The province of Ontario is poised to announce an aggressive new approach to lower its carbon footprint and impact climate change. The plan, which will be officially unveiled next month, calls for reductions in carbon emissions to 15% below 1990 levels by 2020, 37% by 2030, and 80% by 2050. “We are on the cusp of a once in a lifetime transformation. It’s a transformation of how we look at our planet and the impact we have on it,” reads a preamble to the plan signed by Premier Kathleen Wynne. “It’s a transformation that will forever change how we live, work, play and move.”
You could argue that the Georgetown, Kentucky plant that manufactures the Toyota Camry and Toyota Avalon hybrid models already does a lot to reduce carbon emissions by putting clean-running PZEVs on the road, but the hybrid tech that rolls out of the factory is only part of its clean tech story. The rest? Well, it’s kind of a garbage story.
I mean that literally, too, because this is a story about how Toyota installed a methane gas generator at a local landfill that’s pushing enough energy into the hybrid plant to build up to ten-thousand new Toyota hybrids each year. 10,000!
Those ten thousand new Toyotas are just the tip of the
iceberg landfill, too, because the methane generator produces “just” 1MWh of energy as it is. Toyota has plans, however, to bump up the generator’s output to some ten times that. Even without the power boost, though, the move is expected to allow Toyota to reduce their output of harmful carbon emissions by nearly 90% compared to similar, conventionally-powered plants.
You can check out the infographic, below, and let us know how you feel about the potential of landfill/methane generators for other power and industrial applications like Toyota’s in the comments.
Toyota Powers KY Plant With Landfill Waste
Source | Images: Toyota, via Motorpasion.
Are ethanol blend fuels better than traditional petroleum fuels? According to the American Lung Association (ALA), that answer is an unequivocal “yes.” “Using E85 in a flex fuel vehicle significantly reduces tailpipe emissions as well as lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions,” explains the ALA. “The 10 percent ethanol added as an oxygenate in our gasoline helps the fuel burn cleaner and reduces the amount of oil we need to import from other states and other countries.”
The ALA writer goes on to point out that gasoline has net-negative energy balance, citing US Dept. of Energy reports that, “for every unit of energy expended in gasoline production, just 0.81 units of energy are delivered in the final product. On the other hand, for every unit of energy used to make ethanol and its co-products, 1.87 units of energy are yielded.”
That’s just part of the American Lung Association’s ringing endorsement for ethanol – and, yet, I already know some people will be frothing at the mouth to dispute their findings.
Despite the overwhelming evidence to contrary of almost every argument they’ve ever made about ethanol being bad for engine performance or ethanol raising food prices, however, anti-ethanol hysterics who believe big oil’s lies and twisted are still a thing. People who think the Earth was created about 6,000 years ago are still a thing, too, so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. Here’s the full article, then, written by the American Lung Association’s communications director, Robert Moffitt. If you have a problem with ALL the facts pointing to ethanol being better (and cheaper!) than gasoline, please check into your local loony bin for a few days of “observation” before posting anything in the comments, below. Enjoy!
In response to “Ethanol is a not long term solution,” I’ll begin by saying the author made some valid points. No, ethanol is not an environmental, economic and political cure-all, nor is it the sole solution to our nation’s fossil fuel addiction. However, the post did fail to address one key question that should be asked of all alternatives to traditional petroleum fuels: “are ethanol blend fuels better than traditional petroleum fuels?”
The American Lung Association in Minnesota believes the answer to that question is “yes.” Using E85 in a flex fuel vehicle significantly reduces tailpipe emissions as well as lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions; the 10 percent ethanol added as an oxygenate in our gasoline helps the fuel burn cleaner and reduces the amount of oil we need to import from other states and other countries.
Before we critique ethanol, let’s take a closer look at the traditional transportation fuels most of us still use every day. A large percent of the gasoline, diesel and aviation fuels consumed in Minnesota are derived from the Tar Sands region of Alberta, Canada. The partially degraded bitumen used to make our fuels is strip-mined or steamed out of the soil, using processes that require enormous amounts of water and fossil fuels. After the thick sludge arrives in Minnesota via pipeline or rail, more energy and water is used to refine the fuels that power our vehicles, boats and aircraft. This carbon and water intensive oil produces more greenhouse gases than sweet light crude, and unlike ethanol, it is not renewable or cleaner-burning.
Few people realize that gasoline actually has a negative energy balance. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that for every unit of energy expended in gasoline production, just 0.81 units of energy are delivered in the final product. On the other hand, for every unit of energy used to make ethanol and its co-products, 1.87 units of energy are yielded.
There are more than 300,000 flex fuel vehicles that can use E85 and other high-ethanol blend fuels registered in Minnesota. Minnesotans buy millions of gallons of E85 from more than 350 retail outlets statewide each year. This cleaner-burning fuel is not mandated, but is the fuel of choice for many Minnesotans drivers who want a fuel that is made close to home, reduces air pollution and (almost always) costs less than regular unleaded.
It is true that E85 contains less energy per volume than gasoline. However, the current price of E85 more than offsets any reduction in miles per gallon, plus E85 is largely renewable, gasoline is not. The closer you compare E85 to gasoline, the better the homegrown fuel looks.
Slowly but surely, we are breaking our addiction to oil. For the first time in decades, our consumption of gasoline has declined. We’re driving less, driving smarter, and conserving more. Here in Minnesota, walking and biking are booming, our mass transit options are growing, and we have seen steady growth in E85, biodiesel, electric, natural gas and propane powered vehicles.
As the MN 2020 post concluded, we still have a ways to go before we reach the full potential of many renewable energy sources available to us. Vehicle emissions are still the single largest source of air pollution in Minnesota, and we should not allow the search for a “perfect solution” get in the way of some of the better choices we have available to us right now. Research on promising new fuels and technologies must move forward. In the meanwhile, the American Lung Association in Minnesota will continue to fight for cleaner air, cleaner vehicles, and cleaner fuels, like E85 and biodiesel.
Mercedes-Benz introduced a new “Aero-Trailer” earlier this week, which the company claims will reduce wind resistance by 18% and improve truckers’ fuel consumption by 5%, cutting harmful C02 emissions by several tons and reducing overall fuel use (and overall fuel costs!) by millions of gallons (and dollars!) each year.
The Devil Is in the Details, So To Speak
It’s often said that it’s the little things that count – Mercedes took that idea and ran with it. Apparently minor adjustments to the trailer aerodynamics are responsible for the (claimed to be) drastic results. An airdam on the front and side panels that prevent under-body air from getting “whipped up” by the trailer’s spinning wheels combine to account for half of the overall improvement, as well.
Since aerodynamic drag is most drastically reduced at the separation point (the rear end of the vehicle), the last 16 inches of trailing edges on Mercedes’ Aero Trailer is somewhat conical (pointy end in the back – looks ridiculous to anyone who isn’t an aerodynamicist, I suspect) … pretty much the opposite of the AirFlow company’s aero-truck concept shown earlier this year.
Sadly, It’s Not Street-Legal
The downside to this nifty trailer is that although the inside is just as big as it ever was, the outside is even bigger; it its current form, Mercedes’ Aero Trailer exceeds the legally limited length by about 20 inches. Mercedes, of course, is still continuing tests (it must be perfected!) using wind tunnel tests and test drives. Other modifications in the works include a tire pressure gauge (since correct tire pressure goes a long way toward keeping the trailer moving properly) and telematics systems for the trailer. The idea is to match the trailer and its intended cargo as ideally as possible.
Will Mercedes solve the problem of reconciling cargo space and aerodynamics? No idea – but I’m sure that (as with the Smart Electric Drive) they’ll keep trying until they get it right.
Gas2 readers may remember the European Union offering investment credits and other rewards for automakers building green – and fines levied for excessive CO2 emissions. The combination of the proverbial carrot and stick is apparently paying off; CO2 emissions, at least, are dropping like flies across Europe.
For a brief review of the EU standards – there is a staggered system in place. The end goal is 130g/km of CO2 emissions (averaged across all new cars introduced the year in question by any automaker). In 2012, 65% of new cars must meet the standard, then in 2013 75%, and in 2014 80%. Heavy fines will be assessed if these limits are exceeded.
Volvo and Fiat Deserve Cookies (None for Honda or Mazda)
According to the last official survey conducted by the EU, the best performers have been Fiat and Volvo; Fiat has already reduced its average CO2 emissions to 126g/km, while Volvo somehow managed to pull off a 9.3% reduction (173g/km in 2009 to 157g/km in 2010).
The average CO2 output across the board in the European market went down a total of 3.7%, despite slight increases perpetrated by both Mazda and Honda. Enjoy the lists of top 15 automakers below – one for low CO2 emissions overall and one for most improvement shown.
Top 15 – Low Carbon Dioxide Emissions
1. Fiat – 126 g/km CO2
2. Toyota – 130 g/km CO2
3. PSA – 131 g/km CO2
4. Renault – 136 g/km CO2
5. Ford – 137 g/km CO2
6. Suzuki – 137 g/km CO2
7. Hyundai – 138 g/km CO2
8. GM – 139 g/km CO2
9. The VW group – 143 g/km CO2
10. Honda – 147 g/km CO2
11. Nissan – 147 g/km CO2
12. BMW – 148 g/km CO2
13. Mazda – 149 g/km CO2
14. Volvo – 157 g/km CO2
15. Daimler – 161 g/km CO2
Top 15 – % Carbon Dioxide Emission Decrease
1. Volvo – 9.3% reduction to 157 g/km CO2
2. VW Group – 6.2% reduction to 143 g/km CO2
3. GM – 6.0% reduction to 139 g/km CO2
4. Ford – 4.9% reduction to 137 g/km CO2
5. Nissan – 4.1% reduction to 147 g/km CO2
6. Fiat – 3.5% reduction to 126 g/km CO2
7. Daimler – 3.0% reduction to 161 g/km CO2
8. PSA – 2.9% reduction to 131 g/km CO2
9. Suzuki – 2.6% reduction to 137 g/km CO2
10. BMW – 2.2% reduction to 148 g/km CO2
11. Renault – 2.1% reduction to 136 g/km CO2
12. Hyundai – 1.7% reduction to 138 g/km CO2
13. Toyota – 1.3% reduction to 130 g/km CO2
14. Mazda – 0.3% increase to 149 g/km CO2
15. Honda – 0.6% increase to 147 g/km CO2
Do carbon dioxide emissions even matter? Is the EU heading in the right direction and should the U.S. follow? Let us know what you think in the comments, below.
Vienna is Austria’s cultural, political, and economic center. It’s rated as one of the best cities in the world in which to live. It attracts millions of tourists a year. And the cyclists are taking over.
Austria’s transportation association, the Austrian Transport Club (VCÖ), has been counting the cyclists on the road daily between April and August since 2003. This year, they’ve got good news for Austrians and the rest of the world – more cyclists are on the road than ever before.
Bicycle Traffic Up an Average of 25%
Martin Blum of the VCÖ reports that cycle traffic is up all over town – nearly 5,000 cyclists daily go through the Opernring section of Vienna’s Ringstrasse, and well over 2,000 pass Vienna West Station each day. The Vienna Row saw nearly double its previous numbers of cyclists – just shy of 1,200 per day!
In addition to putting out traffic counters and recording the number of cyclists each day, the VCÖ also polled the city – 44% of the respondents reported they were cycling more often because of high gasoline prices, not to mention health or environmental concerns. Regardless of the reason to cycle, Blum strongly supports his fellow citizens: “Anyone on a bicycle not only saves money, but reduces traffic congestion, improves air quality, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The cyclists deserve our heartfelt thanks,” he said.
Vienna Responds to the Cycling Crowd
Vienna is responding to the rapid increase of cyclists; the cycling infrastructure is expanding to accommodate the new cycle traffic, and existing bottlenecks are being removed. Blum also advocates abolishing mandatory use of the bicycle lane. “If experienced cyclists are allowed to slip into normal traffic lanes, then the newer riders have more space in the bike lane,” he explains. “That’s where they’ll feel the safest.”
The VCÖ is promoting further infrastructure improvements, including opening one-way streets to two-way bike traffic. Belgium and the Canton of Bern have already adopted this practice, allowing cyclists to ride either way on all but the narrowest of streets. Another example the VCÖ would like to see followed is the Cycle Superhighway seen in London.
Traffic Increase By Location
The VCÖ compiled a list of the most popular cycling locations in Vienna and tracked the increase in cyclists for each of them between 2010 and 2011, summarized in the list below.
- Vienna Row: up 76%
- Vienna West Station: up 25%
- Argentinierstrasse: up 24%
- Opernring: up 22%
- Lasallestrasse: up 16%
- Donaukanal: up 13%
We know a lot of our readers are cyclists themselves, or interact with them on the road – any stories? Impressions? Tell us what you think of cycling in major cities in the comments, below.
A new report by Oregon’s Portland Metro has found that emissions from driving cars and providing energy only account for about half of the GHGs emitted in the northwest Oregon region. The other half is a direct result of the consumption habits of the region’s inhabitants.
Eighty-four US House Republicans yesterday introduced a bill to nullify the EPA finding late last year that greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide represent a threat to human health and therefore should be regulated as pollutants under the clean air act—also known as the “endangerment” finding.
Although this brings the focus back on Republicans as the party that is anti-climate change regulation, there has been a flurry of recent activity to nullify the EPA’s findings from both sides of the aisle, including bills introduced by Democrats and Republicans alike to accomplish essentially the same goal.
If successful, the bill could also derail the amazing consensus recently reached between automakers and the government to raise fuel economy standards and lower vehicle emissions dramatically over the next several years. The auto industry is counting on these new regulations to provide certainty as they plan for the next generation of vehicles.
A far reaching report has called on the aviation industry to drastically increase the use of biofuels, to make a 60% reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The study, called ‘Green Skies Thinking‘, was published today by right wing think-tank Policy Exchange, and advocates the phase-in of an EU Sustainable Bio-Jet Fuel Blending Mandate by 2020, which would force aviation companies to commit to a rising proportion of jet fuel from sustainable bio-jet fuels.
Crucially, the report also reckons that growing the feedstock needed for advanced biofuels would require significantly less land and be more sustainable than first generation biofuels such as bioethanol and biodiesel, generally used by road transport.
In the last 8 years, residents of these states have cut back by about a gallon per week, for a total gas consumption reduction of 11%. In the Pacific Northwest, gas usage has fallen to its lowest level since 1966, while CO2 emissions from gasoline have fallen by six-tenths of a ton per capita since 1999.
[social_buttons] Continental Airlines, Boeing, and GE Aviation have scheduled a biofuel test flight for early 2009, citing the desire to identify sustainable fuel alternatives for the aviation industry. Continental may be the first US carrier to do so and, in the words of president and CEO of GE aviation, is “taking an important step in advancing the use of sustainable biofuels in aviation.”
The three companies are working together to identify a non-food based, second-generation biofuel that won’t significantly impact forests or water resources. No details on the fuel are available, but it will have to be production ready in quantities sufficient to power the test-flight and mix seamlessly with kerosene aviation fuel (Jet-A).