[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.]
Study: open trash burning worldwide significantly worsening air pollution; unaccounted for in emission inventories
August 28, 2014
Unregulated open trash burning around the globe is pumping far more pollution into the atmosphere than shown by official records. A new study led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) estimates that more than 40% of the world’s garbage is burned in such fires, emitting gases and particles that can substantially affect human health and climate change.
The new study provides the first rough estimates, on a country-by-country basis, of pollutants such as particulates, carbon monoxide, and mercury that are emitted by the fires. Such pollutants have been linked to serious medical issues. The researchers also estimated emissions of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas produced by human activity. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
MIT team proposes process to recycle lead-acid batteries to fabricate solar cells
August 18, 2014
Researchers at MIT have devised an environmentally-responsible process to recycle materials from discarded automotive lead-acid batteries to fabricate efficient organolead halide perovskite solar cells (PSCs)—a promising new large-scale and cost-competitive photovoltaic technology. The process simultaneously avoids the disposal of toxic battery materials and provide alternative, readily-available lead sources for PSCs.
The system is described in a paper in the RSC journal Energy and Environmental Science, co-authored by professors Angela M. Belcher and Paula T. Hammond, graduate student Po-Yen Chen, and three others.
Volkswagen and Audi launch sustainability programs for US introduction of e-Golf BEV and A3 e-tron PHEV; carbon offsets with 3Degrees and solar energy
August 05, 2014
Volkswagen of America, Inc. introduced several e-mobility sustainability initiatives to commence with the US launch of the battery-electric e-Golf (earlier post). These begin with an investment in carbon reduction projects via a partnership with 3Degrees to offset emissions created from e-Golf production, distribution and from the estimated emissions produced from keeping the vehicle charged through the initial 36,000 miles of its life. VoA made the announcement at the Management Briefing Seminar, hosted by the Center for Automotive Research.
Volkswagen of America also selected SunPower as VW’s official solar energy partner; Bosch Automotive Service Solutions as its preferred home-charging and installation services provider; and ChargePoint to provide charging stations to the VW dealer network and to provide US e-Golf owners access to consumers to more than 18,000 charging stations nationwide. The 2015 e-Golf will go on sale later this year at participating dealerships in select states.
Ford launches innovate mobility challenge series
July 16, 2014
Ford launched its Innovate Mobility Challenge Series, inviting the developer and maker communities to come together to find innovative mobility solutions in eight different locations around the world. The worldwide challenges kicked off in Lisbon, Portugal; Los Angeles, United States; and Mumbai, India; before moving on to Delhi and the Chennai region in India; Shanghai, China; Johannesburg, South Africa; and a countrywide challenge in Argentina.
For each competition, Ford will partner with local authorities and experts to address different issues in each location. The competitions will be judged by a panel of Ford executives involved in researching mobility solutions, as well as by local experts selected for each competition.
Critical review finds actual measurement data on segments of natural gas lifecycle sparse or lacking
July 08, 2014
After a critical review of the literature on the air impacts of increased natural gas acquisition, processing, and use, a team of US researchers has determined that that actual measurement data on various individual segments of the natural gas life cycle are sparse or critically lacking.
National and state regulators primarily use generic emission inventories to assess the climate, air quality, and health impacts of natural gas systems. These inventories rely on limited, incomplete, and sometimes outdated emission factors and activity data, based on few measurements, they found. In their paper, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they make a number of recommendations to maximize the benefits and minimize the negative impacts of the natural gas resource.
Ford tops 50 Best Global Green Brands list for 2014; Toyota, Honda and Nissan 2nd, 3rd and 4th
June 25, 2014
Automakers took the top four slots in the 50 Best Global Green Brands list for 2014, published by Fortune magazine in conjunction with the consulting firm Deloitte and Interbrand. Ford bumped last year’s leader, Toyota, to take the top spot. Toyota came in second, followed by Honda and Nissan. Panasonic was in fifth place.
The list was first created in 2011. This year’s nominees were drawn from Interbrand’s annual Best Global Brands report, which ranks the world’s 100 most valuable brands. The 50 companies on Best Global Green Brands list were ranked in two ways: on the strength of their sustainability initiatives and on how the public perceives those efforts.
New Ford Transit debuts with new two-wet monocoat paint technology; improved durability and sustainability
May 27, 2014
|New two-wet monocoat paint process. Click to enlarge.|
Ford began production of the North American Transit at Kansas City Assembly Plant on 30 April, and vans will be available in US and Canada this summer. Transit vehicles built in Kansas City are the first to use a new two-wet monocoat paint process developed by Ford and its paint suppliers. The technology results in more durable paint, uses less energy and water, and reduces carbon dioxide and particulate emissions compared with conventional paint processes.
The new paint was subjected to testing simulating typical conditions the vehicle will see over 10 year—e.g., resistance to chipping and scratching, pollutants and sun exposure. Data from preliminary advanced weathering testing indicates that paint applied with the new two-wet technology will retain 90% of its gloss at four years in service compared to 1% gloss retention for paint applied using a conventional monocoat process.
GM reduced energy intensity and carbon intensity per vehicle in 2013
May 20, 2014
In 2013, GM reduced the energy-intensity per vehicle manufactured 3.5% from 2012, down to an average 2.22 MW/vehicle from 2.30 MW, according to the company’s just released 2013 sustainability report. GM has set a target of 1.97 MW/vehicle for 2020, a reduction of 20% from the 2010 baseline of 2.47 MW.
The carbon intensity (CI) per vehicle dropped to 0.87 tonnes CO2e/vehicle in 2013, down 1.1% from 0.88 tonnes in 2012. The 2020 target is 0.74 tonnes CO2e, down 20% from the 2010 baseline of 0.93 tonnes. (CI includes all manufacturing and non-manufacturing CO2e emissions reported in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Scope 1 & 2 categories (earlier post), normalized by vehicle production. These data include data from some GM JVs.)
Volkswagen Group 2014 sustainability report shows progress on key environmental performance indicators; Strategy 2018 and leadership in e-mobility
May 08, 2014
The Volkswagen Group continues to make progress on the way to its goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable automaker, according to its 2014 sustainability report. The report provides information on the progress achieved in economic, environmental and social sustainability in 2013, and was drawn up in accordance with the G3 Guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). For the first time this involved the use of an IT system that in future will be expanded for Group-wide data acquisition and control activities, as well as for stakeholder management within the Group.
In the reporting year 2013, average energy consumption per vehicle produced was 2,205 kWh, down 0.4% from 2,213 kWh in 2012 and down 12.5% below the figure for the base year of 2010. Per vehicle CO2 emissions in 2013 were 422 kg, down 6% from 449 kg in 2013 and 19.5% lower than the 588 kg of the base year of 2010. The Group now takes one-third of its electric power from renewable sources.
Honda opens Smart Home US in California; produces more energy than it consumes; direct DC-DC EV charging
March 25, 2014
|The Honda Smart Home US integrates a number of technologies, and is managed by Honda’s Home Energy Management System (HEMS). Click to enlarge.|
Honda marked the opening of Honda Smart Home US, showcasing technologies that enable zero net energy living and transportation, including Honda’s home energy management system (HEMS), a proprietary hardware and software system that monitors, controls and optimizes electrical generation and consumption throughout the home’s microgrid.
The home, located on the West Village campus of the University of California, Davis, is capable of producing more energy on-site from renewable sources than it consumes annually, including enough energy to power a Honda Fit EV for daily commuting. Honda Smart Home is expected to generate a surplus of 2.6 MWh of electricity over the course of a year, while a comparable home will consume approximately 13.3 MWh. The home’s occupant will be able to use less than half of the energy of a similarly sized new home in the Davis area for heating, cooling and lighting. The home is also three times more water-efficient than a typical US home.
Toyota and partners develop vehicle-to-vehicle copper recycling technology
|Sample vehicle wiring harness. Click to enlarge.|
Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) has developed a world-first technology for recycling the copper contained in wiring harnesses, in collaboration with Yazaki Corporation (Yazaki), Toyota Tsusho Corporation (Toyota Tsusho), and eight other companies. The newly-developed technology produces copper with a purity of 99.96%.
Roughly 40 years’ worth of mineable copper resources remain worldwide, according to a 2013 report by Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC). At the same time, global consumption is growing, driven particularly by infrastructure-related demand for wiring in emerging markets. In addition, large amounts of copper are used in the motors of hybrid vehicles, which are becoming increasingly popular.
Chevy buying carbon credits from US colleges; new formula helps fund campus energy-efficient projects
February 12, 2014
Chevrolet is investing in clean energy efficiency initiatives of US colleges and universities through its voluntary carbon-reduction initiative. The funding opportunity is open to all US universities and colleges; a campus determines whether its performance in reducing carbon emissions will qualify based on new methodologies that Chevrolet developed through the Verified Carbon Standard.
To develop the new methodologies, Chevrolet worked with an advisory team led by the Climate Neutral Business Network with support from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, the US Green Building Council and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).
Axens, IFPEN and Michelin launch research partnership on synthetic rubber production channel using biomass; €52M over 8 years
November 11, 2013
|Overview of BioButterfly process steps. Click to enlarge.|
Axens, IFP Energies nouvelles (IFPEN) and Michelin have launched a plant chemistry research partnership that aims to develop and bring to market a process for producing bio-sourced butadiene, or bio-butadiene. Butadiene is a chemical intermediate derived from fossil resources that is used in the production of synthetic rubber. Some 60% of global output is for the tire industry.
In response to the need to find sustainable alternative sourcing channels for elastomers, the BioButterfly process will make it possible to produce innovative, more environmentally-friendly synthetic rubber. The bio-butadiene produced will support continued innovation in procuring high performance rubber for tires.
JRC study finds 8 metals for low-carbon energy technologies at risk of shortages; EVs, wind and solar, and lighting the applications of most concern
November 04, 2013
A new European Joint Research Centre (JRC) study looking into the supply of raw materials for the manufacture of low-carbon energy technologies found that eight metals were at high risk of shortages. The applications, i.e. technologies, of particular concern as a result are electric vehicles, wind and solar energy, and lighting. The risk arises from EU dependency on imports, growing demand worldwide and geopolitical reasons.
The study builds on a 2011 effort which looked into the six key applications of the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan: wind, solar, nuclear fission, bioenergy, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and the electricity grid. In the new study, these were re-assessed and considered along with 11 other technologies—including fuel cells, electricity storage, electric vehicles and lighting—treated in the new report, this time evaluated on the expected supplies of the metals and not on the current situation as in the first report.
Ford expands use of near-dry machining to six plants worldwide
October 17, 2013
|Left: Wet flood machining. Right: MQL machining. Graphics: Unist Inc. Click to enlarge.|
Ford Motor Company has added its near-dry machining process—Minimum Quantity Lubrication (MQL)—to six plants globally, a number that will nearly double in the next few years.
Machining metal pieces generates friction and heat. Conventional wet machining floods the work piece with metal-working fluids, requiring large amounts of fluid to cool and lubricate the cutting tools. MQL eliminates conventional flood coolant from the machining processes, lubricating cutting tools with a fine spray of oil directed exactly when and where it is needed. MQL reduces oil mist generation; biological contamination of coolant; waste water volume; costs for capital equipment; and regulatory permitting. MQL also improves recycling and transport of coolant contaminated chips.
EPA recognizes Volkswagen Chattanooga with a Green Power Leadership Award for on-site generation
September 24, 2013
|The 9.5 MW solar park at Chattanooga is owned and operated by Silicon Ranch; VW has signed a 20-year power purchase agreement. Click to enlarge.|
Volkswagen Chattanooga has received a 2013 Green Power Leadership Award from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—the only automaker to be so recognized. The annual awards recognize the country’s leading green power users for their commitment and contribution to helping advance the development of the nation’s voluntary green power market.
Volkswagen Chattanooga was one of only four organizations nationwide to receive a Leadership Award in the category of on-site generation of green power. (The others were Apple; the County of Santa Clara, CA; and Kaiser Permanete.) The award recognizes EPA Green Power Partners who distinguish themselves using on-site renewable energy applications, such as solar photovoltaic (PV) or landfill gas. Volkswagen Chattanooga is currently generating more than 13 million kWh of green power annually from its on-site 9.5 MW solar energy system, which is enough green power to meet 12% of the organization’s electricity use. (Earlier post.)
Volkswagen Group selected as new Industry Group Leader in Dow Jones Sustainability Index
September 13, 2013
For the first time, the Volkswagen Group has been classed as the most sustainable automaker in the world’s leading sustainability ranking. RobecoSAM AG has listed Volkswagen AG as the Industry Group Leader in the Automobiles and Components sector in this year’s review of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI).
The 2013 review analyzed the corporate economic, environmental, and social sustainability performance of 31 automotive companies, seven of them from Europe, with reference to criteria such as environmental and climate protection strategy, innovation management and corporate social responsibility.