Posted on March 30th, 2008 1 comment
BMW hydrogen car has “near-zero emissions”
Filed in Trendwatch
By Mark Raby
Argonne (IL) – The BMW Hydrogen 7 Mono-Fuel test vehicle has been rated by the US Department of Energy as a super-ultra low-emission vehicle (SULEV), the highest designation for low emission standards.
The tests were done at the DOE’s National Laboratory in Argonne, Illinois. The man in charge of hydrogen vehicle testing, Thomas Wallner, said the emissions from the Hydrogen 7 vehicle were “only a fraction” of the level required for the SULEV level.
He also noted that the car’s 12-cylinder engine sometimes had emission levels that were cleaner than “ambient air” that entered the engine.
The testing center said the car had “near-zero emissions,” and it required special technology just to be able to measure it.
BMW commented on the results saying that it is “pushing the boundaries of emissions testing,” adding that the next major hurdle is adding more hydrogen fueling stations throughout the US.
Yes, and my cold fusion powered Aston Martin has zero emissions as well. Of course, the fuel for my car is a little more difficult to get and slightly more expensive than hydrogen is for the BMW. A little.
And let me add that…
“the next major hurdle is adding more hydrogen fueling stations”
may be one of the biggest and most incomplete understatements of the year. We’ve proven the concept. Now, can we make the fuel and distribute hydrogen so that it can replace fossil fuels? Another hydro-car is no news at all.
Posted on September 20th, 2007 No comments
Engineering Consulting Firm Develops California-Clean Diesel
VAN BUREN TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Low-key automotive engineering consultant Ricardo Inc. says it has developed a suite of technologies that allows diesel engines to meet even California’s Super Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEV) emissions standard — without a complex and expensive system to scrub the excess oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions that typically plague diesels.
Ricardo’s development is significant because many automakers have near-term plans to launch diesel-powered vehicles, but most say they will have to rely on so-called “selective catalytic reduction” systems, or SCR, to reduce NOx emissions to levels that meet new California and federal emissions standards. The SCR systems typically hinge on injection of a urea-based solution into the exhaust stream to enable special catalytic converters to process the NOx to acceptable amounts.
The Ricardo diesel emissions system apparently mirrors a similar development by Honda Motor Co., which already announced it has invented an emissions system that does not require SCR to make diesels clean enough for sale in all 50 states. Honda says it will begin selling a diesel-powered Accord in the U.S. for the 2009 model year.
Ricardo says the system employs two-stage twin sequential turbochargers, advanced air-handling and exhaust-gas recirculation and in-cylinder pressure sensing to allow the engine to more precisely control combustion, while a diesel oxidation catalyst and particulate filter pitch in to achieve California SULEV and federal Tier II, bin 5 emissions levels.
Ricardo, little-known outside the tight automotive engineering community, has quietly lent engineering consultancy to many of the world’s automakers. The company helped Chrysler LLC, for example, engineer its now-legendary Hemi V8, and helped General Motors with extensive development of the Hummer H2.
Ricardo says its ultra-clean diesel is designed to generate about 87 horsepower per liter; a 2.5-liter engine could kick out in the neighborhood of 220 hp, an output competitive with many of the best current gasoline engines. In a release, the company says the engine now is installed in a vehicle to begin on-road testing and calibration in the coming months.
What this means to you: Work from independent engineering consultants may speed affordable, high-performance, high-efficiency diesels to the U.S. market — and give Honda some diesel competition.
What Edmunds missed: Uh, it’s still a gasoline engine. Sure, it’s clean and that’s awesome but it’s still swilling petrochemicals. We need something that doesn’t drink oil.
Posted on September 18th, 2007 No comments
This is so succinct, so well said…
45 Real World MPG – What’s The Problem?
by Matt Stone
Toyota’s second gen Prius drew much praise and garnered a ton of press when it came to market for the 2004 model year. It was MT’s Car of The Year for ’04 as well, in recognition of its technical acheivements, significance, and more importantly, overall goodness as an automobile. But then a few Hollywood stars took their ride to the Oscars in one, so pundits started wailing on it as more of a political statement than a car.
Then some newspaper and TV types prophesized that since the car didn’t deliver the 60 MPG given it by the EPA’s city mileage cycle, it was a fraud, or at least not all it was cracked up to be. The reasons it didn’t meet that number are the result of an antiquated rating system, not the fault of the car, but that’s another story. My point here is that in spite of the fact that the Prius is praised and damned as a media darling, and is occasionaly used as a statement of owners’ position on the environment or other political issues, it works well as an automobile, no matter.
My wife owns one, and it has been her every day driver for three years as of next month. She gets a real world 45 mpg. She’s comfy in it. Save for a sunroof, it has every feature she cares about. It has as much room as most mid-sized cars. She feels good about driving SULEV rated transportation. And it has been faultlessly reliable, never yet asking more than an oil change and tire rotation every 5,000 miles, and one recall service for an updated steering shaft.
The economic benefits, or lack thereof, of its mileage vs. cost situation depends of course on the price of fuel. Right now, at around $3 a gallon, it makes a lot of sense compared to similar sized cars that would return 25-30 MPG. Engineers work day and night to find small mileage improvements; a car that gets 50% better mileage than many others that have similar interior room and sticker prices is still huge news in my book.
Hybrids aren’t the answer for every situation; to believe so is incorrect. But diesels aren’t perfect either, and hydrogen, ethanol, and pure electrics are decades down the road at least. All I know is that my wife has a quality car that she likes, feels good about driving, serves the needs of her driving cycle, and saves me a ton of money on gas.
What’s the problem?
One final thought here. While driving differently can save fuel in almost any vehicle there are few vehicles out there that are better suited to MPG saving techniques than the Prius. It’s one reason why MPG is so slippery. My lifetime, for instance, is 48 MPG but I make little or no attempt to drive it conservatively. I haul stuff in my car. I typically carry passengers. In our family the Prius is our truck. So I’m delighted with 48 MPG. If I wanted to I think I could easily raise that average to 55 MPG. My point isn’t that I’m wasteful driver only that the Prius allows the owner to mold it into whatever role they wish to. If you want to drive a spunky, mid-size car that also gets great MPG, then you can. If you want hypermile and see ridiculous MPG numbers, you can. That’s the genius of the Prius.