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Researchers Modify Bacterium to Produce Ethanol Directly with High Yield

Researchers from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico have genetically engineered the bacterium Bacillus subtilis to ferment glucose sugar directly to ethanol with a high (86%) yield. This is the first step in their quest to develop bacteria that can breakdown and ferment cellulose biomass directly to ethanol. In a... Read more →

Tenneco Launches Retrofit Diesel Particulate Filter; Toyota Europe Chooses it for Entire Range

Tenneco is launching a retrofit diesel particulate filter (DPF) for the European independent aftermarket in advance of the introduction of European Union (EU) legislation and tax incentives on retrofit units that come into effect in The Netherlands this July. The Tenneco Walker-brand DPF features a lightweight foam filter coated with... Read more →

Joint Venture Plans Gas-to-Liquids Plant in Bolivia

Bolivia’s major natural gas fields are in the south; the proposed GTL plant would be in Santa Cruz, fed by a pipeline. Map: Petrobras. Franklin Oil & Gas, Bolivia S.A. and YPFB (Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos, Bolivia’s state-owned oil company) have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding to build and... Read more →

Chevron Forms a Biofuels Business Unit

Chevron Corporation has formed a biofuels business unit to advance technology and pursue commercial opportunities related to the production and distribution of ethanol and biodiesel in the United States. Chevron made the announcement today at the groundbreaking ceremony for Galveston Bay Biodiesel (GBB)—a new 100-million gallon per year biodiesel plant.... Read more →

AES to Put $325M into Bio-digester Joint Venture

AES AgriVerde anaerobic digester. Global power company AES and AgCert International plc have formed a joint venture—AES AgriVerde—to deploy AgCert’s anaerobic bio-digester technology to capture methane from agricultural and animal waste products. This is AES’ first significant direct investment in projects and technologies to help reduce and offset greenhouse gas... Read more →

Scania Supports B100 in its Trucks

After completing long-term tests, Scania, the Swedish manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks and buses, is now guaranteeing operating reliability for 100% biodiesel (B100) for all its trucks with engines featuring unit injectors. This means that most Scania trucks built during the past eight years—more than 300,000 vehicles—are officially capable of using... Read more →

BASF to Acquire Catalyst-Maker Engelhard for More Than $5 Billion

BASF Aktiengesellschaft reached an agreement with Engelhard that paves the way for BASF’s acquisition of the US catalyst maker. According to the agreement, Engelhard will recommend that Engelhard shareholders tender their shares to BASF in exchange for $39 per share in cash and will withdraw its $45 per share self-tender... Read more →

Fuel-Cell Membrane Maker Diversifying into Solar

Hoku Scientific, a designer, developer and manufacturer of hydrocarbon-based membranes and membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) for proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells, plans to diversify its product offerings by manufacturing and selling solar modules, in addition to manufacturing polysilicon, a key material used in the production of solar modules. Hoku... Read more →

Iowa Governor Signs Renewable Fuels Standard; 25% by 2020

Dark green marks the states with enacted RFS and light green the states currently in legislative process. Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack today signed several pieces of legislation designed to grow Iowa’s renewable energy and bio-energy industries, including a state Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) of 25% by 2020—the most aggressive state... Read more →

Chicago Signs Up for 100 More Segway HTs; Segway’s Largest Municipal Contract Yet

The HT i180 Police package The City of Chicago has released a five-year, $580,000 contract to purchase up to 100 Additional lithium-ion-powered Segway Human Transporters (HTs) and associated accessories, replacement parts and service. This represents the largest municipal contract in the history of Segway. The new Segways are for use... Read more →

Electro Energy’s Prototype Bi-Polar NiMH Battery Pack for Plug-in Hybrids

The EEI “silver bullet” PHEV prototype There were two implementations of a plug-in Prius on Capitol Hill earlier in May in support of the testimony before the House on plug-in hybrids (earlier post): CalCars’ white Prius (flown in for the event) built by EnergyCS with Valence lithium-ion batteries—earlier post); and... Read more →

Nissan Offers Fuel-Cell Test Drives to Japanese Consumers

Layout of the FCV components. The test-dive vehicle in Japan in using 35 MPa storage rather than the 70 MPa. Nissan Motor is offering consumers the chance to test drive its X-TRAIL fuel cell vehicle (FCV). The test drive program will be offered for up to a year from Nissan’s... Read more →

Subtropical Areas Warming Faster; Jet Streams Moving Poleward

Satellite data shows more rapid warming in the sub-tropical region of the troposphere, and concomitant cooling in the stratosphere. By examining more than 25 years of satellite data, a team of researchers has found that the atmosphere is warming faster in subtropical areas, around 30 degrees north and south latitude,... Read more →

EU Energy Commissioner Calls for Development of Sustainable Coal Technologies

In a speech today in Gliwice, Poland to a conference on the future EU energy mix, EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said that while the EU’s newly abundant coal reserves could offer security of supply, coal use must be accompanied by a reduced environmental impact, which means lower emissions. The... Read more →

2006 Tour de Sol By the Numbers

Divisional average fuel economy for hybrids in the TdS Monte Carlo rally. Click to enlarge. The recently-concluded 2006 Tour del Sol attracted a range of stock, modified and original vehicles that participated in the three competitive events: the Monte Carlo-style Rally and High-Mileage Challenge; the Tour de Sol Championship; and... Read more →

Hydro and Norske Skog Evaluating Wood-to-Diesel Project

Hydro, the Norwegian energy company, and Norske Skog, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of newsprint and magazine paper, have agreed to carry out a joint feasibility study relating to the production of synthetic diesel from wood via gasification and Fischer-Tropsch processing. The partners are examining the possibility of establishing... Read more →

EU to Consumers: “Turn down. Switch off. Recycle. Walk.”

The European Union has launched a campaign to raise the awareness of consumers about making small changes to daily routines to help reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. The “You Control Climate Change” campaign, launched today by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas in Brussels,... Read more →

GM Adds More Powerful Flex-Fuel Engine to Saab European Lineup

GM is introducing a more powerful flex-fuel 2.0-liter turbocharged engine to the Saab 9-5 and SportCombi range in Europe. The new 2.3t BioPower model promises 14% more maximum power and 11% more torque when running on E85 than on gasoline. Running on E85, the new Saab 9-5 2.3t BioPower engine... Read more →

Canadian Report Urges Immediate Action on Carbon Capture and Storage

Geological storage options for CO2. Source: IPCC, 2005 A recently-released report published by Natural Resources Canada (the federal department tasked with sustainable development and use of natural resources) urges immediate action on the development and deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies as a means of reducing Canada’s release... Read more →

China’s General Aviation Sector Booming

Xinhua. The on-highway vehicle industry is not the only transportation segment growing rapidly in China. China’s general aviation sector will grow at an annual average rate of about 10% percent over the next five years, according to Yang Guoqing, Vice Minister of General Administration of the Civil Aviation of China... Read more →

VW to Drop Diesels from MY2007 Lineup in US Due to Emissions Requirements

VW diesel model sales Jan-Apr 2006. The Detroit Free Press reports that Volkswagen of America will drop the diesel versions of the Jetta, Golf and Beetle models from its US line-up for the 2007 model year due to their inability to meet the new, incoming stricter emissions standards nationwide. Currently,... Read more →

Honda Patents Plasma-Assisted Catalyst System for NOx Emissions Reduction

A sketch of an embodiment of the aftertreatment system. A recent US patent award to Honda provides some insight into the approaches the automaker is taking to be able to meet both California LEV II LEV and EPA Tier 2 Bin 5 diesel emissions requirements in the US—thereby giving it... Read more →

GAO Finds Results of Federal Voluntary Emissions Reduction Programs “Varied”

A report released yesterday by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) concludes that the tangible results from two of the Administration’s voluntary programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are highly varied. Both programs require better and tighter mechanisms for assessment, management, tracking and compliance to ensure that firms meet their... Read more →

AAA: Steer Clear of “Fuel-Saving” Additives

The AAA, North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, is advising motorists to be wary of trying to improve the fuel economy in their vehicles by experimenting with gasoline additives that promise big fuel economy gains. “Fuel-saving” gasoline additives are sold at auto supply stores, on the Internet and... Read more →

Malaysian Company Takes 26% Stake in German Maker of 157 MPG Diesel Car

Loremo LS debuts at the Geneva Motor Show. Malaysia’s Kosmo Motor Company has taken a 26% stake in Loremo AG, the developers of the Loremo LS, a 1.5 l/100km (157 mpg US) diesel passenger car. (Earlier post.) Loremo presented the car at the Geneva Motor Show in March, and is... Read more →

Anglo American and Shell Form Coal-Conversion Alliance

Anglo American, one of the world’s largest mining groups, and Shell Gas & Power International have formed an Alliance in the field of coal conversion. The two companies will take selective equity positions in emerging coal-conversion projects, combining Anglo American’s coal reserves and mining capabilities with Shell’s gasification and conversion... Read more →

Mazda Donates Five Tribute Hybrids to Los Angeles Fire Department

Mazda North American Operations has donated five Tribute Hybrids to the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) on a two-year loan. The vehicles are hybrid prototypes of Mazda’s Tribute compact SUV and are part of 30 total Tribute Hybrid SUVs that Mazda will loan to fire agencies across Southern California. (Earlier... Read more →

Survey: 74% Say Auto Companies Not Moving Fast Enough to Provide Fuel Efficiency

Click to enlarge. A new survey by Harris Interactive found that with high gas prices beginning to bite into consumers’ habits, three-quarters (74%) of adults polled say that American car companies are not moving as quickly as they should to build automobiles that consume less gasoline. Only 9% say the... Read more →

Honda Develops New Bio-Fabric for Interiors; To Be Applied to Fuel-Cell Vehicles First

Car seat with the new bio-fabric and a spool of bio-fabric yarn. Honda Motor has developed a bio-fabric—a plant-based fabric with excellent durability and resistance to sunlight—for use as a surface material in automobile interiors. Bio-fabric offers the benefit of offsetting CO2 emissions produced during incineration in the disposal stage... Read more →

Concept: Modified Rotary Engine with Integral Flywheel Effect

A cutaway sketch of the RIDE engine in combustion mode. Note the offset of the crankshaft from central rotational axis. A Virginia inventor is devising a rotary engine with an integral flywheel effect to serve as a single-unit hybrid power plant. Gary Greenwell’s new RIDE (Rotational Inertial Dampening Engine) modifies... Read more →

Millennium Cell Awarded NSF Phase I SBIR Grant for Next-Gen Borohydride Hydrogen Storage

Millennium Cell, a leading developer of hydrogen battery technology, has been awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) Grant by the National Science Foundation ("NSF") to develop a new hydrogen storage technology based on solid fuel blends that include borohydrides. The NSF SBIR grant was awarded following... Read more →

Alchemy Obtains Option to Acquire License to Metal-Air Fuel-Cell Technology from Cal Tech

Alchemy’s rendering of a future pumping station for its liquid metal-air fuel-cell system. Alchemy Enterprises, a new energy company, has been working with NASA/JPL on the development of a metal-air fuel-cell (MAFC) targeted at the heavy-duty transportation sector. The company has now entered into an option agreement to acquire patent... Read more →

UK Insurance Company Offers Discounts to Drivers of Hybrids

A UK insurance company, MORE TH>N, a is now reducing premiums for existing customers with hybrid cars by up to 13% and offering a comparable discount to new customers with hybrids. The company, the direct arm of Royal & SunAlliance UK, is the first insurer in the UK to offer... Read more →

DuPont Introduces Herbicide-Tolerant Sunflower Hybrids to Increase Seedoil Production

DuPont has introduced the first sulfonylurea (SU)-tolerant sunflower hybrids in Europe—Pioneer-brand sunflower hybrids with the Express SX Herbicide-Tolerant trait. The goal is to increase the harvestable yield to meet the demands of producers and consumers in the oilseed market, whether for biofuels or cooking oils. Unlike other herbicide-tolerant crops currently... Read more →

University of Florida Team Develops Wireless, Self-Powered Hydrogen Sensor

Small zinc oxide nanorods, located within the black dots in the triangular base, gauge the amount of hydrogen in the air. A team of more than a dozen University of Florida (UF) engineering faculty and graduate students has developed a tiny, inexpensive sensor device that can detect hydrogen leaks and... Read more →

US Energy Initiatives Fields Detroit Diesel and Daewoo Diesel CNG Conversion Systems

US Energy Initiatives Corporation, manufacturer of a dual-fuel diesel to natural gas conversion systems, recently has completed development of a system for a Series 60 Detroit diesel used in a waste collection application, and has activated a Daewoo WD6L engine at the Natural Gas Vehicle Institute (NGVI) facility. The US... Read more →

Saturn VUE Green Line Hybrid: Lowest Price, Best Highway Fuel Economy

VUE Green Line Hybrid GM’s Saturn announced today that the new 2007 Vue Green Line hybrid SUV (earlier post) will carry a starting price of $22,995 (including destination charge), making it the lowest-priced hybrid SUV on the market. VUE Green Line will carry an EPA fuel economy rating of 27... Read more →

House Passes H-Prize Legislation; Bring on the Contenders

By an overwhelming vote of 416 to 6, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5143, the H-Prize Act of 2006. (Earlier post.) The legislation, introduced by Research Subcommittee Chairman Bob Inglis (R-SC) and modified after its passage out of Committee, would, if it becomes law, establish a national prize competition... Read more →

Azure Dynamics Receives Follow-on Order for Electric Powertrains from SEV

SEV Faraday electric commercial truck. Azure Dynamics Corporation has received another purchase order from Smith Electric Vehicles (SEV), part of The Tanfield Group Plc, for 20 electric powertrain systems. This order follows-on to the 2005 supply agreement between Azure and Smith Electric Vehicles, through which Azure would deliver up to... Read more →

GM Partially Subsidizes Consumer Fuel Purchases for Select New Vehicles in California and Florida

California premium gas prices have climbed 43% since January. GM today announced its “GM Fuel Price Protection Program”—a limited, regional program that caps what consumers pay for gas at $1.99 a gallon when they purchase select 2006 and 2007 GM full-size SUVs and mid-size cars. The program provides consumers with... Read more →

Australian Report Concludes Climate Change May Be More Extreme

Observed increase in major flood events by continent from 1950 to 2000. The report suggests a link between climate change, streamflow, severe flooding and large impacts on people and infrastructure, among other impacts. A new report released today by the Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell,... Read more →

Sen. Clinton: Cut Oil Imports by 50% by 2025

In a speech to the National Press Club, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) called for a targeted reduction in oil consumption equivalent to 50% of imported oil by 2025—roughly equivalent to 8 million barrels per day. Achieving that goal is feasible, she argued, based on increased use of biofuels, greater vehicle... Read more →

Bacterial Hydrogen Production from Confectionary Waste

The bioreactor. Note the fan at right, powered by a fuel cell using the resulting H2. The gas passes via a glass “trap” to capture excess moisture. In a feasibility study funded by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), bioscientists at the University of Birmingham have demonstrated... Read more →

Altair Nanotechnologies Lithium-Ion Battery Electrodes Clear Safety Testing Cycle

Altair Nanotechnologies has completed an internal safety-testing cycle for its nano-structured negative electrode material—nano Lithium Titanium Oxide (nLTO)—that replaces the graphite used in conventional lithium-ion batteries. (Earlier post.) Via a course of safety tests conducted over the past few months, Altairnano’s nLTO demonstrated safety under conditions where standard graphite-based cells... Read more →