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Fuji Heavy Acquires UltraCap Business from its Partner

Fuji Heavy Industries (makers of Subaru) has purchased the Electric Double Layer Capacitor (ultracapacitor) business from Kanebo Ltd for an estimated ¥100 million (approximately US$900,000), according to reports in the Japanese business press. Fuji and Kanebo jointly began developing the capacitor technology in 2002 and Kanebo has decided to sell... Read more →

Toyota to Increase Exports to the US by 40% to Meet Demand

Nikkei. Faced with demand it can’t meet from its US plants, Toyota plans to increase the number of cars it exports from Japan to the US to about 1.1 million vehicles in 2007, up 40% from 2004. According to plans submitted to shippers, Toyota will export 850,000 vehicles to the... Read more →

New Enzyme for More Efficient Corn Ethanol Production

Diversa Corporation and Valley Research, Inc. have launched a new alpha-amylase enzyme designed to improve the efficiency and economics of corn ethanol production. Developed by Diversa and marketed by Valley Research, the new enzyme operates at high temperature and at a lower pH than other commercially available enzymes—a combination grain... Read more →

Honda Leases FCX to First Individual Customers

American Honda Motor today announced the lease of its FCX fuel cell car (earlier post) to the world’s first individual customers, the Spallino family of Redondo Beach, California. The Spallinos, who signed a two-year lease, will drive the FCX in everyday normal use, including the work commute from Redondo Beach... Read more →

Nanomaterials for Solar Hydrogen Production and Storage

Nanostructured materials are the basis for two research projects investigating the solar production of hydrogen and hydrogen storage. Researchers from UC Santa Cruz, the University of Georgia and Nomadics are developing a device that integrates two kinds of solar cells—a photovoltaic cell to produce electricity and a photoelectrochemical cell to... Read more →

Ricardo Predicts Rapid Expansion in US Light-Duty Diesel Market

Automotive technology consultant, researcher and provider Ricardo has released its 2005 Ricardo Diesel Report. This year’s edition predicts a significant rise in US light-duty diesel market penetration over the coming decade. Sales in the light-duty vehicle segment (up to 8,500 pounds gross vehicle weight) are projected to grow from a... Read more →

VW and Shell Win Porsche Award for Synthetic Fuel Work

The 2005 Professor Ferdinand Porsche Preis—awarded for work which will have a lasting influence of the development of the automobile—recently went to Dr Wolfgang Steiger (Volkswagen) and Dr Wolfgang Warnecke (Shell) for their development of synthetic fuels from natural gas (GTL) and biomass (BTL). The Fischer-Tropsch synthetic fuel now produced... Read more →

Degussa and ENAX Set up JV for Lithium-Ion Batteries in China

Degussa AG, one of the world’s largest specialty chemical companies, and the Japanese Lithium-ion battery company ENAX are setting up a joint venture in China to develop and manufacture lithium-ion battery electrodes. Both partners will hold a 50% stake. ENAX is both the technology provider and the future research partner... Read more →

CalCars Plans Commercial Spin-off for Plug-In Hybrid Conversions

CalCars, the non-profit organization that dramatically increased awareness of the potential of plug-in hybrids (PHEV) simply by just doing it and converting a standard Prius to a plug-in Prius, is planning a commercial spin-off for plug-in conversions. CalCars’ new company will partner with a major auto maker as a Qualified... Read more →

Senate Passes Energy Bill, Conference with House Next

On a vote of 85–12, 3 not voting, the Senate passed its version of the Energy Bill. Senators McCain and Lieberman, who had proposed a climate change amendment that was defeated, voted ”Nay“ and abstained, respectively. Before debate on the Bill closed last week, the Senate approved by Unanimous Consent... Read more →

J.D. Power Forecasts Hybrids and Diesels to be 11% of Sales in 2012

A new report by J.D. Power-LMC Automotive Forecasting Services projects that hybrids and clean diesels will account for 11% of US auto sales by 2012, up from 4.8% in 2005. The report shows that hybrids, which accounted for 0.5% of the US market in 2004, are expected to increase to... Read more →

So Cal Edison Gets a DaimlerChrysler F-Cell

Southern California Edison (SCE) took possession of a hydrogen fuel cell-powered DaimlerChrysler F-Cell for operation and testing. This F-Cell is not one of the new, higher-powered, longer-ranged B-class-based vehicles DaimlerChrysler introduced at the Geneva show in March (earlier post), but the earlier A-class-based vehicle. The entire F-Cell fuel cell system... Read more →

ZAP CEO: Electric Version of the Smart Car Possible

Initial test results from the ZAP-Advanced Battery Technology (ABAT) partnership (earlier post) confirmed significant increases in range for ZAP’s electric vehicles using ABAT’s lithium-ion polymer batteries. The results encouraged Steve Schneider, CEO of ZAP, to speculate about the possibility of an electric version of the Smart Car. (ZAP sells an... Read more →

In the Wake of Rover: Building the UK Hybrids Supply Chain

The Birmingham (UK) Chamber of Commerce is funding a Hybrid Electric Vehicles Technology Transfer Centre (HEV TTC), supported by the automotive investment initiative “Accelerate”, and managed by MIRA, experts in vehicle engineering and testing. The purpose of the center is to help West Midlands-based Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in... Read more →

“It’s the Batteries, Stupid”

George Shultz and James Woolsey, co-chairs of the Committee on the Present Danger, recently wrote and posted a policy paper— “Oil & Security”—on the Committee’s site. The paper, which the authors had hoped would influence some of the Senate debate on the Energy bill, succinctly outlines the economic and political... Read more →

Azure Building Two Hybrid Class-7 Medium-Duty Delivery Trucks

Azure Dynamics, which recently delivered hybrid prototypes to the USPS (earlier post) is building two parallel-hybrid medium-duty Class 7 delivery trucks for Charmer-Sunbelt, a leading beverage distributor. Azure will install parallel-hybrid drive systems into two diesel-powered Kenworth T300s. The hybrids will then undergo trials gauging fuel efficiency and emissions performance... Read more →

Simulation Highlights Economic Vulnerabilities of Oil Dependency

Oil ShockWave was a scenario exercise developed by Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) and the National Commission on Energy Policy. In this half-day exercise, a bipartisan panel of intelligence, military, and energy experts took part in a series of simulated Cabinet meetings over a projected seven-month period to advise the... Read more →

SOLZINC: Storing Solar Energy in Zinc for Electricity or Hydrogen Production

An international research consortium has successfully built a 300-kW pilot plant that uses solar energy to reduce zinc oxide to zinc. The zinc can be used in zinc-air batteries or be used to produce hydrogen by reacting it with water vapor. In both cases the zinc recombines with oxygen and... Read more →

High School Team Tops SAE Supermileage with 1,836 MPG

Mater Dei High School of Evansville, Ind., finished first at the recent SAE 2005 Supermileage competition, posting a top fuel economy of 1,836 miles per gallon (mpg). The University of British Columbia finished first in the collegiate division with a top fuel economy of 1,608 mpg. Both schools have won... Read more →

Renault’s New Clio III: Up to 53.5 MPG

Renault has introduced its third-generation version of the Clio (Clio III). Configured with the mid-range 1.5-liter diesel, the Clio III offers fuel consumption of 4.4 liters /100km (53.5 mpg US) combined, and CO2 emissions of 117 g/km. In 2004, the Clio was the second best-selling B-class car in Europe with... Read more →

RMI: Co-gen and Renewables, Yes; Nuclear, No

Countering the growing orthodoxy that a wide-spread resurgence in nuclear power is essential to address both energy needs and climate changes concerns, Rocky Mountain Institute co-founder and CEO Amory Lovins charges that not only do new nuclear plants deliver electricity at far higher cost than distributed co-generation and many renewables... Read more →

UNL Switches Over to Biodiesel and Ethanol

Beginning 1 July, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will switch the 870 vehicles in its fleet—including tractors, mowers and off-road equipment in addition to passenger vehicles—to biofuel blends. The University will use E-10 (10% ethanol) blends in all its gasoline-powered vehicles, with the exception of 26 flex-fuel vehicles that will burn... Read more →

New Environmental Threat: Parking Lots

Research done by the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program and the City of Austin has determined that parking lot sealcoat—a previously unidentified source of urban polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)—may be the major source of PAH concentrations in urban water bodies in the United States. Particles in runoff from parking... Read more →

Honda Working to Lower Price on Fuel Cell Cars to Gasoline-Equivalent

Bloomberg. Honda is targeting lowering the price of its fuel-cell-operated vehicles to about the same as that of regular gasoline-engine-powered cars by 2020. Honda is shooting for a price for its fuel cell cars between ¥3 million (US$27,500) and ¥4 million (US$36,600)— a similar price as that of its Accord... Read more →

Hamilton Greening its Fleet with Hybrids and Biodiesel

The City Council of Hamilton, Ontario, approved the first steps in implementing its Green Fleet plan which will transition the fleet of 1,436 light trucks and cars to hybrids (gasoline and diesel) and diesels burning a B10 blend of biodiesel. As part of the plan, the City will halt its... Read more →

Honda China Begins Exports of Compacts to Europe

Honda Automobile China (CHAC), a partnership of Honda Motor (China), Guangzhou Auto Group and Dongfeng Motor Group, today began exports to Europe of the compact passenger car Jazz. CHAC is the first passenger car maker in China to begin full-scale exports to European markets. CHAC began mass production of the... Read more →

Senate Votes for Increasing Fuel Economy Requirements (CAFE)

Two amendments proposing increases in fuel efficiency (CAFE) requirements for passenger automobiles entered the Senate debate over the energy bill today. The first, sponsored by Christopher Bond (R-MO), proposed CAFE increases based on “maximum feasible average fuel economy levels,” factoring in a number of considerations including economics and the competitive... Read more →

Beijing Accelerates Euro 3 Standards

Xinhua. The Beijing municipal Industrial and Commercial Bureau (ICB) announced that Euro 3 emission standards will go into effect starting 1 July. To meet the stricter emission standards, environmental protection authorities in Beijing are planning to introduce measures to carry out checks on private cars in the Chinese capital. In... Read more →

Ballard Inks Sale of German Unit to DaimlerChrysler and Ford

Ballard Power Systems, the pioneering fuel cell manufacturer, has signed the agreement for the previously announced sale (earlier post) of Ballard’s German subsidiary, Ballard Power Systems AG (BPSAG), to DaimlerChrysler and Ford. Upon completion of the transaction, Ballard will continue to be responsible for the design, development and manufacture of... Read more →

CO2 Emissions from New Cars in Europe Down 12% Since 1995

CO2 emissions from new passenger cars sold in the EU-15 countries decreased by 11.8% between 1995 and 2003, and 1.2% compared to 2002, according to a new report released by the European Commission. Autos from European and Japanese manufacturers posted better results than their Korean counterparts. I am encouraged by... Read more →

Peugeot Citroën CEO Proposes Payouts for Scrapping Older Cars

The Independent. The CEO of Peugeot Citroën is promoting a pan-European plan to provide financial incentive to car owners to scrap older, more polluting vehicles. Under the plan, governments would provide a €1,000 (£665, US$1,212) payment to the car owner which could be used to buy a brand new car... Read more →

Oil Security Amendment with Support for Plug-In Hybrids Heading for Senate

Senators Bayh, Lieberman and Salazar are expected to introduce a new “Oil Security” floor amendment to the Senate Energy Bill on Thursday that will include support for plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). As reported on the CalCars-News group, a centrist group of 14 senators (the same “Gang of 14” bi-partisan group that... Read more →

Senate Approves Diesel Emissions and Hagel Climate Change Amendments

By a vote of 92–1, with 7 not voting, the Senate approved Senator Voinovich’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act as an amendment to the Energy Bill. The bill provides $1 billion over five years to support the reduction of emissions from existing diesel engines through retrofits and other programs. (Earlier post.)... Read more →

Ohio LandFill Gas Project to Produce Power, CNG, Methanol and Hydrogen

Business First. FirmGreen Energy is planning to build a landfill gas (LFG) project at the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio’s (SWACO) landfill in Grove City, near Columbus. The US$18 million project—called a Green Energy Center by FGE— has three primary phases: the first, to produce power and heat with... Read more →

Ford Cuts Earnings Outlook; Announces More Reductions

Ford Motor today cut its outlook for earnings this year and indicated it planned further job cuts to offset slumping sales in North America. The Company reduced its expectation for 2005 full-year earnings to a range of $1.00 to $1.25 per share, down from April’s revised guidance of $1.25 to... Read more →

Azure Delivers Series Hybrid Prototype to USPS; More to Come

Azure Dynamics has delivered a prototype series-hybrid electric CRV (Carrier Route Vehicle) to the United States Postal Service (USPS) for in-service evaluation of fuel economy and emissions. Azure will follow on this delivery with a prototype diesel parallel hybrid drive two-ton step van in October that will also similarly be... Read more →

RPI Opens Doctoral Program in Fuel Cell Science

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) announced a $4.8 million interdisciplinary program to train doctoral students in fuel cell science and engineering. The program is supported by a $3.2 million, first-of-its-kind fuel cell research education grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) combined with a $1.6 million investment by Rensselaer. The program,... Read more →

GM Rolls Out Saab SUV; Waste of a Brand?

GM’s Saab division has launched its first SUV, the 9-7X. The new full-size (longer than 193 inches) SUV, announced last year, enters a market segment that had been expanding rapidly, but that now appears to be collapsing. (Earlier post.) The 9-7X, based on GM’s light-truck chassis that serves the Trailblazer,... Read more →

Concept Engines: Theory and Resulting Design Targets 30% Increase in ICE Efficiency

With this post, we’re formalizing a new category in GCC: Concept Engines. Even in the most optimistic scenarios about transitions to a hydrogen economy, combustion engines will be with us for decades to come. (The applications, however, will begin to differentiate—downsized engines in plug-in or conventional hybrids, for example, running... Read more →

Denver Upgrades CNG Series Hybrid Buses with Cobasys NiMH Storage

The Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) is replacing the lead-acid-battery storage system in ten of its CNG series-hybrid buses with a Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) battery system from Cobasys, the NiMHax 288-120. The buses are part of a fleet of 36 mall shuttle buses built by TransTeq (a Denver company),... Read more →

Renewable Chemicals: Codexis and Cargill Develop Microbial Process to Use Corn, Not Petroleum, as Feedstock

Codexis and Cargill announced a major breakthrough in developing a novel microbial process to convert corn sugar to a specific chemical intermediate. This process is an important milestone in the development of a new renewable chemical platform that could eventually replace some petroleum-based products. When fully commercialized, the new industrial... Read more →

New Yorkers Want Hybrid Taxis; Taxi Commission Isn’t So Sure

The New York-based Coalition Advocating for Smart Transportation (CAST), has released a poll indicating that 70% of New Yorkers think it is important (34% of that very important) for hybrids to become the majority of the New York City taxi fleet over the next five years. That same 70% (43%... Read more →

Saskatchewan Launches Biodiesel Taskforce

The government of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan and industry representatives have launched a new task force to lead the development of the province’s biodiesel industry. The Biodiesel Development Task Force will determine the current status of the biodiesel industry and its potential for the province; identify challenges and opportunities;... Read more →

Morgan at Work on the Hydrogen Fuel Cell LIFEcar

Morgan Motor Company, the UK maker of the classic Morgan car, is building a hydrogen fuel-cell car based on its Aero 8 (shown at right). Partly supported by a £1.9 million (US$3.47 million; €2.84 million) grant from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Morgan LIFEcar will use a... Read more →

China Investing $3B to Up Capacity for High-Sulfur Crudes

Bloomberg. China, the world’s second-biggest oil consumer, plans to spend $3 billion on refinery units capable of processing lower-quality, high-sulfur (“sour”) crude oil from the Middle East. In return, the country hopes to be able to cut its current annual oil import bill by as much as 20%. Oil higher... Read more →