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Zipcar has introduced a 2014 Honda Fit battery electric vehicle (EV) at The University of California, Davis’ (UC Davis) West Village, the largest planned zero net energy community in the United States. In the course of a year, the community is designed to generate as much energy as it consumes.
The new Honda Fit EV at UC Davis is located at West Village Square right across the street from West Village’s other Zipcar, a Honda Insight, in front of “The Hub Market.” Both vehicles are available to all Zipcar members ages 18+ for hourly reservations, starting at $8.50 per hour. Zipcar has had vehicles on campus at UC Davis since 2009. Zipcar has nearly 40 vehicles in approximately 20 locations throughout the greater Sacramento area.
Zipcar was the first car-sharing company in the United States to introduce electric vehicles, starting in Boston in 2002, and the first to offer hybrid vehicles through a partnership with Honda in Seattle in 2003. Zipcar’s vehicles now include hybrids, electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and other EPA SmartWay Certified and LEED Certified cars.
Honda’s 2014 Fit EV, based on the popular five-passenger Fit, is rated at a combined fuel economy of 118 MPGe. When connected to a 240-volt circuit, the Fit EV battery can be recharged in less than three hours from a low charge indicator illumination point and has a range of approximately 82 miles.
A recently released total fuel cycle analysis for maritime case studies shows that natural gas fuels reduce some air quality pollutants substantially, and reduce major greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions slightly, when compared to conventional petroleum-based marine fuels (low-sulfur and high-sulfur). The study was released by the US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Maritime Administration (MARAD) and was conducted through a cooperative partnership with the Maritime Administration, the University of Delaware and The Rochester Institute of Technology.
They also found that the upstream configuration for natural gas supply matters in terms of minimizing GHG emissions on a total fuel cycle basis, and that the current infrastructure for marine fuels may produce fewer GHGs. Continued improvements to minimize downstream emissions of methane during vessel-engine operations will also contribute to lower GHG emissions from marine applications of natural gas fuels.
The authors applied a total fuel cycle analysis (TFCA) methodology to evaluate “well-to-hull” emissions for vessel operations. The analysis evaluated emissions along the entire fuel pathway, including extraction, processing, distribution, and use of particular fuels in vessels. The team used updated data on leakage rates in the natural gas fuel cycle to compare emissions from liquefied natural gas (LNG) or compressed natural gas (CNG) to petroleum marine fuels.
They modeled three vessel types (large ocean-going vessel [OGV], inland tug/tow, and coastwise OGV) as traveling typical fixed routes using natural gas and emissions control area (ECA)-compliant distillate fuels meeting 2012 and 2015 standards (that is, 10,000 ppm sulfur [S] and 1,000 ppm S, respectively).
The OGV was modeled on two West Coast routes, one from Los Angeles/Long Beach (LA/LB) to Shanghai, China, and the other from LA/LB to Honolulu, HI. The inland tug/tow vessel was evaluated transiting the Mississippi River between Peoria, IL and New Orleans, LA. The coastwise OGV was evaluated transiting the East Coast of the United States (US) between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) and Jacksonville, FL.
In all cases, they evaluated the use of LNG as an alternative to distillate fuels. For the inland tug/tow, they also evaluated the use of CNG.
The results, they cautioned, do not provide a complete uncertainty analysis of all possible upstream scenarios. Further uncertainty analysis would provide a more comprehensive analysis on the nature of key factors that may affect results.
When comparing emissions produced using natural gas or traditional diesel fuel, results were mixed as to which would produce the fewest emissions. The total energy needed to make the trip is higher in the natural gas scenarios, as is the amount of CH4, N2O, and NOx produced. In the all-diesel scenarios (both diesel main and auxiliary engines) more CO2, PM10, and SOx are produced. Additionally, when taking into account the global warming potential of CH4, N2O, and CO2, LNG fuel is found in coastal scenarios (both West Coast and East Coast) to produce less overall GHG emissions (as measured in CO2 equivalent units) than diesel fuel scenarios using either low-sulfur distillate (depending upon pathway) or high-sulfur residual fuel.
Diesel in inland river scenarios results in less overall GHG emissions (as measured in CO2 equivalent units). Diesel in the West Coast scenario results in more overall GHG emissions (as measured in CO2 equivalent units) under either low-sulfur distillate (depending on pathway) or high-sulfur residual fuels (across all natural gas pathways). Diesel in the East Coast scenario also results in more overall GHG emissions (as measured in CO2 equivalent units) under either low-sulfur distillate (depending on pathway) or high-sulfur residual fuels (across all natural gas pathways). While this analysis does not include an assessment of impacts resulting from each of those pollutants, one can consider the fact that the IMO deemed NOx and SOx both important enough pollutants to regulate.
This is an important consideration. Natural gas is considered by many to be a win-win-win marine fuel: i) economically attractive; ii) low-emitting for key air quality pollutants; and iii) lower GHGs (primarily lower CO2). However, natural gas may achieve some goals better than others. … This study did find a small but positive GHG benefit along with economic and local/regional air quality benefits.—Corbett et al.
The study was conducted as a part of MARAD’s Maritime Environmental & Technology Assistance program, which focuses efforts on emerging marine transportation and environmental issues.
James J. Corbett, Heather Thomson and James J. Winebrake (2014) “Natural Gas for Waterborne Freight Transport: A Life Cycle Emissions Assessment with Case Studies”
In its latest Monday note, energy research company Douglas-Westwood wrote that the Exploration & Production industry (E&P), experiencing rising global hydrocarbon demand as well as rising costs, is facing the technical challenge of the development of High Pressure – High Temperature (HPHT) reserves. HP / Extreme HP typically refers to borehole pressures between 10,000 - 20,000 psi; HT / Extreme HT refers to borehole temperatures between 300-400 ˚F (149-204 ˚C). Pressures and temperatures outside these ranges are referred to as “Ultra-HPHT”, which represents the absolute limits of current technology.
HPHT issues are not new; Schlumberger’s quarterly publication Oilfield Review examined HPHT issues in 1998 and again in 2008. But as a team from Baker Hughes noted in a 2013 paper presented at the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition:
The growing global demand for hydrocarbons is challenging the oil and gas industry to explore and develop deeper and hotter reservoirs, pushing the boundaries of equipment capability beyond traditional High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) limits into the Ultra-HPHT region. Ultra-HP/HT wells are currently being drilled in the Gulf of Mexico, on the shelf and in deep water. Many of these wells have a total depth of in excess of 30,000 ft, where reservoir pressures and temperatures approach 30,000 psi and 500°F. There are many technological challenges that must be overcome for downhole service and completion tools to operate successfully in the Ultra-HPHT environment.
While the HPHT term is widely used, Frank Wright from Douglas-Westwood’s Aberdeen office explains, pressure and temperature do not always correlate: in Thailand many wells have extremely high temperatures without correspondingly high associated pressures. The term HPHT is also commonly associated with the high value offshore markets despite the large market opportunity existing onshore. A good example is the Haynesville shale gas play where one E&P Company has completed more than 300 HPHT wells, he noted.
HPHT reservoirs drive new technology requirements in a number of ways. Examples include:
Drilling in HP reservoirs necessitates heavyweight drill pipe (HWDP). HWDP can be at the upper limits of the shear rams on older BOP stacks, which are intended to cut through pipe in an extreme well control event.
High temperatures also have an impact on directional drilling where some types of drilling motors rely on polymer sealing elements which have temperature limitations. New material formulations have come to play in this specific area.
To meet the HPHT challenge, there is collaboration within the industry, as in BP’s Project 20K (earlier post) (targeting technology capabilities to support conditions of 20,000 psi and 300 ˚F), and within the R&D departments of the Oilfield Services (OFS) companies.
The ability to develop new tools and services for the most extreme wells is increasingly viewed as a unique competitive differentiator, Wright suggested. OFS companies are thus working on a suite of technologies including Logging-While Drilling (LWD) tools, & Perforating Guns that can function reliably in ultra-HPHT reservoirs.
Guijun Deng, James Doane, Antonio Ruffo, Goang-Ding Shyu, Scott Collins (2013) “Design Verification, Optimization and Validation of Ultra-HPHT Completion and Production Tools” SPE 166231
Black carbon (BC) from incomplete biomass and fossil fuel combustion is the most strongly light-absorbing component of particulate matter (PM) air pollution and a major climate-forcing emission. A new international study led by McGill University (Canada) Professor Jill Baumgartner suggests that black carbon may also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. The team’s findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS).
China’s particulate matter (PM) air pollution significantly exceeds health guidelines and is driven by industrial emissions, motor vehicles, and household use of biomass and coal fuels. Baumgartner and her colleagues measured the daily exposure to different types of air pollutants, including black carbon, in 280 women (mean age 51.9 y) in China’s rural Yunnan province, where biomass fuels are commonly used. They found that found that BC exposure from biomass smoke is more strongly associated with blood pressure—which directly impacts cardiovascular risk—than total PM mass, and that co-exposure to motor vehicle emissions may strengthen BC’s impact. Air pollution mitigation efforts focusing on reducing combustion pollution are likely to have major benefits for climate and human health.
China’s unprecedented economic growth is fueling massive increases in industrial and motor vehicle pollution, and 700 million Chinese homes still cook with wood and coal fuels. The Chinese government is setting new targets to improve its air quality. We wanted to identify the pollution sources that most impact human health to help inform these pollution control efforts.—Jill Baumgartner
The researchers outfitted women with wearable air samplers that collected fine particulate matter.The particulate samples were then analyzed for different pollutant types, including black carbon. The women’s blood pressure, salt intake, physical activity, body mass index, and their proximity to highways were also measured.
We found that exposure to black carbon pollutants had the largest impact on women’s blood pressure, which directly impacts cardiovascular risk. In fact, black carbon’s effect was twice that of particulate matter, the pollutant measured most often in health studies or evaluating cleaner cookstoves. Black carbon from wood burning is considered very important for climate warming. Our research shows that it may also be an important pollutant for health. —Jill Baumgartner
In addition, the researchers found that women living closer to highways and exposed to both wood smoke and traffic emissions had three times higher blood pressure than women who lived away from highways.
BC had the strongest association with systolic blood pressure (SBP) (4.3 mmHg; P < 0.001), followed by PM mass and water-soluble organic mass. The team also found that effect of BC on SBP was almost three times greater in women living near the highway [6.2 mmHg; 95% confidence interval (CI), 3.6 to 8.9 vs. 2.6 mmHg; 95% CI, 0.1 to 5.2].
Our findings suggest that BC has direct relevance as an important environmental risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and support the use of BC as a pollution indicator in future health studies and in the evaluation of air pollution mitigation programs. More broadly, our results may be useful in forming policy aimed at reducing air pollution and improving public health in China and other developing countries.
China recently committed to spending US$275 billion over the next 5 y to reduce air pollution, but targets for new vehicle emission standards are absent from recently announced mitigation plans. In addition, China’s current air pollution targets and programs focus on PM reductions. The BC reduction achieved with any mitigation strategy is not always proportional to the reduction in PM mass, and our results show that BC may be more strongly associated with health outcomes in addition to warming the climate. As motorized transport and subsequent traffic emissions increase throughout China, air pollution policies and mitigation efforts that focus on BC control might have the largest benefits for climate and human health. —Baumgartner et al.
Jill Baumgartner, Yuanxun Zhang, James J. Schauer, Wei Huang, Yuqin Wang, and Majid Ezzati (2014) “Highway proximity and black carbon from cookstoves as a risk factor for higher blood pressure in rural China” PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1317176111
Toyota recently switched on a solar array at its Deeside engine factory in North Wales. The solar array, designed and installed by British Gas, can produce up to 3,475,000 kWh a year—enough electricity to build up to 22,500 engines. The Toyota plant’s carbon emissions will fall by 1,800 tonnes a year, a figure matching the combined weight of 1,260 Auris hatchbacks.
Almost 13,000 solar panels will provide up to 10% of all the electricity required for manufacturing at the site, which makes gasoline and hybrid engines for Toyota Avensis and Auris models sold throughout Europe.
The solar array, commissioned as a multi-million-pound project delivered by British Gas, will significantly reduce the site’s carbon emissions. It took three months to install the panels, supplied by Tata Power Solar, which cover an area that’s the equivalent of almost eight soccer fields (football pitches).
Toyota’s Burnaston factory in Derbyshire installed one of Britain’s largest solar arrays in 2011.
Researchers at Rice University led by Dr. James Tour have developed a hierarchical nanocomposite material of graphene nanoribbons combined with polyaniline and sulfur (Sulfur-PANI-GNRs, SPG) using an inexpensive, simple method. The composite shows good rate performance and excellent cycling stability for use as a cathode material in Lithium-sulfur batteries.
As reported in an an open access paper in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, the stable reversible specific discharge capacity was 567 mAh/g at the 26th with only a 9% decay in the following 374 cycles, at the rate of 0.4 C.
Practical application of lithium-sulfur battery chemistry, despite its high theoretical energy density, has been limited by a number of challenges, among them the being that (1) sulfur is elecrtically insulating, and (2) the severe degradation of the lithium-sulfur battery capacity with cycling due to volume change and the high solubility of the polysulfide products.
A number of approaches have been and are being developed to try to address these issues. For example:
The poor electrical conductivity of sulfur can be improved by the introduction of conducting materials that form composites, such as graphene, carbon nanotubes, conducting polymers, and other carbon matrixes.
To reduce capacity decay by enhancing the stability of polysulfides in the electrolyte, additives such as LiNO3 have been used.
Another approach is to protect the anode to reduce the sulfur shuttle effect, and thereby extend cycling life.
Various matrices have been developed to trap the soluble polysulfides, cluding mesoporous carbon, amorphous carbon, carbon nanotubes, graphene, hollow carbon spheres, metal oxides, and conducting polymers.
Among all these matrixes, conducting polymers open new possibilities for the cycling life improvement in the LSBs due to their easy preparation and scale-up, mechanical structure, self- healing, and good electrical conductivity. … Polyaniline is an interesting conducting polymer because it works as a substrate to load sulfur and can be used as a cathode in lithium sulfur batteries. However, polyaniline suffers from two major problems which hinder its application in lithium sulfur batteries. The first problem is the limited electrical conductivity, and the other is the mechanical degradation caused by its large volumetric change, leading to its poor cycling stability in energy storage devices. Therefore, to mitigate these negative effects, it is important to improve polyaniline related materials for lithium sulfur batteries.
In this study, a unique structure where sulfur was loaded on polyaniline-graphene nanoribbons (PANI-GNRs) was designed to reduce the capacity decay in lithium sulfur batteries. The PANI- GNR composite was prepared by the in situ polymerization of aniline in the presence of GNRs. GNRs serve as the substrate for polyaniline growth, and increase the electronic conductivity and effective utilization of PANI in the composite. The GNRs also improved the mechanical properties of the composite, resulting in an enhancement of its ability to recover from the volume expansion. Therefore, PANI-GNRs effectively overcome the negative deficiencies of PANI alone.—Tour et al.
The Rice team prepared the SPGs by heat treatment of a mixture of elemental sulfur and PANI-GNRs. The PANI-GNRs work as an electronic conductivity framework for sulfur and they enhance the mechanical properties of SPGs. A fraction of sulfur reacts with polyaniline to form a cross-linked network with the inter-chain or intra-chain disulfide bond interconnectivity during the vulcanization process.
The rest of the sulfur diffuses into the hierarchical network of PANI-GNRs and newly formed polymer networks. PANI traps the soluble intermediate lithium polysulfide through strong physical and chemical absorption effects. The GNR reinforcement reduces the damage that normally occurs from volume change during the electrochemical reaction.
Electrochemical experiments demonstrate that the SPGs exhibit good rate performance and high cycling stability as cathode materials, compared to pure elemental sulfur and sulfur-polyaniline, due to the synergic effect between the PANI, GNRs and sulfur. The synthesis of the SPGs composite has been shown to produce an effective component to improve the electrochemical stability of the electrode materials for LSBs.—Li et. al
Lei Li, Gedeng Ruan, Zhiwei Peng, Yang Yang, Huilong Fei, Abdul-Rahman O. Raji, Errol L. G. Samuel, and James M. Tour (2014) “Enhanced Cycling Stability of Lithium Sulfur Batteries Using Sulfur-Polyaniline-Graphene Nanoribbon Composite Cathodes” ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces doi: 10.1021/am5030116
Volvo Buses will officially launch the plug-in 7900 Electric Hybrid bus at the International IAA Commercial Vehicles show in September. The plug-in technology reduces fuel consumption and carbon dioxide by up to 75%, compared to a conventional diesel bus. Total energy consumption is reduced by 60%. Three Volvo Electric Hybrids have run in a field test in Gothenburg the past year, a test which has verified the reduction in energy consumption and emissions. (Earlier post.)
A number of European cities are showing interest in the Electric Hybrids. Hamburg, Luxembourg and Stockholm have already signed up for supplies of the buses in 2014 and 2015. Serial production is scheduled to commence early 2016.
Noise is a growing problem in many cities. The noise level near to an Electric Hybrid is 65 decibels, i.e. normal conversation level. The Volvo 7900 Electric Hybrid runs in electric mode in average 70% of the route.
The Volvo 7900 Electric Hybrid can run as an electric bus in selected areas, and performs as a hybrid on any route. Charging at end stations takes 6 minutes. The Volvo 7900 Electric Hybrid shares the technology of the well-proven Volvo 7900 Hybrid, securing high uptime and availability.
Volkswagen of America, Inc. has priced the 2015 e-Golf battery-electric vehicle for the US market. (Earlier post.) The e-Golf starts at $35,445 (plus $820 destination and delivery) for the SEL Premium model.
As a comparison, the three trim levels of the 2015 Nissan LEAF are priced at $29,010 for the S; $32,100 for the SV; and $35,120 for the top-end SL. The Focus Electric starts at $35,170.
Built on the Golf’s sporty Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) platform, and powered by a compact electric motor and lithium-ion battery (built in-house at Volkswagen’s Braunschweig facility), the e-Golf follows the Golf’s “fun-to-drive, yet practical” formula, with the benefits of an electric vehicle.
Volkswagen has also announced a collaboration with 3Degrees, a renewable energy services provider, to invest in carbon reduction projects to help offset the emissions created from production, distribution and charging of the e-Golf for up to approximately 36,000 miles of driving. Charging solutions from Bosch and Chargepoint, along with a new Roadside Assistance program and the VW Car-Net e-Golf app are designed to make owning the e-Golf a thoroughly reassuring, rewarding and enjoyable experience. (Earlier post.)
The key features, benefits and standard equipment of the e-Golf are:
The e-Golf will go on sale in participating dealerships in select states in November 2014.
Altech-Eco Corporation has obtained Executive Order (E.O.) certification from the California Air Resources Board (ARB) for the compressed natural gas (CNG) Dedicated conversion system for the 2014 Ford 6.2L V8 F-250/350 pickups with Ford-supplied CNG gaseous prepped engine.
The dedicated version converts the vehicle to operate 100% on CNG, which allows users to take advantage of using CNG as a cleaner burning and more economical alternative fuel.
Altech-Eco’s integrated systems are designed in collaboration with a Ford approved QCM (Qualified Calibration Modifier) for real-fleet applications . Existing Ford warranty remains intact along with additional Altech-Eco CNG systems warranty.
Also available from Altech-Eco is the EPA-certified CNG systems for the 2014/2015 F-250/350 6.2L, 2014/2015 Transit Connect 2.5L and 2014 F-150 3.7L as Bi-Fuel or Dedicated.
Altech-Eco says it is committed to the continued development of CNG conversion systems for the Ford product line.
Audi will upgrade part of its vehicle electrical system from 12 to 48 volts. The move represents another technical building block for facilitating the integration of new automotive technologies while increasing the power and efficiency of its cars.
Audi recently showcased the scope of the 48-volt electrical system with the two technology demonstrators Audi A6 TDI concept and RS 5 TDI concept. (Earlier post.) Both models are fitted with an electrically powered compressor. This operates independently of the engine load and therefore fundamentally improves the acceleration performance. 48-volt technology is also suited for realizing convenience systems for dynamic chassis control. Audi will shortly be unveiling a variety of applications in this field.
We are using the full bandwidth of electrification in our drive principles strategy. Running part of the vehicle electrical system at 48 volts plays a central role in this. It enables us to make more energy available. That paves the way for new technologies with which we can make our cars more sporty, more efficient and more convenient to use. —Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at Audi
Current technology has taken 12-volt electrical systems to their very limits. Especially at low temperatures, all the various static-load consumers can account for the entire power generated by the alternator, which can deliver up to 3 kW. The battery power is no longer capable of meeting the demands of new, dynamic-load consumers such as high-performance electric compressors, Audi noted.
The solution is a second subsidiary electrical system running at 48 volts, to complement the 12-volt power supply. The higher voltage means smaller cable cross-sections are needed; this translates into lighter cable harnesses with lower power dissipation.
The 48-volt electrical system features new storage technologies and delivers much more power than the 12-volt system with lead batteries. That makes it an important element of the Audi strategy of electrifying various stages of the drivetrain, the company said. The Group’s developers have already come up with a scalable platform concept, including a version that incorporates the electrically powered compressor.
In what is currently the highest development version, a compact lithium-ion battery supplies 48 volts as the energy source during engine-off phases; a DC/DC converter integrates the 12-volt electrical system.
The lithium-ion battery operates in conjunction with a new, efficiency-optimized alternator that qualifies the drivetrain as a mild hybrid, Audi said. Within this concept there are diverse ways of starting, controlling and deactivating the combustion engine as needed.
The powerful alternator achieves an energy recovery output of 10 kW, far more than is possible at present. That adds up to a saving of up to 10 grams of CO2 per kilometer (16.1 g/mi), equivalent to around 0.4 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers.
KRET, part of Rostec, has developed the FORA universal charging stations for the rapid charging of electric vehicles in Russia and abroad. Prototypes will be presented at the KRET pavilion during the 3rd international forum Engineering Technologies-2014.
The State Ryazan Instrument Plant, which is part of KRET, has made three working prototypes of the FORA charging station, one of which operates in MODE-2 (slow charge) and two that deliver an express charge of 20 kW.
The project to develop working models of the charging stations at the Ryazan Instrument Plant aims to create both alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) charging stations for batteries of all types of electric vehicles.
The universal charging station was developed in particular for the VAZ-1817 EL LADA vehicle and can provide an electric charge for 220 V AC batteries. The project for a universal charging station for DC batteries of up to 50 kW in accordance with international standards is currently in development and pre-production. A range of production and technological tests are currently being run on the charging station.
The FORA universal charging station will support electric vehicles from a range of manufacturers, such as Tesla, Mitsubishi, AVTOVAZ, and others.
According to experts, Russia currently needs at least 500,000 electric charging stations of all types.
Specialists at Shvabe Holding, part of Russia’s Rostec, are preparing to test a newly developed ship-mounted laser cannon that can cut through ice. The company developed the ship-mounted laser for exploration and development in the Arctic, said Shvabe Holding CEO Sergey Maksin at the international exhibition Defense Expo.
The laser works like glass cutters, Maksin said, snipping away at the ice. The ship can then use its own weight to push through.
Currently the laser cannon is being mounted on an icebreaker and tested. The laser can also cut ice heading toward oil and gas platforms in the Arctic seas, making it easer to break the ice up, reported RIA Novosti.
According to Sergey Maksin, if the tests are successful, the lasers can also be placed on lightweight ice-class vessels to help ensure the delivery of products along northern Siberian rivers, where ice is thinner. The first deliveries of the device can be expected in 2015.
Russia created Rostec to further the development, manufacture, and export of high-tech industrial products. The industrial company comprises 663 organizations, which also include 22 direct management companies and 13 holding companies, five of which specialize in the manufacture of civilian products, and eight in the manufacture of products for the military and industrial sectors. Rostec organizations are located in 60 regions of the Russian Federation. Company products are delivered to markets in more than 70 countries.
The human health benefits associated with improvements in air quality related to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions improvements can offset 26–1,050% of the cost of US carbon policies, depending upon the type of policy, according to a new study by a team from MIT. (Air quality co-benefits are additional to climate benefits realized from reduced CO2 emissions.)
In a paper published in the journal Nature Climate Science, the MIT researchers took a systems-level approach to analyzing how climate policies influence air quality, focusing on US emissions of O3 and PM2.5 precursors through 2030. They assessed the costs and air-quality-related benefits of three potential national-scale climate policies, examining the entire pathway linking climate policies, economic sector responses, emissions, regional air quality, human health and related economic impacts.
Carbon-reduction policies significantly improve air quality. In fact, policies aimed at cutting carbon emissions improve air quality by a similar amount as policies specifically targeting air pollution.—Noelle Selin, co-author
Selin and colleagues compared the health benefits to the economic costs of three climate policies: a clean-energy standard, a transportation policy, and a cap-and-trade program. The three were designed to resemble proposed US climate policies, with the clean-energy standard requiring emissions reductions from power plants similar to those proposed in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.
More flexible policies that minimize costs, such as cap-and-trade standards, have larger net co-benefits than policies that target specific sectors (electricity and transportation). Although air quality co-benefits can be comparable to policy costs for present-day air quality and near-term US carbon policies, potential co-benefits rapidly diminish as carbon policies become more stringent.—Thompson et al.
The researchers found that savings from avoided health problems could recoup 26% of the cost to implement a transportation policy, but up to to 10.5 times the cost of implementing a cap-and-trade program.
The difference depended largely on the costs of the policies, as the savings—in the form of avoided medical care and saved sick days—remained roughly constant: Policies aimed at specific sources of air pollution, such as power plants and vehicles, did not lead to substantially larger benefits than cheaper policies, such as a cap-and-trade approach.
Savings from health benefits dwarf the estimated $14 billion cost of a cap-and-trade program. At the other end of the spectrum, a transportation policy with rigid fuel-economy requirements is the most expensive policy, costing more than $1 trillion in 2006 dollars, with health benefits recouping only a quarter of those costs.
The price tag of a clean energy standard fell between the costs of the two other policies, with associated health benefits just edging out costs, at $247 billion versus $208 billion.
The study is the most detailed assessment to date of the interwoven effects of climate policy on the economy, air pollution, and the cost of health problems related to air pollution. The MIT group paid especially close attention to how changes in emissions caused by policy translate into improvements in local and regional air quality, using comprehensive models of both the economy and the atmosphere.
In 2011, 231 counties in the US exceeded the EPA’s regulatory standards for ozone, the main component of smog. Standards for fine particulate matter were exceeded in 118 counties.
While cutting carbon dioxide from current levels in the US will result in savings from better air quality, pollution-related benefits decline as carbon policies become more stringent. Selin cautions that after a certain point, most of the health benefits have already been reaped, and additional emissions reductions won’t translate into greater improvements.
The study shows that climate policies can also have significant local benefits not related to their impact on climate, says Gregory Nemet, a professor of public affairs and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison who was not involved in the study.
A particularly notable aspect of this study is that even though several recent studies have shown large co-benefits, this study finds large co-benefits in the US, where air quality is assumed to be high relative to other countries. Now that states are on the hook to come up with plans to meet federal emissions targets by 2016, you can bet they will take a close look at these results.—Gregory Nemet
Tammy M. Thompson, Sebastian Rausch, Rebecca K. Saari & Noelle E. Selin (2014) “A systems approach to evaluating the air quality co-benefits of US carbon policies” Nature Climate Change doi: 10.1038/nclimate2342
T. M. Thompson, R. K. Saari, and N. E. Selin (2014) “Air quality resolution for health impact assessment: influence of regional characteristics” Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 969–978 doi: 10.5194/acp-14-969-2014
The US Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced nearly $67 million to 83 projects in nuclear energy research and infrastructure enhancement awards.
As part of the announcement, the Energy Department is awarding over $30 million through its Nuclear Energy Research Programs (NEUP) to support 44 university-led nuclear energy research and development projects to develop innovative technologies and solutions. These projects will be led by 30 US universities in 24 states.
The announcement also includes approximately $4 million to 19 universities for research reactor and infrastructure improvements to provide important safety- performance- and student education-related upgrades to the nation’s 25 university research reactors as well as enhancing university research and training infrastructure.
The Energy Department is also awarding $20 million for 5 Integrated Research Projects (IRPs) that will deliver solutions to high priority nuclear energy research challenges, including instrumentation and vacuum drying systems associated with the storage of used nuclear fuel; an integrated approach to fluoride high temperature reactor technology development; and advanced instrumentation to support transient testing.
Additionally, $11 million will be awarded for 12 research and development projects led by US universities, Department of Energy national laboratories and industry in support of the Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies Crosscutting Technology Development Program (NEET CTD) to address crosscutting nuclear energy challenges. Two infrastructure enhancement projects totaling more than $1 million will be awarded to Department of Energy national laboratories to further reactor materials and instrumentation research.
Since 2009, the Energy Department’s Office of Nuclear Energy has awarded approximately $350 million to 98 US colleges and universities.
DieselNet reports that Mercedes-Benz has equipped the S500 with a gasoline particulate filter (GPF), representing the first series production application of the GPF technology.
The installation was confirmed in the Auto-Umweltliste 2014/2015 report published by the Verkehrsclub Deutschland (VCD, German Traffic Club).
European regulations mandate a solid particle number (PN) limit of 6.0×1011/km, numerically equal to the limit already in place for diesel cars, to be effective for gasoline direct injection (GDI) vehicles from September 2017. A relaxed PN limit of 6.0×1012/km becomes effective for GDI vehicles beginning next month.
Gasoline particulate filters utilize the same type of wall-flow substrates that is used in diesel particulate filters. A GPF can be included in the exhaust system in addition to the three-way catalyst (TWC), or a TWC coating can be applied onto the GPF substrate.
VCD estimates that the added cost for the GPF can vary from €20-50 per vehicle, when in mass production.