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EERE Network News -- 05/05/04

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  • EERE Network News by way of Tom Gray
    4c4615cb.jpg 4c46182e.jpg A weekly newsletter from the U.S. Department of Energy s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable
    Message 1 of 1 , May 5, 2004

      A weekly newsletter from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

      May 05, 2004

      News and Events

      Site News

      • Treepower.org

      Energy Connections

      • EPA: No Change in U.S. Fuel Economy in 2004

      News and Events

      GM Delivers the World's First Full-Sized Hybrid Pickup

      General Motors Corporation (GM) delivered its first commercial hybrid-electric vehicle on Monday, presenting the first Chevrolet Silverado hybrid pickup to Miami-Dade County in Florida. The vehicle is the first full-sized hybrid pickup in the world, achieving a fuel economy that is 10 to 12 percent higher than GM's other half-ton pickups. GM also takes advantage of the truck's electrical generator, providing four auxiliary power outlets under the rear seat of the cab for use in powering tools and other accessories. By the end of May, GM will deliver a total of 50 Silverado hybrid pickups to Miami-Dade County for use in its fleet, and will start selling hybrid versions of the Silverado and the GMC Sierra pickups at dealerships this fall. See the GM press release.
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      A look under the hood of the Ford Escape Hybrid.
      Credit: Ford Motor Company

      GM delivered its new hybrid vehicle during the 10th National Clean Cities Conference and Expo, now taking place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the Gold Coast Clean Cities Coalition are hosting this year's event, which EERE marked in part by launching a revised Web site for its Clean Cities Program. The revised Web site provides simple, intuitive access to information about the program, and reflects the looks and feel of the EERE Web site. See the Clean Cities Program Web site and the conference Web site.

      Meanwhile, Ford Motor Company is preparing to start selling its Escape Hybrid sport utility vehicle in late summer. Ford expects the front-wheel-drive version to achieve 35 to 40 miles per gallon in city driving. See the updated Escape Hybrid Web site.

      U.S. Hybrid Vehicle Registrations and Sales on the Increase

      The number of hybrid electric vehicles registered in the United States increased nearly 26 percent in 2003 to a total of 43,435, according to R.L. Polk & Co., a provider of automotive marketing data. The Polk report, released in late April, found that the Honda Civic Hybrid accounted for half of the hybrid registrations in 2003, followed closely by the Toyota Prius, with 47 percent. Honda's two-seater Insight accounted for the remaining 3 percent of hybrid vehicles. California is by far the state where the most hybrids are registered, and more than 40 percent of that state's owners are in Los Angeles. See the R.L. Polk press release.

      This year, U.S. sales of hybrids are continuing to climb, and Toyota appears to be passing Honda by. American Honda sold a record 3,041 Civic Hybrids in April and has sold 9,023 Civic Hybrids since the start of this year, an increase of 10.9 percent over last year's sales. Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc. sold 3,684 Priuses in April and 13,602 since the start of this year, an increase of 78.1 percent over last year's sales. See the press releases from Toyota and Honda.

      Technologies to Boost the Fuel Efficiency of Cars and Planes

      While General Motors Corporation (GM) and Ford Motor Company are entering the hybrid vehicle market, they continue pursuing other technologies that will also yield improvements in gasoline mileage. Notably, the two companies announced in late April that they are investing $720 million to build a six-speed, front-wheel-drive, automatic transmission. The new six-speed transmission is expected to offer up to four percent better gas mileage compared to today's four-speed transmissions, according to the automakers. Starting in 2006, the new transmissions will be built at a GM plant in Warren, Michigan, and at Ford plants in Sterling Heights, Michigan, and Sharonville, Ohio. In November, Ford also announced a $155-million investment in its Sharonville plant to build rear-drive six-speed automatic transmissions there. See the GM press release.
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      An artist's concept of Boeing's new 7E7 jetliner.
      Credit: Boeing Company

      Fuel efficiency improvements are also coming to jetliners, as Boeing Company has launched its new energy-efficiency 7E7 Dreamliner passenger jet. According to Boeing, the 7E7 uses 15 to 20 percent less fuel than today's airplanes of comparable size. Boeing achieved the fuel savings using lightweight, fuel-efficient engines; improved aerodynamics; smaller, lighter wings; and more efficient on-board systems. Japan's ANA (All Nippon Airlines) has ordered 50 of the new jets from Boeing. See the Boeing press release and 7E7 Web site.

      University of Victoria Wins Hydrogen Fueling Design Contest

      Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced last week that the University of Victoria from British Columbia, Canada, is the grand prize winner of the first Hydrogen Fueling Station Design Contest. The University of California, Davis came in a close second in the contest, which was sponsored by DOE, the National Hydrogen Association (NHA), ChevronTexaco, Natural Resources Canada, and Swagelok Company. Seventeen teams from universities in the United States and Canada participated in the competition, which challenged the teams to address the technical specifications, environmental impact, safety issues, profitability, and education and marketing for a hydrogen fueling station. See the NHA press release (PDF 68 KB). Download Acrobat Reader.

      The NHA is requesting suggestions for next year's contest, which will be called "H2U." See the preliminary H2U Web site.

      DOE also challenged high school students on Saturday to design and build hydrogen-powered model cars. Using fuel cells and other components provided by General Motors Corporation, and with technical assistance from DOE engineers, 16 high school teams built model cars and competed in a speed race and a hill-climbing competition. University High School of Morgantown, West Virginia, took first place in the speed race and Chaska High School of Chaska, Minnesota, conquered a 48-degree incline to become "King of the Hill." The teams were drawn from finalists in the National Science Bowl, a national competition among high school students to answer increasingly difficult questions about science. This year, 64 teams visited Washington, D.C., as finalists after winning regional competitions in which 1,800 schools participated. On Monday, Thomas Jefferson High School of Alexandria, Virginia, took the first prize for the third consecutive year. See the DOE press releases from May 1st and May 3rd.

      Canadian Company Starts Production of Ethanol from Cellulose

      Ethanol fuel is now being produced from cellulose and sold for commercial use by Iogen Corporation, the Canadian-based company announced in late April. Ethanol is currently produced from starchy grains such as corn, but cellulose ethanol is produced from more "woody" agricultural byproducts, such as straw, corn cobs, and corn stalks, which are often discarded as waste. Iogen is producing its cellulose ethanol at a demonstration plant, but claims to be in the process of finalizing locations for a full-scale commercial plant. The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) hailed the achievement as a "key breakthrough." See the press releases from Iogen and BIO.

      DOE is also supporting research and development in cellulose ethanol. In late April, Novozymes A/S announced that it has cut the cost of the enzymes needed for producing ethanol from cellulose by a factor of 20. The gains were achieved in part by Novozymes' advances in enzyme technologies, and in part by improved pre-treatment processes for corn wastes that were developed by DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The new pre-treatment process allows the use of fewer enzymes per gallon of ethanol produced. See the Novozymes press release.

      Meanwhile, the traditional ethanol fuel industry continues to grow. In February and March, two new ethanol plants started production in Iowa one near Hanlontown and one near Ashton. Annually, each plant will convert more than 16 million bushels of corn into 45 million gallons of ethanol. Construction began on another new plant near Emmetsburg, Iowa, in late April, so the state currently has 12 operating ethanol plants and 5 under construction. Nationwide, 75 ethanol plants are now operating and are able to produce more than 3.2 billion gallons of ethanol per year. The thirteen plants now under construction will add another 500 million gallons in production capacity. With new plants coming on line, the industry breaks its production records each month; in February, the industry produced a record 212,000 barrels of ethanol each day. See the Renewable Fuels Association press releases from February 27th, March 26th, April 26th, and April 27th.

      New England Grid Operator Awards Energy Efficiency Contract

      ISO New England Inc., the operator of the region's electrical grid, took an unusual step in late April by contracting for energy efficiency services in order to improve the reliability of its power grid in southwest Connecticut. Under the new contract, Conservation Services Group (CSG) will help reduce energy demand in southwest Connecticut by four megawatts over the next four years, primarily by retrofitting buildings in the area with energy-efficient lighting. The contract is a small part of an effort to secure emergency energy resources for southwest Connecticut, including 125 megawatts of new generating capacity and up to 255 megawatts of demand-response resources such as emergency generators and voluntary load reductions. ISO New England predicts that it has adequate electrical supplies for the region this summer, but continues to be concerned about transmission constraints that threaten reliability in southwest Connecticut. See the CSG press release (PDF 83 KB) and the April 16th and April 26th press releases from ISO New England. Download Acrobat Reader.

      Utilities in the Pacific Northwest are also looking at demand reduction as a possible alternative to building a new transmission line. DOE's Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) recently worked with a Washington state utility, two paper companies, and the U.S. Navy to test an Internet-based trading system for demand reduction. During the test, BPA posted an hourly price per megawatt, allowing the participants to choose whether to buy the power or to place bids for reducing their power demand, using either emergency generation or load reductions. BPA hoped to achieve 10 to 20 megawatts of demand reduction during the test, and actually averaged 22 megawatts of demand reduction. See the BPA press release.

      Site News


      Treepower.org is a public and industry research partnership in which the Common Purpose Institute, the University of Florida, energy companies, and others are studying ways to grow and harvest fast-growing trees as a renewable energy fuel source for electric utilities in the southeastern United States. The Web site details a Florida project that uses biomass energy "bridge crops" for renewable energy and to restore native habitats on damaged, mined lands. The site contains project- and state-specific information as well as general biomass energy information and resources.

      Energy Connections

      EPA: No Change in U.S. Fuel Economy in 2004

      The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last week that the average gas mileage of new cars, pickups, and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) sold in the United States is 20.8 miles per gallon (MPG) for 2004, essentially equal to last year's value of 20.7 MPG. According to EPA's annual fuel economy trends report, U.S. fuel economy has held roughly steady since 1997, varying only between 20.6 and 20.9 MPG. U.S. fuel economy peaked at 22.1 MPG in the late 1980s, but since then the fuel efficiency of cars, pickups, and SUVs has remain unchanged, while sales of the less-fuel-efficient pickups and SUVs have increased. In 2004, the EPA estimates that 48 percent of new light-duty vehicles sold in the United States will be either pickups or SUVs. See the EPA press release and the full report on the EPA Web site.

      This newsletter is funded by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and is also available on the EERE news page. You can subscribe to the EERE Network News using our simple online form, and you can also update your email address or unsubscribe online.

      If you have questions or comments about this newsletter, please contact the editor, Kevin Eber, at kevin_eber@....
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