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Austin, Texas, Kicks Off Major Campaign for Plug-In Hybrids

The City of Austin today officially launched “Plug-In Austin,” a community-wide campaign to promote the mass production of plug-in hybrid vehicles. Austin has been in the forefront of pushing for the development and commercialization of plug-ins as a solution. Last October, the Austin City Council passed a resolution in support... Read more →

Drilling Begins at Aje for Test of Syntroleum Gas-to-Liquids Barge

The Aje field off of Nigeria. Syntroleum’s Nigerian subsidiary has begun drilling at the Aje-3 appraisal well off the western coast of Nigeria. Should there prove to be commercial quantities of oil and gas in the Aje field, this will become the first test of Syntroleum’s Gas-to-Liquids barge. Syntroleum Corporation... Read more →

SF Muni Orders 56 Orion Series-Hybrid Diesel Buses

The San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni) has ordered 56 Orion VII series hybrid diesel-electric buses, with an option for 56 more units. The order, the fourth-largest ever for hybrid buses, represent the first production hybrid diesel-electric units ordered by a major California transit system. The Orion VII models are the... Read more →

BMW to Show SuperCap Hybrid Concept at Frankfurt

BMW’s hybrid prototype in 2003 delivered strong low-end performance. BMW apparently is ready to show the supercapacitor-based gasoline hybrid it had discussed earlier in the year. (Earlier post.) According to a report in Automotive News Europe, BMW will bring the hybrid concept car to the IAA show in Frankfurt in... Read more →

More Than 2,000 Stationary Fuel Cell Systems in Service Worldwide

More than two thousand stationary fuel cell systems are providing on-site or backup power at locations in more than 26 countries, according to a listing released by the organization Fuel Cells 2000. The latest version of Fuel Cells 2000’s Worldwide Fuel Cell Installation chart includes a number of new European... Read more →

PTT to Cap Thai Natural Gas for Vehicles Price @ US$0.21/kg

TNA. Thailand’s PTT Public Company Limited (PTT) will cap the price of natural gas for vehicles (NGV) at 8.50 baht (US$0.21) per kilogram—or a gasoline gallon equivalent price of US$0.64 (one kg natural gas is approximately equivalent to about .33 gallon US of gasoline)—until the end of this year. A... Read more →

Local Restrictions on Small Cars Counter National Policy in China

Drivers queue in Dongguan, Guangdong province for fuel. (China Daily) The local policies of some Chinese cities are at odds with the ongoing development of a national policy advocating small-engined, alternative and energy-saving vehicles by groups such as the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). Xinhua (and other press) notes... Read more →

Indonesian Car Purchases Booming; Oil Production Declining

With oil production declining, OPEC member Indonesia has become a net importer. Reuters. Car sales in Indonesia rose 28.3% in July compared with the same period in 2004, data from the largest automotive distributor showed on Saturday. PT Astra International Tbk said a total of 49,388 cars were sold by... Read more →

Peugeot Diesel 407 Delivers 68 mpg US in Trans-Australian Drive

Peugeot 407 A new Peugeot diesel 4-door 407 HDi Sedan with a manual transmission, rated at 4.9 l/100km highway in Australia (48 mpg US), achieved a substantial 3.46 l/100km (68 mpg US) when driven from the north coast of Australia to the south by John Taylor, a fuel economy driving... Read more →

The Great Ethanol Energy Balance Debate, Round n+1

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is hosting an Ethanol Energy Open Forum next week in which Bruce Dale, a Michigan State University professor, and John Sheehan, a senior engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, will debate David Pimentel, a Cornell University professor, and Tad Patzek, a professor from... Read more →

German Cities Considering Ban on Older Diesels

The German city areas in worst violation of EU PM limits. Click to enlarge. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that a number of Germany’s major cities are considering plans to ban older diesel vehicles so as to meet European targets on the reduction of PM emissions. An EU-wide law passed... Read more →

Charlotte Transit Acquires Two GM Diesel-Hybrid Buses

The Charlotte (NC) Area Transit System (CATS) is adding two GM-Allison diesel-electric parallel-hybrid buses to its mass transit fleet. The hybrid electric buses go into operation on Monday, 22 August. During the first week of use, customers will ride for free when a hybrid vehicle is used on their route.... Read more →

Senator Calls for Consumer Changes, Plug-Ins to Decrease Fuel Consumption

The Telegraph. During a recent townhall meeting, US Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) stressed the need for a combination of change in consumer habits and new technology such as plug-in hybrids to reduce gasoline and oil consumption. Obama was the author of the provision in the recently-passed Energy Policy Act of... Read more →

South Africa Investing in Ethanol Producer

Independent Online. The South African Energy Development Corporation (EDC), a division of the state-owned Central Energy Fund, is in talks to buy 30% of maize-to-fuel company Ethanol Africa in a deal potentially worth R180 million (US$27.5 million). According to the report, the investment signals a possible shift in the government’s... Read more →

Chrysler: Beginning to Consider Efficiency Over Horsepower?

Detroit Free Press. Incoming Chrysler Group CEO Tom LaSorda said Wednesday that the automaker is looking at reducing the horsepower of future engines to increase fuel efficiency. The CEO made the statement at a luncheon at corporate headquarters. That said, however, LaSorda also pointed out that the company has not... Read more →

Fuji Heavy (Subaru) Announces Plans for Hybrids and Electric Vehicles

FHI President Kyoji Takenaka shows a prototype of the Subaru R1e. Nikkei. Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI), the maker of Subarus, announced today that it plans to start selling a hybrid car built using its own powertrain in fiscal 2007. The carmaker also announced it will release the R1e electric minicar... Read more →

Ballard Fuel Cells in Electric Lift Truck Trials

Ballard’s Mark 902 Stack Ballard Power Systems is to provide 27 Mark 902 4.8-kW fuel cell stacks to Cellex Power for integration into its power units destined for trials in electric lift trucks. Cellex’s power products are designed to replace industrial lead acid batteries in electric lift trucks used in... Read more →

Mitsubishi to Partner With Tokyo Electric on New Electric Vehicle

Daily Yomiuri. Mitsubishi Motors (MMC) is reportedly working with Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) on the development of its previously announced electric car. (Earlier post.) TEPCO will provide the recharging system—which can use a standard household circuit—and the rechargeable batteries to support the new EV minicar being developed by MMC.... Read more →

New Biodiesel Process Promises Cleaner, Cheaper and Faster Production

Capital Technologies, Inc. (CTI) is commercializing a new biodiesel production process developed with Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Advanced Fuel Technology that promises faster and cleaner production of biodiesel at lowered costs. The core of the process is a proprietary solid catalyst that speeds up the overall reaction by a... Read more →

Matsushita Electric Recyling Waste Oil for Biodiesel for Fleet

Nikkei. Matsushita Electric Industrial, one of the world’s top consumer electronics companies, is piloting a project that uses waste vegetable oil from its cafeterias as a feedstock for biodiesel for its fleet. Under the plan, Aburatou Shoji Corp. will collect waste vegetable oil from the canteens at the Matsushita group’s... Read more →

Mitsubishi Heavy Boosts Turbocharger Production Capacity by 43%

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is boosting its annual production capacity for automotive turbochargers in Europe by 43%, from the current 700,000 units to 1 million units in 2006. The ¥1.1-billion (US$10-million) investment will bring MHI’s worldwide turbocharger annual production capacity to 3 million units. The strengthening of European emission controls... Read more →

Indian Oil Companies Organize to Buy Biodiesel from Entrepreneurs

IANS. State-owned oil marketing companies in India will set up 20 depots across the country to buy biodiesel from entrepreneurs for blending with diesel. To ensure quality procurement the companies—Indian Oil Corp, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum—will set up laboratories alongside the collection depots to test the quality of biodiesel... Read more →

Green AntiFreeze Byproduct from Biodiesel Process

A researcher at the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU) has developed a process for converting glycerin, a byproduct of the biodiesel production process, into propylene glycol—a substance that can be used as nontoxic antifreeze for automobiles. Currently, ethylene glycol is prominently used in vehicular antifreeze and is both toxic and made... Read more →

Shell Takes Minority Stake in Biomass-to-Liquids Producer CHOREN

CHOREN’s Carbo-V Biomass Gasification Process Shell Deutschland Oil GmbH has acquired a minority equity stake in CHOREN Industries, the producers of a synthetic diesel—SunDiesel—via a Biomass-to-Liquids (BTL) process. Shell’s buy-in sets the stage for construction of a 15,000 tonnes/year commercial facility for the BTL production of the synthetic diesel. The... Read more →

US, South Korea to Partner on Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative

Yonhap. The US and South Korea will work together to develop a next-generation nuclear reactor that will also produce large quantities of hydrogen according to officials from the S. Korean Ministry of Science and Economy. The announcement comes less than a week after the South Korea government signed off on... Read more →

Diesel Prices Jump 7% in One Week, Closing in on Record High

Diesel prices near all-time high. Click to enlarge. Average retail diesel prices nationwide climbed to $2.567 a gallon—a 7% increase of $0.16—during the last seven-day period, according to the EIA’s weekly gasoline and diesel update. That’s also a $0.742 more than the price one year ago—a 41% increase. Fuel prices... Read more →

Toxic Metals Decreasing, PAHs Increasing in Puget Sound Sediment

Long-term monitoring stations in Puget Sound. While the concentration of toxic metals in the sediment of Puget Sound is decreasing, the concentration of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in some locations is increasing, according to results of a long-term study recently published by the Washington state Department of Ecology. Toxic metals... Read more →

Another Fuel-Efficient Compact Diesel on the Global Market: Suzuki New Swift @ 51 MPG US

Suzuki new Swift Suzuki’s compact new Swift, unveiled in March at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show, is now hitting global showrooms in its diesel as well gasoline configurations. The new Swift is a “global” car—designed for world markets, it is to be manufactured in Hungary, Japan, China and India. (Suzuki... Read more →

GM, Bosch and Stanford Partner to Develop HCCI; Targeting a 20% Improvement in Gasoline-Engine Fuel Efficiency

Compression, spark and HCCI ignition. Click to enlarge. GM is working with supplier Robert Bosch and Stanford University to accelerate development of HCCI (homogeneous charge compression ignition—earlier post) engines with a three-year, $2.5-million research program announced today. GM estimates that HCCI, which can use a range of fuels including but... Read more →

Solar-Power-Augmented Prius Takes the Grid Out of “Plug-in”

Lapp’s PV Prius A Canadian engineer has prototyped a Photovoltaic Prius—a 2001 Prius augmented with roof-top solar panels and an additional battery system to supplement the charge in the original equipment NiMH batteries. Steve Lapp’s PV Prius is still a rough prototype—a demonstration of concept—but even with the limitations of... Read more →

Underground Coal-Gasification, Coal-to-Liquids Fuel Project in Australia

Syntroleum Corporation and Australian-based Linc Energy are planning to develop a coal-to-liquids (CTL) project in Australia that integrates Syntroleum’s air-based Fischer-Tropsch technology (earlier post) with Linc Energy’s underground coal gasification (UCG) technology. This will be the first such project to combine the two technologies for the production of synthetic diesel... Read more →

Zipcar Car-Sharing Opens in San Francisco

Zipcar, the US’s largest self-service car-sharing company, announced that San Francisco is to become its first West Coast market. The company is expanding nationwide after securing its first institutional round of funding in July. Zipcar anticipates a 1 September launch of operations in the city, and is currently taking applications... Read more →

President of India Calls for Energy Independence; Heavy Emphasis on Biofuels

The growing transportation sector uses the bulk of oil in India. In a speech to the nation on the even of India’s 59th Independence Day, Indian President A.P.J Abdul Kalam called for energy independence by 2030 to be the country’s “first and highest priority.” President Kalam outlined a three-part plan... Read more →

Coconut Biodiesel Blend Hits Local Philippines Market

Flying V formally launched the sale of a B1 blend (1% biodiesel, 99% petroleum diesel) using Chemrez’s locally-produced coconut biodiesel at Flying V filling stations in the Philippines. Chemrez produces the biodiesel at its plant at Libis, Quezon City—the country’s first producing coco biodiesel plant. Chemrez is one of two... Read more →

TxLED Looms: Texas Low Emissions Diesel Rule Comes into Effect 1 Oct 05

110 Texas counties affected by TxLED The Texas Low Emissions Diesel (TxLED) requirements are designed to lower the emissions of NOx and other pollutants from diesel-powered vehicles and non-road equipment in 110 counties in the eastern half of Texas as part of the State Implementation Plan to address non-compliance with... Read more →

Renault Refreshes the Kangoo, Adds CNG and Improved Diesel Options

The 2006 Kangoo Renault’s Kangoo is the second best-selling vehicle in its class in Europe, behind the Citroën Berlingo and ahead of the Peugeot Partner and Fiat Doblo. Since the model’s launch in 1997, Renault has produced more than 1.6 million Kangoos—it is an important vehicle for the automaker. The... Read more →

South Korea Sets Off Down the Hydrogen Road

Yonhap. The South Korea government is laying out an ambitious plan for the country to become a functioning hydrogen economy by 2040, with a sizeable part of its transportation, power generation and household appliances operating on fuel cells. In a meeting of economic ministers chaired by Minister of Finance and... Read more →

Carbon Burden From US Cars Increasing

CO2 per vehicle. This chart is an inverse image of the EPA fuel economy chart. (I.e., as fuel economy decreases, emissions increase.) A new report from Environmental Defense finds that total annual CO2 emissions from US cars and light trucks have increased 25% above 1990 levels (through 2003). Both the... Read more →

Pakistan Pushes Harder on CNG Conversions and Deployment

Daily Times. The Board of Governors the Hydrocarbon Development Institute of Pakistan (HDIP) has directed the institute to make all-out efforts to start manufacturing CNG conversion kits and cylinders in the country to reduce dependence on imports and to further accelerate the adoption of CNG as a transport fuel. The... Read more →

IEA: Demand Growth Continues, Non-OPEC Supply Growth Falters

Crude prices have increased some 18% since March. In its current Oil Market Report, the International Energy Agency increased its estimate of growth in OPEC oil production by 250 thousand barrels per day (kbpd). But the agency then cut its view of non-OPEC supply growth by 205 kbpd, leaving world... Read more →

Toyota, Shell and JR Tokai Bus Launch World’s First Trial of GTL-Fueled Diesel Hybrid Bus

Hino Blue Ribbon City Hybrid A group of partners in Japan have launched the first trial of a diesel-hybrid bus fueled with synthetic Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) diesel. The bus, which will operate for two months, will carry visitors to the 2005 World Exposition at Aichi, as well as commuters in Seto... Read more →

Shell Canada Oil Sands Expansion Costs Jump 83%

Athabasca Oil Sands Project. Bloomberg. Shell Canada has increased its estimated cost for expanding its Athabasca Oil Sands Project production to 300,000 barrels a day from the current 200,000 by 83%—from C$4 billion (US$3.3 billion) to C$7.3 billion (US$6 billion). Shell Canada plans to raise production in two more 100,000-barrel-per-day... Read more →

NY Town Contracts Development of Plug-in Diesel-Electric Hybrid Bus

The Town of North Hempstead, NY, has contracted with Odyne Corp. to build and to install the electric propulsion system on a 24-passenger diesel-electric plug-in hybrid bus. North Hempstead will contribute $92,500 of the $150,000 price tag for the prototype, while Odyne and NYSERDA—the New York State Energy Research and... Read more →

New Mitsubishi Engines Deliver More Power and Reduced Fuel Consumption

The new 3-cylinder, 660-cc MIVEC engine. Mitsubishi Motors has developed two new MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control) aluminum cylinder block engines—including a 660cc 3-cylinder model—with increased power and decreased fuel consumption than their predecessors. Mitsubishi will use the new engines in two new vehicles slated for introduction in... Read more →