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DOE announces $10M for upgrading technologies for production of renewable drop-in fuels

16 April 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced up to $10 million in funding to advance the development, improvement and demonstration of integrated biological or chemical upgrading technology for the production of substitutes for petroleum‐based feedstocks, products and fuels. (DE-FOA-0001085).

The DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) has funded research on biochemical conversion processes since 2007, with particular focus on the development of improved cellulases and fermentative organisms for ethanol production from cellulosic feedstocks. EERE is seeking to diversify the BETO portfolio to include a variety of chemical and biological upgrading technologies for the production of a suite of hydrocarbon fuels, fuel intermediates and chemicals (beyond ethanol) to be produced in an integrated fashion from biologically or chemically derived intermediate feed streams, such as but not limited to cellulosic sugars, lignocellulose derivatives, lignin, cellulosic alcohols, bio‐solids and biogases.

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Chevrolet adds Trax small SUV to growing small-vehicle lineup in US

16 April 2014

Chevrolet Trax. Click to enlarge.

Chevrolet will add the Trax, a new small SUV, to its US portfolio. Chevrolet Trax was launched in late 2012 in Mexico and Canada as a 2013 model; about 90,000 have been sold in more than 60 global markets. In addition to the United States, the 2015 Trax will also go on sale in China, adding the small SUV to Chevy’s two largest markets. Trax is named after a 2007 concept vehicle.

Trax is Chevrolet’s seventh small-vehicle launch in less than four years. During that time, the brand’s share of the small-, compact- and mini-car segments has more than tripled—up 221%. GM expects the emerging small SUV market to grow more than 80% by 2016, said Alan Batey, General Motors senior vice president, Global Chevrolet.

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EPA: US greenhouse gases dropped 3.4% in 2012 from 2011; down 10% from 2005 levels

16 April 2014

US greenhouse gas emissions by gas. Source: EPA. Click to enlarge.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its 19th annual report of overall US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, showing a 3.4% decrease in 2012 from 2011. The Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, which is submitted annually to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, presents a national-level overview of annual greenhouse gas emissions since 1990.

Total emissions of the six main greenhouse gases in 2012 were equivalent to 6,526 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. These gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride. According to the report, GHG emissions in 2012 showed a 10% drop below 2005 levels, and were only slightly above the emissions in 1994 (6,520 million metric tons).

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PNNL team develops composite sulfur/Ni-MOF composite cathode for Li-S batteries showing excellent capacity retention

15 April 2014

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have used a novel Ni-based metal organic framework (Ni-MOF) significantly to improve the performance of Li-sulfur batteries by immobilizing polysulfides within the cathode structure through physical and chemical interactions at molecular level.

In a study reported in the ACS journal Nano Letters, the use of a sulfure/Ni-MOF composite cathode resulted in capacity retention of up to 89% after 100 cycles at 0.1 C. The research team attributed the excellent performance to the synergistic effects of the interwoven mesopores (2.8 nm) and micropores (1.4 nm) of Ni-MOF, which provide an ideal matrix to confine polysulfides, as well as the strong interactions between Lewis acidic Ni(II) center and the polysulfide base, which significantly slow down the migration of soluble polysulfides out of the pores.

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Achates: LD opposed-piston, 2-stroke diesel can meet 2025 final CAFE, Tier 3 standards for full-size pickup; 30% better FE than Cummins ATLAS

15 April 2014

Brake specific fuel consumption map for the LD Achates opposed-piston engine. The map is extremely flat, with the engine’s high efficiency extending to low loads. Source: Achates Power. Click to enlarge.

Achates Power, Inc., the developer of a family of two-stroke compression-ignition opposed-piston engines (earlier post), has performed an in-depth study on the performance and emissions of light-duty version of its engine packaged for a full-size pickup truck.

The results of the exercise, reported by Fabien Redon, Achates VP of Technology Development at the recent SAE 2014 High Efficiency IC Engine Symposium and the SAE 2014 World Congress, show that the Achates Power two-stroke opposed piston engine could meet and exceed—with no hybridization—the final 2025 light-truck CAFE fuel economy regulation for a full-size 5,500 lb pick-up truck and has the potential to achieve the engine-out emissions targets to meet the fully phased in LEV III/ Tier 3 emissions with the appropriate aftertreatment. Furthermore, the study shows the potential for a 30% improvement in fuel economy over the equivalent performance Cummins ATLAS Tier 2 Bin 2 engine (earlier post) as well as a significant improvement in NOx and PM (42-74%, depending upon drive cycle and pollutant).

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Sandia Labs and HHC partner to design metal hydride hydrogen storage system for forklifts

15 April 2014

Adrian Narvaez
Adrian Narvaez of Hawaii Hydrogen Carriers (HHC) observes a metal hydride storage tank, part of a project led by Sandia National Laboratories. (Photo by Dino Vournas) Click to enlarge.

Sandia National Laboratories and Hawaii Hydrogen Carriers (HHC) are partnering to design a solid-state metal-hydride hydrogen storage system for forklifts; the storage system can refuel at low pressure four to five times faster than it takes to charge a battery-powered forklift. The tank will be combined with a fuel cell system to create a fuel cell power pack.

Current hydrogen storage units require high pressure (5,000 pounds per square inch, or psi) to achieve a short refueling time, and high pressure refueling requires an on-site compression system. A low-pressure on-board storage system could reduce fuel system cost and expand the market to facilities that can’t accommodate conventional high-pressure fueling systems.

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Opbrid Bůsbaar demonstrates ultra-fast charging at 625 Amps; pathway to 2-3 minute bus charging

15 April 2014

The infrared photo shows a temperature increase of only 9.8 degrees at the junction between the pantograph and the overhead charging rail of the Opbrid Bůsbaar at 625 A. Click to enlarge.

During recent tests of Hybricon Bus Systems’ new Arctic Whisper (HAW) urban bus in Umeå, Sweden (earlier post), the Opbrid Bůsbaar achieved ultrafast charging at 625 amps for 6 minutes. This paves the way for charging at 500 – 1000 kW or more to achieve 2- to 3-minute charges at the end stations of longer bus routes. It also allows all-electric heating and 5 – 6 minute charging for the upcoming 18 m 4WD Arctic Whisper articulated bus.

The Opbrid Bůsbaar is an overhead, pantograph-based fast-charging station for buses. In the future, this technology may enable other applications such as medium-distance electric buses or even long distance buses and trucks, the company said.

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ARB posts 5 new LCFS pathways; two renewable diesel

15 April 2014

California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff has posted five new and one revised Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) fuel pathway applications to the LCFS public comment website. The new pathways include two renewable diesel pathways; two biodiesel pathways, and one corn ethanol pathway. The revised package is for corn oil biodiesel.

The renewable diesel proposals both come from Diamond Green Diesel (DGD) in Louisiana, using used cooking oil (UCO) as a feedstock; the proposals differ in the mode of shipment to California: one by rail, one by ship.

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2015 VW Jetta to debut at New York Show; new EA288 diesel version already LEV3/Tier 3 compliant

14 April 2014

2015 Jetta. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen is presenting the world premiere of the redesigned 2015 Jetta sedan at the 2014 New York International Auto Show. In addition to its three four-cylinder gasoline engines (2.0-liter naturally aspirated and 1.8T and 2.0T TSI Gen 3 turbocharged EA888 engines) and the a 1.4-liter turbocharged full hybrid version, the new Jetta offers the new EA288 2.0-liter diesel (earlier post).

The 2.0-liter 150-horsepower (112 kW) EA288 TDI Clean Diesel engine offered in the 2015 Jetta already conforms to the upcoming LEV3/Tier 3 emissions standard (earlier post) in the USA. Compared to the previous engine, the efficiency of this new generation TDI was improved by another 8%. The Jetta TDI Clean Diesel with a manual transmission delivers a manufacturer-estimated 32 city/45 highway mpg (7.35/5.23 l/100 km); its combined fuel economy is projected to be around 37 mpg (6.36 l/100 km).

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World Bank/ICCT report provides guidance to reducing black carbon emissions from diesels in developing countries

14 April 2014

Historical Trends in Black Carbon Emissions from Surface Transportation (teragrams of black carbon per year). Source: Minjares et al. Click to enlarge.

The World Bank has published a report, undertaken by a team from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), intended to inform efforts to control black carbon emissions from diesel-based transportation in developing countries. The report proposes approaches for integrating black carbon emission reduction considerations in cost-benefit assessment and applies an analytic framework to four simulated projects to illustrate the associated opportunities and challenges at a project level.

The transportation sector accounted for approximately 19% of global black carbon emissions in the year 2000, according to the report. Road transportation accounted for 9% of global black carbon, with diesel engines responsible for nearly 99% of those emissions. In the near term, black carbon emissions from mobile engines are projected to decline as a consequence of policies implemented in the US, Canada, Europe, and Japan. However, black carbon emissions are projected to increase in the next decade as vehicle activity increases, particularly in East and South Asia.

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DOE to award up to $20M for further studies on methane hydrates; projects worth up to $80M

14 April 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a funding opportunity announcement for up to $20 million (DE-FOA-0001023) for applications for selection and award in FY 2014 that focus on the (1) methane hydrate reservoir-response field experiments in Alaska; and (2) field programs for marine gas hydrate characterization. DOE anticipates that individual total project values may be up to $80 million depending on the number of awards, complexity, duration, and level of recipient cost share. 

These projects are to support program goals and represent a critical component of advancing several of the specific mandates previously established for the Methane Hydrate Program under the Methane Hydrate Act of 2000 (as amended by Section 968 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005).

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IPCC: GHG emissions accelerating despite mitigation efforts; major institutional and technological change required to keep the heat down

13 April 2014

Decomposition of the decadal change in total global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion by four driving factors; population, income (GDP) per capita, energy intensity of GDP and carbon intensity of energy. WG III Summary for Policymakers. Click to enlarge.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a policymaker’s summary of Working Group III’s (WG III) latest report showing that despite a growing number of climate change mitigation policies, annual anthropogenic GHG emissions grew on average by 1.0 giga tonne carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2eq) (2.2%) per year from 2000 to 2010 compared to 0.4 GtCO2eq (1.3%) per year from 1970 to 2000. Total anthropogenic GHG emissions were the highest in human history from 2000 to 2010 and reached 49 (±4.5) GtCO2eq/yr in 2010. The global economic crisis 2007/2008 only temporarily reduced emissions.

The increase in anthropogenic emissions comes directly from energy supply (47%); industry (30%); transport (11%); and buildings (3%) sectors, the WG reported with medium confidence. Globally, economic and population growth continue to be the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion.

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