While state's air remains dirtiest in the US, improvements are being made, according to CARB.
Source: AP [Aug 30, 2002]
WASHINGTON (AP)- With nearly twice as many
smog days'' as any other state, California continues to lead the nation in dirty air, followed by Texas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Ohio, an environmental group said.
The group, which gathered data from government air quality monitoring stations across the country, said that in the summer of 2001 there were 4,634 reported times when smog levels exceeded federal health standards, about a 10 percent increase in violations from the summer of 2000.
According to PIRG, California last summer had 130 days in which at least one such violation was reported and a total of 1,359 violations during the entire 2001 summer smog season. Texas was second with 72
smog days'' (310 total violations) followed by Pennsylvania with 39 days (393 violations), New Jersey, 35 days (190 violations), and Ohio, 34 days (250 violations).
Despite the report's findings, California's air quality
has vastly improved over the last 30 years and we're still on the decline, as ozone levels have been dropping in the state,'' said Gennet Paauwe, spokeswoman for the California Air Resources Board.
California is Planning H2 Fuel Stations for
LA Basin, San Francisco Bay Area
Energy Conversion Device's Krishna Sapru explains details of hydride storage under the seat of an 80 cc standard-engined Honda scooter the company has converted to hydrogen operations. The scooter was displayed at DoE's hydrogen/fuel cell programs review meeting last month in Golden, CO, the first joint meeting ever for both programs. Full story in the print edition. DIAMOND BAR/SACRAMENTO, CA - California is on the verge of the next step in moving toward hydrogen-powered transportation with plans underway for what could be a large number of hydrogen fueling stations.
"There is a possibility for a number of stations, as few as ten or as many as 100" stations in the Los Angeles Basin, a source at the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), who requested anonymity, told H&FCL.
The District is weighing all sorts of infrastructure options, from small dispersed satellite stations costing perhaps a few hundred thousand dollars to equip or retrofit to larger centralized stations whose costs could run into the millions of dollars.
Further north, in West Sacramento, the California Fuel Cell Partnership, in announcing its goals for this year, said at the end of May it intends to install a satellite hydrogen fuel station in Richmond, on the north end of San Francisco Bay, with two more satellite stations planned for "appropriate locations."
District Co-Signs H2 Fuel Station Contract
As a first step, the District has just signed a contract for such a station in the windfarm area of Coachella Valley between Banning and Palm Springs that will utilize the electricity of three windturbines to make hydrogen for the fuel cell bus, or buses, to be put in service by SunLine Transit.
Construction of this $1.1 million electrolyzer-based facility is about to get underway, and the station is scheduled to be ready for business early next year, according to this source. The prime contractor is ISE Research Corp., of San Diego, the same company that is integrating an IFC fuel cell with a Thor transit bus (H&FCL July 00). Other partners include Stuart Energy to provide the electrolyzer and Quantum Technologies to contribute storage equipment. SCAQMD is picking up about a third of the total tab, around $390,000. Power will be provided by Wintec, operator of the wind turbines.
SCAQMD is also known to have drawn up a map of possible locations with apparently nine general areas under consideration, but there are likely to be others as well.
In the Los Angeles Basin area, SCAQMD is considering, but has not decided as yet, sites in or near Irvine, Riverside, near the Los Angeles airport, Diamond Bar and Ontario, but the list is by no means final, and apparently none have been approved by the South Coast Board as yet. The source says other locations may be considered as well, and in all kinds of different arrangements, sizes and costs are being considered by SCAQMD:
-- One possibility fuel companies are interested in is to integrate hydrogen dispensing systems into existing gas stations. Such a site might be fairly small in places where demand is anticipated to be not very high, with a relatively small outlay of a few hundred thousand dollars perhaps. Hydrogen could be provided by reforming natural gas, gasoline or even diesel fuel via small reformers, now under development, at the gas station.
-- A variant of that approach would be to electrolyze water at the gas station, an approach supported by a number of companies, according to the source, including Stuart, Teledyne and Sundstrand.
-- Another approach would be to deliver hydrogen from industrial gas producers by truck in either compressed-gas or liquefied cryogenic form, similar to the way gasoline is distributed to gas stations now.
-- A longer-term, big-ticket approach also under consideration would be relatively large hydrogen production centers that would convert large volumes of natural gas into hydrogen for fueling on site or distribute them to other satellite stations. "These could take five years to be up and running," says the source.
-- In addition, SCAQMD is looking into the idea of tapping into an existing hydrogen pipeline about 25 miles in length as a fuel source for vehicles. Built originally to serve refineries, it runs from an industrial area not far from the Los Angeles airport through Torrance to Long Beach. With hydrogen generation equipment already in existence and operating, the source believes the pipeline could provide hydrogen fuel "at very low cost."
WEST SACRAMENTO, California (AP) --In the parking lot of a building squeezed between Interstate 80 and the Sacramento River, Kota Manabe did something at once as elemental as it was revolutionary: he topped off the tank of a sport utility vehicle.
The only suggestions that anything was out of the ordinary were the flame-retardant suit the Toyota engineer wore and the fuel he pumped into the Highlander: pure hydrogen.
"Basically, it's just like refueling at a normal station," fellow engineer Kyo Hattori said.
While hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, as an automotive fuel it's about as commonplace as moon travel. There are only two hydrogen filling stations in the entire state.
The futuristic SUV being tested at the California Fuel Cell Partnership is part of an international push to create cars and trucks that run more cleanly and efficiently than any in history. Fuel cells that power the vehicles combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity. They emit only water vapor and heat.
But the hydrogen-powered Highlander also exemplifies a critical problem faced by alternative vehicles: They may be friendly to the environment but they're a mystery to consumers.
That conundrum stems from several factors, including consumer uncertainty about performance and resistance to change by automakers. As a result, the spread of alternative fuel vehicles has been slow.
"The Big Three have often used future vehicles as an excuse not to produce current innovations -- it's the Wimpy approach, the 'I will gladly pay you Tuesday, but don't make us do anything today to increase fuel efficiency and in 10 to 20 years we will produce a much more efficient car,"' said Daniel Becker, director of the Sierra Club's global warming and energy program.
For decades, California has been at the forefront of the clean vehicle movement aimed at fighting smog and global warming while cutting dependence on oil. The innovations have been driven by California's Air Resources Board, which sets air quality standards independent of the federal government.
The board says its regulations have spawned innovations in fuel cells, hybrid cars and fuel efficiency to an extent automakers never thought possible.
Now, enterprises like the California Fuel Cell Partnership aim to help meet the state's zero emission mandate, which requires an increasing percentage of new cars and trucks to emit no pollution.
The mandate was to have taken effect next year, but auto manufacturers won a preliminary injunction in June that delays implementation for two years.
Alternative fuel vehicles are a big part of the mandate, but thus far the movement has failed to gain much speed. As of 2001, there were about 456,000 alternative-fuel powered vehicles licensed in the United States, including those that run on batteries, natural gas and ethanol, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Another 40,000 are hybrids, in which a gasoline engine is paired with an electric motor to boost fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. These numbers are dwarfed by the 210 million gasoline and diesel cars and trucks on the nation's roads.
Automakers argue that consumers won't buy cars simply because they are environmentally friendly.
"There can be no sacrifices. This vehicle has to be a better car," said Anthony Eggert, an engineer with Ford's Think Technologies, which is developing a hydrogen fuel-cell car.
Nor will anyone buy newfangled technology unless it's appealing, said Leonard Stobar, a professor at Art Center College of Design, the Pasadena school that turns out roughly half the world's car designers.
"You've got to make them attractive. You can make any vehicle that is good to the environment, but if I don't want to be seen in it, you won't sell it," said Stobar, who is helping develop a three-wheeled vehicle capable of driving coast-to-coast on a single tank of gas.
Automakers say hydrogen fuel cell vehicles come closest to fitting the bill because their power sources can be packaged in a way that allows more radical body designs. They can also pack a punch, as Eggert demonstrated on a recent test drive by gunning a Ford prototype.
They're also the cleanest thing going, since they spew only warm water vapor clean enough to inhale. Honda and Toyota plan to introduce the first hydrogen-powered vehicles in very limited numbers by year's end but claim they need another decade to perfect them. Safety is a big reason as hydrogen is highly volatile.
For the time being, that leaves battery-powered vehicles as the only pure zero emission offerings. But their cost, limited range and recharging delays have hampered their popularity.
A number of models have come and gone. The latest are Ford's Think electric vehicles, which the automaker intends to stop selling in the United States because of lack of demand.
One way to lower emissions is to boost fuel economy. But the Bush administration has been loath to boost efficiency requirements, instead throwing its support behind hydrogen research.
Fewer than 6 percent of new U.S. cars and trucks get better than 30 miles per gallon, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In 2001, the weighted average of all new passenger cars and trucks was 20.4 mpg -- a 21-year low.
Auto manufacturers consumers don't want fuel-efficient vehicles.
"The fuel economy of our cars will be decided by consumers. They will choose the vehicles that suit them best," said Charles Territo, spokesman for the Alliance of Auto Manufacturers.
Surveys say 60 percent of car and truck buyers are interested in fuel economy but are unwilling to compromise on design and performance, said Thad Malesh, auto analyst with J.D. Power and Associates.
"What they are saying is, 'I still want my truck, I just want better mileage,"' Malesh said.
Despite all the challenges, cars and trucks have quietly become cleaner and more efficient.
New versions of the Honda Accord, Nissan Sentra and Toyota Prius hybrid are included in California's fleet of "super low-emissions vehicles" since they are 90 percent cleaner than the average new car. About 50,000 such vehicles have been sold or leased in California.
Some observers find that encouraging.
"There is going to be an explosion of choice for consumers," predicted John Boesel, president of transportation technology consortium Calstart. "My neighbor will come over and say, 'John, I got a new car' and the natural question will be 'What fuel?"'
TORRANCE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 12, 2002--Enova Systems, Torrance, Calif. (OTCBB:ENVA - News), announced today that it has entered a consulting agreement with John Wallace, former Director of Ford Motor Company's Th!nk Group and current Chairman of the Board of Directors of Th!nk Nordic. Mr. Wallace will assist Enova Systems in further developing and enhancing its corporate strategy in the areas of electric, hybrid-electric and fuel cell OEM and heavy-duty mobile applications of its products and technology. Mr. Wallace will also assist the Company in expanding its customer base and be a valuable asset in Enova's plan to attract additional capital funding for growth in its production and research and development efforts. Mr. Wallace has agreed to serve on Enova's board of directors.
Mr. Wallace is currently serving as a consultant for fuel cell and hybrid electric vehicle strategy. Prior to his retirement he was executive director of TH!NK Group. He has been active in Ford Motor Company's alternative fuel vehicle programs since 1990, serving first as: Director, Technology Development Programs; then as Director, Electric Vehicle Programs; Director, Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Director, Environmental Vehicles. Mr. Wallace also is active in many outside organizations: He is past chairman of the United States Advanced Battery Consortium; Co-Chairman of the Electric Vehicle Association of the Americas, and past Chairman of the California Fuel Cell Partnership.
Carl Dean Perry, President and CEO, stated, "John Wallace has been a driving force in Ford Motor Company's alternative fuel vehicle strategies and programs. We are privileged to have John as an advisor to our Company to help us grow and provide strategic direction. His extensive experience and leadership in global environmental automotive markets should contribute to Enova's ability to remain at the forefront of mobile power management and conversion system development and manufacturing."
"I am excited to join this dynamic and growing global high technology company that is making such an important contribution to hybrid and fuel cell system technology," said Wallace.
About Enova Systems
Enova Systems, with headquarters in Torrance, Calif., and offices in Hawaii and South Korea, is a leading designer, developer, and manufacturer of power management and conversion systems for the global mobile and stationary alternative energy market. The Company's technology and products in power conversion, energy management, and system integration enable Enova Systems to integrate a wide range of power sources, including advanced batteries, fuel cells, and turbine generators, in these power applications. The Company's product lines include the Panther(TM) propulsion systems ranging from 30kW to 240kW, DC-DC supplies for low voltage accessories, and power management systems for batteries, fuel cells, turbines and other components. Enova's propulsion systems and components are used in OEM vehicles from Hyundai Motor Company and Ford. Enova also develops and manufactures propulsion systems for transit buses and airport trams. For more product details and other news see the Enova website at www.enovasystems.com.
This news release contains forward-looking statements relating to Enova Systems and its products. These forward-looking statements are subject to and qualified by certain risks and uncertainties. Such statements do not imply the future success of the Company or its products. These risks and uncertainties are detailed from time to time in Enova Systems' filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission under the name Enova Systems, Inc.
Micro fuel cells to make gadgets go
Alternative power source would replace rechargeable batteries ALBANY, New York (AP) --Cell phones free from nightly recharges. Laptop computers that run and run without needing an outlet. Pocket TVs with enough power to show a Ken Burns documentary.
Portable gadgets are demanding more and more juice. A viable alternative to rechargeable batteries isn't here yet, but when it comes, it might work like the device about the size and weight of a deck of cards in William Acker's hand.
It's a micro fuel cell.
The prototype created by Acker's company, MTI Micro Fuel Cells Inc., relies on a minute flow of methanol to generate electricity. MTI Micro aims to shrink the prototype and begin selling its first commercial fuel cell product in 2004.
The idea is to tap into the ever-expanding personal electronics market and provide a power source for the millions of people talking, computing and checking e-mail on the go.
MTI Micro is in a crowd of companies including Motorola and Casio trying to develop a commercial micro fuel cell.
"The market application potential is huge," said Kelly Nash, an analyst with McDonald Investments Inc. "I'm sure you have had issues with your cell phone battery. I know I have."
A fuel cell makes electricity in a chemical reaction. Larger fuel cells tend to rely on propane or natural gas. In the fuel cell being developed by MTI Micro, methanol is introduced to a catalyst to produce electrons, protons and carbon dioxide.
The protons go through a membrane. Electrons, which cannot go through the membrane, instead flow through wires as electricity. The reaction's byproducts are a tiny amount of carbon dioxide and water -- about a drop a day, which evaporates away.
Methanol is flammable, but company officials say the unit is safely sealed.
Some hospitals, credit card processors and other businesses already use fuel cells. Residential units are being developed and prototype fuel cell cars are already rolling, although most automakers do not expect to mass market them before 2010.
But those fuel cell units are big -- some the size of a washing machine, others as large as a trailer. Creating a fuel cell that can be stuffed into a pocket and jostled around has proved difficult.
MTI Micro was created in 2001 as a subsidiary of Mechanical Technology Inc. to solve those problems. Based in Albany, MTI Micro has about 45 employees including president and chief executive officer Acker, who also is the parent company's president.
The company has produced three progressively smaller working prototypes, the latest unveiled in August. Acker can power his combination cell phone/personal digital assistant with the prototype. But it's still too big to click on the back of the device.
Engineers are working on packing the pieces of the fuel cell tighter. Acker said it's likely MTI Micro's first product will not be a direct replacement for batteries but rather a slightly larger accessory -- for instance, a portable charger.
Micro fuel cells are expected to get smaller.
"In the long run, just about anywhere where high-end batteries are the right answer, these devices should be a better answer," Acker said.
Micro fuel cells are supposed to have several advantages over rechargeable batteries. Once fully developed, micro fuel cells should last 10 times as long as the current generation of batteries, Acker said.
And no more recharges. When a fuel cell runs out of methanol, just snap on a replacement fuel cartridge.
Also, fuel cells can provide more power.
The potential for a lucrative market has drawn a mix of start-ups and big names.
Nash cites Motorola, Toshiba and Casio, which has developed a fuel cell it intends to sell commercially in 2004.
Smart Fuel Cell, a German company, recently introduced a device fueled by a 2.5 liter methanol cartridge that can be used with outdoor equipment.
A recent analysis by Frost & Sullivan said the next generation of high-bandwidth mobile technology devices will likely require more power than current rechargeable batteries can provide.
Already, so-called smartphones that combine cellular telephony with personal digital assistants are hobbled by the necessity to recharge them every day or so.
According to the report: "Fuel cells for laptop computers and cellular phones definitely have one thing going for them that fuel cells for automobiles and stationary power plants do not: strong consumer demand."
Officials Driven to Reform County's Fleet
Environment: Supervisor plans a motion to gradually replace most of the 1,500 vehicles with already popular hybrids.
By HOLLY J. WOLCOTT
TIMES STAFF WRITER
September 23 2002
While driving this summer from his Ventura home to an Oregon forest on vacation, county Supervisor Steve Bennett felt guilty about chugging down the road in his 1988 Mazda sedan.
Granted, he was still getting his money's worth out of a car with a whopping 250,000 miles on it, but how much carbon monoxide was the old beater spewing into the mountain air?
"It occurred to me that I needed to do something," Bennett said.
Although he will drive the Mazda "until it dies," Bennett plans to make a motion Tuesday that would authorize the purchase of several more low-emission vehicles, called hybrids, for the county. It already owns eight.
A hybrid vehicle has an electric motor that handles normal stop-and-go travel and initial highway acceleration and a gasoline- or diesel-powered internal combustion engine that kicks in when the vehicle gets to higher speeds. A computer system decides when to make the switch.
Bennett also hopes his colleagues will commit to a long-term goal of eventually replacing most of the county's 1,500-vehicle fleet with hybrids.
"They make a lot of sense here because Ventura County does not meet the federal standard for air quality," said Stan Cowen, an engineer at the county's Air Pollution Control District. "We're not as bad as L.A., but it's bad."
In fact, the federal Environmental Protection Agency rated Ventura County the 16th-smoggiest region in the nation--a little better than Dallas but slightly worse than Washington, D.C.--between 1997 and 1999.
In the two years since those figures were released, the county has improved its air quality with more stringent regulations and industry cleanup efforts, but vehicle emissions continue to be the leading cause of the area's bad air.
Tailpipes on trucks, cars, buses and motorcycles send about 13 1/2 tons of contaminants into the air daily, officials said. In contrast, the county's industrial facilities emit a combined total of 1 ton of toxic fumes a day.
"There has to be a desire to at least explore any technology out there that can help us reduce emissions," said Dennis Scamardo, the county's transportation manager. "It's just the right thing to do."
Bennett's plan has the support of County Executive Officer Johnny Johnston. Johnston and his wife own a Toyota Prius hybrid, and Johnston's county-issued car is also a hybrid. And at least two supervisors also drive county-issued hybrids, Bennett said.
"I guess you could say it's sort of a nerd-mobile," Johnston said with a laugh. "But it's really worth it in terms of performance and efficiency and the reduction in air pollution."
Nearly every city in the county uses an alternative vehicle, whether hybrid or powered by electricity, natural gas or a combination of natural gas and regular gasoline or diesel fuel, called a dual-fuel vehicle.
Because of the size of the county's entire transportation fleet, which includes 116 compact cars and dozens of sedans, utility trucks and vans, Bennett's plan would make Ventura County the area's leader in the use of "greener" energy sources for transportation.
"We've enjoyed a lot of success with our program," said Paul Starr, who handles the city of Oxnard's 600-vehicle fleet. "It's surprising that vehicles that are so energy-efficient can ride so nice."
The city started with two Prius hybrids two years ago. Now it has 14 such vehicles, most of which are used by fire chiefs, traffic enforcement officers and engineers.
In addition, the city has six dual-fuel cars and trucks. These vehicles, though, have proven somewhat disappointing because of the high cost of natural gas, which can equal the price of regular gasoline, and lack of efficiency, Starr said.
For example, a regular gasoline-powered car or truck might go 400 miles on 20 gallons, while an equivalent amount of natural gas might last only 200 miles.
In Camarillo, fleet services spokesman Steve Miller said the city has seven hybrid cars but future purchases were being debated because several nonhybrids are equally eco-friendly.
In Ventura, the city has one hybrid car and one electric vehicle.
Santa Paula has no alternative vehicles; but over the mountains in Ojai, the city offers four propane-fueled public trolleys, and city workers have access to several electric vehicles.
In Simi Valley, the city bus system and Dial-a-Ride vans all run on natural gas, but the city recently returned two leased electric vehicles after determining they were too costly and inconvenient to recharge.
Thousand Oaks officials haven't felt the same inconvenience. The city offers employees access to two electric vehicles, with five more on the way in the next few weeks. There are nine free recharging stations around town.
If Bennett's proposal passes, the county would start by replacing its nine Chevy Cavaliers with hybrids. The cost of a hybrid will be about $3,000 more than a Chevy, but officials expect to make up that difference with the hybrid's gas mileage--often more than 50 miles per gallon.
Over time, Bennett would like to see the county's entire compact car fleet traded in for hybrids. In addition to the eight hybrids, it has 39 natural gas cars and trucks and two electric vehicles.