Few people associate clean transportation with the smell of french fries sizzling in hot grease, but used vegetable oil can be converted into an alternative fuel with many environmental advantages. In 1995, the Hawaiian island of Maui became concerned about environmental and health problems resulting from restaurant grease clogging its landfill. Operators complained that static pile fires were becoming more frequent, and the oil could leak into groundwater. Robert King, owner of King Diesel on Maui, spearheaded the formation of Pacific Biodiesel (PacBio) in 1996. PacBio receives used oil directly from pump trucks that service restaurants and hotels, and the company converts this into 150,000 gallons of premium biodiesel each year. This fuel, made totally from recycled cooking oil, is used in generators, commercial diesel equipment, boats and vehicles. More than 40 tons of used cooking oil is recycled each month. Customers range from private businesses to farmers who fill their five-gallon buckets with fuel for their tractors. Biodiesel is safe for use in all conventional diesel engines, says King, and requires no engine modifications. Torgue, horsepower, and fuel economy characteristics are similar to regular diesel fuel. Engine durability may even be increased because lower sulfur content results in more […]
Many people are betting that Agriculture is the bridge to an economy fueled by Renewable resources. BioEnergy, BioFuels, Energy from SuperEnzymes, BioPlastics - essential words for the coming vocabulary.
Manure, restaurant grease, tree trimmings, rice straw are all great examples of “one person’s garbage is another person’s treasure. Once thought of as intractable, problematic wastes, they are suddenly the basis for huge new markets as raw materials for electricity and fuel. Soybeans, rapeseed oil, and other crops suddenly are much more than food – they can run cars and buses. They are called “Biofuels” – electricity and fuel that is generated from plant matter. The two most common types in the U.S. are bioethanol and biodiesel. Biodiesel is a clean burning fuel made from domestically produced renewable fats and oils – most commonly soybean oil. It has similar fuel economy and performance as conventional petroleum diesel. Ethanol is now the third-largest use for corn after animal feed and exports.Tests show its use results in a 90% reduction in air toxins, according to the National Biodiesel Board. Rather than contributing to the waste stream and pollution, energy crops open a new market for agriculture, conserve soil, and reduce global warming.Bioenergy is less expensive than other renewable energy sources and can be delivered through the present energy infrastructure. You can pump liquid bioenergy into your car at the “gas” station as […]
Japan’s new Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi recently asked cabinet members to make sure they were moving toward his target of having a fully low-emission fleet of government cars in place in the next few years. “Japanese carmakers have excellent environmental and energy-saving technology. By getting it more broadly accepted in society, we can be a leader on environmental issues and make it a source of economic growth,” said Trade Minister Takeo Hiranuma. Yoriko Kawaguchi, environment minister, pledged to seek a global consensus on the Kyoto Protocol. He and Hiranuma asked senior officials of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association and Toyota Motor Corp to keep the supply of low emission cars consistent with demand. The Trade ministry is setting a goal 3.22 million electric, natural gas, methanol or hybrid vehicles on the road by 2010. Tokyo’s municipal government plans to base automobile taxes on the environmental performance of their cars. The most environmentally efficient vehicle will be used as a benchmark against which all other vehicles will be assigned eco-rankings. Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara called the plan “a very effective tool in asking automakers to share responsibility for air pollution.” The Tokyo City Tax Commission hopes to draft a city ordinance […]
Ford committed to improving the fuel economy of the most profitable and problematic portion of its fleet -SUVs. As part of its “Cleaner, Safer, Sooner” campaign, the company will increase fuel economy in all SUVs by 25 percent by 2005. John DeCicco of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy spoke highly of this move. “It changes the tenor of the public debate on fuel economy. “A five percent per year energy improvement over the next five years is only slightly less than the rate our studies identify as economically practical.” He notes that stronger CAFE standards remain necessary to ensure that similar technology and design improvements are made by all companies and in all market segments. The improvements go beyond either the European automakers’ joint commitments on fuel consumption or previous Congressional proposals calling for a 20 percent fuel economy increase within 5 years and a 40 percent increase over 10 years. About 70 percent of the fuel economy gains will be achieved through improvements in existing vehicle lines, including the application of advanced powertrain technologies, weight reduction, and improved aerodynamics. The other 30 percent of improvements will come from new market entries that have higher fuel economy. […]
The 21st Century Truck Initiative, announced late last month, is a government/business partnership to develop super fuel-efficient commercial trucks and buses. In the FY2001 budget, the Clinton Administration proposes an increase of 48 percent (from $47M-$142M) in research dollars to support research in advanced engines, fuel cells, lightweight materials, advanced propulsion technologies, vehicle design, and advanced emission control and vehicle safety systems. Within 10 years, the agreement should result in “production prototypes:” – heavy pickups, large delivery vans, and passenger buses with triple the fuel economy – 18-wheeler long-haul trucks with double the fuel economy – emissions reductions that exceed 2010 requirements The partners in this effort are the Departments of Defense, Energy, Transportation, and EPA, and Mack Trucks, Oshkosh Trucks, PACCAR, Volvo Trucks North America, Cummins Engine Company, Caterpillar, Detroit Diesel Corporation, Eaton Corporation, and Lockheed Martin Control Systems.
In late April, President Clinton upped the ante when he issued two significant Executive Orders: Greening the Government Through Federal Fleet & Transportation Efficiency and Greening the Government Through Leadership in Environmental Management. The first order directs federal agencies to reduce petroleum consumption by improving fleet fuel efficiency and using alternative fuel vehicles and fuels. Agencies that operate 20 or more vehicles must reduce petroleum consumption by at least 20 percent by the end of fiscal year 2005, compared to 1999 levels. Agencies must use alternative fuels to meet the majority of fuel requirements established by section 303 of the Energy Policy Act of 1992. The second order requires federal government agencies to incorporate environmental management systems into day-to-day decision making and long-term planning processes, including environmental accounting and lifecycle analysis. In doing so, pollution prevention, effective facility management, and sound procurement practices will enable agencies to reach the following goals: reduce toxic chemical releases by 10 percent annually, or by 50 percent by the end of 2006; phase out purchases of Class I ozone depleting substances for all non-exempted uses by the end of 2010; sustainably manage federal facility lands through environmentally sound landscaping practices. To read Clinton’s Executive […]
As they visibly step up efforts to release alternative fuel vehicles, major automakers continue to buck attempts to control emissions. Nine auto makers, including GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler, formed a new lobbying group which will focus on safety and environmental issues, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. Peter Pestillo, vice chairman of Ford, will serve as the group’s first chair. Honda is the sole major auto maker opting out of the group, possibly because of its advanced emissions technology. In the early 1970s, it introduced an engine that met emissions standards other auto makers said were impossible to meet. Its VV, a hybrid gasoline-electric vehicle that gets more than 70 miles per gallon goes on sale this fall, and the company is working on a nearly zero-emission gasoline engine. The alliance’s first order of business is emissions, since new EPA standards will be much tougher, particularly for trucks and diesels.
In 1999, General Motors will test its hybrid diesel-electric bus in New York City. GM alternative fuel focus is on the commercial vehicle market, which includes buses, postal trucks, and garbage trucks. Robert Purcell, GM’s advanced vehicle technology operations executive director, anticipates this market to be profitable because unlike individuals, fleet owners are more likely to purchase these vehicles at a higher price, knowing they are less expensive to run in the long run.