oil two-fold, natural gas three-fold
May 02, 2013
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) released an updated oil and gas resource assessment for the Bakken Formation and a new assessment for the Three Forks Formation in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana, resulting in a two-fold increase in the estimated technically recoverable oil, and a three-fold increase in estimated natural gas.
Technically recoverable resources are those producible using currently available technology and industry practices. USGS is the only provider of publicly available estimates of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas resources of the US onshore and state waters.
Former president of Shell Oil calls for aggressive action on alternative fuels to break oil monopoly on transportation
April 30, 2013
John Hofmeister, former President of Shell Oil Company and founder and CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy (CFAE), is joining the Fuel Freedom Foundation (FFF) Advisory Board. Fuel Freedom is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to opening the fuel market to allow alternative fuels such as ethanol, methanol, natural gas and electricity fairly to compete with gasoline at the pump. CFAE’s mission is to educate citizens and government officials about pragmatic, non-partisan affordable energy solutions.
“The purpose and the focus [of FFF] is exactly in line with what I promoted as president of Shell and subsequently as the founder of CFAE,” Hofmeister said to Green Car Congress. “From [these organizations’ standpoints], the reason we have to get away from doing nothing is that the public doesn’t fully appreciate or understand the situation it faces with respect to fuels’ futures.”
EPA says methane emissions from natural gas production have dropped 36% from 2007-2011
April 29, 2013
In its recently released Inventory of US Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990 – 2011 (earlier post), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that methane (CH4) emissions from the field production of natural gas have declined by 36% from 2007 to 2011 (from 83.1 to 53.4 Tg CO2 eq), after having increased by 43% from 1990 through 2006. Reasons the agency sited for this trend include factors such as increased voluntary reductions, as well as the effects of the recent global economic slowdown.
The finding may have an impact on future regulation of fracking for natural gas production, as opponents of the technology have pointed to higher rates of methane leak as being an argument against it.
PNNL solar thermochemical reaction system can reduce fuel consumption in natural gas power plants by about 20%; future potential for transportation fuels
April 11, 2013
|PNNL’s thermochemical conversion device is installed in front of a concentrating solar power dish. Photo: PNNL. Click to enlarge.|
A new concentrating solar power system developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) can reduce the fuel consumption of a modified natural-gas combined-cycle (NGCC) power plant by about 20%. The system converts natural gas into syngas—with higher energy content than natural gas—using a thermochemical conversion device installed in front of a concentrating solar power dish. The power plant then combusts the more energy dense syngas to produce electricity.
PNNL’s system uses a mirrored parabolic dish to direct sunbeams to a central point, where the thermochemical device uses the solar heat to produce syngas form natural gas. About four feet long and two feet wide, the device contains a chemical reactor and several heat exchangers. Concentrated sunlight heats up the natural gas flowing through the reactor’s channels, which hold a catalyst that helps turn natural gas into syngas.
Israel begins natural gas production from deepwater Tamar field in Eastern Mediterranean
March 31, 2013
|Map showing the location of Tamar, as well as the larger Leviathan field which is entering development. Source: Noble Energy. Click to enlarge.|
On Saturday, Israel’s Ministry of Energy & Water Resources reported that commercial natural gas production had begun from the deepwater Tamar field (c. 5,500 ft, 1,676 m) in the Eastern Mediterranean, 90 km (56 miles) west of Haifa. (Earlier post.)
Representing a $3.25-billion gross investment, according to operator Noble Energy (36% working interest), Tamar is entering operation 2.5 years from the sanction of the project, and four years after the discovery of the field. It uses the world’s longest subsea tieback—a 16-inch (41-cm), 93-mile (150 km) pipeline. The Tamar production platform is about 290 meters (951 ft) high and weighs (along with its subsea legs) about 34,000 tons.
Researchers develop high-rate, high-yield bacterial process to convert methane to methanol
March 22, 2013
|Cartoon of the process. Click to enlarge.|
Researchers at Columbia University have developed a biological process utilizing autotrophic ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) for the conversion of methane (CH4) to methanol (CH3OH). A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
In fed-batch reactors using mixed nitrifying enrichment cultures from a continuous bioreactor, up to 59.89 ± 1.12 mg COD/L (COD = chemical oxygen demand, an indirect measurement of organic compounds in water) of CH3OH was produced within an incubation time of 7 h—approximately 10x the yield obtained previously using pure cultures of Nitrosomonas europaea. The maximum specific rate of CH4 to CH3OH conversion obtained during this study was 0.82 mg CH3OH COD/mg AOB biomass COD-d—1.5x times the highest value reported with pure cultures.
California Energy Commission awards more than $5.5M for green transportation projects and $1.8M for 20 energy research projects
March 21, 2013
The California Energy Commission (CEC) approved $5,580,773 for clean-energy transportation projects including biodiesel production, power control electronics for medium-and heavy-duty battery electric vehicles, and buydowns for propane vehicles. The awards were made through the Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program.
In addition, CEC awarded $1,815,274 to fund 20 energy research projects in the areas of transportation, electricity, and natural gas. Funds for these projects—which span areas as diverse as a new crossover valve for the split-cycle Tour Engine (earlier post) to a new solar thermal storage device capable of integration with utility scale solar thermal power plants—come from Commission’s Energy Innovations Small Grant (EISG) program.
California ARB considering four new low-carbon fuel pathways; Neste renewable diesel and sugarcane molasses ethanol
March 20, 2013
California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff has posted four new Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) pathways to the LCFS web site. (Earlier post.) Among the new pathways to be considered is the production of renewable diesel from Australian tallow at Neste Oil’s Singapore plant. Others are sugarcane molasses ethanol from Guatemala; mixed feedstock to biodiesel from Texas; and a new ARB-staff-developed pathway for North American landfill gas.
The Low Carbon Fuel Standard, approved in April 2009, requires that suppliers of transportation fuels meet an average declining standard of carbon intensity (CI) —expressed in grams of CO2 equivalent per megajoule of fuel energy (g CO2e/MJ)—that will provide a 10% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions for all fuels used in California by 2020. The CI of a fuel is determined by the sum of all greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production, transportation, processing and consumption of a fuel (its pathway).
ARPA-E to award up to $20M to projects for bioconversion of methane to liquid fuels; seeking <$2/gge and ability to meet US demand for transportation fuels
March 17, 2013
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) has issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0000881) for up to $20 million to fund the development of bioconversion technologies to convert methane into liquid fuels. (Earlier post.) This program envisions the development of transformative bioconversion technologies that are capable of producing liquid fuels economically from natural gas at less than $2 per gallon of gasoline equivalent and at levels sufficient to meet US demand for transportation fuels.
Of interest for the Reducing Emissions Using Methanotrophic Organisms For Transportation Energy (REMOTE) program are biological routes to improve the rates and energy efficiencies of methane activation and subsequent fuel synthesis, as well as approaches to engineer high-productivity methane conversion processes. REMOTE considers three technical categories:
SEAT introducing natural gas Mii Ecofuel with 79 g/km CO2
March 03, 2013
|The SEAT Mii Ecofuel. Click to enlarge.|
SEAT, a member of the Volkswagen Group, is expanding its Mii family with the introduction of the Mii Ecofuel, which runs on natural gas. The first model with a CNG engine to wear a SEAT badge, and making its debut at the Geneva Motor Show 2013 this coming week, the Mii Ecofuel offers average consumption of 2.9 kg CNG/100 km and CO2 emissions of 79 g/km. Given the fuel price in many countries, the running costs are approximately half those of a Mii with a gasoline engine.
The 1.0-liter, 68 PS (50 kW) engine is based on the three-cylinder gasoline unit found in the Mii with 60 PS (44 kW) and 75 PS (55 kW) outputs, but it’s been specifically developed for CNG operation. At an entry price of €12,050 (US$15,700) in Germany, the new SEAT Mii Ecofuel is also the most inexpensive CNG model on the market.
Audi to introduce natural gas A3 Sportback g-tron at year’s end; CO2-neutral e-gas
March 01, 2013
|Audi A3 Sportback g-tron. Click to enlarge.|
Audi will introduce the compact A3 Sportback g-tron—which can be powered by the CO2-neutral Audi e-gas, synthetic methane generated from eco-electricity in the Audi e-gas project (earlier post)—at the end of the year. The e-gas fuel will be produced in the power-to-gas plant in Werlte, Germany.
The five-door car consumes on average less than 3.5 kilograms per 100 km of compressed natural gas (CNG) or Audi e-gas. CO2 tailpipe emissions are less than 95 grams per km (153 g/mile) in gas mode. When the A3 Sportback g-tron is powered by Audi e-gas, no more CO2 is released than was chemically input in its production beforehand, creating a closed loop. When the energy required to build the e-gas facility and wind power generators is included in a comprehensive analysis, CO2 emissions under e-Gas operation are still less than 30 grams per km (48.28 g/mile).
Senators Sanders, Boxer propose legislation to institute GHG price on large stationary sources and remove support for fossil fuel industries
February 15, 2013
Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) introduced legislation that would set an escalating fee on greenhouse gas emissions from large stationary sources to fund investments in energy efficiency and sustainable energy technologies and also provide rebates to consumers to offset increases in energy prices. The legislation also proposes numerous actions against financing and support for fossil fuel industries.
The proposal was drafted as two measures, the Climate Protection Act—which sets the carbon price and finance programs for sustainable technologies—and the Sustainable Energy Act—which ends federal support for fossil fuel companies and research and extends tax incentives for renewables. Among the financing provisions of the legislation are:
G2X Energy and EMRE sign methanol to gasoline technology license and license option agreements; plans for $1.3B natural gas to gasoline plant
January 18, 2013
|The ExxonMobil MTG process flow diagram. Source: EMRE. Click to enlarge.|
G2X Energy, Inc., a developer of natural gas to gasoline projects, entered into a licensing agreement to use ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company’s (EMRE’s) methanol-to-gasoline (MTG) technology (earlier post) in the development of a world-scale natural gas to gasoline project. (Earlier post.) G2X Energy is the first to secure a long term multi-site agreement with EMRE for natural gas based methanol to gasoline projects.
G2X Energy says will leverage its strategic partnership with the Proman Group, a leading process plant engineering and operating company, and EMRE’s MTG technology to create a platform to expand natural gas’ role in the existing transportation fuels market.
Tsinghua University provincial-level lifecycle study finds fuel-cycle criteria pollutants of EVs in China could be up to 5x those of natural gas vehicles due to China’s coal-dominant power mix
January 12, 2013
|Consumption-based power mixes and NG transmission distances by Chinese province in 2010. Credit: ACS, Huo et al. Click to enlarge.|
A province-by-province life cycle analysis of natural gas and electric vehicles by a team from Tsinghua University concludes that while, from the perspective of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) and criteria pollutant emissions, natural gas vehicles (CNGVs) are “an option with no obvious merits or demerits”, electric vehicles (EVs) are “an option with significant merits and demerits in this regard” due to China’s heavily coal-based electricity generation (national average of about 77%).
In regions where the share of coal-based electricity is relatively low, EVs can achieve substantial GHG reduction, the team reports in a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology. However, the fuel-cycle PM10, PM2.5, SO2, and NOx emissions of EVs could be up to five times higher than those of ICEVs (internal combustion engine vehicles) and CNGVs. While the increases in PM10 and PM2.5 emissions are less important because of the low contribution of light duty vehicles to national PM10 and PM2.5 emissions, the NOx and SO2 increases are significant enough to notably change total national emissions, they conclude.
California Energy Commission to award up to $2.45M for renewable natural gas for transportation fuels
January 05, 2013
The California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) has released a Program Opportunity Notice (PON-12-506) for the award of up to $2.45 million to accelerate research, development and demonstration (RD&D) of advanced technologies to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) transportation fuels.
Examples of acceptable feedstocks include but are not limited to: waste-based biomass (both pre- and post-landfilled); agricultural residues; purpose-grown fuel crops; woody biomass and forest residues; animal manures; food waste; municipal solid waste (MSW); and sewage. Pathways by which renewable natural gas is to be derived for proposed projects can include fermentation; thermochemical processes, or any other means of producing RNG.
Univ. of Washington and partners working to engineer microbes for conversion of methane to lipids for processing into liquid intermediates for diesel or jet fuels
January 03, 2013
In a $4.8-million project funded by ARPA-E (earlier post), the University of Washington, the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Johnson-Matthey, and Lanza Tech are working to develop optimized microbes to convert methane found in natural gas into lipids for further processing into an intermediate liquid for diesel or jet fuel.
The University of Washington is taking the lead and focusing on genetically modifying the microbes. NREL will be in charge of fermentation to demonstrate the productivity of the microbes, both the natural organism and the genetically-altered varieties. NREL will also extract the lipids from the organisms and analyze the economic potential of the plan.
New catalyst for efficient bi-reforming of methane from any source for methanol and hydrocarbon synthesis; “metgas”
December 30, 2012
Researchers at the Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute and Department of Chemistry, University of Southern California, have developed a new catalyst based on nickel oxide on magnesium oxide (NiO/MgO) that is effective for the bi-reforming with steam and CO2 (combined steam and dry reforming) of methane as well as natural gas in a tubular flow reactor at elevated pressures (5−30 atm) and temperatures (800−950 °C).
In a paper published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, they report that the bi-reforming effectively converts methane and its natural sources (natural or shale gas, coal-bed methane, methane hydrates) to what they call “metgas”, a 2/1 H2/CO mixture directly applicable for subsequent well-studied methanol synthesis with high selectivity. A typical single pass conversion at 7 atm is about 70−75%, which can be increased to 80−85% by adjusting the feed gas composition. Unreacted feed gases can be recycled.
San Diego MTS Board approves two major CNG bus procurements with combined value of up to $343.4 million
December 21, 2012
The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System Board of Directors recently voted to approve two major bus procurements: up to 350 Gillig 40-foot low-floor CNG buses and up to 165 New Flyer 60-foot low-floor articulated CNG buses through 2017.
The total value of the contracts, if all options are exercised and future funding is available, is in excess of $343 million, inclusive of sales tax, licenses, fees and delivery. At the end of the contracts, more than 95% of MTS buses will run on cleaner compressed natural gas.
Topping-out ceremony for the Audi e-gas plant; synthetic methane production to begin in early 2013
December 13, 2012
|Components of the e-gas plant. Click to enlarge.|
Audi is celebrating progress on its e-gas plant under construction in Werlte, Germany with a topping-out ceremony. End products from the plant will be hydrogen and synthetic methane (Audi e-gas), to be used as fuel for vehicles such as the new Audi A3 Sportback TCNG. (Earlier post.)
The Audi e-gas plant, which can convert six megawatts of input power, will utilize renewable electricity for electrolysis, producing oxygen and hydrogen, the latter which could one day power fuel-cell vehicles. Because there is not yet a widespread hydrogen infrastructure, however, the hydrogen is reacted with CO2 in a methanation unit to generate renewable synthetic methane, or Audi e-gas. Chemically speaking, this e-gas is nearly identical to fossil-based natural gas. As such, it can be distributed to CNG stations via the natural gas network and will power vehicles starting in 2013.
California Energy Commission to award up to $3M for advanced natural gas engine R&D for Class 3–7 vehicles
December 11, 2012
The California Energy Commission (CEC) has issued a funding notice (PON-12-504) for advanced natural gas engine research and development concepts for light heavy-duty vehicles (LHDV) and medium heavy-duty vehicles (MHDV) (Classes 3–7) operated in fleets throughout California.
There is $3 million available from this PON, with the possibility of additional funding from related program sources. The Energy Commission anticipates selecting at least three projects for funding.
Iveco to supply 115 natural gas Daily Vehicles to TNT Express Italy
December 07, 2012
|Iveco Daily Natural Power vehicles awaiting delivery. Click to enlarge.|
Iveco contracted to deliver 115 Daily Natural Power light commercial vehicles to TNT Express Italy by 2013. The methane gas-powered vehicles will be used by TNT for its express courier activities in the Rome area as well as other parts of Central Italy.
The New Daily Natural Power is equipped with a 100 kW, 3.0L, in-line 4-cylinder Fiat Powertrain Technologies (FPT) Industrial CNG engine with three-way catalytic converter, using a stoichiometric combustion regime that results in exhaust emissions well below the European EEV limits. The system can detect the composition of the gas used and is able to adapt the actual air/fuel ratio accordingly, in order to maintain low emissions without sacrificing performance.
Volkswagen’s 1.0L eco up! natural gas vehicle offers 79g CO2/km
December 05, 2012
|The eco up! natural gas vehicle. Click to enlarge.|
Volkswagen has launched the eco up! natural gas vehicle, previewed in a concept form in 2011 (earlier post) and revealed in its production version at the Geneva auto show in March this year, in Europe. The four-seat Volkswagen with its 1.0L engine consumes 2.9 kg (4.4 m3) of natural gas per 100 km—equivalent to CO2 emissions of 79 g/km. The 50 kW (67 hp, 68 PS) eco up! was rated in the best energy efficiency class: A+. In Germany, the car, even before market launch, was picked as the overall winner in the VCD Environment List (VCD Auto-Umweltliste) and was also awarded the ACVmobile environmental prize (ACVmobil Umweltpreis).
Engine. For the eco up!, Volkswagen used a newly developed three-cylinder gasoline engine with 999 cc displacement (EA211 engine series). The natural gas version produces its 50 kW output at 6,200 rpm and reaches its maximum torque of 90 N·m (66 lb-ft) at 3,000 rpm. The eco up! accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 16.3 seconds; its top speed is 164 km/h (102 mph). Although the 12-valve engine was specially configured to operate with natural gas, as an alternative it can be fueled with unleaded premium gasoline.
USGS estimates nearly 39 billion barrels of oil undiscovered and technically recoverable in two Arctic petroleum provinces; 275 trillion feet of gas
November 28, 2012
|Map of Arctic Alaska Province (outlined in black) showing boundaries of the platform and fold-and-thrust belt assessment units in red. Source: USGS. Click to enlarge.|
The US Arctic Alaska Petroleum Province holds mean estimates of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources of nearly 30 billion barrels of oil, about 179 trillion cubic feet of nonassociated gas, and 40 trillion cubic feet of associated gas, according to a new assessment published by the US Geological Survey (USGS).
The larger Amerasia Basin Petroleum Province, which extends north and east of the Arctic Alaska Province, holds an estimated risked, undiscovered, technically recoverable 9 billion barrels of oil, 29 trillion cubic feet of associated gas, and 27 trillion feet of nonassociated gas, according to another new assessment from the USGS.
DOE to award $11M to 20 new Clean Cities projects for alt fuel cars and trucks
November 20, 2012
The US Department of Energy (DOE) is http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/news/progress_alerts.cfm/pa_id=807 about $11 million to 20 new projects to help states and local governments to develop the infrastructure, training, and regional planning needed to help meet the demand for alternative fuel cars and trucks, including vehicles that run on natural gas, electricity, and propane.
Through the Department’s Clean Cities initiative, these projects address a range of community infrastructure and training needs, such as providing safety and technical training for fleet operators, mechanics, first responders, and code officials; streamlining permitting and procurement processes; and helping public and private fleets integrate petroleum reduction strategies into their operations. Projects include:
IEA WEO-2012 finds major shift in global energy balance but not onto a more sustainable path; identifies potential for transformative shift in global energy efficiency
November 12, 2012
The global energy map is changing significantly, according to the 2012 edition of the Internal Energy Agency’s (IEA) World Energy Outlook (WEO-2012). The IEA said these changes will recast expectations about the role of different countries, regions and fuels in the global energy system over the coming decades. The report also finds that by 2035 global energy savings could be equivalent to nearly 20% of global demand in 2010.
The WEO finds that the extraordinary growth in oil and natural gas output in the United States will mean a sea-change in global energy flows. In the New Policies Scenario, the WEO’s central scenario, the United States becomes a net exporter of natural gas by 2020 and is almost self-sufficient in energy, in net terms, by 2035. However, given the ongoing reliance on fossil fuels, the emissions in the New Policies Scenario correspond to a long-term average global temperature increase of 3.6 °C.
Calysta Energy engineering organisms to convert methane to low-cost liquid hydrocarbons; BioGTL process
October 22, 2012
|Calysta is using its proprietary BioGTL biological gas-to-liquids platform to convert natural gas to liquid hydrocarbons. Click to enlarge.|
Start-up Calysta Energy plans to use methane as a feedstock for engineered organisms to produce liquid hydrocarbon fuels and high value chemicals that are cost-effective, scalable and reduce environmental impact.
Current technology approaches to creating new fuels and chemicals have failed to achieve necessary market economics, creating a significant worldwide market opportunity, according to the biotech company. Calysta says that in contrast to current algae- and sugar-based methods, a methane-based biofuel platform is expected to produce fuel at less than half the cost of other biological methods, allowing direct competition with petroleum-based fuels.
QUB spin-out to commercialize to technique for production of MOFs; storage for natural gas vehicles
October 12, 2012
|Example of mechanochemical production of a MOF. Pichon et al. Click to enlarge.|
Chemists at Queen’s University Belfast (Ireland) have devised a novel environmentally friendly technique which allows the rapid production of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). The technology is to be commercialized by a spin-out from the University, MOF Technologies. One of the first areas expected to benefit from the technology is storage tanks for natural gas vehicles (NGVs), according to the company.
MOF manufacturing techniques have been limited as they are costly, slow and require large quantities of solvents, which can be toxic and harmful to the environment. Professor Stuart James in Queen’s School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering patented a novel technique for the synthesis of MOFs without using any solvents, even water, and on greatly reduced timescales, by making use of mechanochemistry.
Cummins Westport begins development on new mid-range natural gas engine; production by 2015
October 04, 2012
Cummins Westport Inc. has begun development on the ISB 6.7G, a mid-range 6.7-liter natural gas engine designed to meet the increasing demand for on-highway vehicles powered by natural gas. The ISB6.7 G engine will be based on the Cummins ISB6.7 diesel engine and will use Cummins Westport’s proven spark-ignited, stoichiometric cooled exhaust gas recirculation (SEGR) technology.
Exhaust aftertreatment will be provided by a simple, maintenance-free three-way catalyst (TWC). The engine will run on compressed natural gas (CNG); however, the natural gas may be stored on the vehicle in liquefied natural gas (LNG) state or as CNG.
Mercedes-Benz introducing B200 Natural Gas Drive
September 06, 2012
|B200 Natural Gas Drive. Click to enlarge.|
Mercedes-Benz will stage the debut of the new B 200 Natural Gas Drive member of the B-Class family at the upcoming Paris Motor Show (27 September to 14 October 2012).
In natural gas mode, consumption of the 115 kW (156 hp) B 200 Natural Gas Drive is 4.2 kg/100 km—corresponding to CO2 emissions of 115 g per kilometer. As a result, emissions are around 16% lower than those of the B 200 BlueEFFICIENCY with gasoline engine, which offers equal performance. The new model belongs to efficiency class A and meets the Euro 6 emissions standard, which is not due to come into effect for all gasoline-engined vehicles until 1 September 2014.
Pike Research forecasts 14% and 19% CAGR worldwide for natural gas trucks and buses
September 04, 2012
|Annual sales of NG trucks and buses by segment, world markets: 2012-2019. Source: Pike. Click to enlarge.|
Pike Research expects the global market for natural gas (NG) trucks to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14% between 2012 and 2019, reaching 111,319 sales in 2019. Pike expects medium-duty (MD) trucks to be the largest of the truck markets, growing to 85,848 vehicle sales; heavy-duty (HD) truck sales will reach 25,471 vehicles.
The company expects the market for NG buses to grow at a CAGR of 19% during the same period. Asia Pacific is the largest NG bus market, accounting for 86% of NG bus sales by 2019, according to Pike. While the North American and Western European markets will see strong NG bus growth (10% CAGR), Asia Pacific will see growth rates of 21% with India, China, and Thailand leading the region in NG bus sales.
DOE to fund 14 research projects on deepwater and Arctic methane hydrates; potential future energy supply
August 31, 2012
|Methane hydrate can form in Arctic and marine environments. Source: DOE. Click to enlarge.|
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected 14 new research projects that will be a part of an expanding portfolio of projects designed to increase the understanding of methane hydrates’ potential as a future energy supply. Methane hydrates are 3D ice-lattice structures with natural gas locked inside, and are found both onshore and offshore—including under the Arctic permafrost and in ocean sediments along nearly every continental shelf in the world.
The new research projects are intended to advance understanding of the nature and occurrence of deepwater and Arctic gas hydrates and their implications for future resource development and environmental performance. The selected projects build on the completion of a successful test earlier this year that was able to safely extract a steady flow of natural gas from methane hydrates on the North Slope of Alaska. (Earlier post.)
Northwestern team synthesizes MOFs with highest surface areas yet and calculates new theoretical upper limit 39% beyond current; implications for gas storage
August 28, 2012
A team at Northwestern University has synthesized, characterized, and computationally simulated/validated the behavior of two new metal-organic framework (MOF) materials (NU-109 and NU-110) displaying the highest experimental Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET) surface areas of any porous materials reported to date (~7,000 m2/g). This could eventually translate into the highest MOF-based gas storage capacity yet.
Additionally, the team demonstrated computationally a new surface area ceiling for MOFs (~14,600 m2/g) that substantially exceeds what much of the MOF community perceives to be a theoretical upper limit (~10,500 m2/g)—a 39% increase. Their work is published as an open access paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
UK to provide more than £11M to £23M alternative & dual-fuel heavy-duty vehicle demonstration program; more than 300 vehicles
August 23, 2012
The UK government will provide more than £11 million (US$17.5 million) in support to a £23 million (US$36.6 million) demonstration program to encourage road haulage operators in the UK to buy and use lower carbon commercial vehicles.
The Government funding will help operators establish and run fleets of alternative & dual-fuel heavy-goods vehicles by meeting part of the difference in capital cost between traditional vehicles and their lower carbon equivalents. More than 300 low-carbon commercial vehicles will be involved in the demonstration program. The funding will also help meet the cost of the refueling points for use by the trial fleets, including the provision of 11 new public access refueling stations around the country, which will be available for use by other operators.
Interior Secretary Salazar outlines proposed plan for additional development in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska
August 14, 2012
|Map of preferred alternative. Download original pdf. Click to enlarge.|
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar outlined a proposed plan that will allow for additional access for oil and gas development in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A) while also protecting wildlife and coastal resources.
The plan will be analyzed in detail and presented for public review as the preferred alternative for the NPR-A Integrated Activity Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (IAP/EIS) later this year.
Researchers develop new highly efficient core-shell catalyst for methane oxidation; potential for reducing emissions from automotive engines
August 13, 2012
|A representation of the newly developed catalyst on an aluminium oxide surface depicts the core-shell structure. Click to enlarge.|
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, along with collaborators from Italy and Spain, have designed new core-shell type catalysts inspired by the concepts of supramolecular chemistry that oxidize methane 30 times better than do currently available catalysts. (Supramolecular chemistry is an interdisciplinary field covering the chemical, physical and biological features of chemical species of higher complexity that are held together and organized by means of intermolecular (non-covalent) binding interactions.) A paper on the new catalysts developed by Cargnello et al. is published in the journal Science.
The new approach in catalyst structure is important for catalyst-assisted combustion in gas turbines fueled with natural gas, and may also help to address methane emissions in the automobile exhaust within the temperature range required for emission control, comments Dr. Robert J. Farrauto of Columbia University in a Perspective piece accompanying the report in Science.
NPC report to Energy Secretary finds light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles could reduce per-mile GHG at least 40% by 2050; additional strategies required for further reductions
August 02, 2012
|Projected range of impact of demand, fuel efficiency improvements, and alternative fuel-vehicle systems on light-duty fleet GHG emissions. Source: NPC. Click to enlarge.|
Transportation in the United States could evolve at an accelerated rate, depending on the speed of technology advancements and the economic viability of alternative fuels and vehicles, according to a comprehensive report approved and presented to the Secretary of Energy by the National Petroleum Council (NPC). However, sustained and focused efforts by industry and government are essential for progress to continue and accelerate.
Among the findings of the two-year study are that—if technology hurdles and infrastructure challenges can be overcome—economically competitive low-carbon fuels and improvements in fuel economy will result in substantial reductions in GHG emissions. On a stand-alone basis, all light-, medium-, and heavy-duty vehicles have the potential to reduce per-mile GHG emissions by at least 40% in 2050, relative to 2005 average fleet levels. However, projected 2050 transportation demand, relative to 2005, counteracts per-mile GHG reductions.
China’s CNOOC to acquire Canada-based Nexen for $15.1B; offshore oil and gas, oil sands, and shale gas
July 23, 2012
CNOOC Limited—China’s largest producer of offshore crude oil and natural gas and one of the largest independent oil and gas exploration and production companies in the world—is acquiring all of the Common Shares of Canada-based energy company Nexen Inc. for US$15.1 billion cash. The price represents a premium of 61% relative to the closing price of the Common Shares on the NYSE on 20 July 2012 and a premium of 66% relative to the volume-weighted average price of the Common Shares over the 20 trading days ending 20 July 2012. Nexen’s current debt of approximately US$4.3 billion will remain outstanding.
Nexen is focused on three core businesses: conventional offshore oil and gas; oil sands; and shale gas:
Eaton to develop affordable home refueling station for natural gas vehicles; liquid piston technology
July 20, 2012
Eaton Corporation will develop an affordable home refueling station for natural gas vehicles, utilizing existing natural gas sources in the home and innovative compressor technology. The effort is funded in part by a $3.4-million grant from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) MOVE project. (Earlier post.)
The refueling system will use liquid to act as a piston to compress natural gas. (E.g., earlier post.) Innovative heat exchanger technology will improve efficiency and cut cost dramatically. Eaton will collaborate with the University of Minnesota on thermodynamic analysis and modeling to enable the efficient transfer of heat in the compression process.
GE researchers developing at-home chilled natural gas refueling station for NG vehicles
July 18, 2012
|Sketch of the targeted at-home unit. Click to enlarge.|
GE researchers, in partnership with Chart Industries—a global manufacturer of standard and custom-engineered products and systems for cryogenic and heat transfer applications—and scientists at the University of Missouri, have been awarded $1.8 million by the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) (earlier post) to develop an affordable at-home refueling station that would meet ARPA-E’s target of $500 per station and reduce re-fueling times from 5-8 hours to less than 1 hour. The award is part of ARPA-E’s new MOVE (Methane Opportunities For Vehicular Energy) program.
The refueling station design being worked on is fundamentally different from how current re-fueling stations operate. These systems rely on traditional compressor technologies to compress and deliver fuel to a vehicle. The research team from GE, Chart Industries and the University of Missouri will design a system that chills, densifies and transfers compressed natural gas more efficiently. It will be a much simpler design with fewer moving parts, and that will operate quietly and be virtually maintenance-free.
ARPA-E selects 13 projects for $30M in awards to advance natural gas vehicle technologies
July 12, 2012
The US Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) will award $30 million to 13 projects to advance natural gas vehicle technologies in its new program titled “Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy” (MOVE). MOVE projects aim to engineer light-weight, affordable natural gas tanks for vehicles as well as to develop natural gas compressors that can efficiently fuel a natural gas vehicle at home. ARPA-E had issued the Funding Opportunity Announcement for MOVE in February. (Earlier post.)
Topping the award list is Ford Motor Company, with a $5.5-million award to engineer an adsorbed natural gas storage system utilizing a novel external framework and internal porous materials.
Pike Research forecasts annual global sales of light-duty natural gas vehicles to reach 3.2M in 2019
July 06, 2012
The global market for light-duty (LD) natural gas vehicles (NGVs)—including passenger cars, light-duty trucks and commercial vehicles—will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.2% between 2012 and 2019, reaching 3.2 million vehicles sold in 2019, according to a new forecast by Pike Research. This level of sales results in a cumulative total of 25.4 million LD NGVs on the road by 2019. LD NGVs make up about 97% of the total NGV market (2.08 million vehicles out of 2.15 million vehicles in 2012).
Asia Pacific will become the largest market for NGVs, according to the Pike report, “Light Duty Natural Gas Vehicles”, due to strong growth in a variety of markets including: Thailand (24% CAGR); India (23%); and China (20%). Although Pakistan also has a large fleet of NGVs, its market has been volatile as the government looks to reduce strains on the country’s NG supplies, according to the report.
American Le Mans exploring natural gas for Prototype Challenge Class
June 21, 2012
|Prototype Challenge racers at Long Beach. Click to enlarge.|
The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), sanctioning body for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón, has entered into an agreement with Jackson, Mich.-based Patrick Racing to research and develop natural gas as an alternative fuel for the Series’ Prototype Challenge (PC) cars.
IMSA/ALMS and Patrick Racing will identify development and testing opportunities for the source to power the Series’ PC cars, beginning as early as the 2013 season.
NRC report concludes hydraulic fracturing poses low risk for causing earthquakes, but risks are higher for wastewater injection wells; CCS impact undetermined
June 17, 2012
Earthquakes attributable to human activities are called “induced seismic events” or “induced earthquakes.” Hydraulic fracturing has a low risk for inducing earthquakes that can be felt by people, but underground injection of wastewater produced by hydraulic fracturing and other energy technologies has a higher risk of causing such earthquakes, according to a new report from the National Research Council.
In addition, carbon capture and storage may have the potential for inducing seismic events, because significant volumes of fluids are injected underground over long periods of time. However, insufficient information exists to understand the potential of carbon capture and storage to cause earthquakes, because no large-scale projects are as yet in operation. The committee that wrote the report said continued research will be needed to examine the potential for induced seismicity in large-scale carbon capture and storage projects.
California Energy Commission awards more than $23M to encourage use of alternative transportation fuels
June 14, 2012
The California Energy Commission (CEC) approved funding of $23,110,015 for projects that will advance the development of green fuels, and the installation of fueling stations. The awards are provided through the Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, created by Assembly Bill 118.
The program provides approximately $100 million annually to encourage the development and use of alternative and renewable fuels and new vehicle technologies. By leveraging outside funding, many of these projects also attract additional investment in clean energy technology. The award recipients are:
BP Statistical Review finds global oil share down for 12th year in a row, coal share up to highest level since 1969; renewables at 2%
June 13, 2012
Global energy consumption grew by 2.5% in 2011, broadly in line with the historical average but well below the 5.1% seen in 2010, according to the newly released BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2012. Emerging economies accounted for all of the net growth, with OECD demand falling for the third time in the last four years, led by a sharp decline in Japan. China alone accounted for 71% of energy consumption growth.
The averages hide a mixed picture by fuel, however. Oil demand grew by less than 1%—the slowest rate amongst fossil fuels—while gas grew by 2.2%, and coal was the only fossil fuel with above average annual consumption growth at 5.4% globally, and 8.4% in the emerging economies.
CNG vehicle converter BAF acquires auto emissions solutions provider ServoTech Engineering
June 11, 2012
BAF Technologies, a wholly owned subsidiary of Clean Energy Fuels Corp., has acquired ServoTech Engineering, Inc., an auto emissions solutions provider. BAF, the leading US provider of natural gas vehicle systems and conversions, recently produced its 20,000th compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle conversion. BAF is the first CNG converter to be recognized as a Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifier (QVM) for gaseous fuels.
Dr. Hamid Servati, ServoTech’s current president, will continue to lead the new BAF subsidiary’s operations. As a Ford Qualified Calibration Modifier (QCM), ServoTech has direct access to the Ford engine calibration strategy. Each vehicle converted by BAF is registered through Ford Quality Fleet Care (QFC) for all warranty and service work.
Westport and Caterpillar to co-develop natural gas technology for off-road equipment
June 05, 2012
Westport Innovations Inc. has signed agreements with Caterpillar Inc. to co-develop natural gas technology for off-road equipment, including mining trucks and locomotives.
Caterpillar and Westport will combine technologies and expertise, including Westport High Pressure Direct Injection (HPDI) technology and Caterpillar’s off-road engine and machine product technology, to develop the natural gas fuel system. Caterpillar will fund the development program. When the products go to market, Westport expects to participate in the supply of key components.
Government of Québec unveils $2.7B climate change action plan; 63% of spending targeting transport
The Premier of Québec, Jean Charest; the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, Pierre Arcand; and the Minister of Transport Pierre Moreau unveiled the Canadian province’s 2013-2020 Action Plan on Climate Change (PACC 2020).
The action plan and strategy adaptation represent a total investment of nearly C$2.7 billion (US$2.6 billion). The PACC 2020 is self-financed from the carbon market and the extension until 2014 of the fuel levy and fossil fuels. Almost 63% (C$1.7 billion) of the funding of the action plan will finance measures in the transport sector—specifically developing public transportation, supporting the purchase of equipment that reduces consumption of fossil fuels, and encouraging the use of hybrid trucks and conversion to natural gas.
California Energy Commission awards more than $35M for green transportation in California
June 01, 2012
The California Energy Commission unanimously approved funding of $35,031,310 to projects that will accelerate the development of green fuels and technology in California. This set of awards supports a diversity of alternative fuel and vehicle types, including biodiesel production, natural gas vehicle technologies and incentives, hybrid and plug-in vehicles, and E85 fueling stations.
These awards are provided through the Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program. The program, created by Assembly Bill 118, provides approximately $100 million annually to encourage the development and use of new vehicle technologies and alternative fuels to help the state fulfill its pioneering climate change policies.
Wanxiang and GreatPoint Energy close $1.25B deal for 1 Tcf/year coal-to-natural-gas plant in Xinjiang; Sinopec to purchase output, building pipeline to east
May 21, 2012
|Overview of the Bluegas catalytic coal methanation process. Click to enlarge.|
GreatPoint Energy and China Wanxiang Holdings have officially closed their investment and partnership agreement which was highlighted during an official signing ceremony between senior US and Chinese government officials in 2012.
As part of the transaction, GreatPoint Energy has raised equity investment and secured project funding of $1.25 billion from Wanxiang to finance and construct the first phase of a coal-to-natural gas facility that ultimately will have an annual production capacity of one trillion cubic feet (1 Tcf) (30 billion cubic meters) per year. The complex will be located near Turpan, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the Peoples Republic of China and will utilize GreatPoint Energy’s proprietary Bluegas technology (earlier post).