[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.]
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.
Elon Musk unveils Hyperloop preliminary design study
August 12, 2013
|Linear accelerator concept for capsule acceleration and deceleration between 300 and 760 mph (480 and 1,220 km/h). Click to enlarge.|
Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk released the preliminary design study for what he calls “The Hyperloop”—a new high-speed electric transportation system targeted for the the specific case of high-traffic city pairs (e.g., San Francisco and Los Angeles) that are less than about 1500 km or 900 miles apart. (For longer distances, Musk suggests, quiet supersonic air travel would be faster and cheaper.)
Hyperloop—which is an open-source concept, user feedback is welcome—consists of paired partially-evacuated tubes (0.015 psi, 100 Pa), with passenger capsules (or pods) that are transported at both low and high speeds throughout the length of the tube. The capsules are supported on a cushion of air, featuring pressurized air and aerodynamic lift. The capsules are accelerated via a magnetic linear accelerator affixed at various stations on the low pressure tube. Stators are located on the capsules to transfer momentum to the capsules via the linear accelerators.
UPS sets 2017 goal of 1 billion alternative fuel miles
July 27, 2013
UPS released its annual Sustainability Report announcing that while the total number of packages shipped in 2012 increased, the company reduced its total Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. Environmental achievements included ground and air fuel savings, increased investments in alternative fuel vehicles, and retooled routes that shaved 12.1 million miles from ground deliveries.
UPS also set a new alternative fuel goal of one billion cumulative miles (from a baseline of the year 2000) driven by alternative fuel/advanced technology vehicles by 2017, said David Abney, UPS Chief Operating Officer—more than double the previous goal of 400 million miles. Through the end of 2012, UPS has logged 295 million cumulative alternative fuel miles.
Honda and Ford separately launching smart home demos
April 24, 2013
American Honda Motor Co., Inc. will create the Honda Smart Home US, a showcase that demonstrates Honda’s vision for sustainable, zero-carbon living and personal mobility, including the use of solar power to charge a Honda Fit EV battery electric vehicle. The site is on the campus of the University of California, Davis; the building process will be documented and shared through the Honda Smart Home US website.
Separately, Ford Motor Company and KB Home announced that products from the Ford-led initiative MyEnergi Lifestyle (earlier post) will be featured in the homebuilder’s ZeroHouse 2.0 model home in San Marcos, Calif., and potentially in additional KB Home markets.
SMART: working for a systems-based approach to sustainable mobility; Alcoa Foundation support for practical solutions in Beijing and Detroit
March 18, 2013
One of the key messages of the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Transportation Energy Futures (TEF) project (earlier post) is that deep cuts in transportation petroleum consumption and emissions are dependent on combined reductions across three factors: vehicle fuel consumption (modes); fuel carbon intensity (fuels); and vehicle use (service demand). In other words, while vehicle and fuel technologies clearly play a major role, so does demand reduction and the development of smarter, sustainable transportation systems. Of 9 reports from the TEF project, four deal with reducing transportation demand.
SMART (Sustainable Mobility & Accessibility Research & Transformation), a project of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) and TCAUP, the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, is in its ninth year of working on the problem highlighted by the demand-reduction elements of the TEF project—catalyzing systematic and fundamental transformations of mobility / accessibility systems by uncovering a set of “tipping points” along with integrated (not single-fix) solutions guiding the evolution of such systems.
Ford launches FORD2GO car sharing program with its German dealer network; Ford poll shows 56% of Europeans would consider car sharing
March 04, 2013
Ford of Germany has signed a cooperation agreement with the German Ford dealers association FHD GmbH and DB Rent GmbH—the company behind Flinkster car sharing—for a new car sharing platform. FORD2GO will be the first automotive manufacturer-backed, nationwide car sharing program incorporating dealerships.
The program calls for participating Ford dealers across Germany to offer cars and sharing services to customers in their town, allowing easy access to shared cars and offering the chance for potential customers to experience Ford vehicles. Daimler, with its car2go effort, was an early OEM entrant into car-sharing. (Earlier post.) BMW is also exploring car-sharing services (earlier post), as is GM (earlier post) and Toyota (earlier post), but none have directly involved their dealer network at this point as Ford is.
Audi and BMW Group join Aluminium Stewardship Initiative; seeking a standard for sustainable aluminum
February 28, 2013
AUDI AG and the BMW Group, along with Hydro and Rexam, have joined the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) to help develop a global standard for sustainable aluminum. Aluminium is the world’s second most used metal after steel, and is of specific importance to the automotive industry due to its combination of its light weight, durability and strength.
The Aluminium Stewardship Initiative was founded in the autumn of 2012 and aims to develop the first version of a sustainability standard for aluminum by the end of 2014, with the support of the environmental organization IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). Founding members of the Initiative are AMCOR Flexibles, AMAG, Constantia Flexibles, Constellium, Nespresso, Rio Tinto Alcan, and Tetra Pak.
Deutsche Telekom and IBM to integrate Machine-to-Machine communication and Smarter Cities data analysis technology for enhanced city services
February 23, 2013
Deutsche Telekom and IBM are collaborating to provide an integrated solutions portfolio that enables cities to make smarter use of their services through intelligent data capture and analysis. The Smarter Cities solutions will build on IBM’s Smarter Cities expertise (earlier post) and “big data” analysis capabilities combined with Deutsche Telekom’s global Machine-to-Machine (M2M) capabilities, which include M2M solutions integration and advanced network connectivity.
M2M communication technology facilitates the automated exchange of information between terminal equipment such as machines, vehicles and containers or with a central control center—i.e., an “Internet of Things.” By using sensors embedded in a wide array of systems serving the public—such as a traffic lights, public transport vehicles or parking spaces—M2M technology can report on the status of the system being monitored via the Internet in real-time.
Honda Transmission contracts with Juhl Wind for two utility-scale wind turbines at Ohio plant; up to 10% of electricity for operations
January 25, 2013
Honda Transmission Mfg. of America, Inc. announced an agreement with Juhl Wind, Inc. to develop, install, and operate two utility-scale wind turbines (each rated at about 2MW) to generate electricity for the plant’s operations.
The plant manufactures automatic transmissions, gears and four-wheel-drive systems, including the next-generation Earth Dreams transmission technology. The two wind turbines will supply up to approximately 10% of the plant’s electricity. Based on their location and actual wind speeds, combined output from the two wind turbines is estimated at 10,000-megawatt hours (MWh) per year.
Volkswagen inaugurates 9.5 MW solar park at Chattanooga plant in US; key element of VW Group’s strategic sustainability targets
January 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 inaugurated its largest solar facility in the world—also the largest solar facility operated by an automaker in the US—at its plant in Chattanooga, TN, which produces the Passat model for North America. The Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park has a peak output of 9.5 MW. The power will be used directly in production; solar power will provide up to 12.5% of the electric power required in full-capacity operation and 100% of demand when the plant is not in production.
The new solar park is an integral part of Volkswagen’s worldwide sustainability strategy, which includes generating more power within the Group from renewable energy sources, said Volkswagen Group Officer for the Environment, Energy and New Business Areas, Wolfram Thomas.
MacArthur Foundation grant supports Urban Center for Computation and Data
January 20, 2013
A new Chicago-based research center using advanced computational methods to understand the rapid growth of cities will receive a $500,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The funds help launch the Urban Center for Computation and Data (UrbanCCD), an initiative of the Computation Institute (CI) dedicated to data-driven urban research, planning and design.
Announced in December 2012, UrbanCCD was initially funded by a $600,000-grant from the National Science Foundation and unites researchers from several Chicago institutions, city officials and private enterprise with the Computation Institute (CI), a joint initiative between the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory.
NHTSA proposes new minimum sound requirements for hybrid and electric vehicles
January 08, 2013
As required by the bipartisan Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 (PSEA), the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed minimum sound standards for hybrid and electric vehicles.
The proposed standard, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 141, would fulfill Congress’ mandate in the PSEA that hybrid and electric vehicles—including passenger cars, light trucks and vans (LTVs), medium- and heavy-duty trucks, buses, low speed vehicles (LSVs), and motorcycles—produce sounds meeting the requirements of this standard.
ISU study finds large potential for biobased materials in auto industry, but with challenges
December 16, 2012
A study by researchers at Iowa State University has determined that the automotive industry has a very large potential to utilize biobased materials. Their report, “Biobased Automobile Parts Investigation”, was developed for the USDA Office of Energy Policy and New Uses. Because SUVs and trucks have a large number of parts, the authors suggested, they are good candidates to be the vehicle types with the largest amount of biobased material on a part number basis.
To create the largest impact, the researchers concluded, emphasis should be placed on the largest producers of vehicles; the five largest producers of automotive vehicles in the United States are General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Chrysler, and Honda. However, they noted, there are also many challenges associated with the use of biobased parts in the auto industry.
Study identifies social policy as important factor in national environmental performance
November 19, 2012
|Theoretical flowchart linking SP to HREP. * Indicates motivation to act environmentally for the benefit of the valued object: other human beings (voting and political actions). Credit: ACS, Kerret and Shvartzvald. Click to enlarge.|
A country’s social policy (SP) plays an important role in explaining differences in the environmental performance (EP) of countries, according to a new study by Dorit Kerret and Renana Shvartzvald at Tel-Aviv University.
The paper, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, tries to unravel factors that explain national differences in EP by using quantitative data to examine factors affecting the EP of a broad sample of country-wide data. To avoid the variability of performance measures encountered by previous studies, Kerret and Shvartzvald proposed three categories of EP indicators: human-related EP (HREP) (related to environmental health harm); ecology-related EP (EREP); and global-related EP (GREP). They used the EP Index (EPI) as a measure of outcomes.
NYU-BMW i report explores future urban mobility; sustainability and resilience
November 13, 2012
A new study released by BMW i and New York University (NYU) finds that, in the coming years and decades, fundamental changes in the demographic makeup of cities will profoundly alter the way people travel.
This report, prepared by the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service with the assistance of Appleseed, a New York City-based consulting firm, examines several aspects of the challenge of urban mobility in the twenty-first century: the growth of the world’s urban population, and changes in the characteristics of that population; emerging patterns of urban mobility; and changes in technology design and connectivity.