« December 2005 | Main | February 2006 »

Syntroleum and Sustec in Coal-to-Liquids Gasification/Fischer-Tropsch Joint Venture

Syntroleum Corporation and Sustec AG, a private company based in Basel, Switzerland, have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding that provides for exclusive joint business development of projects that will integrate Sustec’s gasification technology (from its Future Energy GmbH portfolio company) with Syntroleum’s Fischer-Tropsch (FT) technology. The joint venture is... Read more →

The UK: Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change

The British government has published the official report from an international conference on climate change held in February 2005—Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change, also known as the Exeter Conference (earlier post)—as a book. The book, which is also entitled Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change, pulls together 41 peer-reviewed papers that try to... Read more →

BEST Project Launches for Ethanol Use

BEST Locations The BEST (BioEthanol for Sustainable Transport) project officially launched in Stockholm last week at a three-day conference for all participants. BEST is a four-year project, partly funded by the European Union (EU), in which three vehicle manufacturers, ten locations, five ethanol producers and four universities will cooperate cross-functionally... Read more →

Honda to Trim US Minivan and SUV Production

Nikkei. Honda Motor said Tuesday that it intends to reduce production from April to December at its minivan and sport utility vehicle factory in Alabama due to falling demand caused by rising gasoline prices. The plant, which manufactures the Odyssey minivan and Pilot SUV has an output capacity of 300,000... Read more →

New Volvo Inline-Six: More Power, Lower Fuel Consumption

The new compact inline-six Volvo has introduced a new high-efficiency, compact six-cylinder engine to accompany its all new Volvo S80. The new six-cylinder engine, designed by Volvo, is of an all-new, compact design. Its main structure is made entirely of aluminium and has a larger displacement than its predecessor, 3.2... Read more →

Biocatalytic Desulfurization for Bitumen and Heavy Crude

Scheme for a biodesulfurization process. Click to enlarge. Energy & Environmental Partners, a privately held technology company led by the former President and COO of Clean Diesel Technologies, has launched a new commercial licensing program for US and Canadian patents covering the use of microorganisms for the desulfurization of high-sulfur... Read more →

PSA Peugeot Citroën Unveils 69MPG Diesel Hybrid Prototypes

One of the pair: the C4 diesel hybrid. As promised, PSA Peugeot Citroën unveiled two prototypes featuring diesel-electric parallel hybrid powertrains, the Peugeot 307 and the Citroën C4 Hybride HDi. The hybrids deliver average combined city and highway fuel consumption of 3.4 liters per 100 kilometers (69 mpg US), with... Read more →

Sanyo and VW Jointly to Develop Batteries for Hybrids

Sanyo Electric and Volkswagen will jointly develop next-generation Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries for hybrid electric vehicles (HEV). Sanyo has already provided HEV batteries for Ford’s Escape Hybrid and Honda’s Accord Hybrid on the North American market. The agreement with Volkswagen is the company’s first HEV partnership with a European... Read more →

IC Corporation Working with Enova on First Hybrid School Bus

Hybrid school bus prototype. IC Corporation, North America’s largest school bus manufacturer and a subsidiary of International Truck and Engine, is working with Enova Systems to introduce the nation’s first hybrid school bus. (Earlier post.) The two companies have developed a prototype school bus with a hybrid diesel-electric drivetrain that... Read more →

Neural-Network Engine Controller for Higher Efficiency and Lower Emissions

Use of the neural network (NN) controller (right) reduces heat release in lean operation (shown) and with high EGR. Click to enlarge. Researchers at the University of Missouri-Rolla are developing a neural-network-based engine controller in an attempt to increase engine efficiency while reducing NOx emissions. Artificial neural networks are adaptive... Read more →

Advanced Research Projects Energy (ARPA-E) Act Proposed in Senate and House

Bills that would create a new program within the US Department of Energy to be focused on leading the way to reducing dependence on petroleum have been introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Advanced Research Projects Energy (ARPA-E) program is modeled on the Defense Advanced... Read more →

Diesel Auto Sales Trending to Exceed Gasoline in Europe in 2006

Sales of new diesel cars in Europe continue to increase. The latest quarterly pricing survey by Pricewaterhouse Coopers and eurocarprice.com finds that diesels accounted for 49% (7,415,198 units) of the total European car market at the end of 2005. That represents a 7% increase in annual sales volume over the... Read more →

Honda Begins Selling Civic Hybrids in Mexico

Mercosur. Honda launched consumer sales of its Civic Hybrid in the Mexican market; Mexico is the first Latin American country in which hybrids are offered to consumers. Last week the company entered into an agreement with the Mexican government for the testing of 500 Civic hybrids. (Earlier post.) Honda Mexico’s... Read more →

SatCon Wins Army Contract for Integrated Starter/Generator for Hybrids

The US Army has awarded SatCon Technology, a developer and manufacturer of power electronics and motors for alternative energy markets, a contract to develop an Integrated Starter/Generator (ISG) for hybrid powertrain military vehicles. SatCon currently sells a line of subsystems to hybrid vehicle integrators such as Azure Dynamics, among others... Read more →

Connecticut DEP Presents Clean Diesel Plan

Diesel Particulate Matter (DPM). Source: CT DEP The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has presented a Clean Diesel Plan to the state General Assembly that would significantly reduce the emissions of PM 2.5 diesel particulate matter from buses and construction equipment. The DEP developed the plan in response to... Read more →

Human-Produced Aerosols in Many Arctic Clouds Contribute to Climate Warming

Enhanced aerosol concentrations can make the clouds more opaque and emit more thermal energy to the surface. Two scientists from Scripps Institute of Oceanography and Brookhaven National Laboratory have measured the impact of a significant anthropogenic source of warming: aerosol concentrations in Arctic clouds. The research is published in the... Read more →

Eurobarometer: High Fuel Prices Not Sufficient Incentive for Widespread Consumer Change

Only slightly more than 50% would use their cars less if fuel prices hit €2/liter ($9.18/gallon) A European Commission survey of 24,930 consumers in the 25 Member States as well as the acceding and candidate countries determined that 77% of citizens pay attention to the energy consumed by cars (59%... Read more →

Sandia Labs Tackling PEM Fuel Cell Issues

Liquid water content of an operating PEM fuel cell. Red color is more water, blue is less. Source: Sandia. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are working to understand water management and performance degradation in hydrogen-fueled PEM (proton exchange membrane) fuel cells—two key areas that need to be addressed before PEM... Read more →

Biomass to Play “Essential Role” in Reducing Global Dependence on Fossil Fuels; Time to Get On It

Writing in the journal Science, a group of scientists from the UK and the USA said that using biomass rather than oil or coal to produce fuels and chemicals could play an essential role in reducing the world’s dependence on fossil fuels. The scientists from Imperial College London, Georgia Tech... Read more →

American Biofuels Targeting Quadrupling its Biodiesel Capacity to 40MGPY in 2006

American Biofuels (ABF) plans to quadruple its soy biodiesel production capacity to 40 million gallons per year (mgpy) in 2006. The company is planning a new 20-mgpy East Coast facility to supply New York State and surrounding states and expects this facility to be in production by late 2006. ABF... Read more →

Senators Request Investigation into Whether Corporations are Restricting Access to Biofuels

US Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) today asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate whether big oil corporations are knowingly restricting consumer access to alternative fuels like ethanol and biodiesel as a result of company policies. According to an internal memorandum from a major petroleum company... Read more →

Cummins and Tata Expand Indian Diesel Engine Production

The Cummins ISB Cummins and India-based Tata Motors have signed an agreement that will allow their joint venture in India, Tata Cummins Ltd. (TCL), to begin manufacturing the ISB diesel engine in the near future. TCL currently produces approximately 69,000 Cummins B Series engines a year. Under the agreement, TCL... Read more →

Proton and Petronas to Collaborate on Engine and NGV Development

The Petronas E01e Bernama. Malaysia’s national automaker, Proton, has signed a memorandum of intent (MOI) with Malaysia’s national oil company, Petronas, to develop larger engines and natural gas engines for use by Proton. The MOI will see both parties collaborating and exploring the possibilities of further developing Petronas engines—particularly the... Read more →

Successful Startup for Aqueous Phase Reforming; Direct Sugars-to-Hydrogen System Powers Generator

The Virent 10kW APR/HICE demonstration system, in service with MG&E. In a demonstration of the capability of its Aqueous Phase Reforming (APR) process, Virent Energy Systems announced the successful startup of a 10kW power generation system that converts sugars and glycerin directly into hydrogen and natural gas as fuel for... Read more →

Chinese Microcar with Italian Design for European Markets

MyCar Via WorldChanging comes news of a microcar designed in Italy, manufactured in China and headed for European markets at a price of about €6,500 (US$7,000). Competitive microcars sell for €8,500 to €15,000. Like other microcars, the MyCar is meant only as a short-range city street vehicle—and is regulated by... Read more →

UC Berkeley Study: Corn Ethanol is Better than Gasoline, But Not by A Lot

Scatterplot of Net GHG and Net Energy Value results from the EBAMM model. Note Cellulosic ethanol to the right. Click to enlarge. A new analysis by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley concludes that the production of ethanol from corn uses less petroleum energy than the production of gasoline.... Read more →

Joint Venture for Animalwaste Sludge to Biodiesel

Veridium Corporation and Mean Green BioFuels are planning a joint venture on the conversion of fats from livestock and poultry facility wastes into biodiesel fuel. Veridium and Mean Green are both portfolio companies of GreenShift Corporation. (Greenshift holds about 65% of Veridium.) GreenShift is transferring its stake in GreenShift Industrial... Read more →

GM Loses $3.4B in Total in 2005; Automotive Operations Loses $5.3B

Results for GM Automotive Operations. Click to enlarge. General Motors reported a 2005 calendar-year loss, excluding special items, of $3.4 billion compared with net income of $3.6 billion in 2004. The size of the operational loss was bigger than analysts’ estimates. GM’s automotive operations reported an adjusted loss of $5.3... Read more →

Maxwell Receives Order for 200,000 Ultracaps for Fuel-Cell Packs

MC2600 General Hydrogen Corporation has placed a 200,000 unit, three-year, purchase order for Maxwell ultracapacitors to enhance performance and energy management in its Hydricity Pack fuel-cell technology for industrial vehicles, especially forklifts. (Earlier post.) Each Hydricity system incorporates 30 to 120 Maxwell BOOSTCAP MC2600 2,600-farad ultracapacitor cells. General Hydrogen anticipates... Read more →

Quantum Delivers First 5 of 30 Hydrogen-Fueled Hybrids

Quantum’s hydrogen injector Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide has delivered five hydrogen-fueled Toyota Prius hybrid vehicles to the City of Santa Ana, California. This is part of a larger South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) program to develop and demonstrate 30 hydrogen hybrid vehicles to fleets in Southern California.... Read more →

EPA Will Fund $3M in West Coast Diesel-Reduction Projects

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of $3 million in grants for projects aimed at reducing diesel emissions on the West Coast. This program is part of the West Coast Collaborative which has awarded more than $2.6 million in grants for 28 projects since 2004. This year... Read more →

Beluga Shipping to Try “Wind Hybrid” Kite Propulsion Assist for Cargo Vessel

The components of the SkySails system. Click to enlarge. Beluga Shipping GmbH, a Bremen, Germany-based shipping company, has purchased a new towing-kite propulsion assist system from SkySails, a start-up company in Hamburg, Germany. The SkySails towing-kite propulsion system uses offshore wind power (a kind of “wind hybrid” propulsion assistance) to... Read more →

DOE Pumps $119M More into Fuel-Cell Research; Introduces Manufacturing R&D Roadmap

Fabrication of catalyst coating for PEMs Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman today kicked off the Washington Auto Show by announcing $119 million in funding and a research roadmap aimed at identifying and overcoming the technical and manufacturing challenges associated with the further development of commercially available hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. The... Read more →

Ricardo to Work with AFS Trinity on 250MPG Plug-In Hybrid (corrected)

The XH hybrid architecture. Click to enlarge. Ricardo will join AFS Trinity to design, test and develop AFS Trinity’s Extreme Hybrid drivetrain (earlier post) and to build the initial systems for licensing by AFS Trinity to carmakers worldwide. The Extreme Hybrid plug-in promises fuel economy in the 200–250 mpg US... Read more →

Minnesota Private-Sector Program to Encourage Flex-Fuel Vehicle Leasing

A joint program between the Minnesota Corn Growers, AgStar Financial Services, and the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition is designed to promote leasing of flexible-fuel vehicles that can burn gasoline or ethanol blends of up to 85% (E85). The “Flex for the Future” program offers a set of 3- and 5-year... Read more →

Cummins and KAMAZ in Russian JV for Mid-Range Diesel Engines

B-Series engine Cummins Inc. and KAMAZ Inc., the largest vehicle manufacturer in Russia, signed a joint venture agreement to produce Cummins B Series engines (120–275 horsepower) in Russia under the name ZAO Cummins Kama. The engines will be produced in two stages to comply with Euro 2 and Euro 3... Read more →

Plug-In Partners Kicks Off National PHEV Campaign

With a launch event in Washington DC, Plug-In Partners today kicked off a national campaign to urge automakers to accelerate development of plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV). An initiative of the City of Austin, Texas, Plug-in Partners is a grassroots coalition of cities including including Austin, Baltimore, Denver, Los Angeles, San... Read more →

Mitsubishi Introduces the i Minicar

The rear-midship layout of the i. Mitsubishi Motors Corporation today launched its new i minicar at Mitsubishi dealerships throughout Japan. Using a newly developed platform with an original rear-midship layout that mounts the engine forward of the rear axle line, the new i series includes 2WD and 4WD models. The... Read more →

Mexico City to Test 500 Honda Hybrids

Mexico’s National Institute of Ecology (INE) and Honda have signed an agreement for the joint environmental evaluation of 500 Civic Hybrid sedans in Mexico City, notable for its high altitude, heavy pollution and high fuel consumption. According to Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources, José Luis Luege Tamargo, who... Read more →

Firefly Energy Snares $2.5M in Defense Spending for Battery Development

Firefly Energy, the developer of a new graphite-foam lead-acid battery technology (earlier post), is slated to received a $2.5-million appropriation from the 2006 defense spending bill to further develop its battery technology for military applications. Firefly Energy will use the funds to develop prototypes of its advanced lead-acid battery to... Read more →

HyRadix and IFP Partner To Develop Ethanol-To-Hydrogen Reforming

HyRadix and France’s IFP (Institut Français du Pétrole) announced a joint multi-year development program to extend the capability of HyRadix’ autothermal reforming (ATR) technology to process liquid hydrocarbon feed stocks. Initial work will focus on the production of hydrogen from ethanol. HyRadix currently offers a range of system for the... Read more →

Chrysler Group CEO Reiterates Focus on Diesel and Biofuels

In a speech to the Detroit Economic Club, Chrysler Group President and CEO Tom LaSorda called for government and industry leaders to address two major current issues facing the automotive industry: currency and energy. On the energy front, LaSorda described the key forces shaping energy policy at the national level... Read more →

Ford’s “Way Forward”: Sharp Cuts and New Products, Including More Hybrids

Ford Motor today announced details of a plan to restore profitability to its automotive business in North America no later than 2008. Ford’s North American auto operations suffered a $3-billion drop in revenue compared to 2004, posting a $1.6-billion loss for 2005. (Earlier post.) The plan outlines sharp cuts in... Read more →

“Pulse Plug” Demonstrates 2.7% Improvement in Fuel Efficiency

ENERPULSE, an ignition products company, announced today that its prototype pulse plug (Pulstar), has demonstrated a 2.7% improvement in spark-ignition engine vehicle fuel efficiency over spark plugs in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tests. Pulstar is the first capacitor-enhanced spark plug. The drop-in replacement for spark plugs uses the capacitor to... Read more →

Valence Expands Lithium-Ion Lineup

Valence Technology has announced eight new models of its large-format lithium-ion batteries based on its proprietary Saphion technology. (EDrive Systems uses Valence Saphion batteries in their plug-in Prius conversions. (Earlier post.) Four new U-Charge XP Power Systems are capable of peak power rates of 500 to 1,700 continuous watts, depending... Read more →

Ford NA Auto Ops Decline $3B from 2004 to Loss of $1.6B

Ford Auto Operations, 2004–2005. Click to enlarge. Ford Motor released its financials for 2005 today, reporting company-wide full-year after-tax income from continuing operations of $2.5 billion, a drop of 42% from the $4.3 billion in 2004. Its North American auto operations was the most troubled unit, reporting a pre-tax loss... Read more →