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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

New approach for synthetic rubber for degradable tires: converting cyclopentene to polypentenamers

August 22, 2016

A team from the Texas A&M University campus in Qatar (TAMU-Qatar) and Caltech has developed a new way to make synthetic rubber; once this material is discarded, it can be easily degraded back to its chemical building blocks and reused in new tires and other products. The researchers will present their work today at the 252nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Philadelphia.

According to the Rubber Manufacturers Association, nearly 270 million tires were discarded in the US in 2013—more than one tire per adult living in the country. Many of the non-degradable scrap tires get stockpiled in landfills. More than half go on to become tire-derived fuel—shredded scrap tires that get mixed with coal and other materials to help power cement kilns, pulp and paper mills and other plants. But environmentalists are concerned that the emissions from this practice could be adding harmful pollutants to the air.

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Aqua Metals opens first AquaRefining center for low-pollution lead-acid battery recycling

August 08, 2016

Aqua Metals, Inc. recently held an open house at its first AquaRefinery at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center (TRIC) in McCarran, Nevada. The company says that its proprietary AquaRefining is first environmentally friendly process to recycle lead-acid batteries (LABs).

The AquaRefining technology extracts lead from LABs with a room temperature, closed-loop, water-based process that results in significant reductions of hazardous waste and direct human contact with the lead itself. The process produces lead that is as pure as—or purer than—mined lead, requiring no secondary processing.

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Ford’s new Dagenham Diesel EcoBlue engine production line reduces energy and water use by more than 50%

August 04, 2016

The new Ford EcoBlue diesel engine production line at Dagenham Engine Plant will reduce water and energy consumption by more than 50%. Dagenham Engine Plant is Ford’s largest diesel engine production facility globally, and produced the first EcoBlue diesel engine (earlier post) in April this year. Water usage per engine will be among the lowest at any Ford manufacturing facility worldwide, delivering an anticipated annual saving of 17.5 million liters of water compared with 2011—enough to fill seven Olympic-size swimming pools.

The reduction in the volume of coolant pumped around the facility also helps to significantly reduce energy usage. Three smaller coolant systems require around 70% less energy, and contribute to reducing energy use per engine from 188 kWh in 2011 to 92 kWh in 2016—the energy saved is roughly enough to power an average house for a week.

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UPS hits target of 1 billion alternative-fueled miles one year early

August 02, 2016

UPS has achieved its goal of driving 1 billion miles in its alternative fuel and advanced technology fleet one year earlier than planned, and marked more than 10 years of learning from its “Rolling Laboratory” of now more than 7,200 alternative fuel vehicles.

UPS’ long-term commitment to sustainability is transforming commercial transportation and logistics, spurring growth in the clean fuels market and enabling critical engineering advances. The company’s wider sustainability progress is detailed in the newly released 14th annual Sustainability Report.

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California releases Sustainable Freight Action Plan to transform freight system; 25% more efficient by 2030

July 30, 2016

In response to an Executive Order issued last year by California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., state agency leaders on Friday released the California Sustainable Freight Action Plan, a comprehensive document that serves as a blueprint for transforming the state’s multi-billion dollar freight transport system into one that is environmentally cleaner, more efficient, and more economically competitive than it is today.

The revised document is similar to the draft version issued in May 2016, but reflects new input provided by industry, labor, regional and local government, and community and environmental group stakeholders, who submitted more than 85 comments on the draft plan.

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Ford, Jose Cuervo team up to make car parts with bioplastic reinforced with blue agave fibers

July 20, 2016

Ford Motor Company is teaming up with Jose Cuervo to explore the use of the tequila producer’s blue agave plant fiber byproduct to develop more sustainable bioplastics to employ in Ford vehicles.

Ford and Jose Cuervo are testing the agave-fiber-reinforced bioplastic for use in vehicle interior and exterior components such as wiring harnesses, HVAC units and storage bins. Initial assessments suggest the material holds great promise due to its durability and aesthetic qualities. Success in developing a sustainable composite could reduce vehicle weight and lower energy consumption, while paring the use of petrochemicals and the impact of vehicle production on the environment.

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Volkswagen brand says it has met 2018 Think Blue. Factory. environmental targets; environmental compatibility of car production improved by 25%

July 09, 2016

The Volkswagen brand announced that it has reached the self-defined sustainability target for production set out in Think Blue. Factory. for 2018. (Earlier post.) At the brand’s production facilities throughout the world, vehicles and components are now manufactured in a way which is 25% more environmentally compatible than five years ago.

Taking the average of the five agreed environmental indicators for the Volkswagen brand, environmental impact has been reduced by 25.3%, with energy consumption down by 24.7%; CO2 emissions by 29.1%, waste production by as much as 46.5%; water consumption by 18.2%; and solvent emissions by 8.2% between 2010 and the end of 2015. These figures are determined per vehicle or component produced.

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DOE to award up to $70M for Manufacturing Institute focused on reuse, recycling and remanufacturing

June 27, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to $70 million for a new Clean Energy Manufacturing Innovation Institute focused on improving technologies and processes to achieve cost parity of recycled and waste materials with primary feedstocks, while improving material efficiency in manufacturing processes.

The new funding opportunity—(DE-FOA-0001594) “Reducing EMbodied energy And Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) in Materials Manufacturing— will support the REMADE in America Institute. The REMADE institute will enable the development and widespread deployment of key industrial platform technologies that will significantly reduce life-cycle energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with industrial-scale materials production and processing by creating new technologies for reuse, recycling, and remanufacturing of materials.

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Columbus, Ohio wins $40M DOT Smart City Challenge; $10M more from Vulcan, $90M from private partners

June 24, 2016

US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that Columbus, OH has been selected as the winner of the US Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge. (Earlier post.) As winner of the Challenge, Columbus will receive up to $40 million from US DOT and up to $10 million from Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc. to supplement the $90 million that the city has already raised from other private partners to carry out its plan.

Using these resources, Columbus will work to reshape its transportation system to become part of a fully-integrated city that harnesses the power and potential of data, technology, and creativity to reimagine how people and goods move throughout their city.

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Ford Sustainability Report details pilot program in South Africa to deliver health care, education

June 15, 2016

A new Ford Motor Company pilot program aims to enhance mobility health services in rural areas of South Africa and Nigeria.

Ford Project Better World brings together multiple organizations such as World Vision South Africa, and social entrepreneurs to deliver health education, medication, nutrition and basic services to thousands of underserved people in remote areas. The services will be accessed using enhanced mobility and connectivity technologies from Ford vehicles. Ford Project Better World is detailed in the automaker’s 17th annual Sustainability Report, released today.

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NIST, partners create new international standard to improve sustainable manufacturing

May 27, 2016

A public-private team led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has created a new international standard that can “map” the critically important environmental aspects of manufacturing processes, leading to significant improvements in sustainability while keeping a product’s life cycle low cost and efficient.

ASTM member Kevin Lyons, group leader, National Institute of Standards and Technology, notes that the new standard (ASTM E3012-16, Guide for Characterizing Environmental Aspects of Manufacturing Process) provides structure and formalism to ensure consistency in characterizing sustainable manufacturing processes. From there, computers can provide information and analytics on production and performance. Lyons explains that using the standard will help business transition into science-based modeling, decision-making, and production.

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Ford first automaker to use captured CO2 to develop foam and plastic for vehicles

May 16, 2016

Ford Motor Company is the first automaker to formulate and test new foam and plastic components using carbon dioxide as feedstock. Researchers expect to see the new biomaterials in Ford production vehicles within five years.

Formulated with up to 50% CO2-based polyols, the foam is showing promise as it meets rigorous automotive test standards. It could be employed in seating and underhood applications, potentially reducing petroleum use by more than 600 million pounds annually. CO2-derived foam will further reduce the use of fossil fuels in Ford vehicles and increase the presence of sustainable foam in the automaker’s global lineup.

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Continental showcases car tires and engine mounts with rubber made from dandelion roots; targeting series production in 5-10 years

April 25, 2016

Continental has developed and tested car tires and engine mounts with rubber made from dandelion roots. In 2014, Continental brought onto the road the first sample of a premium winter tire featuring tread made from dandelion rubber. (Earlier post.) At the end of 2015, ContiTech tested the new renewable resource, named TARAXAGUM, in engine mounts. The company is striving for series production in five to ten years.

Continental says that the plant has the potential to become an alternative, environmentally friendly resource and could further reduce dependency on traditionally produced natural rubber. Not only this, but because it grows under moderate climatic conditions, it can also generate savings in CO2 emissions and transport costs.

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Toyota to pioneer use of biosynthetic rubber in engine and drive system hoses

April 21, 2016

Next month, Toyota will become the first automaker to use biohydrin, a newly-developed biosynthetic rubber product, in engine and drive system hoses.

Jointly developed by Toyota, Zeon Corporation, and Sumitomo Riko Co., Ltd., biohydrin rubber is manufactured using plant-derived bio-materials instead of epichlorohydrin, a commonly-used epoxy compound. Since plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere during their lifespan, such bio-materials achieve an estimated 20% reduction in material lifecycle carbon emissions in comparison to conventional petroleum-based hydrin rubber.

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Ford launches 10-year project to transform Dearborn campus; sustainability in the built environment; Living Building Challenge

April 12, 2016

Ford Motor Company unveiled its plans to transform its Dearborn facilities into a modern, green and high-tech campus to foster innovation and help drive the company’s transition to an auto and a mobility company. The 10-year transformation of the company’s more than 60-year-old Dearborn facilities will colocate 30,000 employees from 70 buildings today into primarily two locations—a product campus and a world headquarters campus. More than 7.5 million square feet of work space will be rebuilt and upgraded into even more technology-enabled and connected facilities.

The transformation will integrate sustainability and innovation throughout the built environment, including a new Sustainability Showcase building on the product campus, which will aim to meet Living Building Challenge standards, the highest level of sustainability certification today. To be certified under the Challenge, projects must meet a series of ambitious performance requirements over a minimum of 12 months of continuous occupancy. Among the key criteria is that 100% of the building’s energy needs on a net annual basis must be supplied by on-site renewable energy. No combustion is allowed.

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UI, ExxonMobil study finds where bioenergy crops would grow best while minimizing detrimental effects on aquatic ecosystems

February 18, 2016

A team from the University of Illinois, Urbana and ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company (EMRE) has identified regions in the United States where bioenergy crops would grow best while minimizing effects on water quantity and quality. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The researchers applied a land surface model to evaluate the interplay between potential bioenergy grass (Miscanthus, Cave-in-Rock, and Alamo) production, water quantity, and nitrogen leaching (NL) in the Central and Eastern USA. The detailed models explored the impacts on water quantity and quality in soils that would occur if existing vegetation was replaced by various bioenergy crops used for ethanol production.

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Study finds nanoparticle NMC material used in Li-ion batteries harms key soil bacterium

February 04, 2016

Nanoparticle nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC), an emerging material that is being rapidly incorporated into lithium-ion battery cathodes, has been shown to impair Shewanella oneidensis, a key soil bacterium, according to new research published in the ACS journal Chemistry of Materials.

The study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin—Madison and the University of Minnesota is an early signal that the growing use of the new nanoscale materials used in the rechargeable batteries that power portable electronics and electric and hybrid vehicles may have unforeseen environmental consequences.

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Toyota announces aggressive environmental targets through 2050; cutting new vehicle CO2 by 90% compared to 2010

October 14, 2015

Addressing key global environmental issues such as climate change, water shortages, resource depletion, and degradation of biodiversity, the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050 aims to reduce the negative impact of manufacturing and driving vehicles as much as possible. The challenge comprises six individual challenges across three areas: Ever-better cars, quantified as reducing global average new-vehicle CO2 emissions by 90% by 2050 compared to Toyota’s 2010 global average; ever-better manufacturing (zero CO2 emissions at all plants by 2050); and enriching the lives of communities.

As a key step toward achieving these long-term targets, Toyota is announcing its Sixth Toyota Environmental Action Plan, which will be enacted between April 2016 and the end of March 2021.

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Bridgestone successfully builds passenger car tires with 100% guayule-derived rubber

October 02, 2015

Bridgestone Corporation has successfully built passenger tires with 100 percent of its natural rubber-containing components derived from guayule, a desert shrub that grows in arid regions. Natural rubber is contained in the plant’s barks and roots. (Earlier post.) Built at the Bridgestone Technical Center in Japan, the tires were constructed using the company’s guayule natural rubber cultivated by Bridgestone at its Biorubber Process Research Center (BPRC) in Mesa, Arizona.

Bridgestone built similar passenger tires at its operations in Rome, Italy earlier this summer. In those tire builds, all of the tire’s major natural rubber components—including the tread, sidewall and bead filler—were replaced with natural rubber extracted from guayule grown and harvested by Bridgestone.

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Honda launches new “Green Path” initiatives for manufacturing and operations; new $210M paint line at Marysville with new 4C2B process

September 25, 2015

Honda has announced several initiatives under its new “Green Path” approach to reducing the total life-cycle environmental impact of its products and operations in North America. Among these is a $210-million investment in a new, more environmentally responsible auto-body painting facility and innovative paint process at its Marysville, Ohio auto plant (MAP), the largest of Honda’s eight auto plants in North America. MAP produces the Honda Accord Sedan and Coupe along with the Acura TLX and ILX for customers in more than 100 countries.

Honda has established a voluntary goal to reduce its total GHG emissions—including customer use-phase—by 50% by the year 2050, compared to 2000 levels; this works out to a reduction of 90% per unit sales—a difficult task, noted Ryan Harty, a former Honda R&D engineer who now manages Honda’s new Environmental Business Development Office.

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RobecoSAM annual review names Volkswagen Group world’s most sustainable automaker

September 13, 2015

Volkswagen Group took the top spot again as the world’s most sustainable automaker in RobecoSAM AG’s 2015 annual review of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI). As in 2013, Volkswagen is thus one of only two automakers to be listed in both DJSI World and DJSI Europe.

Launched in 1999, the DJSI World is the first global index to track the leading sustainability-driven companies worldwide based on RobecoSAM’s analysis of financially material Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors. RobecoSAM invited the world’s largest 3,400 companies from developed and emerging markets to take part in its annual Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA). This year, RobecoSAM assessed 85% of the invited universe’s free float market capitalization, for the DJSI review.

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Ford launches Hsuehshan Tunnel Transformer Challenge in Taiwan; Mobility Challenge Series 2.0

September 11, 2015

Building on the success of Ford’s Innovate Mobility Challenge Series (IMCS) 1.0 in 2014 (earlier post), Ford has launched the Hsuehshan Tunnel Transformer Challenge in Taiwan, which asks developers to submit traffic-busting solutions for the main highway artery between Taipei and popular tourist destination Yilan.

The Hsuehshan Tunnel Transformer Challenge will task developers with optimizing traffic between the Taipei metropolitan area—home to seven million residents—and Yilan, a popular tourist destination for weekend and holiday getaways. The most common route for cars and buses is Freeway 5, which can get highly congested during peak times. This is particularly true on the stretch between Nangang and Toucheng, where traffic can become severely backed up at Hsuehshan Tunnel.

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