[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.]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
BMW Group leveraging digitalization in production plants; Industry 4.0
August 11, 2015
As part of its continuous optimization of production processes at its plants, the BMW Group is leveraging the opportunities arising from digitalization (i.e., “Industry 4.0”, earlier post). For the automotive manufacturer, digitalization opens up new perspectives with regard to the advancement of innovative and people-oriented production systems.
In turn, the freed potential in the production systems allows the company to respond even more individually to customers’ wishes and to step up the flexibility of the production chain.
DOE Critical Materials Institute rare-earth recycling invention licensed to US Rare Earths
A new technology developed by the US Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Institute (CMI) that aids in the recycling, recovery and extraction of rare earth minerals has been licensed to US Rare Earths, Inc. The membrane solvent extraction system, invented by CMI partners Oak Ridge and Idaho national laboratories, is the first commercially licensed technology developed through the CMI.
The technology uses a combination of hollow fiber membranes, organic solvents and neutral extractants selectively to recover rare-earth elements such as neodymium, dysprosium and praseodymium. These elements have a key function in permanent magnets used in cars, cell phones, hard disk drives, computers and electric motors.
Ford working with OSU on sustainable alternative rubber sources for non-tire vehicle applications
August 06, 2015
While there are a number of efforts underway exploring the use of sustainable, natural rubber alternatives for use in tires (earlier post, earlier post, earlier post), cars use a great deal of rubber for non-tire applications as well; the Ford Fiesta, for example, contains about 3 kg of the material, excluding the tires.
Ford Motor Company is thus investigating alternative sustainable sources of rubber for automotive use in these non-tire applications. The company is working closely with The Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center’s (OARDC’s) Program of Excellence in Natural Rubber Alternatives (PENRA) on researching the use of latex from guayule and Russian dandelion root in applications such as the car’s interior (cup holders), floormats, suspension bushings, engine mounts and so on, said Janice Tardiff, Elastomer Technical Expert at Ford.
BMW launches operations at Center of Urban Mobility Competence; boosting electromobility through EV sharing
July 17, 2015
BMW Group has officially launched operations at its Center of Urban Mobility Competence, which it established earlier this year. Its experts are working with cities and the relevant stakeholders to develop sustainable concepts for future mobility in urban areas.
BMW established the Competence Center to help bring the goal of creating a sustainable model for urban mobility, reducing traffic volumes and improving the quality of life in cities within reach, through partnerships with cities themselves. At the same time, BMW also announced that 100 all-electric BMW i3 cars are now available for DriveNow car sharing customers in Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. In London the BMW i3 was already added to the DriveNow fleet in May, and other cities in Germany and Europe will soon follow suit.
Argonne researchers developing multifunctional farm landscapes balancing economy, bioenergy and environment
July 08, 2015
In collaboration with the farming community of the Indian Creek Watershed in central Illinois, researchers from Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) are finding ways to meet three agrarian land management objectives simultaneously: maximizing a farmer’s production; growing feedstock for bioenergy; and protecting the environment.
Through careful data collection and modeling at a cornfield in Fairbury, the Argonne team found that achieving these goals—which might under some conditions be mutually exclusive—requires a multifunctional landscape. Such a landscape is one where resources are allocated efficiently and crops are situated in their ideal soil and landscape position. As an example, planting bioenergy crops such as willows or switchgrass in rows where commodity crops are having difficulty growing could both provide biomass feedstock and also limit the runoff of nitrogen fertilizer into waterways—all without hurting a farmer’s profits.
Ford Smart Mobility shifts from research to implementation; company announces new programs, next areas of focus
June 24, 2015
In the opening keynote at Ford’s annual trends conference, 2015 Further With Ford, CEO Mark Fields announced the next phase of the company’s Smart Mobility plan, originally announced in January this year at CES (earlier post). Ford Smart Mobility is the company’s plan to deliver the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data; the initial stage was the creation of 25 mobility experiments across the globe.
Fields said that Ford, which has “learned tons in the past several months” from those initial experiments, is now moving from research to the start of implementation, including new strategic areas of focus, new pilot programs and new mobility product experiments.