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A carbon tax with revenues used to fund renewable energy programs gained support from 60 percent of Americans, according to a University of Michigan poll. That’s the highest among tax options presented and one that crossed the political divide with majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents saying they would support the tax, according to the National Surveys on Energy and Environment.
The survey also found:
A revenue-neutral carbon tax, in which all tax revenue would be returned to the public as a rebate check, received 58% support.
Only 38% of respondents supported a carbon tax when revenues would be used to reduce the federal budget deficit.
Support for a carbon tax stood at only 34% when no explanation of revenue use was given and dropped further to 29% when a specific cost was added.
The survey is a joint effort of the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy at U-M’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and the Muhlenberg Institute of Public Opinion at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa.
Conventional wisdom is that carbon tax is a political non-starter. But there may be broader support for such a tax than is commonly believed, depending upon how revenues from that tax are used.—Barry Rabe, U-M professor of public policy and director of the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy
Economists have long argued that market-based emissions policies, such as a carbon tax or cap-and-trade, are superior to technology mandates or performance standards and they are operational abroad. Recent Obama administration steps do not create a national market-based system but leave open the option that states might establish them as a way to reach federal targets for reducing emissions.
The random telephone survey of 798 American adults was conducted 24 March 9 April 2014. The survey had a margin of error of 3.5%. The report was authored by the late David Amdur, Muhlenberg College professor, Rabe, and Muhlenberg Institute of Public Opinion director Chris Borick.
2014 ECOTEC 2.5L I-4 iVLC DI (LKW) with stop/start. Click to enlarge.
Ninety-seven percent of customers in the US who purchased a 2014 or 2015 Malibu—accounting for about 83,000 vehicles—opted for the 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder base engine (LKW) equipped with standard stop/start technology, according to GM. (Earlier post.) This marks the the most aggressive rollout of stop/start technology in the US by an American automaker.
The 2014 Malibu was the first in its segment with a standard engine featuring fuel-saving stop/start technology. Stop/start is featured along other technologies in the Malibu’s new 2.5L intake valve lift control (iVLC), powertrain along with direct injection, variable valve lift control and a new six-speed automatic transmission. All contribute to EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 25 mpg (9.4 l/100 km) in city driving and 36 mpg (6.5 l/100 km) on the highway—14% and 6% improvements, respectively, over earlier models.
The LKW 2.5L features a unique two-step intake valve actuation system designed to enhance efficiency and help lower emissions, while also enhancing low-rpm torque, for a greater feeling of power at lower speeds. When the 2.5L’s iVLC system operates in low-lift mode, the engine pumps only the air it needs to meet the driver’s demand. The system switches to high-lift mode at higher speeds or under heavy loads, providing the full output capability of the engine.
The start/stop technology shuts down the 2.5L engine to save fuel when the vehicle stops momentarily, such as stoplights, to save fuel and reduce emissions. The engine automatically starts within 337 milliseconds when the driver takes his or her foot off the brake.
An auxiliary battery powers electric accessories such as the climate system, power windows and radio during engine restarts.
In April, GM received an Innovation Partnership Award along with BorgWarner for collaboration in a newly developed solenoid valve that is part of the stop/start system applied in MY2015 vehicles, the Impala and the Malibu. (Earlier post.) Additionally, BorgWarner received a PACE award for the specific work the supplier accomplished on the solenoid valve.
The stop/start system in the Impala improves city fuel economy by 5%, or one mpg for an EPA-estimated 22 miles per gallon (10.7 l/100 km). The 2015 Impala is available for sale now.
The solenoid valve is a low-noise, high-flow, low-leak valve that achieves quick hydraulic pressure for smooth launches when the engine restarts. The technology helps deliver improved fuel economy and performance as part of a stop/start system.
Stop/start technology capitalizes on vehicle idling occurrences. According to Sustainable America, the average American driver spends 16 minutes each day idling in his or her vehicle. That adds up to four days a year going nowhere.
A 2013 report from Navigant Research predicted worldwide sales of vehicles with stop/start technology will grow from 8.8 million in 2013 to 55.4 million in 2022. (Earlier post.)
J.D. Power’s most recent Initial Quality Survey, which measures the quality of vehicles after 90 days of ownership, showed customers ranked the 2014 Malibu higher than any other vehicle in its segment.
The 2.5L has refined many components to provide a quiet, efficient engine. The engine’s noise frequency signature pushes radiated noises into a higher frequency range to maintain low noise levels. Other highlights include balance shafts to reduce noise through a shorter, quieter drive chain, as well as precision shaft-to-shaft reversing gears and light drag torque from driving the oil pump.
The oil pump is located within the oil pan where it is driven by the second balance shift, reducing noise and providing a small drag torque for quiet balance shaft gear operation The camshaft drive uses an inverted-tooth chain to reduce noise and enhance durability.
A unique, two-piece oil pan made of aluminum and stamped steel offers a stiff structure and noise reduction. Structural camshaft and front covers improve stiffness for less noise and excellent oil sealing An acoustic intake manifold cover, a forged steel crankshaft, an isolated fuel rail and iron main bear cap inserts all help reduce noise.
The Instituto de Biomecánica de Valencia (Biomechanics Institute - IBV) and its consortium partners in the European project HARKEN have developed a non-intrusive system integrated into smart materials which is capable of monitoring cardiac and respiratory rhythms in order to prevent drivers from falling asleep. The two-year project had its final meeting in June.
The system is based on three main components: the seat sensor, the seat belt sensor and the signal-processing unit (SPU), which processes the sensor data in real time. All are invisible to the user.
The rhythm of heart beats, specially heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV), are good indicators of concentration and wakefulness (Lal and Craig, 2001), whereas the decrement of respiration rate has been also been proved to be correlated with increasing fatigue in monotonous driving (Milosevic, 2010), such that slow and deep breathing can indicate a relaxed resting state (Hadjileontiadis, 2006).
The HARKEN system will detect the mechanical effect such physiological activity, filter and cancel the noise and artefacts expected in a moving vehicle (vibration and body movements), and calculate parameters like the intervals between heart beats, or the amplitude and frequency of the respiration signal, which will be delivered in a readable format to integrate it in a fatigue detector.—Martínez et al.
Scheme of the HARKEN concept. Source: Martínez et al. Click to enlarge.
When people go into a state of fatigue or drowsiness, modifications appear in their breathing and heart rate; HARKEN can monitor those variables and therefore warn the driver before the symptoms appear.
The approach is similar in concept to technologies Ford described as part of its release of the S-MAX Concept (Earlier post.) Ford’s ECG Heart Rate Monitoring Seat would record the driver’s heart rate, delivering long-term heart activity data that would otherwise need to be recorded at medical centers, and could offer the potential to connect with Ford SYNC to alert remote medical experts to unusual activity or even trigger active safety systems to take over in a case of emergency. Glucose Level Monitoring connects with Ford SYNC could warn parents if a sleeping child in the rear seats suffers a diabetic episode.
The HARKEN system introduces some innovations addressing limitations of current systems.
It replaces the conventional electrodes to monitor physiological signals by smart textile materials, composed by a combination of fibres and yarns with electrical properties, supported by the standard textile of the seat and belt.
The placement of the safety belt strap on the chest and abdomen on the driver, and the pressure exerted on the body, are usually inadequate for physiological monitoring purposes via something similar to a plethysmography monitor. To address this, the HARKEN team studied driver anthropometry to determine the optimal location of the sensors, and designed a system of tensors to get a better control of the placement and pressure of the sensor.
The HARKEN system uses the pressure exerted by the driver’s body weight on the seat cushion and backrest to improve the sensitivity of the materials for certain types of signals. The HARKEN concept measures heart activity by ballistocardiography (BCG), a mechanical measurement of the blood flow driven by heart beats, which has successfully been measured in normal chairs. Although the BCG signal does not show the specific patterns of the ECG waves that are used in clinical assessments, the heart beats are clearly marked and are correlated in both signals, so salient features such as heart rate (HR) or heart rate variability (HRV) are equally measurable by this alternative.
The redundancy of physiological and dynamic measures of the driver’s body allows using data fusion strategies to improve the reliability of the outcome, along with the use of applying adaptive filters to cancel the effect of vibrations and artefacts in the processed signal. Due to those noise factors and filtering effects, the finer details of the physiological signals cannot be retrieved from such a system, but it still possible to look up the main features such as heart beats, and the intervals between successive breaths, that may be used to feed fatigue detection algorithms.
The outcome of this project is a fully functional prototype that allows anticipating the symptoms of fatigue associated with cardiac and respiratory rhythms, and monitors this physiological activity, with the aim of reducing the number of accidents.
The device has been tested by users in closed track tests, in order to prove its effectiveness under real-life conditions. With a short time-to-market scope, Project Harken will shortly have vehicles in the streets in order to run tests in real traffic scenarios.
Background. Road accidents and casualties caused by fatigue are an important societal and economical problem for the EU. In 2008 there were 1.2 million road accidents in the EU, which resulted in 1.5 million casualties and 38,000 fatalities. This kind of accident is projected to be the third most common cause of death and disability worldwide by 2020.
According to the figures of the eSafety Forum, the proportion of fatigue-related crashes is about 8.3% of all vehicle crashes. This implies nearly 100,000 crashes and about 125,000 injured people in the EU every year. That proportion rises when fatal accidents are considered: driver fatigue accounts for 20-35% of serious accidents. The projection of these figures means that there may be more than 7,000 annual fatalities due to fatigue-related accidents in the EU.
Fatigue in-vehicle detectors may reduce such a problem and may save thousands of lives per year, as well as many millions of Euros in health costs.
The HARKEN project received funding from the EU FP7 Capacities Work Programme: Research for the Benefit of SMEs and started in July 2012. The Instituto de Biomecánica de Valencia participates in this project together with the technological center Eesti Innovatsiooni Instituut (Estonia), and the University of Manchester.
Partners also include Fico Mirrors, S.A., which represents the components suppliers of the automobile industry, and SMEs that produce seat covers—Borgstena Group (Project Coordinator); safety belts—ALATEX; smart textiles—Sensing Tex, S.L.; and biosensors—PLUX.
≈ Helios De Rosario Martínez, José S. Solaz Sanahuja, Paulo Gameiro (2014) “Heart and respiration unobtrusive sensors integrated in the vehicle” (public report)
Statistics revealed by the Global Carbon Project state that India happens to be among the leading emitters of greenhouse gases with a 7.7 percent increase in carbon emissions and a staggering 10.2 percent increase in coal emissions last year. According to the Geological Survey of India, it’s one of the 27 countries deemed “most vulnerable” to rising sea-levels.
Given the context of increasing global warming, in which carbon emissions play a huge role, the need of the hour is to advocate steps and take major decisions, both at individual and governmental level to address these issues.
Significantly, for the first time in India's election history, both Congress and the BJP (the two leading contenders) give fairly significant mention to climate change and the environment in their manifestos. However, ruling party BJP’s manifesto had no clear roadmap for a sustainable and inclusive development process to prevent carbon emissions.
The most striking point on the environment in the BJP’s manifesto was the 'National Mission on Himalayas', an inter-governmental programme that will focus on the conservation of the Himalayas. On waste management and recycling, the manifesto had no clear cut measures listed, but the manifesto did mention about cleaning rivers and setting up a comprehensive pollution control mechanism in the country. "In terms of energy infrastructure, the BJP proposed investing in non-fossil fuel clean energy sources, with the aim of adding at least 120,000 megawatts of power over the next five years, 20 percent of this from renewable sources. The party also noted that "mitigating environmental threat by building a low carbon economy is the biggest economic opportunity of the 21st century". Keeping the proposals in mind, it can be said that, though there aren’t any drastic shifts in priorities, however, there is greater acknowledgement of the issues.
As per the Low Carbon growth study published by the Planning Commission, it will take around $834 billion to put the Indian economy on low carbon mode. Though such a measure would have a huge impact on the economy, it would take the emission intensity in 2030 down by 42% as compared to 2007’s levels. This would also require 50% more investment over the period in the energy sector to partially decarbonise.
Since the new government formed, no major announcements related to the environment etc. have been announced. However, environment Minister, Prakash Javadekar, at a recent function, underlined that the problem of carbon emission has not been created by the developing nations and hence responsibility for addressing it should not be solely put on them.
"We have to reduce our carbon emissions. But we have not created the carbon emission problems, which have been done by others. But I am not into any blame game. The issue is that I have a right to grow. India and developing countries have a right to grow. These are the emerging economies", declared the Minister while addressing a function in India. He also added that "unless we tackle poverty, unless we eradicate poverty, we cannot really address climate change."
The issues related to environmental problems and carbon emissions are countless. However, only time will tell if the ruling party’s proposals will translate to change or not.