« April 2008 | Main | June 2008 »

Study: Even Low Levels of Air Pollution May Pose Stroke Risk, Current Standards May Be Insufficient

Short-term exposure to low levels of particulate air pollution may increase the risk of stroke or mini-stroke, according to findings by a University of Michigan team that suggest current exposure standards could be insufficient to protect the public. The study suggests future research on ambient air pollution and stroke is... Read more →

South Africa to Introduce Electric Vehicles

People’s Daily. South African-designed battery-electric passenger vehicles will be unveiled by early next year. The development of the prototype involves a range of stakeholders, including South African universities and industry. Boni Mehlomakulu, group executive of the department’s [Department of Science & Technology] research, development and innovation program, told SAPA that... Read more →

Mercedes-Benz Actros Takes Guinness Record For Most-Efficient Series-Production Truck

The Mercedes-Benz Actros trailer/tractor combination has entered the Guinness World Records as the most fuel-efficient 40-tonne truck, with fuel consumption of 19.44 liters of diesel per 100 km— the equivalent less than 0.8 liters per hundred tonne-kilometers (tkm)—during a test drive of more than 12,728 kilometers. The consumption was determined... Read more →

Poll: 64% of UK Motorists Put Fuel Economy as Top Consideration For New Car

Almost two-thirds of UK motorists say fuel economy is the number one priority when buying a new car, according to a new survey by Motorpoint, the UK’s leading car supermarket group. The poll found that 64% of people regarded fuel economy as the key consideration when changing their vehicle—a clear... Read more →

Michigan Research Alliance Funds Thermoelectric Power Generation and Cellulosic Ethanol Projects

The University Research Corridor (URC), an alliance of Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University—Michigan’s three research universities—has awarded its first seed fund grants to provide startup support for two “revolutionary but feasible” energy projects: thermoelectric power generation and nano-biocarriers for the production of low-cost cellulosic... Read more →

PTT, Toyota To Study Use Of Bio-Hydrogenated Renewable Diesel

Nikkei. Thai oil and gas company PTT PCL is partnering with the Thai unit of Toyota Motor Corp. to study the development of bio-hydrogenated renewable diesel. The study is expected to be completed by the end of next year. Bio-hydrogenated diesel is a renewable diesel produced by hydrogenating crude palm... Read more →

Report: Oil Sands Certified Reclamation at 0.2%, Toxic Tailings Production of 1.8 Billion Liters a Day

After 41 years of oil sands mining operations in northern Alberta, only 0.2%—one square kilometer—of disturbed land is certified as reclaimed, according to a new report by environmental group the Pembina Institute. Oil sands mining is transforming northeastern Alberta. By the end of 2007, oil sands companies had cleared or... Read more →

TMO Renewables and Integrated Genomics Extend Cellulosic Ethanol Research Collaboration

Integrated Genomics, Inc. (IG), a US microbial genomics company, and TMO Renewables Limited, a UK developer of a cellulosic ethanol production process, are extending their research collaboration on organisms for TMO’s system. Scientists at IG will work with TMO to identify pathways that can be exploited in future upgrades to... Read more →

REVA Takes 2008 Frost & Sullivan European Automotive Powertrain Company of the Year Award

Frost & Sullivan presented its 2008 European Automotive Powertrain Company of the Year Award to Reva Electric Car Company (RECC) for demonstrating excellence in sales volumes, superior market penetration and high levels of customer satisfaction within the electric vehicle (EV) industry. In 2007, on average one REVA electric car was... Read more →

Discussion Paper Calls for Modification of Alternative Motor Fuels Act to Better Support Energy and Environmental Goals

Collantes proposes a logic sequence to assess whether to keep, eliminate, or revise the AMFA provisions. Click to enlarge. The two decade-old Alternative Motor Fuels Act—the statute that currently provides automakers with incentives under the CAFE program to manufacture Flex Fuel Vehicles—needs to be overhauled or scrapped to better account... Read more →

Ivanhoe Energy to Acquire Oil Sands Assets; First Commercial Application of HTL Upgrading Technology

HTL processing in High Quality mode. Vacuum tower bottoms (VTBs) are routed to the Reactor where thermal cracking takes place. Upgraded VTBs (product) are quenched at the exit of the Reactor Cyclone and routed to the Atmospheric Distillation Unit where distillate and lighter material is sent to product tank and... Read more →

Dynetek Announces US DOT Approval of 6,500 psi H2 Cylinder

Dynetek Industries Ltd. has received approval from the US Department of Transportation (DOT) of their 450 bar (6,527 psi) cylinder for use in Dynetek BT450 Tube Trailer Systems for bulk transport of compressed hydrogen. In October 2007, Dynetek announced delivery of the first BT450 Tube trailer systems for the transport... Read more →

ABO to Host Second Annual Algae Biomass Summit

The recently-formed Algal Biomass Organization (ABO) will hold the second annual Algae Biomass Summit in Seattle, 23-24 October. More than 400 experts in and proponents of algae biomass gathered for the first Algae Biomass Summit in November 2007. At that event, attendees agreed to form the Algal Biomass Organization to... Read more →

Approximately 19,000 GM Hourly Employees to Take Buyout

Approximately 19,000 of GM’s 74,000 US hourly employees have decided to take an early retirement or buyout package. Most of the employees participating in the company’s attrition program will leave the company no later than 1 July 2008. GM will fill job openings with current employees whenever possible, as spelled... Read more →

Sapphire Energy Introduces Algae-Derived Bio-Gasoline

Start-up algal biofuels company Sapphire Energy unveiled a renewable 91 octane gasoline that conforms to ASTM certification derived from algal a biocrude. Sapphire has developed a platform that produces a “green crude” and biohydrocarbon fuels from modified algae. Sapphire’s founders and leadership team includes scientists in the fields of petroleum... Read more →

UN FAO: Biofuels a Significant Demand Factor in Food Price Surge

Although not the sole cause for the worldwide rapid increases in food prices, the biofuels market has created a new and significant source of demand for some agricultural commodities such as sugar, corn, cassava, oilseeds and palm oil. This increase in demand, according to a report prepared by the UN’s... Read more →

Diesel Crosses $5.00/Gallon Mark in California

The price gap between diesel and gasoline has been expanding, most visibly in the California market. Click to enlarge. The price of diesel jumped past the $5.00/gallon mark in California this week to $5.027—a 69% increase from one year ago, according to the latest data from the US Energy Information... Read more →

Tesla Provides Update on “Powertrain 1.5”

Tesla Motors CTO JB Straubel has posted an engineering update on the company’s work on “powertrain 1.5”—an improved motor to handle higher current and torque; an improved inverter to deliver higher motor current; and a single-speed gearbox designed to replace its problematic two-speed transmission—on the company’s website. Initial production deployment... Read more →

Dongfeng Motor Targets Annual Sales of 1M Vehicles by 2012

China’s Dongfeng Motor Co., Ltd. (DFL) outlined its five-year 2008 to 2012 mid-term business plan, targeting sales of 1 million vehicles by 2012. The five-year plan, named Plan 13 (“one cubed”), expands on the company’s previous business blueprint, Plan 23 (“two cubed”), under which the company doubled sales volume between... Read more →

Verenium Commissioning Cellulosic Ethanol Demo-Scale Plant; Targeting Cost of $1.34/Gallon

Verenium expects a production cost of $1.34/gallon (outlined in red) from its first-generation technology, with further reductions to come. Click to enlarge. Verenium Corporation has begun the commissioning phase at its demonstration-scale cellulosic ethanol facility in Jennings, Louisiana. The plant is rated to produce 1.4 million gallons per year using... Read more →

Nissan to Show Forklift Concept with AESC Li-ion Battery

Nissan Forklift will debut its first Li-ion powered forklift concept model at the CeMAT 2008 logistics exhibition, to be held at Hannover from 27-31 May. The electric-powered forklift employs battery technology developed by Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC), a joint-venture between Nissan Motor Co. and NEC Corporation and NEC TOKIN... Read more →

UDRI, AFRL to Open Research-Scale Facility to Develop Synthetic Jet Fuel From Coal and Biomass

With a $10-million seed grant from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) will collaborate with AFRL to construct and operate the country’s first federal research facility designed to create jet fuel from coal and biomass in a program aimed at creating a viable... Read more →

Transparent Polymers for PV Modules Boost Performance

Enerize Corporation has developed a new design for photovoltaic (PV) modules using a proprietary transparent polymer material to replace conventional glass, resulting in an increase in conversion efficiency of more then 20%. The polymer increases efficiency due to higher transparency and concentration of incoming light, while providing resistance to degradation... Read more →

VW and Sanyo Form Li-ion Partnership; VW to Focus on Drivetrain Electrification

Volkswagen and Sanyo officially announced their partnership (earlier post) to work on next-generation high-performance automotive electric storage systems based on lithium-ion technology. The Volkswagen Group said that it hopes to be able to apply Li-ion technology in its first vehicles by 2010. Sanyo currently provides NiMH batteries for Ford and... Read more →

US Vehicle Miles Travelled Dropping

Moving 12-month total of US VMT through March 2008. Click to enlarge. Americans drove less in March 2008, continuing a trend that began in November 2007, according to estimates recently published by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The FHWA’s Traffic Volume Trends report, produced monthly since 1942, shows that estimated... Read more →

US DOE Seeks to Invest up to $130 Million in Advanced Fuel Cell Technology

The US Department of Energy (DOE) issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for up to $130 million over three years, subject to Congressional appropriations, to advance the development and use of fuel cells for automotive, stationary, and portable power applications. In addition to seeking proposals for R&D projects in the... Read more →

US to Partner With Portugal On Wave Energy

US Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman and Portuguese Economy Minister Manuel Pinho signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that establishes a framework for collaboration on the policy, scientific, and technical aspects of wave energy generation. The MOU outlines specific areas of cooperation in wave energy technologies, including the exchange of... Read more →

Mitsubishi Chemical To Display Lightweight Materials Concept Car

Nikkei. Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. will begin displaying a small concept car that incorporates advanced lightweight materials at automakers’ research and development centers to help propose further application areas for vehicle lightweighting. The chemical producer will create a small concept car based on the C-Rev on display at its headquarters showroom... Read more →

“Sunshade” Geoengineering Could Slow Down the Global Water Cycle

A new study from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, led by atmospheric scientist Govindasamy Bala, suggests that attempts at climate stabilization through geoengineering schemes that intentionally reduce solar radiation incident on Earth’s surface could lead to a less intense global water cycle. Decreasing surface temperatures through geoengineering also could mean less... Read more →

Researchers Use Fungus to Improve Corn Ethanol Process

Pilot-scale airlift reactor with external recycling for fungal processing of thin stillage. Spore inoculation occurred on Day 0 (left). Fungal pellets filled the reactor by Day 3 (right). Click to enlarge. Growing a fungus in the thin stillage resulting from dry-mill ethanol production can reduce energy costs by as much... Read more →

US CCSP Report Finds Climate Change Already Affecting Agriculture, Land and Water Resources and Biodiversity

The US Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) released the latest of its series of synthesis and assessment reports, Synthesis and Assessment Product 4.3 (SAP 4.3): The Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture, Land Resources, Water Resources, and Biodiversity in the United States. The report, written by 38 authors from the... Read more →

Biofuels Provisions in the US Farm Bill

The US Congress last week overrode President Bush’s veto of the US$289-billion Farm Bill (H.R.2419, the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008), putting it into effect as a law. The wide-ranging bill, the passage of which generated some criticism from countries at the World Trade Organization for increasing farm... Read more →

IFQC Ranks Top 100 Countries Based on Sulfur Limits in Diesel

Diesel sulfur limits, June 2008. Click to enlarge. The International Fuel Quality Center (IFQC) has ranked the top 100 countries based on sulfur limits in diesel. Ranking is based on the order of the following criteria: sulfur levels in national standards, sulfur levels in local/regional standards (such as specifications for... Read more →

Nissan Introduces Carbon Offsets With March Collet Sales in Japan

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. introduced a carbon offset program linked to the sale of a vehicle—the first automaker in Japan to do so. For every March Collet sold, Nissan will pledge one ton of carbon credits under Carbon Offset Japan, an environmental non-profit organization abiding by the principles of the... Read more →

New Pretreatment Process Boosts Production of Biogas From Rice Straw by Almost 65%

Researchers in China have developed a solid-state sodium hydroxide (NaOH) pretreatment process that can boost the anaerobic production of biogas from rice straw by almost 65%. The study by Xiujin Li and colleagues is scheduled for the 16 July issue of the ACS journal Energy & Fuels. The researchers termed... Read more →

Queensland Government Puts A$166K Into Algae Biodiesel Project

The Queensland, Australia, Government is providing A$166,000 (US$160,000) in funding to support the development of an algae biodiesel process by James Cook University (JCU) and Australian biodiesel company MDB Biodiesel Ltd. Considering the current debate about agricultural land being used to produce biofuels, algae may well be a significant future... Read more →

New Algorithm Increases Accuracy of Air Pollution Predictions

This map shows the bias in the calculations of carbon monoxide concentration in the atmosphere after the application of Kotamarthi’s algorithms. Click to enlarge. A new computer algorithm developed by environmental scientist Rao Kotamarthi of the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, in collaboration with Alexis Zubrow, now at... Read more →

SEKAB and Brazilian Partners To Introduce “Verified Sustainable Ethanol”

The Swedish company SEKAB, which delivers about 90% of all ethanol in Sweden for E85 and ED95 (ethanol for heavy-duty vehicles using compression ignition engines, earlier post), announced that it will be the first company to supply verified sustainable ethanol. This ethanol from Brazilian sugarcane is quality-assured from environmental, climate... Read more →

DLR and Airbus Testing Hydrogen PEM Fuel Cell Auxiliary Power System in A320

The fuel cell system on the Airbus A320 ATRA research aircraft was built by DLR. Right: Airbus Project Leader Jens Dietrich Kurre. Click to enlarge. Credit: Airbus Deutschland. The Institute for Technical Thermodynamics of the German Aerospace Center (Institut für Technische Thermodynamik des Deutschen Zentrums für Luft- und Raumfahrt, DLR),... Read more →

Linc Energy and Huadian Coal to Team on UCG and FT in China

Linc Energy Ltd has executed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with China’s Huadian Coal Industry Group for the joint pursuit of opportunities to use Linc Energy’s underground coal gasification (UCG) technology (earlier post) and experience with gas-to-liquids Fischer-Tropsch (FT) fuel and chemicals technologies within China. In addition, the two groups... Read more →

MHI and Wärtsilä Partner for New Marine Engines

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) and Wärtsilä Corporation of Finland have signed a joint development agreement to design and develop new small, low-speed marine diesel engines of less than 450 mm cylinder bore. According to Wärtsilä, it holds a 16% share of the marine low-speed main engine market, with MHI... Read more →

PEMEX Crude Production Drops 13% in April Due to Cantarell Decline

PEMEX, Mexico’s state-owned oil company, reported that crude oil production in April 2008 dropped 13% to 2.767 million barrels per day from April 2007 as output from the Cantarell field declined faster than expected. PEMEX crude production is showing accelerating declines. Click to enlarge. Crude oil production for the first... Read more →

Volvo Establishes Truck and Bus JV in India with Eicher

The Volvo Group has signed a final agreement with the Indian vehicle manufacturer Eicher Motors covering establishment of a new Indian joint-venture company. The joint venture, with the proposed name VE Commercial Vehicles Ltd., comprises Eicher Motors’ entire truck and bus operations and the Volvo Group’s Indian truck sales operations... Read more →

Antonov Applying Dual-Speed Drives to Engine Accessories

The Antonov dual-speed front end accessory drive uses a planetary gear set to enable either a direct of step-up ratio. Click to enlarge. Antonov Automotive Technologies, which is currently offering a simple dual-speed supercharger for downsizing engines to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions (earlier post), is developing other applications... Read more →

European Parliament Gives Go-ahead to €1B Fuel Cells and Hydrogen JTI; Mass-Market Transport Applications Targeted for 2020

The European Parliament has supported establishing the EU’s Fuel Cells and Hydrogen (FCH) Initiative—the fifth Joint Technology Initiative (JTI)—by a vote of 590 to 619. Between 2008 and 2017, the FCH JTI will have a budget of €1 billion (US$1.58 billion). The initial proposal for the FCH JTI from the... Read more →

ANA Introduces Ecology Plan 2008-2011 with CO2 Reduction Goals

All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd. (ANA) introduced its Ecology Plan 2008-2011, in which it sets goals for the reduction of CO2 emissions by its fleet. Specifically, ANA will reduce the amount of CO2 produced on domestic routes by 200,000 tonnes, compared with 2006 levels, down from 4.9 million to 4.7... Read more →