Monday, August 22, 2016

Light-duty Vehicle Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards

Question of the Month: What are the current and future light-duty vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards?

Answer:

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), light-duty vehicles (LDVs) emit nearly 60% of transportation-related GHG emissions and use more than half of all petroleum transportation fuel in the United States. In 1975, Congress enacted the Energy Conservation and Policy Act, which directed the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to implement the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program. The goal of the CAFE program is to reduce national energy consumption through fuel economy improvements. Specifically, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as part of DOT, develops annual fuel economy requirements for new passenger cars and light-duty trucks. Fuel economy is measured based on the average mileage a vehicle travels per gallon of gasoline, or gallon of gasoline equivalent for other fuels.

In 2009, President Obama announced a new national program to harmonize fuel economy standards with GHG emissions standards for all new light-duty cars and trucks sold in the United States. Under this program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) develops GHG emissions standards that correspond with NHTSA CAFE standards for each model year (MY). Thus far, the EPA and NHTSA have implemented the program in two parts, beginning with MYs 2012 to 2016 and followed by MYs 2017 to 2025. GHG emissions and CAFE standards have become increasingly stringent from one MY to the next.

In the final rule that established the coordinated standards for MYs 2017 to 2025, the EPA and NHTSA committed to perform a midterm evaluation (MTE) to (i) determine whether any changes should be made to the GHG emissions standards for MY 2022 to 2025, and (ii) set final CAFE standards for those MYs. This past July, the EPA and NHTSA completed the first step of the MTE with their issuance of a draft technical assessment report. For more information on the MTE, please see the EPA Midterm Evaluation of Light-Duty Vehicle GHG Emissions Standards page and the NHTSA Midterm Evaluation for Light-Duty CAFE page.

NHTSA CAFE Standards
NHTSA determines CAFE standards based on each vehicle’s size, or its footprint, which is essentially the distance between where each of its tires touches the ground. In general, the larger the vehicle is, the less stringent the fuel economy target will be. NHTSA then calculates each manufacturer’s fleet-wide compliance obligation, which is weighted based on vehicle sales (e.g., if 15% of a manufacturer’s sales are one model, that model gets a “weight” of 0.15 in average fuel economy calculation), each vehicle’s footprint, and the volume of vehicles the manufacturer actually produces.

Based on previous MY sales, NHTSA estimates that by MY 2025, passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks will need to meet an estimated combined average fuel economy of at least 48.7 to 49.7 miles per gallon. This estimate is subject to change based on the actual individual manufacturer fleet composition and production volumes. To view the annual standards, please refer to page 4 of the NHTSA CAFE Regulations for MY 2017 and Beyond fact sheet.

EPA GHG Emissions Standards
Similar to the NHTSA CAFE standards, the EPA also uses the footprint-based approach to determine carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions standards in grams per mile (g/mi) for each vehicle manufacturer. The EPA GHG emissions requirements are linked to the CAFE standards, and are also based on individual manufacturer fleet and production volumes. The EPA’s passenger car standards call for CO2 emissions reductions of 5% per year from MY 2017 to 2025. Light-duty trucks will have a bit more time to adjust to the standards, beginning with a 3.5% reduction per year from MY 2017 to MY 2021, then ramping up to a 5% reduction per year from MY 2022 to MY 2025. Refer to page 4 of the EPA GHG Emissions Standards for MY 2017-2025 fact sheet to see the projected CO2 emissions targets.

Compliance
Manufacturers can meet these standards in a variety of ways. In addition to making direct improvements to vehicle components (e.g., engines and transmission efficiency, light-weighting), manufacturers may also achieve compliance by generating credits. First, manufacturers are required to calculate average fleet-wide tailpipe CO2 emissions and average fleet-wide fuel economy. These values serve as the baseline to which any additional earned credits can be added. The regulation also offers incentives to encourage advanced vehicle technologies.

These credits and incentives include:

  • Air Conditioning and Off-Cycle Improvements (EPA and NHTSA): Manufacturers can earn credits from efforts such as air conditioning efficiency improvements, as well as from off-cycle technologies that result in real-world benefits, like engine start-stop or solar panels on plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).
  • Advanced Technology Vehicles (EPA Only): The EPA regulation also includes incentives to encourage the production of advanced technology vehicles. For MYs 2017 to 2021, manufacturers that produce all-electric vehicles, PHEVs, compressed natural gas vehicles, and fuel cell electric vehicles may “count” these vehicles as more than one vehicle in their emissions compliance calculations.
  • Hybrid Electric Full-Size Pickups (EPA and NHTSA): Manufacturers are encouraged to produce a certain percentage of full-size pickup trucks that are hybrid electric vehicles, as they will receive compliance credits for doing so.


For more information on LDV GHG emissions and CAFE standards, please refer to the following resources:


Stay tuned for next month’s Question of the Month, where we will delve into the medium- and heavy-duty engine and vehicle standards.


Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team
technicalresponse@icfi.com

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Fuel-Efficiency Standards Finalized for Heavy-Duty Trucks

The "U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have finalized new standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that will improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon pollution while also strengthening national energy security and manufacturing innovation."
The final standards are expected to lower CO2 emissions by approximately 1.1 billion metric tons, save vehicle owners fuel costs of about $170 billion, and reduce oil consumption by up to 2 billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program. Overall, the program will provide $230 billion in net benefits to society, including benefits to the climate and Americans’ public health. Specifically, the EPA says these benefits outweigh costs by about an eight-to-one ratio.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

"Regulators Defend Fuel Standards"

From the Wall Street Journal:
)"Regulators Defend Fuel Standards" (U.S. News, July 19) notes the growing tension between consumer desires for larger, less fuel-efficient light trucks and ambitious automotive emissions and efficiency targets set by the Environmental Protection Agency. There is a proven but unfortunately overlooked solution to this problem: fueling light trucks with natural gas. Natural gas is much better suited for pickups and other large vehicles than electrification and conventional natural gas can reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 20%. Even better, greenhouse-gas emissions can be reduced by 90% or more with renewable natural gas captured from landfills or dairy farms, which is already providing over half of natural gas-vehicle fueling in California today.

These emissions benefits are easily on par with electric vehicles but regulators and legislators alike have failed to provide the same level of support. In particular, natural-gas vehicles ought to be eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit that is currently available only to electric vehicles, as well as the considerable regulatory incentives for EVs provided by the EPA and California Air Resources Board. European countries such as Germany and Italy have proved that natural gas can become a low-cost, widely used alternative fuel with the right policies. With similar government support in the U.S., natural gas could allow auto makers to provide low-emission alternatives for the larger vehicles that consumers are gravitating toward.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

What are the key considerations when installing ethanol equipment at a fueling station?

Question of the Month: What are the key considerations when installing ethanol equipment at a fueling station?

Answer: For those new to ethanol fueling, installing the necessary infrastructure may be unchartered territory. From fuel specifications to dispensing regulations, the recently updated Handbook for Handling, Storing, and Dispensing E85 and Other Ethanol-Gasoline Blends is the go-to source for all your ethanol station installation needs. The Handbook is designed for those who blend, distribute, store, sell, or use ethanol blends above E10 (90% gasoline blended with 10% ethanol). Below is a summary of some of the top infrastructure considerations:

Blend Level
If you are considering an ethanol fueling station, one of the first decisions to be made is the blend level. Specifically:
  • Low-level blend: E10
    • Regulations and Specifications: E10 is subject to the same regulations and specifications as regular gasoline.
    • Equipment: E10 can be stored and dispensed in existing gasoline fueling equipment.
    • Vehicle Applications: Any gasoline-powered vehicle
  • Mid-level blend: E15 (10.5% to 15% ethanol); other common offerings include E25 (25% ethanol) and E30 (30% ethanol)
    • Regulations and Specifications: ASTM International (ASTM) D4806 -Standard Specification for Denatured Fuel Ethanol for Blending with Gasoline for Use as Automotive Spark-Ignition Engine Fuel
    • Equipment: For underground equipment, stations must adhere to federal code, which requires compatibility. The majority of tanks and pipes are compatible with all ethanol blends. For above-ground equipment, stations must use equipment listed for the fuel being sold. A list of compatible equipment is available in the Handbook.
  • Vehicle Applications:
    • E15: Flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs), model year 2001 and newer conventional light-duty cars and trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles
    • E25 and E30: FFVs
    • Note: FFVs can operate on any blend of gasoline and ethanol, up to 83% ethanol.
    • High-level blend: E85 (51% to 83% ethanol, depending on geography and season), also called ethanol "flex fuel"
  • Regulations and Specifications: ASTM D5798 - Standard Specification for Ethanol Fuel Blends for Flexible-Fuel Automotive Spark-Ignition Engines
  • Equipment: E85 fueling equipment is subject to the same requirements as mid-level blend equipment.
  • Vehicle Applications: FFVs

Fuel Quality
Most transportation fuel sold in the United States is blended to ASTM specifications, the fuel quality standard. These standards are recognized by federal and most state government agencies as the primary means of ensuring fuel quality. Fleets and retailers should work with their fuel suppliers to confirm that the fuel provided meets these requirements. After the installation of ethanol fueling equipment, operational precautions, such as periodic checks (e.g., once every one to two months) of fuel properties, should be performed to help assure fuel quality.

Infrastructure Requirements
An ethanol station consists of approximately 60 interconnected pieces of fueling equipment necessary to deliver fuel to vehicles, including tanks, pipes, pump, dispenser, and hanging hardware. UL is the primary third-party safety certification laboratory that has developed standards for listing fueling equipment.

As stated above, stations must meet federal compatibility requirements for underground equipment, which includes a letter stating compatibility from a manufacturer with specific biofuel blends or listing from a third party laboratory, such as UL. The majority of existing tanks and pipes are compatible with all ethanol blends. Some associated underground storage equipment, such as leak detection and prevention or fill equipment, may need to be replaced.

Above-ground equipment must be listed for the fuel blend being dispensed. UL listed above-ground equipment is available for E10, E25, and E85 blends. A complete list of compatible equipment is available in the appendices of the Handbook.

Note that some stations have UL-listed E85 blender pumps capable of legally dispensing ethanol blends between E0 and E85, including mid-level blends like E25 or E30, for FFV owners.

Labeling
Federal law requires dispenser labels for ethanol blends above E10 to follow Federal Trade Commission specifications. Labels must be placed on the front panel of the dispenser in a position that is clearly visible. Approved labels are available free of charge from the Blend Your Own website. Some states have additional labeling requirements; check here to see if your state does.

Safety
When handling ethanol, it is important to keep safety procedures in mind. Like gasoline, ethanol is flammable, poisonous, and may contain additives that can be harmful even with casual contact. To avoid risk, personal exposure to ethanol should be minimized. To fight an ethanol fire, specific equipment, materials, and training is required. Before offering blends above E10, consult your local fire marshal to determine regulations governing safe ethanol handling procedures. It is also important to be familiar with specifications detailed in the E85 material safety data sheet.

For additional information on installing ethanol equipment at a station, such as a full list of codes and regulations, as well as a checklist for installing and dispensing ethanol blends, refer to the Handbook.

In addition, check out the Alternative Fuels Data Center's (AFDC) ethanol pages for general information, on ethanol fueling stations:


Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team
technicalresponse@icfi.com
800-254-6735

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

"LA Metro Considers Future with RNG"

From NGV Global News:
Emission reductions of both GHG and NOx from Low NOx engines and renewable natural gas (RNG) "are an order of magnitude more cost effective than reductions from transition to electric or fuel cell buses," is the conclusion of a report delivered to LA Metro in Los Angeles last week, reports Fleets&Fuels.

LA Metro is considering purchase options for the future following a decision by its Board in April to 'develop an initial outline for a comprehensive plan to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions by gradually transitioning to a zero-emission bus fleet'. The Cummins Westport Inc. (CWI) ISL G Near Zero (NZ) offers transit authorities an alternative product that is certified to optional near-zero emissions standards and will allow LA Metro to meet its goal of zero-emission transit buses more quickly and for less money.

F&F's editor Rich Piellisch summarises the information delivered by Dana Lowell of M.J. Bradley & Associates and Julia Lester of Ramboll/Environ for LA Metro:

  • Fleet costs will rise by just 1% with LNOx+RNG, as compared to 8% to 14% for all-electric buses or 9% to 13%.
  • There are significant emissions advantages: lower GHGs, lower NOx emissions
  • Less expensive

The ISL G NZ engine is built off the current ISL G platform, but requires Closed Crankcase Ventilation (CCV) that prevents crankcase emissions, a larger maintenance-free Three-Way Catalyst (TWC), and a unique engine calibration. Together, these improvements will allow the ISL G NZ to certify to 0.02g/bhp-hr, or 90 percent below the current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) NOx standards.

LA Metro, which switched entirely to CNG fuel in 2011 and reportedly operates almost 2,200 CNG buses today, will use the report to guide future technology decision-making.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Tire Strategies to Save Fuel

Question of the Month: What vehicle tire strategies and technologies are available to save fuel?

Answer: It’s easy to understand why tires are essential to a vehicle, but tires also play an important role in your vehicle’s fuel economy. Tires affect resistance on the road and, therefore, how hard the engine needs to work to move the vehicle. By maintaining proper tire inflation or investing in low rolling resistance or super-single tires, you can improve your vehicle’s fuel economy. Whether you drive a light-duty vehicle (LDV) or heavy-duty vehicle (HDV), there is a tire strategy or technology to help you increase your miles per gallon (mpg).

Proper Tire Inflation

Properly inflated tires increase fuel economy, last longer, and are safer. Oak Ridge National Laboratory estimates that you can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3% by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. In fact, under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by up to 0.3% for every one pound per square inch drop in pressure in all four tires. It is especially important to keep an eye on tire pressure in cold weather because when the air becomes cold, the tire pressure decreases.

You can find the proper tire pressure for your vehicle on a sticker located on the driver’s side doorjamb or in the owner’s manual. Also, check to see if your vehicle is equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), which will illuminate a dashboard light when the tire inflation, in one, multiple, or all tires reaches a certain pressure threshold. Fleet managers, in particular, may consider using telematics with a TPMS to assist their drivers with maintenance. Even if a vehicle has a TPMS, however, it is still good practice to manually check your vehicle’s tire pressure in order to ensure all of your tires are properly inflated.

Low Rolling Resistance Tires

Rolling resistance is the energy lost from drag and friction of a tire as it rolls over a surface. This phenomenon is complex, and nearly all operating conditions can affect how much energy is lost. For conventional and hybrid electric passenger vehicles, it is estimated that about 3%-11% of their fuel is used just to overcome tire rolling resistance, whereas all-electric passenger vehicles can use around 22%-25% of their fuel for this purpose. For heavy trucks, this fuel consumption can be around 15%-30%.

Installing low rolling resistance tires can improve vehicle fuel economy by about 3% for LDVs and more than 10% for HDVs. In LDVs, a 10% decrease in rolling resistance can increase fuel efficiency by 1%-2%. Investing in low rolling resistance tires makes economic sense, as the fuel savings from the use of these tires over the life of the vehicle can pay for the additional cost of the fuel-efficient tires. Most new passenger vehicles are equipped with low rolling resistance tires, but make sure you keep rolling resistance in mind when shopping for replacement tires.

Super-Single Tires

Reducing vehicle drag can provide significant fuel economy improvements. One way HDVs can reduce drag is by replacing traditional dual tires with one super-single tire—also called a wide-base or single-wide. In Class-8 heavy-duty vehicles (see the April Question of the Month for a definition), this can save fuel by reducing vehicle weight and rolling resistance. A super-single tire is not as wide as two tires, so there is a slight aerodynamic benefit as well, further improving vehicle efficiency.

More Information

For more information, see the following pages:


Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team
technicalresponse@icfi.com
800-254-6735