Saturday, April 29, 2006

UW prof probes hydrogen fuel cells, energy diversity for cars

WATERLOO, Ont. (March 6, 2006) -- As the world hits peak oil production, there is keen interest in finding the next great fuel source. Many hope that hydrogen can be harnessed and that by the end of the 21st century we will all be driving hydrogen-powered cars.

Ironically, that's not the hope of Xianguo Li, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Waterloo and a hydrogen fuel cell researcher. Though his research is focused on improving hydrogen fuel cells so they could be used in everybody's car, he doesn't want them to be the sole option.

Instead, he espouses the notion of diversity. "The second law of thermodynamics, in essence, states that every energy process has an impact," said Li. "Biomass, solar, wind, hydrogen, if any of these took a dominant position in the market they would have major disadvantages."

Li cites the example of London or Paris 100 years ago. Large cities at the turn of the 20th century had a major problem: everyone used carriages pulled by horses to get around and that meant there were horse droppings everywhere. At a time of poor sanitation and street infrastructure, that led to a lot of disease not to mention the smell.

Then, a novel device known as the automobile came along. It ran on oil, which was in vast supply throughout the world, and best of all the only thing it released was a little smoke that vanished into the air. Perfect solution, right?

Only a few decades later we learned in a hard way -- like the Los Angeles smog -- that it was not perfect, after all. By now we know how the car has changed society and created several large problems.

Li believes the same would be true if hydrogen dominated the energy market. "Often, in history, we hail a new technology as a major step forward, but only to realize its horrible side effects later, and we had to spend tremendous effort to eradicate those effects. It all comes back to the principle that you can't get something for nothing."

Instead of one energy source dominating, Li believes the answer is energy diversity and that hydrogen fuel cells can play a large part, such as for automobiles in urban areas.

The mechanical engineering researcher has been working to make hydrogen fuel cells less expensive, more reliable and more user friendly. "The real world is not kind to cars like labs are, so we have to design better and robust engines that can be easily made and maintained."

One of the ways that the life and reliability of hydrogen fuel cells could be improved is through optimizing how many fuel cells are in operation at any given moment. Not as much power is needed for idling at a red light as for cruising at 100km/h, so Li's research team is developing a technique that can determine how many cells need to be activated depending on energy needs.

As well, one of the major challenges with hydrogen fuel cells is allowing the transfer of electrically charged particles between electrodes. To do that, an electrolyte (fully humidified with water) is needed to facilitate the movement. However, all the water moves to one electrode, drowning that side and leaving the other in drought.

Li's team is attempting to use the natural humidity in the air plus some of the water produced during the electrochemical reaction to keep the energy flowing evenly.

But one of the largest concerns for Li's research is its use in the real world. Currently, hydrogen is not easily available since it is classified as a chemical not a fuel source. If that changes then it is possible that more hydrogen refuelling stations will appear.

In fact, the various levels of government are encouraging hydrogen growth with various initiatives, including the support and planning of a "hydrogen corridor," a series of refuelling stations along the 401 Highway so hydrogen-powered vehicles can go almost the length of the province and beyond.

As hydrogen technology develops and gains acceptance in consumers' minds, Li hopes that people will temper the desire to use it everywhere with the knowledge that all energy systems have negative impacts. "If we use any energy on a worldwide scale, there can be lots of problems, but if we use it on a small scale we should be okay."

(Written by Graeme Stemp-Morlock, SPARK -- Students Promoting Awareness of Research Knowledge -- writing program.)


Friday, April 28, 2006

Global Warming Legal Action: EPA Must Regulate Carbon Pollution

States, Enviro Groups Seek Enforcement of Pollution Laws

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 27, 2006) – Twelve states and cities and three environmental groups today joined forces to challenge the administration’s continued failure to confront global warming. In lawsuits filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, the state and environmental coalition argues the Environmental Protection Agency has authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate the main global warming pollutant, carbon dioxide, from power plants.

Under White House orders, EPA claims it does not have this authority and that carbon dioxide is not an air pollutant.

"The administration has insisted it's not their job to fight global warming. In fact they have both the legal and moral responsibility to tackle global warming pollution," said David Bookbinder, Senior Attorney for the Sierra Club, one of the petitioners.

A Short History of Everything (Related to this case. . .)

This new lawsuit follows an inconclusive split decision reached in a similar case last July on EPA’s failure to regulate global warming pollution from U.S. cars, trucks and SUVs. There a splintered three-judge panel of the same court failed to decide the central question of whether EPA may regulate global warming pollution under the Clean Air Act.

One judge agreed that the Clean Air Act covers global warming, but the other two judges avoided this question and voted to uphold EPA’s inaction on other grounds. In particular, one of those judges cited EPA’s back-up "policy" arguments, including the agency’s claim that global warming science remains too uncertain.

In this case, however, EPA offered no back-up arguments. This time the court will have to address the central legal issue that was not decided last time around – does the Clean Air Act authorize regulation of global warming pollution?

The same question is also being tested in lawsuits brought by the auto industry against California and other states that have set standards for global warming pollution from motor vehicles.

Administration Claims Do Not Hold Up

Under the current administration, EPA claims heat-trapping emissions like carbon dioxide don't meet the Clean Air Act definition of "air pollutant" and cannot be curbed under that law. The current EPA position reverses the agency’s earlier interpretation of the Clean Air Act and does not hold up under scrutiny:

· The Clean Air Act says an "air pollutant" is any "physical, chemical, biological, [or] radioactive substance or matter which is emitted into or otherwise enters the ambient air."

· The Clean Air Act authorizes EPA to regulate any power plant pollutant that the agency determines to "cause, or contribute to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare." The Act specifically defines "welfare" to include adverse effects on "weather" and "climate."

"It’s just plain English and common sense," said David Doniger, policy director for NRDC’s (Natural Resources Defense Council) Climate Center, another petitioner. "Carbon dioxide is an air pollutant and curbing the pollution that causes global warming is EPA’s job under the Clean Air Act."

Power Companies Ask for Carbon Regulation

Earlier this month, several large power companies appeared before an all-day U.S. Senate workshop on global warming solutions, and asked for mandatory limits to curb global warming pollution. Individual companies have been talking about binding emission cuts for the better part of the last year, large companies and entire industries -- Wal-Mart, Cinergy, Exelon, GE, to name a few-- have been taking a hard look at how global warming affects their business.

"Businesses, including large power companies, see cutting global warming emissions as a simple matter of sound profit planning," said Jim Marston of Environmental Defense, a petitioner. "They know that setting limits on the pollution that causes global warming will mean a market for new technology, but EPA and this administration refuses to set that market."

Below are power company quotes from the Senate workshop:

· "We need the economic and regulatory certainty to invest in a low-carbon energy future. It is critical that we start now," said Elizabeth Moler, an executive vice president at Exelon.

· "Customers and shareholders need greater certainty," said Ruth Shaw from Duke Energy Corp. "We cannot delay and cannot count on a strictly voluntary approach."

· Jeff Sterba, CEO of New Mexico power company PNM, warned that technology solutions to global warming "may happen a lot more slowly if it remains solely voluntary."

Global warming emissions have already been linked to stronger hurricanes, heat waves, droughts and worsened smog. If left unchecked, global warming will cause rising sea levels, the melting of the polar icecaps, and a host of other environmental impacts that are beginning to seriously affect the lives of virtually every American.

States and cities challenging EPA's decision are New York, California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin, the District of Columbia and New York City.

Environmental Defense, NRDC and Sierra Club are the environmental petitioners in this action. EarthJustice is assisting in legal representation.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


• Greener Miles™ invites vehicle owners to go online to create a personal emissions report, learn about ecodriving and balance out the greenhouse gas emissions of their driving through the online purchase of carbon offsets.
• An innovative industry first, the Ford-TerraPass partnership builds on Ford's broader CO2-reduction efforts by engaging customers on sustainability issues.

Ford Motor Company and TerraPass today announced "Greener Miles™, an automotive industry first that offers Ford vehicle owners the opportunity to offset the climate impact of their driving through the support of projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Through Greener Miles™ drivers can calculate the amount of CO2 emissions they generate in one year of driving by visiting Customers then have the opportunity to purchase an offset that supports the production of renewable clean energy from wind or dairy farm methane. This pilot program gives customers a simple way to be voluntary, active participants in addressing the challenges of climate change.

"Ford is tackling the challenge of climate change from all sides – reducing the emissions from our factories, increasing the efficiency of our vehicles, expanding the availability of E85 ethanol in the American Midwest and developing new low-carbon engine technologies," said Niel Golightly, director, Sustainable Business Strategies. "With Greener Miles ™ we're engaging customers as well – raising their awareness of the climate change issue and offering them a tool to get involved themselves. Greener Miles ™ and Ford's partnership with TerraPass is the latest in our portfolio of innovations for reducing the impact of cars and trucks on the climate. "

As part of his remarks on innovation last September, Ford Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, William Clay Ford, Jr. pledged a two-pronged approach to take on the challenge of offsetting carbon dioxide emissions. First, Ford committed to its own corporate action. A pilot program is underway to offset the greenhouse gasses emitted in the manufacture of our hybrid electric vehicles with investments in projects, such as renewable clean energy production that reduce emissions elsewhere. (Ford manufactures the Ford Escape Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid at its vehicle assembly plant in Kansas City, MO.)

The second part of the commitment is to engage individual customers on carbon offset efforts beginning today with the launch by Ford and TerraPass launch of the Greener Miles ™ program. The Ford-customized offset program invites vehicle owners to visit, where an annual enrollment fee buys them a TerraPass based on the type of vehicle they drive and their annual vehicle mileage.

Ranging from $29.95 to $79.95, depending on the type of vehicle and miles traveled, purchases of Greener Miles™ TerraPasses contribute to investments in U.S.-based renewable clean energy projects such as wind power energy or making power from dairy farm manure. All of the carbon offset purchases are third party verified by the Center for Resource Solutions, one of the country's leading authorities on renewable and clean energy issues. Customers receive a vehicle decal as a visual symbol of their participation in the Greener Miles ™ program.

"More and more customers around the world are concerned about the challenge of climate changes caused by the emissions or greenhouse gases," said Golightly. "We're pleased to offer consumers one easy, affordable way to engage in a meaningful and measurable step to fight climate change and be a part of the solution."

"Your purchase of a TerraPass supports energy projects that balance out your car's climate impact and moves us all ahead on the road to a future of clean, renewable energy," said Tom Arnold, TerraPass chief environmental officer. "This is a way for individuals to take personal action and take advantage of our efforts at getting the maximum environmental benefit from every dollar. We are excited to have Ford as a partner in helping us address this very important issue."

"Greener Miles ™ is just one piece of our comprehensive strategy on climate change," said Golightly. "It is not a substitute for our continuing work on vehicle fuel efficiency. It does provide an incremental, short term action to help bridge the gap until we are able to implement longer term solutions. And it allows individuals to take positive, direct action now to share in the solution."

In addition to the Greener Miles ™ offset program, Ford will launch an Eco-driving online training program through Ford's public web site in early May. By logging on, consumers will be able to find tips for operating and maintaining their vehicles in the most fuel efficient ways possible. Eco-driving will show individuals how to conserve fuel, save money at the pump and reduce their driving emissions.

Since 2000, Ford has reduced its manufacturing CO2 emissions by 15 percent worldwide through implementation of energy efficiency measures in its facilities. The company was a founding member of both the United Kingdom Voluntary Emissions Trading Program and the Chicago Climate Exchange.

Ford addresses vehicle emissions through ongoing efforts to increase the fuel-efficiency of its fleet. Ford has announced several actions including: plans to increase global production capacity of hybrid vehicles to 250,000 annually by 2010; the availability of four new vehicles that can run largely on ethanol for production of 250,000 Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) in 2006, and continued innovative research into development of clean diesels and hydrogen powered vehicles.

Ford and TerraPass unveiled their innovative customer carbon offset program at the Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) forum in Santa Monica, California. This is the third year Ford has sponsored the LOHAS forum, a gathering of thought and opinion leaders focused on sustainability.

Ford release

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

BMW Clever concept

BMW just released official pictures of its co-developed three-wheeled, natural-gas powered micro-car called CLEVER (Compact Low Emission VEhicle for URban Transport). Although nothing official yet, but this concept that was funded by the European Commission (Fifth Framework Programme) could base the C1 successor, marrying the worlds of cars and motorcycles. Partners in the C.L.E.V.E.R project included:
• Technical University of Berlin, Institute for Land and Sea Transport (TUB), Berlin, Germany
• Cooper-Avon Tyres Ltd, Melksham, Great Britain
• ARC Leichtmetall Kompetenzzentrum Ranshofen GmbH (LKR), Ranshofen, Austria
• TAKATA-PETRI AG, Berlin, Germany
• University of Bath, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Institute for Power Transmission and Motion Control, Bath, Great Britain
• Universität für Bodenkultur Vienna, Institute of Transport, Vienna, Austria
• WEH GmbH, Illertissen, Germany
The CLEVER concept, a €3.3 million (US$3.9 million) effort, is an enclosed two-seater that combines the safety of a microcar, and the maneuverability of a motorcycle, while being less polluting than other vehicles as it runs on compressed natural gas.

ts strengthened frame will protect the driver in a crash and the vehicle will have a top speed of approximately 50 mph. The 230cc BMW engine—modified by Institut Français du Pétrole (IFP) to use natural gas—produces 12.5 kW (17 hp) of power and maximum torque of 15.5 Nm at 6,300 rpm.

Fuel consumption is estimated to be 2.4 liters/100 km gasoline equivalent (98 mpg US), with 59.5 g/km of CO2 emissions. The compressed natural gas is stored in two removable gas bottles providing a range of 150 km (93 miles).

A problem with three-wheel vehicles with a symmetrical wheel layout is the tipping moment when cornering, which cannot be controlled at high speeds if the vehicle has a short wheelbase. To solve this problem the vehicle’s center of gravity can be moved towards the center of the corner—just as a motorcycle does when it corners.

The do this, the vehicle is a cabin tilter, with the system designed by the University of Bath. The cabin with the front wheel is connected to the power unit and the two rear wheels by a pivot bolt. The rotary movement of the cabin is produced by two hydraulic cylinders (actuators) that are installed between the cabin and the power unit. The actuators create the rotary angle of the cabin of +/-45° relative to the vertical power unit.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Yahoo! Energy Buy Supports Renewables Development in Silicon Valley

Global internet service leader Yahoo! has joined the Santa Clara Green Power renewable energy program. Yahoo! now purchases 804,000 kWh of clean renewable energy credits, derived from new wind and solar generation sources in California, equivalent to one quarter the annual output of one large-scale wind turbine.

Santa Clara Green Power is a voluntary renewable energy program offered by Silicon Valley Power (SVP) to all residential, commercial, and industrial customers within Santa Clara as a way to support energy generated from 100% clean wind and solar power resources at a low additional cost of 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

This wind and solar energy commitment is in line with Yahoo! for Good, the company's community relations program. In addition to energy conservation programs already in place, renewable energy is a new benefit to Yahoo!'s overall energy footprint. This commitment prevents the annual release of more than 800,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, a key greenhouse gas. The environmental benefit of a purchase this size is equivalent to planting 108 acres of forest or removing 70 cars from the road for a year.

"Yahoo! is committed to renewable power as it helps support sustainable, healthy communities for our customers and employees," said Meg Garlinghouse, director of Yahoo! For Good. "Santa Clara Green Power gives us the opportunity to work together with the community to reach our common goals."

By joining Santa Clara Green Power, Yahoo! becomes a member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership for its facilities in Santa Clara and enters the growing circle of other large Santa Clara businesses supporting renewable energy, including Agilent Technologies, Cisco, Applied Materials, as well as Santa Clara University. In addition, over 100 small businesses are participating along with 2,300 households.

"Big players like Yahoo! bring greater awareness to the program and help to further our goal of supporting California's development of clean energy resources," said Joyce Kinnear, public benefit program manager for Silicon Valley Power. "We are proud of the strong business support for renewable energy in the Santa Clara community."

On behalf of Yahoo!, SVP will purchase renewable energy credits from newly constructed wind farms and solar photovoltaic projects located within California. A portion of Yahoo!'s Santa Clara Green Power rate will support new solar facilities in the City of Santa Clara, such as the Haman Elementary School project, helping to bring new installations into the community.


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ken Livinstone announces plans for a new zero carbon development in London

The Mayor of London today announced from Shanghai plans for a new zero carbon development in London. The development, which is likely to be situated in the Thames Gateway, will demonstrate that major developments can be designed to exemplary sustainable standards - achieving very low carbon emissions -- at standard development costs and easily replicable.

The project which stems from a proposal from Greenpeace, will be taken forward by the London Development Agency (LDA), the Mayor's regeneration and skills body. The LDA are delighted to be working with Peter Head, Director of Arup, to help design the project. Greenpeace will also be working with the London Development Agency to deliver the project, which will be up to 1000 units in size.

Peter Head is responsible for the Dongtan eco-city in China, on which the Mayor of London received a presentation today while in Shanghai.

Dongtan aims to be the world's first sustainable city - with all the buildings powered by renewable energy, self-sufficient in water and food sourced from the surrounding farmland. The 630ha first phase of the city will house up to 80,000 people by 2020 and inhabitants will be encouraged to make use of the zero-carbon public transport, which will be powered entirely by renewable-energy.

The Mayor of London Ken Livingstone said: ‘Global warming was created in the west, but it is increasingly to the east to which we look for a solution. Shanghai's Dongtan sustainable-city project is breathtaking in scale and ambition and if it works it will be a beacon to the world on how to achieve a low-carbon future.

''London's zero-emission development will demonstrate that we can also realise this kind of vision in Europe and that it is affordable and achievable to make all major new developments low-carbon. I am delighted that Arup's Peter Head has agreed to help kick-start this initiative. His experience from Dongtan will be a major boost to London's plans. I am once again pleased to be able to work with Greenpeace on this issue of major importance to London’s future.’

Peter Head, Director of Arup said: “Our client in China, Shanghai Industrial Investment Corp, is showing that a new paradigm of urban development that addresses environmental pollution and resource depletion can be commercially attractive and help improve quality of life. I am delighted to help demonstrate that a much more ambitious approach to sustainable development is attractive in London too.”

Stephen Tindale, Executive Director of Greenpeace said: ‘Once again London is leading the way in the UK and Ken Livingstone is showing what can be done when a politician has the drive to turn aspiration into action. It’s high time central government took note of what is happening across the Thames.’


Monday, April 17, 2006

Big 3 can turn junk vehicles into gas

Research group unveils green technology that converts some of landfill's trash into oil, fuel, carbon.

Parts of that old clunker, destined for the scrap heap, might end up back in a gas tank, under new technology unveiled by Detroit automakers this week in Detroit.
Every year 15 million vehicles are scrapped in the United States and nearly all are recycled. But a quarter of the content -- such as glass, rubber, tires and foam -- ends up in landfills to the tune of nearly 8 billion pounds a year.
However, there may be a cure for that weighty ailment. The U.S. Council for Automotive Research released a study this week in Detroit about a new technology -- "thermal conversion process" -- that can turn some of the landfill's sludge into oil, fuel, gas and carbon.
The company that performed the study, Changing World Technologies Inc., used a plant in Carthage, Mo., where it has learned how to turn turkey bones and other scrapped animal parts into biofuels. If it works for turkey guts, the company argues, why not foam seats and other automotive leftovers.
"If it saves landfill space, if it makes oil and if it can be done in an environmentally friendly way, then it's certainly something worth doing," said General Motors Corp. research scientist Candace S. Wheeler, the principal author of a paper unveiled at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress.
About 64 percent of the material was converted to oil, Wheeler said. If done across the fleet of scrapped vehicles, it could eventually create billions of gallons of oil, she said.
USCAR is an umbrella research group formed by DaimlerChrysler AG., Ford Motor Co. and GM, along with public and private partners. Group members will vote today at its Southfield headquarters on whether to approve another more intensive study.
Motivating automakers in part are new regulations in Europe mandating additional recycling of materials from junked cars.
Beginning last Jan. 1, under a new "end-of-life vehicles" directive, new cars must be 85 percent recyclable -- and 5 percent of that can be from recovered energy.
The recycling threshold jumps to 95 percent in 2012, which is requiring automakers to redesign some parts. Some European countries are offering subsides to build plants to change recycled materials into oil.
Turning some scrap automotive parts into oil poses challenges and concerns because the material has some PCBs and heavy metals. Carbon dioxide is also emitted while creating the oil. Essentially, the test involved turning 3,000 pounds of material into a soupy mix, which was heated to nearly 600 degrees, and then skimming the oil from the water.
The auto recycling business is now the nation's 11th largest industry with sales of $5 billion annually. More than 14 million tons of automotive steel are recycled every year. There are more than 7,000 auto recyclers in the United States, employing about 50,000 people.
But recyclers object to some of the rules automakers have suggested. Currently, automakers recommend that air bags be deployed before a car is scrapped. They argue used airbags shouldn't be resold.
But the Automotive Recyclers Association's Charles Ossenkop -- in a paper delivered this week in Detroit -- says that's a waste.
"Air bags have significant resale value and ARA believes that testing results validate the reliability of previously installed non-deployed air bags," Ossenkop wrote.
Air bags are becoming increasingly difficult to remove by recyclers -- in a bid to stop theft.
Individual states have passed various laws governing what can and cannot be placed in landfills from scrapped cars. Some don't allow tires to be placed in landfills.
In 2005, Oregon passed a law that bans the sodium azide propellant material in airbags from being placed in landfills -- if the airbag hasn't been deployed. But not all airbags have the material. "Information on which vehicles have sodium azide air bags would be helpful," Ossenkop wrote.

Mayor announces EDF Energy as partner to develop climate change initiatives for London

The Mayor of London Ken Livingstone today (6 March) announced that EDF Energy has been chosen to work in partnership with the London Climate Change Agency to drive forward work that will provide decentralised, more efficient energy supplies for London.

The London Climate Change Agency has selected EDF Energy, one of the largest energy companies in the UK and the owner of London Energy and London’s public electricity network, as the preferred bidder to set up a joint venture company whose remit is to develop sustainable energy schemes for London.

The company will tackle climate change by developing local sustainable energy solutions to London’s power, heating and cooling needs. It will identify and develop sites across the capital where investment in sustainable energy technology would reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, which are contributing to global warming.

At a time when energy prices are rising, using energy more efficiently has never been more important. Developing decentralised energy sources will mean energy is locally produced rather than being supplied from the national grid. By reducing wasted heat and transmission costs it should also mean that those houses and businesses which are being supplied could benefit from lower heat and electricity bills.

The Mayor of London Ken Livingstone said:
'The issue of Climate Change is shooting up the list of priorities for Londoners. We must take bold steps to address global warming and it is essential that we become more efficient in the way we produce, distribute and use energy.

'The partnership with EDF Energy places London at the forefront of tackling climate change by encouraging the use of combined heat and power and renewable energy. Not only could this lead to a more secure and sustainable energy supply for London, but also to reduced household bills.

‘I launched the London Climate Change Agency last year - following a proposal from Deputy Mayor Nicky Gavron - to deliver ground-breaking energy efficiency and renewable energy projects across London. Working in partnership with EDF Energy, we can drive forward our work to tackle climate change.'

Chief Executive EDF Energy, Vincent de Rivaz, said:
‘We are delighted to have been chosen to provide London with its own sustainable energy infrastructure. As a company, our history is firmly rooted in London, we distribute power to London’s homes and businesses, we work with London’s communities and we were the first company to sign up as a Premier Partner of the bid to bring the Olympics to our city.

‘EDF Energy believes that a diverse mix of energy is the key to security of supply for the UK in the longer term and central to the fight against climate change. Local solutions will need to play their part as part of that diverse mix.

‘The task of providing sustainable, local energy projects which help to reduce carbon emissions is a big one but it is one to which we can bring our extensive expertise. I am hugely proud to be involved in this initiative, which will create a benchmark for other capital cities to follow.’

Deputy Mayor of London, Nicky Gavron, said:
‘Climate change is the greatest challenge facing our planet and cannot be ignored. When it comes to practical action on the ground, cities are centre stage. So large, energy-consuming cities like London have a responsibility to show leadership by reducing their carbon emissions and developing decentralised energy systems. That is why the Mayor and I, working with business, have set up the London Climate Change Agency and are creating a London energy services company, to help us develop a low carbon environmental infrastructure for the 21st century. How we are tackling climate change here in London could have an impact on major cities throughout the world.’

Allan Jones, Chief Development Officer, Climate Change Agency, said:
‘Global warming is the greatest threat facing the planet today and we are close to passing the tipping point of irreversible climate change. That is why the action that the Mayor is taking through the London Climate Change Agency is so important. The technologies that will be used are already tested and proven and we hope to showcase in London a model that could be copied across the UK and in other cities around the world to make the very significant cuts in carbon emissions that are necessary if we are to avert catastrophic climate change.

‘Work has already started with a programme to calculate the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the Greater London Authority Group - ‘carbon accounting’ - and flagship projects such as the renewable energy systems to be implemented at City Hall, Palestra and the London Transport Museum this year. But we need this energy services company to take forward sustainable energy projects on a scale that will have a major impact in reducing London’s greenhouse gas emissions.’

Friday, April 07, 2006

JR East develops lithium-diesel hybrid train

East Japan Railway Company has developed the world's first prototype of a hybrid diesel-electric rail car, called "NE Train (New Energy Train)," and is planning to start test runs.

The company has been working to develop rail cars that have lower environmental impacts through innovation of the propulsion system, by incorporating hybrid technology and fuel cell technology. The test run will be the first step in evaluating feasibility and energy efficiency of the new system.

The prototype is a single rail car with an onboard engine and employs a series-hybrid system with the future potential of being adapted to fuel-cell-driven rail cars.

The engine serves as the mechanical power source and is arranged in a series configuration with the electrical power source. The diesel engine drives the generator, and the generator supplies electricity to the electric motors that drive the wheels. In the future, this system can be adapted to a fuel cell system by simply replacing the engine and the generator with fuel cell stacks.

The motor is powered solely by electricity when starting, and the diesel engine starts during acceleration, generating additional electricity. This electricity plus the electricity stored in the battery drive the motors. A regenerative braking system also charges the battery when braking, thus enabling the engine to be stopped while the train is arriving at and departing from the station.

By optimizing the regenerative breaking system, the company hopes to increase energy efficiency by approximately 20 percent compared to the conventional rail car "Series Ki-Ha 110." The company also aims to halve the emissions of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter by using a cutting-edge low-emission diesel engine for generation, and by using the hybrid system.