Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Scotland’s new Queensferry Crossing road bridge [image credit: BBC]


‘New plans from the Scottish Government would allow the sale of hybrid and electric cars but not exclusively petrol or diesel ones’, reports Auto Express. But is it just political bluster, based on Scotland having left the UK?

Scotland has set out plans to phase out the sale of cars powered solely by petrol or diesel by 2032 – eight years ahead of the timescale proposed for the rest of the UK.

As under the plans south of the border, Scotland would allow the sale of petrol and diesel hybrids, however.

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The campaign to demonise diesel cars – above all other causes of city air pollution – rumbles on, as The Local reports. The conundrum being of course that Germany makes vast sums from sales of diesel cars, trucks, buses etc. As usual climate is wrongly conflated with air quality issues.

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday pledged a billion euros to help German cities fight air pollution caused by dirty diesel cars, as a scandal strangling the automobile industry threatened to engulf politicians at the height of the election campaign.

Merkel said she was doubling financial aid to cities from a previously announced €500 million, in a bid to stave off the threat of an all-out ban against diesel vehicles.

The public health threat posed by nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions came to the fore after Germany’s biggest carmaker Volkswagen admitted in September 2015 to fitting millions of cars worldwide with illegal devices to cheat pollution tests.

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Cassini probe at Saturn
[credit: NASA]


NASA’s Cassini space probe is still sending back useful data before it ends its 20 year mission by diving into the unexplored Saturnian atmosphere.

The spectacular rings of Saturn may be relatively young, perhaps just 100 million years or so old, says BBC News.

This is the early interpretation of data gathered by the Cassini spacecraft on its final orbits of the giant world. If confirmed, it means we are looking at Saturn at a very special time in the age of the Solar System.

Cassini is scheduled to make only two more close-in passes before driving itself to destruction in Saturn’s atmosphere on 15 September. The probe is being disposed of in this way because it will soon run out of fuel.

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But still, global climate models will say: Does Not Compute!

No coffins needed on this occasion fortunately.

NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

By Paul Homewood

h/t AC Osborn

The Mail reports on yet another Arctic expedition that has come perilously close to real grief:

image

Three British rowers attempting a record 1,200-mile voyage across the raging seas of the Arctic Ocean are stranded on a remote volcanic island after being battered by fierce storms.

The trio, part of a six-man crew, were forced to land on the tiny island of Jan Mayen, just 340 miles from their destination on Iceland.

The Polar Row team, including British double Olympic gold medallist Alex Gregory, had endured freezing temperatures and almost constant soaking in their fibreglass boat, which has neither an outboard motor nor sails.

Nightmare: The Polar Row team (pictured) had endured freezing temperatures and almost constant soaking in their fibreglass boat, which has neither an outboard motor nor sails

Nightmare: The Polar Row team (pictured) had endured freezing temperatures and almost constant soaking in their fibreglass boat, which has neither an outboard motor nor sails

Having landed on the island, the three Britons and another rower refused to continue because…

View original post 325 more words

Brew or battery charge?


Another potential snag for electric car owners in a hurry, as Auto Express reports.

Electric vehicle owners may not be able to rapidly charge their car at home at the same time as boiling a kettle, National Grid has warned.

The grid operator said that using a fast charger, which can be installed at home to reduce charging times, is likely to trip a house’s main fuse if used simultaneously with other ‘high demand’ items such as kettles, ovens and immersion heaters.

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Diesel car engine


Diesels are in need of some good news after all the recent negative press. The researchers believe their findings are of ‘major environmental importance’.

Researchers have discovered a new reaction mechanism that could be used to improve catalyst designs for pollution control systems to further reduce emissions of smog-causing nitrogen oxides in diesel exhaust, as Phys.org reports.

The research focuses on a type of catalyst called zeolites, workhorses in petroleum and chemical refineries and in emission-control systems for diesel engines.

New catalyst designs are needed to reduce the emission of nitrogen oxides, or NOx, because current technologies only work well at relatively high temperatures.

“The key challenge in reducing emissions is that they can occur over a very broad range of operating conditions, and especially exhaust temperatures,” said Rajamani Gounder, the Larry and Virginia Faith Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering in Purdue University’s Davidson School of Chemical Engineering.

“Perhaps the biggest challenge is related to reducing NOx at low exhaust temperatures, for example during cold start or in congested urban driving.”

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Credit: siemens.com


Could be expensive, but similar systems have already been installed in Sweden and California. No overtaking?

The German state of Hesse is to build a 10km-long highway with overhead power lines that trucks can connect to at speed with a pantograph, reports Power Engineering International.

Siemens Mobility are to develop the line to supply electricity to hybrid trucks, which will then be able to operate twice as efficiently as they would when running on petrol or diesel.

The company said that a 40-tonne truck running for 100,000km on an eHighway would realise €20,000 in reduced fuel costs.

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Credit: Automotive News Europe


European auto makers look like riding out the current panic over diesel engine health risks, fighting off a clamour for action by politicians and environmentalists, and despite some worrying projections by investment bankers, as Forbes reports.

New “mild-hybrid” technology will quickly fill the gap left by diesel’s precipitate decline, while a softening attitude from the European Union (E.U.) suggests city bans of this now derided technology might not be as ubiquitous as feared.

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Even electric cars can’t cut the mustard in polluted cities, according to this BBC report at least.

Plans to promote electric vehicles in the UK do not go far enough to tackle air pollution, according to a leading government adviser. Writing in the Guardian, Prof Frank Kelly said fewer cars, not just cleaner ones, were the key to cleaner air.

Electric cars produce particulates from their tyres and brakes which are linked to serious health problems. Prof Kelly said that London should lead the way in promoting non-polluting transport policies.

Just last week the government unveiled its strategy for tackling illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide in the air. The key element was a promise to end the sale of all new diesel and petrol cars from 2040.

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These two 1977 vintage machines really are ‘cosmic overachievers’ as this Phys.org report calls them. Voyager 1 reached interstellar space in 2012, but the last science instrument is not due to be switched off until 2030.

Humanity’s farthest and longest-lived spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, achieve 40 years of operation and exploration this August and September.

Despite their vast distance, they continue to communicate with NASA daily, still probing the final frontier. Their story has not only impacted generations of current and future scientists and engineers, but also Earth’s culture, including film, art and music.

Each spacecraft carries a Golden Record of Earth sounds, pictures and messages. Since the spacecraft could last billions of years, these circular time capsules could one day be the only traces of human civilization.

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If cars are to be electric only there will obviously be a massive increase in demand on the National Grid as a result – and that’s only one of a number of major issues arising from such a policy, such as cost and practicality. Whether hybrids would still be allowed is not clear.

New diesel and petrol cars and vans will be banned in the UK from 2040 in a bid to tackle air pollution, the government is set to announce.

Ministers will also unveil a £255m fund to help councils tackle emissions from diesel vehicles, as part of a £3bn package of spending on air quality, reports BBC News.

The government will later publish its clean air strategy, favouring electric cars, before a High Court deadline.

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Volvo to go all electric from 2019

Posted: July 5, 2017 by oldbrew in Emissions, News, Travel
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The internal combustion engine will still be on offer, as autofreaks.com reports, but what the headline means is that there will be at least some element of electric propulsion, including electric-only models, in every Volvo from 2019. Will other car makers follow?

Volvo today announced that every model it launches from 2019 will have an electric motor, marking the historic end of cars that only have an internal combustion engine (ICE) and placing electrification at the core of its future business.

The announcement represents one of the most significant moves by any car maker to embrace electrification and highlights how over a century after the invention of the internal combustion engine electrification is paving the way for a new chapter in automotive history.

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Image credit: Eviation


No details of costs in this IB Times report, but Eviation claims that its electric aircraft is made possible by a new aluminum air battery.

As electric cars slowly become commonplace in towns and cities, electric planes are slowly edging their way out of science fiction and into the real world.

At the International Paris Air Show, Israel-based Eviation Aircraft revealed the first prototype of its all-electric airplane, called the Alice Commuter, which is claimed to have a range of up to 600 miles at almost 280mph.

If Eviation can stick to that timeline then the progress in electronic aviation is nothing short of staggering. Just two years ago, Icelandic airline Wow Air ran an April Fool’s day joke about it launching an all-electric.

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Image credit: thedrive.com


Yet another supposedly ‘climate-friendly’ policy gets called into question as Phys.org reports. ‘Costs a fortune’ and ‘has little effect’ are two of the criticisms.

Subsidizing the purchase of electric cars in Canada is an inefficient way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that is not cost effective, according to a Montreal Economic Institute study released Thursday.

“It’s just a waste,” said Germain Belzile, one of the authors of the study, which examined electric vehicle subsidies offered by Canada’s two biggest provinces Ontario and Quebec, which can rise to as much as a third of a vehicle’s purchase price, depending on the model. “Not only do these programs cost taxpayers a fortune, but they also have little effect on GHG emissions,” he said.

The government of Quebec has set a goal of having one million electric and hybrid vehicles on its roads by 2030, up from 6,000 currently. Ontario has the same objective.

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Airport chaos for BA passengers


BA moves in mysterious ways, its blunders to perform – but with dire results for a lot of unlucky customers.

BA chief executive Alex Cruz says the airline’s flight disruptions had nothing to do with cutting costs but were caused by a power surge that “only lasted a few minutes”, reports BBC News via the GWPF.

BA chief executive Alex Cruz says he will not resign and that flight disruption had nothing to do with cutting costs.

He told the BBC a power surge, had “only lasted a few minutes”, but the back-up system had not worked properly.

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Can natural gas for cars be marketed as sustainable?

Posted: May 8, 2017 by oldbrew in Energy, Travel
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Credit: zebgas.com


That’s the plan of car makers such as VW. The claim derives mainly from biogas and manufacture of methane using surplus electricity from renewables like wind and solar power. Their aim is for a million CNG vehicles in Germany by 2025.

Volkswagen Group, operators of compressed natural gas filling stations and gas networks have signed a joint declaration of intent, committing themselves to the extension of CNG mobility, reports NGT News.

As reported, the signers corroborate the objectives of the “Round Table for Natural Gas Mobility” initiated by the Federal Ministry of Economy in 2016, where representatives of vehicle manufacturers, the gas industry and filling stations operators, as well as representatives of important retail customers, fleet operators and the public sector, came together to promote the fuel.

With their contributions, the signers, together with other vehicle manufacturers, will work toward multiplying the CNG vehicle fleet in Germany 10-fold to 1 million vehicles by 2025.

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China’s BYD F3DM plug-in hybrid [image credit: Mariordo]


Scare stories about man-made global warming or even city pollution cut little ice with Chinese car buyers. The high cost of battery power and/or fear of running out of it on their journeys – range anxiety – seem more of a concern.

Automakers face a dilemma in China’s huge but crowded market: Regulators are pushing them to sell electric cars, but buyers want gas-guzzling SUVs, says Phys.org.

The industry is rattled by Beijing’s proposal to require that electric cars make up 8 percent of every brand’s production as soon as next year. Consumers are steering the other way: First-quarter SUV sales soared 21 percent from a year earlier to 2.4 million, while electric vehicle purchases sank 4.4 percent to just 55,929.

“It’s tough for someone with an EV to come and take away market share from SUVs,” said Ben Cavender of China Market Research Group.
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French anti-pollution car stickers


A colour-coded badge of honour or shame for every car under new French regulations. UK MoT certificates won’t do for city visitors.

UK drivers planning to go to France in the coming months are going to require new ‘clean air’ stickers or face on-the-spot fines for failing to display them, as CLM reports.

Paris, Lyon and Grenoble introduced the new Crit’Air scheme in January to tackle vehicle pollution in their city centres, with another 22 towns and cities said to be planning to follow suit over the next few years.

The scheme requires all vehicles to clearly display an air quality certificate windscreen sticker, or vignette, according to how much they pollute.
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Electric car technology


Why the motor industry needs these handouts is not obvious, unless of course the lack of public enthusiasm for electric cars means car makers expect a ‘sweetener’ before doing any related work.

The government has awarded £62 million in funding to low-emissions automotive projects, including the development of electric vehicle batteries to be be produced in the UK, as Silicon UK reports.

The funding was the sixth round to be awarded through the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), formed in 2013 to help develop the UK’s low-emissions vehicle manufacturing sector.
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Experimental E-plane [image credit: Siemens]


In the longer term they’re hoping this e-plane research will lead to ‘hybrid-electric airliners’.

Siemens has just announced that an electric aerobatic plane powered by its latest motor has nabbed two world speed records, as New Atlas reports.

The Extra 330LE aircraft is now the fastest e-plane under 1,000 kg, and also – after a few mods – the quickest above 1,000 kg, too. The electric test plane also became the first in the world to tow a glider up into the skies.

The Extra 330LE aerobatic plane powered by the lightweight electric motor announced by Siemens in 2015 made its first flight in July 2016.
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