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China Increases Taxes on Big Cars, Reduces Taxes on Small to Encourage Fuel Frugality

Xinhua. China’s Ministry of Finance has increased the tax on cars with engines with displacements larger than 2.0-liters from 8% up to a maximum of 20%, according to the Ministry of Finance. The new tax rates begin 1 April. At the same time, the tax on cars with engine displacement... Read more →

New Dekati Sensor Provides Detailed Data About Vehicle Particulate Emissions

An early prototype of the AutoTest system, with Dekati Mass Monitor and Fine Particle Sampler. Click to enlarge. Smoke opacity testing (smoke darkness) currently is widely used in motor vehicle inspections to assess particulate emissions from diesel engines. There are more than 100,000 vehicle inspection stations in Europe using smoke... Read more →

ZAP’s Americanized Smart Car EPA-Rated at 40 MPG

US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel economy testing of the Smart Car Americanized for ZAP yielded results of combined fuel economy of 40 mpg. That’s well below the ZAP’s initial claim of 60 mpg, but above the EPA’s original estimate of 37 mpg. (Earlier post.) The 40 mpg combined results... Read more →

US Diesel Liberty Sales Double That of Original Plan

The 2006 Liberty Chrysler has sold almost 10,000 of the Jeep Liberty CRD since it appeared in showrooms in early 2005—double the expected number. The Liberty CRD is the first diesel-powered mid-sized sport-utility vehicle sold in the US. Sales of the diesel model represent approximately 6% of total Liberty brand... Read more →

Ford, Toyota Earn EPA 2006 Energy Star Partner Awards

The US Environmental Protection Agency has awarded Ford Motor Company and Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America two of the 67 2006 Energy Star Partner Awards bestowed this year. Energy Star was introduced by EPA in 1992 as a voluntary, market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. Now... Read more →

Scania Touts Ethanol for Heavy-Duty Urban Transport; Introduces Hybrid Concept

Scania ethanol bus in Stockholm. Speaking at an ethanol conference in London, Urban Johansson, Senior Vice President Powertrain Development for Scania, asserted that “Ethanol is an excellent renewable fuel for heavy commercial vehicles in urban operation, producing remarkable environmental benefits.” Scania’s position is that by sticking to established technologies, the... Read more →

Assisting Microbial Clean-up of MTBE Contamination

A team of researchers has developed a tool to help identify bacteria capable of breaking down methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE), a toxic gasoline additive that is now classified as a potential human carcinogen. MTBE, which is used as an oxygenate in gasoline, is now prohibited in 25 states (with seven... Read more →

Volvo Trucks to Showcase Mobile Idle Reduction Technology

The Cummins Comfortguard MIRT system. Volvo Trucks North America will display two trucks equipped with mobile idle reduction technology (MIRT) at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky on March 23-25. Truck idling consumes about 2 billion gallons of diesel fuel annually. MIRT systems reduce the need to idle trucks,... Read more →

Northern Plains Partnership Seeking to Build Multi-Fuel Hydrogen Highway

The 12 Northern H Energy Stations. The Upper Midwest Hydrogen Initiative (UMHI)—an industry-led, US-Canadian, public-private venture of the non-profit Great Plains Institute—is seeking partners and funding for the construction of a multi-fuel Clean Fuels Network to support the development of a renewable hydrogen infrastructure across the Northern Plains of the... Read more →

GM Plant Passes 500,000 Flexible-Fuel Vehicle Mark

The General Motors Janesville Assembly plant has produced more than 500,000 Chevrolet and GMC full-size sport utility vehicles with E85 FlexFuel-capable engines. In recognition of the milestone, GM held a ceremony, which included Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, at the plant. Since 2002, Janesville Assembly plant has produced SUVs with the... Read more →

Royal Dutch Shell Opens Second Front in the Oil Sands

A unit of Royal Dutch Shell, Shell Exploration & Production in the Americas (Shell EP Americas), has formed a wholly-owned venture to acquire, evaluate and develop oil sands resources. The new company, SURE Northern Energy (SURE Northern), a Canadian corporation, acquired 10 parcels of oil sands land in the February... Read more →

Lotus Engineering Developing Advanced Combustion System with Air-Hybrid Capability

AVT sub-module for inlet or exhaust valve. Click to enlarge. Lotus Engineering, in partnership with Eaton, is working on enabling advanced combustion control based on an electro-hydraulic valve system with full flexible control over valve timing, lift and velocity. The fully variable valve timing system, known as Active Valve Train... Read more →

Australia Slammed by Cat 5 Cyclone; Northeast US “Due” for Major Hurricane

Cyclone Larry (at right) at landfall. Source: Bureau of Meteorology One of the most powerful cyclones to hit Australia in decades blasted ashore near Cairns, Queensland, with winds of up to 290 km/hr (180 mph). Larry flattened sugarcane fields and banana crops, ripped roofs off houses and uprooted trees in... Read more →

European HyWays Project Lowers Estimates of Initial Fuel Cell Vehicle Penetration

An interim report from the European HyWays project suggests that the initial 5% target for hydrogen vehicle penetration by 2020 in European markets is too optimistic, with 3.3% of the passenger car market by 2020 being the likely outcome of a “high penetration” scenario, and only 0.7% the likely outcome... Read more →

Volvo Buys 13% of Nissan Diesel

AB Volvo acquired 40 million common shares, corresponding to 13%, in the Japanese truck manufacturer Nissan Diesel from Nissan Motor, with an option to acquire the remaining 6% of the shares from Nissan Motor within four years. The purchase price is approximately SEK billion 1.5 (US$195 million). The transaction strengthens... Read more →

Alaska North Slope Production Dropping Faster than Anticipated

Oil production from Alaska’s North Slope oil fields is declining faster than expected. State officials have admitted they have been too optimistic in their production forecasts, and produced a new, more conservative estimate. Forecasted FY ’06 North Slope production of 853,000 barrels per day is down 6.9% from the Fiscal... Read more →

Eaton to Provide Diesel Hybrid Drive Systems for Beiqi Foton Motor Company Buses

Eaton Corporation will provide hybrid drive systems for two prototype buses to be built by Beiqi Foton AUV Bus Company. The buses will be field-tested in major Chinese cities, including Shanghai and Beijing, this year. The Beiqi Foton project is the first hybrid-powered city bus project for Eaton and the... Read more →

Toyota Releases Mileage Figures for Lexus GS 450h: 26 MPG (comb)

Toyota released the certified EPA-estimated mileage figures for the GS 450h, the world’s first luxury performance hybrid sedan (earlier post): 26 mpg combined, 25 mpg city/28 mpg highway. That’s a bit lower than Toyota’s preliminary estimate of 28 mpg (combined). The GS 450h features a completely new powertrain that combines... Read more →

Hyundai, Hydrogen, and the Search for a Sustainable Corporation

Defining Sustainability: Part Six of Eight By Jack Rosebro Hyundai Motor Company executives pledging their support in 2003 to the goal of being one of the top five environmentally friendly automakers by 2010. The current status of this initiative is unclear. The Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group (HKAG) is, by any measure,... Read more →

Rising Levels of Ozone Could Reduce Soybean Harvests

A study published in the 14 March online early edition of New Phytologist suggests that rising levels of ozone starting at the Earth’s surface (tropospheric ozone) could reduce soybean harvests. Ozone is formed via the interaction of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and sunlight. Mean surface ozone concentration is predicted to... Read more →

IPHE Hydrogen Stakeholder Briefing Highlights Projects, Problems

By Jack Rosebro Capping the National Hydrogen Association’s five-day conference in Long Beach, California, the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy (IPHE) briefed stakeholders Thursday on ten collaborative hydrogen and fuel cell research, development and demonstration projects which had been endorsed last year by the partnership. Launched in 2003, the... Read more →

Carbon Dioxide Hyrdates Could Secure Sub-Sea Sequestration

To understand their properties researchers are studying how hydrates grow in sediment pore space at the scale of individual crystals. Follow-up work will be done on full-size sediment cores. Source: EPSRC Capturing and storing carbon dioxide produced by the generation of power and production of synthetic fuels is a critical... Read more →

Plug Power and Honda Moving Ahead with Next-Generation Home Heating, Power and Hydrogen Stations

Plug Power and Honda have signed two agreements to continue expanding the companies’ collaborative efforts on home co-generation of heating, power and hydrogen. The first of the new agreements covers the fourth consecutive phase of joint development of the Home Energy Station. The Home Energy Station is a fuel-cell system... Read more →

BIO Pushes for Cellulosic Ethanol

Cellulase enzymes will play a critical role in the enabling of the production of cellulosic ethanol. BIO, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, organized a panel in Washington this week to describe the industrial biotechnology processes that enable large-scale production of cellulosic ethanol from biomass such as crop waste and switch grass.... Read more →

Railpower Hopes to Triple Production of its Hybrid Locomotives in 2006, Stem Losses

Railpower’s Green Goat hybrid switcher. Railpower Technologies hopes to deliver 90 to 100 of its diesel-electric hybrid locomotives—Green Goat yard switchers and the new road switchers—in 2006 after struggling with production, system and financial issues in 2005. The company—which reported a C$59.9 million loss for 2005, up from C$15 million... Read more →

CEP Opens Second Hydrogen Station in Berlin; German Government Commits an Extra $609 Million to Hydrogen

Layout of the integrated liquid and compressed hydrogen station. Click to enlarge. The Clean Energy Partnership (CEP) has opened Berlin’s second hydrogen filling station. The new station, integrated into a newly-built TOTAL service station, provides both liquid (LH2) and gaseous (CGH2) hydrogen for vehicles. The service station will support the... Read more →

Hyundai to Make Hybrids in China by 2008, Fuel-Cell Vehicles by 2010

China Daily. Hyundai Motor will introduce gasoline-electric hybrids into the Chinese market before the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, and fuel-cell vehicles by 2010, according to the chairman of Beijing Hyundai, Hyundai’s joint venture with Beijing Automotive Industry Corp. In December 2005, Hyundai Motor (HMC) chose the Guangzhou International Automobile... Read more →

EWI to Work on Joining Technology for Millennium Cell Hydrogen Fuel Cartridge Development

EWI, an organization dedicated to welding and materials joining, has signed a contract with Millennium Cell for a 15-month project to improve the manufacturing process for Millennium Cell’s Hydrogen on Demand fuel cartridges (earlier post). The work is being funded under a National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS)/US Department of... Read more →

Ford Offers Interest-Free Financing for Escape Hybrids in California and DC

Reuters. Ford Motor is offering interest-free financing on its Escape hybrid sport utility vehicle in California and Washington, DC, to boost sales in markets that see strong hybrid sales. California and Washington are Ford’s two hottest hybrid markets. In addition to rebates, Ford is also spending on advertising campaigns, featuring... Read more →

Hydrogen Storage Remains Significant Barrier to Vehicle Applications

There are numerous issues to resolve on the path to the possible future widespread application of hydrogen as a vehicle fuel, but of those, the lack of an appropriate storage system currently appears not only to be a barrier, but the area that has proven the least tractable. “Storage is... Read more →

NOAA’s Spring Outlook Anticipates Ongoing Drought, Wildfires

Wildfire potential. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s just-released Spring Outlook highlights the dangerous potential for a “significant” wildfire season in the Southwest and central and southern Plains. As of 13 March, nearly unprecedented dry weather, unseasonably high temperatures, and gusty winds have already contributed to more than 13,000 wildfires,... Read more →

Two New Autonomous Diesel Series-Hybrid Vehicles Begin Field Testing

The UGCV The US Army has begun field testing and evaluation of two diesel series hybrid-electric Crusher unmanned ground combat vehicles (UGCV) powered by UQM high-torque propulsion systems and generators. The 6.5 ton Crusher vehicles—the latest generation of the older Spinner—are being developed and built by a team led by... Read more →

Repsol YPF and Acciona Energía to Invest $365 Million in Biodiesel Plants in Spain

Repsol YPF SA and Acciona Energía have reached an agreement to invest more than €300 million (US$365 million) in the construction of up to six biodiesel plants in Spain, with a combined potential production capacity of more than 1 million metric tons per year (302 million gallons per year, or... Read more →

Biopetrol and Vopak to Build Netherlands’ Largest Biodiesel Plant in Rotterdam

The plant site in Rotterdam. Biopetrol Industries, a Swiss biodiesel producer and distributor, and Dutch-based Vopak, the world’s largest independent tank terminal operator specialized in the storage and handling of liquid and gaseous chemical and oil products, have agreed to build Netherlands’ biggest biodiesel plant at the Rotterdam port. The... Read more →

East Japan Railway to Introduce Diesel-Electric Hybrid Railcar

The New Energy Train. East Japan Railway Co (JR East) is developing a new diesel-electric series hybrid railcar that it will introduce into operations next summer. The diesel hybrid, complete with lithium-ion battery and regenerative braking, is a precursor to a planned fuel-cell hybrid traction system. One of the key... Read more →

NREL Study Highlights Emissions and Fuel Economy Benefits of CNG Over Diesel Buses

Buses running on compressed natural gas have been a leading cleaner alternative to diesel-powered transit, and as such CNG buses and infrastructure were adopted by a number of transit agencies. The improving baseline emissions of comparable diesel buses with advanced emission control technologies has led to some questioning over whether... Read more →

UTC Power, Van Hool Partner To Market Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Hybrid Buses in Europe

UTC Power, part of United Technologies, will work with major Belgian bus manufacturer Van Hool to deliver a hydrogen fuel-cell hybrid bus to DeLijn, the largest bus fleet operator in Belgium. The bus will operate in Belgium for six months before being leased to other transit agencies in Europe. The... Read more →

Innovatek and Seattle Biofuels Generate Hydrogen from Biodiesel in Microchannel Reactor

InnovaTek and Seattle BioFuels have announced the successful production of hydrogen from 100% biodiesel in a microchannel steam reformer. InnovaTek originally developed its microchannel reformer to produce hydrogen from fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel. In addition to biodiesel, InnovaTek has also used its technology to produce hydrogen from... Read more →

WMO: Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reach New Highs in 2004

Globally averaged concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) in the planet’s atmosphere reached their highest ever-recorded levels in 2004 according to the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) first annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin. CO2 was recorded at 377.1 parts per million (ppm), CH4 at 1783 parts per... Read more →

A Proposal for Hydrogen, Synthetic Fuels and the Halving of US CO2 Emissions

A flow-sheet for 100,000 gallons per day of CO2-free synfuel. Click to enlarge. A team from General Atomics is proposing the use of hydrogen provided from non-fossil sources (solar, wind or nuclear) and CO2 captured from coal-fired power plants or from the air to produce enough Fischer-Tropsch synthetics to meet... Read more →

Toyota Tests: E10 vs. MTBE for Tailpipe and Evaporative Emissions

Summary of Toyota’s emissions findings. Tests done by Toyota in 2000, and just published by the California Air Resources Board, show that compared to using MTBE as an oxygentate, using about a 10% blend of ethanol as an oxygenate in gasoline increases NOx tailpipe emissions and evaporative emissions in vehicles.... Read more →

BMW May Introduce Bi-fuel Gasoline-Hydrogen Vehicle This Year

An earlier rendering of the bi-fuel BMW. The LH tank is behind the rear seats. BMW may have a limited number of a 7 Series bi-fuel hydrogen-gasoline vehicle in the hands of a small number of customers in Europe and perhaps the US this year, according to Christoph Huss, senior... Read more →

Caparo Creates Advanced Vehicle Technology Group Focused on Lightweight Materials

Caparo—a UK-based $1.25-billion multinational with interests in aluminium and steel processing and vehicle structural components—is creating an advanced automotive technology and engineering design company to be called Caparo Vehicle Technologies. The new company will provide advanced technology development, materials engineering and design services to mainstream automotive, motorsport and aerospace markets.... Read more →

Biofuels as Feedstock for Hydrogen Production

The National Hydrogen Association Annual Hydrogen Conference and Expo 2006 saw the presentation of a number of papers exploring different aspects of using biofuels—primarily ethanol and biodiesel—as feedstock for hydrogen production. Biofuels are attractive to hydrogen producers for a variety of reasons: they are renewable; as liquids they are easily... Read more →

Official Kick-Off for AC Transit HyRoad Fleet Demo

Federal, state and local representatives gathered to dedicate formally AC Transit’s HyRoad fuel-cell demonstration program during a ceremony at AC Transit’s Oakland, California operating division this morning. The HyRoad program includes three fuel-cell hybrid electric buses, powered by UTC Power PureMotion 120 fuel cell systems and ISE hybrid-electric drive systems;... Read more →