Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

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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Track version of shuttle pod already in use at Heathrow airport.


No steering wheel or brake pedal, controlled by a computer, on a riverside path – do you feel lucky? Then step aboard…

Members of the British public are getting their first extended trial of a driverless shuttle bus, reports BBC News. Over the next three weeks, about 100 people will travel in a prototype shuttle on a route in Greenwich, London.

The vehicle, which travels at up to 10mph (16.1kmph), will be controlled by a computer. However, there will be a trained person on board who can stop the shuttle if required. Oxbotica, the firm that developed the shuttle, said 5,000 members of the public had applied to take part in the study.
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An embarrassing U-turn by the promoters of pointless carbophobia as diesel cars get the role of public enemy.
H/T Daily Mail via GWPF

It’s less than 20 years since the Labour government – backed by the vociferous green lobby and most of the scientific community – urged motorists to abandon their nasty, carbon-emitting, petrol-engine cars and convert to diesel.

With hindsight, looking at the names of the politicians who pushed this revolution – John Prescott, Neil Kinnock (then EU Transport Commissioner), Gordon Brown – we should have known it would end in tears. But at the time we were assured that driving a diesel was good for the planet and buying one was doing a public service.
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Credit: wheels.ca


But where will the hydrogen come from? As the report says: ‘Questions remain over how to supply hydrogen in a low-carbon cost-effective manner’. The trouble is these questions have been around for ever and show no sign of going away. Producing electricity, converting it into hydrogen then back to electricity seems unlikely ever to be a cheap process.

The UK government has revealed plans to pump £23 million into “cutting edge” infrastructure to accelerate the uptake of hydrogen powered vehicles, reports Utility Week.

The Department for Transport has invited hydrogen fuel providers to bid for match funding from the government for high-tech infrastructure projects, including fuelling stations, in a competition launching over the summer.
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Image credit: liveandletsfly.com


Wake turbulence rules for A380s require other aircraft to observe minimum separation distances of 5-8 miles in a variety of situations.

A harrowing freak air accident that has only just been revealed saw an Airbus A380 commercial jetliner flown by Emirates cause a much smaller business jet passing beneath it to flip upside down and plummet thousands of feet, reports the IB Times. The incident is a sharp reminder of why passengers should always wear their seat belts.

According to information obtained by the Aviation Herald, on the morning of 7 January an Emirates Airbus A380-800 was flying from Dubai to Sydney. While the aeroplane was en route over the Arabian Sea, roughly about 630 nautical miles southeast of Muscat, a Bombardier Challenger 604 business jet operated by German carrier MHS Aviation passed by 1,000ft beneath it.
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It’s the tube train with a difference – viable public transport or a fairground novelty? Testing is under way.

The first images of the Hyperloop One test track were shown off during the Middle East Rail conference, demonstrating progress on the high-speed transport system that promises to be faster than air travel, as Sott.net reports.

Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd unveiled never-before-seen images of the ‘DevLoop’ development site, in Las Vegas, during the 11th annual Middle East Rail conference in Dubai on Tuesday. The images show an aerial view of the construction of the world’s first full-system Hyperloop test site, with a test track of 500 meters or about one-third of a mile long and 11 feet wide.

The Los Angeles startup, Hyperloop One, has designed a near supersonic transport system that uses levitating pods that travel through a low-pressure tube at speeds up to 760 miles per hour. The goal is to make a test track during the first half of 2017.
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s-bahn
Hard to see bus and train operators giving 40 days of discounts to ‘help the climate’ as so-called climate experts fondly imagine. Pollution, congestion and climate fears all get rolled into one issue.

For years German cities have suffered under the effects of polluted air, mainly caused by diesel cars. But now that it’s nearly the Christian season of abstaining before Easter, experts have a novel solution, as The Local explains.

The Federal Environmental Agency (UBA) and other climate protectionists are encouraging Germans to go on a ‘car fast’ for the season of Lent leading up to Easter.

Katrin Dziekan of the UBA suggested special discounts on Deutsche Bahn and regional train services could be offered to those who abstain from cars for the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter.
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The VW diesel scandal has changed opinions.

The VW diesel scandal has changed opinions.


Car sales people may need a new pitch to buyers after this change to government policy. ‘Clean diesel’ is dead.

The Government is reportedly considering a scrappage scheme for diesel cars to improve air quality, reports the Belfast Telegraph.

Drivers should think long and hard before buying a diesel car, the Transport Secretary has said. Chris Grayling suggested motorists should consider buying a low-emission vehicle rather than spending their money on a diesel.

His intervention follows reports the Government is considering a scrappage scheme for diesel cars to improve air quality. The reported scheme would see drivers offered a cash incentive for replacing an old diesel car with a low-emission vehicle.
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Image credit: carmagazine.co.uk

Image credit: carmagazine.co.uk


The predictable war on diesel cars is underway. The days of promoting them as ‘climate-friendly’ are over, in the UK at least. Diesel trucks, vans and buses are overlooked.

London’s air pollution problem is so bad that just five days into 2017 Brixton had already used up its traffic fume allowance for the year, reports iNews.

Brixton has since been overtaken by Knightsbridge as Britain’s most polluted district so far this year. The wealthy west London suburb has exceeded the EU nitrogen dioxide (NO2) limit for a total of 52 hours already this year, nearly three times the legal annual allowance of 18 hours, according to the latest figures from Dr Gary Fuller at King’s College London.

But traffic pollution is by no means confined to these London hotspots.
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Electric vehicles still in the foothills 

Posted: January 14, 2017 by oldbrew in government, ideology, Travel
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Credit: plugincars.com

Credit: plugincars.com


As the author suggests, the wishful thinking of policy makers in the world’s better-off countries shows little sign of turning into success ‘on the ground’ when it comes to electric vehicles. Public concerns about cost, range, battery life, recharging and so on are not going away.

An article in Power Engineering International magazine in 2013 by Penny Hitchin identified progress in the development of electric vehicles, as well as the barriers to progress, writes PEI’s Diarmaid Williams.

Four years later, despite a relative surge in uptake of these vehicles, much of the same barriers remain. It’s anticipated that the evolution of the electric vehicle will transform the nature of electric power, but this evolution is unfolding at a slower rate than perhaps anticipated, or desired given the political expediency to decarbonise.

When Hitchin penned her piece, Charging ahead: EVs and the grid, there were 130,000 electric vehicles in the US. In December 2016 that figure was 542,000, according to Recode website, so there is an incremental rise, even if it’s not as rapid as hoped. The same problems are besetting countries around the world in moving away from fossil fuels and capitalising on the extraordinary progress of renewable power.

It’s a similar situation for cars.
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Solar panel road [image credit: Wattway]

Solar panel road [image credit: Wattway]


Five million Euros to power a few street lights sounds expensive. What effect traffic has on the panels remains to be seen, but dirt could be an issue.

A solar panel road, claimed to be the world’s first, has opened in France, reports the Daily Mail Online.

The 0.6 miles (1km) stretch of road in the small Normandy village of Tourouvre-au-Perche is paved with 2,880 solar panels, which convert energy from the sun into electricity. It is hoped that the the road could eventually provide enough energy to power the small village’s street lights.

The ‘Wattway’ road features 2,800 sq m (9,186 sq ft) of panels and was showcased today at an inauguration ceremony attended by French minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy Ségolène Royal.

The road is expected to produce 280 MWh of electricity a year.
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Achates engine design

Achates engine design


That’s the sales pitch for an opposed-piston alternative to today’s vehicle engines. No valves, no cylinder head. But will it get off the drawing board? WIRED reporting.

IF YOU POP THE hood on your car and yank out the plastic cover beneath it, you’ll see a beautiful bit of mind-boggling engineering: the internal combustion engine.

Today’s engines harness around 100 explosions of fuel and oxygen each second, generating massive power with minimal emissions. That’s great, but tightening pollution standards around the world mean automobiles must become increasingly efficient.

Electric cars offer one way forward, but they remain expensive and hobbled by range anxiety—the fear, often unfounded, that you’ll end up stranded with a dead battery. Internal combustion isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, with advancements like turbochargers, direct injection, and variable valve timing squeezing more miles from every gallon.

Achates Power in San Diego believes it has a better way: Ditch the design that has dominated engine design for the past 130 years in favor of an idea abandoned in the 1940s and see a 30 percent bump in efficiency.

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Gal Fridman, co-founder of Aquarius Engines, with the firm's single-piston car engine [image credit: phys.org / Aquarius]

Gal Fridman, co-founder of Aquarius Engines, with the firm’s single-piston car engine [image credit: phys.org / Aquarius]

Too good to be true? If not, what might the future hold for this innovation? Phys.org takes a look.

An Israeli firm says a super-efficient engine it has created could drastically reduce fuel consumption and help power an auto industry revolution as manufacturers search for environmentally sound alternatives.

Industry analysts, however, question the reinvented internal combustion engine’s chances of success at a time when purely electric car technology is advancing and attracting investors.

The invention from Israeli-based Aquarius Engines is currently being discussed by France’s Peugeot, the firm said.

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Heathrow or Gatwick: Runway decision tomorrow 

Posted: October 24, 2016 by oldbrew in government, Travel
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Heathrow expects... [credit: your.heathrow.com]

Heathrow expects… [credit: your.heathrow.com]


One thing’s for sure – they won’t be adopting the Guardian’s solution of no more runways ever. When one battle ends another will start, as ITV News reports.

The Government will tomorrow make a decision on where a new runway for the south should be built and Heathrow is expected to be the winner.

But it is expected that Gatwick could also be allowed to expand at a later date. The decision will then be subject to consultation ahead of a vote by MP’s in early 2018.

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Obama’s Electric Car Fail

Posted: September 16, 2016 by oldbrew in Politics, predictions, Travel
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Donna Laframboise does the unthinkable and waves one of the US president’s promises – or predictions – under his nose, pointing out its hopeless failure to come true. Trying to get people to limit their travels to 100 miles or so is about as likely to succeed as nailing jelly to the wall.

Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Only 40% of Obama’s electric cars are on the road. None meet the 150-mile-per gallon standard he promised.

obama_electric_car_promise1

Last year 17.5 million cars, SUVs, and light-weight trucks were sold in America. A mere 115,000 of those (two-thirds of one percent) were electric vehicles. Let’s press the rewind button back to the 2008 presidential campaign trail, in which Barack Obama declared:

we will help states like Michigan build the fuel-efficient cars we need, and we will get one million 150 mile-per-gallon plug-in hybrids on our roads within six years. [bold added]

In March 2009, two months after he became President, Obama delivered a speech at the Southern California Edison Electric Vehicle Technical Center in which he similarly asserted:

we will put one million plug-in hybrid vehicles on America’s roads by 2015.

In these closing months of 2016, it’s reasonable to ask how those green promises worked out. In…

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By Viv Forbes

For at least 21 years now, the U.N. and the IPCC have been ringmaster to a troupe of thousands. They perform at massive annual conferences held in exotic locations, serviced by top hotels and airlines, and funded largely, directly or indirectly, by reluctant taxpayers. 

An estimated 45,000 attendees, including 114 from the Australian government, achieved nothing useful at Copenhagen and just more green tape in Paris. Each of these climate-fests is preceded by numerous meetings of bureaucrats drafting and redrafting their wish lists.

Now the U.N. Climateer-in-Chief, Ban Ki-moon, has jetted into the G20 summit in China to claim climate victory over climate skeptics.

Is there no end to this energy-wasting climate tourism? If they believe that the science is settled, no more conferences are needed.

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