Spinning plant waste into carbon fiber for cars, planes

Read the full story from Science Daily.

Using plants and trees to make products such as paper or ethanol leaves behind a residue called lignin. That leftover lignin isn’t good for much and often gets burned or tossed into landfills. Now, researchers report transforming lignin into carbon fiber to produce a lower-cost material strong enough to build car or aircraft parts.

ShAPEing the future of magnesium car parts

Read the full story from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Magnesium — the lightest of all structural metals — has a lot going for it in the quest to make ever lighter cars and trucks that go farther on a tank of fuel or battery charge.

Magnesium is 75 percent lighter than steel, 33 percent lighter than aluminum and is the fourth most common element on earth behind iron, silicon and oxygen. But despite its light weight and natural abundance, auto makers have been stymied in their attempts to incorporate magnesium alloys into structural car parts. To provide the necessary strength has required the addition of costly, tongue-twisting rare elements such as dysprosium, praseodymium and ytterbium — until now.

When Will Electric Cars Go Mainstream? It May Be Sooner Than You Think

Read the full story in the New York Times.

As the world’s automakers place larger bets on electric vehicle technology, many industry analysts are debating a key question: How quickly can plug-in cars become mainstream?

The conventional view holds that electric cars will remain a niche product for many years, plagued by high sticker prices and heavily dependent on government subsidies.

But a growing number of analysts now argue that this pessimism is becoming outdated. A new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a research group, suggests that the price of plug-in cars is falling much faster than expected, spurred by cheaper batteries and aggressive policies promoting zero-emission vehicles in China and Europe.

Volvo to Drop Combustion Engines and Take All its Cars Electric in 2019

Read the full story at e360 Digest.

The Swedish-based carmaker, Volvo, will build only electric or hybrid-electric cars beginning in 2019, making it the first big auto company to abandon conventional gasoline-powered engines.

WVU emissions researchers help address automotive industry and regulatory challenges on clean-diesel issues

Read the full story from West Virginia University.

Researchers at West Virginia University have long studied emissions from diesel vehicles to provide independent data about emissions performance both in the laboratory and on the road, as well as provide technology demonstration, other research and design support.

The most recent study from WVU’s Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions measured oxides of nitrogen emissions, or NOx, from five Fiat Chrysler vehicles in real-world and laboratory tests.

Prioritizing Water Reduction and Reclamation: Q&A with Ford’s Andy Hobbs

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

About 17 years ago, Ford Motor Company took a closer look at its water costs. The move was initially met with wonder, especially given that the automaker is headquartered in the Great Lakes region.

“When we build a car, we know the cost of every second for every employee,” says Andy Hobbs, director of the Environmental Quality Office at Ford Motor Company. “But we never really knew the cost of water. You’d get a water bill.”

So Ford began applying disciplined techniques to understanding the true cost of water. In those early days, they discovered substantial leaks underground and aboveground, Hobbs says. This led to a careful chronicle of water-related issues, which the automaker then tackled systematically starting with no-cost changes and progressing to ones that required investment. Since then, Ford has reduced water consumption by 10 billion gallons.

Hobbs will be talking about innovations in water reclamation at the 2017 Environmental Leader Conference in June. Recently we caught up with him to learn about Ford’s water goals and strategies for reaching them.

Impacts of world class vehicle efficiency and emissions regulations in select G20 countries

Download the document. See also a summary of the study in Environmental Leader.

In 2014, the G20 Energy Efficiency Action Plan prioritized the establishment of a Transport Task Group (TTG) to promote cooperation among participating G20 countries to develop domestic policies that improve the energy efficiency and environmental performance of motor vehicles, particularly heavy-duty vehicles. Led by the United States, the TTG currently includes Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union (with Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom also participating individually), India, Japan, Mexico, and Russia.

This briefing characterizes the climate and health benefits of adopting world-class standards for new vehicle efficiency/CO2 and conventional pollutant emissions in all members of the G20 TTG. We find that new world-class vehicle efficiency standards applied in all TTG members could mitigate direct emissions from fuel combustion by an additional 2.4 GtCO2 beyond the 2.0 GtCO2 estimated to be avoided in 2040 under existing adopted vehicle efficiency standards. This additional mitigation potential is evenly split between light-duty vehicles (LDVs) and heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs). The rate of growth in vehicle populations worldwide—coupled with their cost-effective CO2 mitigation potential (achievable with fuel savings)—indicates that policies to improve vehicle efficiency should be a core component of meeting countries’ climate targets, including INDCs.

For conventional pollutants, we find that implementing world-class emissions standards for LDVs and HDVs in the six TTG members that have not yet implemented these standards could reduce fine particle-related health impacts in these countries by two thirds and avoid 60,000 premature deaths in urban areas alone annually by 2030. Once world-class emissions standards are implemented across all G20 members, we estimate that nearly 90% of new LDVs and HDVs sold worldwide will meet the standards, compared to about only half of new vehicles sold today. These standards will result in additional climate co-benefits by reducing emissions of black carbon, a component of fine particle emissions.

The significant climate and health benefits demonstrated by this analysis bolster the rationale for G20 countries to continue improvements in new vehicle efficiency and lower conventional pollutant emissions from LDVs and HDVs. In particular, given that G20 members account for 90% of new vehicles sold in the world today (and more than 80% for TTG members), TTG members have considerable capacity to transform the global vehicle market and, ultimately, most of the vehicles on the road. The analysis also reinforces the importance of both light- and heavy-duty vehicles in securing future CO2 reductions from on-road vehicles.