Sunday, May 22, 2016

How Can I Use The AFLEET Tool To Make Decisions About Alternative Fuels?

Question of the Month: What is the AFLEET Tool, how can I use it to make decisions about alternative fuels, and what are the recent improvements?

Answer: Argonne National Laboratory's Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environment and Economic Transportation (AFLEET) Tool allows you to examine both the environmental and economic costs and benefits of alternative fuel and advanced vehicles. By entering data about your light- or heavy-duty vehicle(s), you can estimate petroleum use, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, air pollutant emissions, and cost of ownership.

AFLEET uses data from Argonne's Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation (GREET) model and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Motor Vehicle Emissions Simulator (MOVES) model to estimate life cycle (well-to-wheel) GHG and tailpipe air pollutant emissions. Users can either use the model's default values or get even more accurate results by customizing the tool with their real life vehicle or fleet data. By using AFLEET's simple input mechanism, users can answer questions such as:

  • What are the emissions savings of replacing a conventionally fueled fleet with alternative fuel vehicles?
  • What is the incremental cost, and potential return on investment, of buying a flexible fuel vehicle?
  • How many passenger vehicles will be "taken off the road" by using natural gas refuse trucks?


Fleets and others that have been using AFLEET since its original release in 2013 will be pleased to hear that AFLEET has been updated to reflect more recent emissions data. In addition, Argonne added new features to help users formulate a more complete picture of the costs and benefits of alternative fuels.

Updates include:

  • Fuel Prices: AFLEET uses public and private station pricing based on the 2015 average Clean Cities Alternative Fuel Price Report data. In addition, fuel pricing is now state-based rather than based on a national average. Users may also input a range of fuel prices to determine effects on simple payback models.
  • Infrastructure Costs: The updated version of AFLEET features data on fueling station and electric vehicle supply equipment infrastructure construction, operation, and maintenance costs. Users may also calculate other infrastructure-related costs, such as public station out-of-route mileage and fueling labor costs.
  • Latest Vehicle and Emission Data: AFLEET uses the latest GREET 2015 air pollutant emissions data, which includes updated heavy-duty fuel economy and emissions data, data for fuel cell electric vehicles, and updated life cycle data for renewable natural gas. AFLEET has also been updated to use the most recent version of EPA's MOVES data, 2014a.
  • Externality Costs: AFLEET output data now includes externality costs of national petroleum use and GHG emissions. Externality costs are the indirect damages associated with fuels that are not explicitly captured by the marketplace (e.g., property damages from increased flood risk as a result of climate change). Externality cost estimates will be useful in putting local vehicle and fleet decisions in a national perspective.


For information about and instructions for using AFLEET, refer to Argonne's AFLEET User Guide.

In addition, check out the Alternative Fuels Data Center's (AFDC) fuel-specific emissions pages for general information on the emissions impacts of the various alternative fuels:



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

Friday, May 13, 2016

T. Boone Pickens at Hudson Institute

In a conversation with Arthur Herman.


T. Boone Pickens was the featured guest at the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC for a conversation hosted by Arthur Herman. This conversation is well worth watching because of the historical nature of the oil and gas industry through which Boone leads the audience. This is fact-filled but also generous with the famous Boone Pickens sense of humor.

To set the stage, Boone said that we use about 20 million barrels of oil per day (70 percent of that is used as our primary transportation fuel) and we import about half of it.

Boone talks about the tremendous impact horizontal drilling and fracking have had on the industry.

"I didn't believe horizontal drilling would work when I saw it the first time. You have one well, you bend the pipeline 90 degrees and extend it out 10,000 feet; you frack it 40-60 times and you have access to all that oil or gas with just one hole and one rig."

On American technology, Boone said, "When I got out of Oklahoma State University in 1951, we knew that over 90 percent of all the oil in the world had been found by American geologists and geophysicists. Today, 65 years later, it's still about the same."

Will oil prices go up? Boone thinks so: "Today we produce 93 million barrels per day worldwide. 70 percent of that goes to transportation fuel. The demand is growing, so next year we'll need 94.5 million barrels a day, but oil fields tend to deplete at about 4 percent a year. So, globally, we are seeing modest growth on the demand side, and modest reduction on the supply side. What happens? Prices have to go up."

What about the military cost involved in protecting Middle East oil? Boone told the group that 17 million barrels a day passes through the Straits of Hormuz. The U.S. gets about 1.2 million barrels – less than 10 percent – yet American taxpayers fund 100 percent of the costs.

"I asked the Pentagon if we could charge China and India and Europe for their share of those costs. They told me 'We can charge them, but they won't pay it.'"

On one of his favorite subjects, The Pickens Plan, Boone reminded the audience that he was not interested in changing passenger vehicles over to natural gas. But, moving from diesel to natural gas for heavy-duty trucks would save the truckers money because natural gas is much cheaper on a BTU-equivalent basis, it's cleaner than diesel, and because of our enormous natural gas reserves we don't have to worry about protecting someone else's natural gas supplies.

Boone was asked: If the next President asked you what three elements of an energy policy should be, what would you say? He replied that he would say that the speech should begin with, "We will use our own resources."

Second, Boone would tell them that we need to bring together Canada, the U.S. and Mexico to make it one oil and gas market as the North American Energy Alliance.

Third, get heavy-duty trucks on natural gas – not passenger cars or light trucks – and we can save 3 million barrels of oil per day.

What is the Hudson Institute?"
Founded in 1961 by strategist Herman Kahn, Hudson Institute challenges conventional thinking and helps manage strategic transitions to the future through interdisciplinary studies in defense, international relations, economics, health care, technology, culture, and law.

Hudson seeks to guide public policy makers and global leaders in government and business through a vigorous program of publications, conferences, policy briefings, and recommendations.

Clean Cities Videos

Here is Clean Cities' YouTube page where there are 436 videos to choose from, at this moment.

Videos from Clean Cities Coachella Valley which includes this video from T. Boone Pickens and this one, an overview for first responders.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

SunLine Transit Adds All-Electric Buses

"SunLine Transit Agency, which serves more than 3.5 million passengers annually in California’s Coachella Valley, says it has expanded its growing alternative fuel vehicles fleet with the addition of its first emissions-free, all-electric buses."
Electric vehicle manufacturer BYD has provided the 40-foot, low-floor transit buses with seats for 35 and room for more than 60 standing passengers to SunLine. The transit agency says it began testing the vehicle on service routes in January.

Technical white paper on air quality and climate protection

From US GasVehicles.com:
May 6, 2016. Gladstein Neandross & Associates (GNA) released a technical white paper – written on behalf of multiple private and public sector organizations – that explores the need and approaches to start deploying zero-emission and near-zero-emission heavy-duty vehicle technologies on a wide-scale basis in the United States. With approximately 166 million Americans residing in areas with exceedingly poor air quality, and with greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) contributing to global climate change, America needs to more aggressively transform on-road HDVs to the lowest emission technologies and fuels available. The White Paper has compared four fuel-technology combinations to address these goals and has concluded that there is only one pathway in highly impactful heavy-duty trucking applications that meets the commercial feasibility and logistics tests to immediately begin this transformation. This is near-zero-emission heavy-duty natural gas vehicles fueled by increasing volumes of ultra-low-GHG renewable natural gas (RNG).

"As progressive corporations and municipalities across America are looking for ways to reduce their environmental footprint, we are seeing increased focus on the transportation sector to address sustainability goals," said Erik Neandross, CEO of Gladstein, Neandross and Associates, co-author of the whitepaper. "This engine-fuel combination provides a phenomenal opportunity for progressive heavy-duty fleet operators to effectively eliminate emissions from their mobile operations."

Heavy-duty natural gas engine technology available today is more than 90 percent cleaner than the most stringent applicable U.S. EPA standards for oxides of nitrogen. With such low-emissions, this engine technology has a similar smog-precursor emission profile as that of a heavy-duty battery electric truck plugged into the cleanest electrical grid in the nation. These benefits, as well as significant reductions in GHG emissions, are achieved with HDVs fueled by conventional natural gas. When fueled with RNG (made from renewable waste stream sources such as landfill gas, dairy waste, waste water treatment plants and other sources), lifecycle GHG emissions are reduced by more than 80 percent.

The combination of new near-zero-emission natural gas engine technology and RNG provides the single best opportunity for the U.S. to achieve immediate and substantial NOx and GHG emission reductions in the on‑road heavy‑duty transportation sectors. Equally important, major reductions of cancer‑causing toxic air contaminants can immediately be realized in disadvantaged communities adjacent to freeways and areas of high diesel engine activity, where relief is most urgently needed.

This White Paper also describes recommended actions for government and industry stakeholders that will help begin broad deployments of this engine/fuel combination. These recommendations include 1) establishing or strengthening national, state and local incentive funding programs to help produce and deploy these new-generation heavy-duty NGVs, and 2) developing focused efforts that help produce and transport RNG, where the economics and logistics are most conducive.

Friday, April 29, 2016

What are the various vehicle weight classes and why do they matter?

Question of the Month: What are the various vehicle weight classes and why do they matter?

Answer: Which Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard applies to my vehicle? What are the state emissions testing requirements for my vehicle? Would a medium-duty vehicle qualify for the plug-in electric drive motor vehicle tax credit? To answer these questions and determine which laws, regulations, and incentives may apply to your vehicle or fleet, you must first understand the specifics of the vehicle weight classifications.


You may recall learning about federal agencies and vehicle classes from our February Question of the Month. However, each agency defines vehicle classes differently. So this month, we will dig deeper into the specific vehicle weight classes set by three federal agencies. This guide will help you identify a Class 1 vehicle to a Heavy-Duty Vehicle 8b, and everything in between.

U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)

The FHWA defines vehicles as Class 1 through 8, the most common categorization used in the fleet industry. The classes are based on a vehicle's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), which is the maximum operating weight of the vehicle, measured in pounds (lbs.). GVWR is set by the manufacturer and includes the total vehicle weight plus fluids, passengers, and cargo. The FHWA's vehicle classes (listed below) are used in the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (e.g., as it relates to the National Highway Freight Program). The vehicle classes are also used by certain states to determine vehicle road and fuel taxes, access to roadways, and idle reduction and emissions reduction requirements.

  • Light-Duty Vehicle: less than (<) 10,000 lbs.
    • Class 1: <6,000 lbs. Example vehicle: Sedan or sport-utility vehicle (SUV)
    • Class 2: 6,001 – 10,000 lbs. Example vehicle: Utility van
  • Medium-Duty Vehicle: 10,001 – 26,000 lbs.
    • Class 3: 10,001 – 14,000 lbs. Example vehicle: Mini bus
    • Class 4: 14,001 – 16,000 lbs. Example vehicle: Step van
    • Class 5: 16,001 – 19,500 lbs. Example vehicle: Bucket truck
    • Class 6: 19,501 – 26,000 lbs. Example vehicle: School bus
  • Heavy-Duty Vehicle: greater than (>) 26,000 lbs.
    • Class 7: 26,001 – 33,000 lbs. Example vehicle: City transit bus
    • Class 8: >33,000 lbs. Example vehicle: Dump truck

For more vehicle examples, see the Types of Vehicles by Weight Class chart.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The EPA uses the following categories to certify vehicles based on emissions standards, in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's CAFE standards to regulate fuel economy. The light-duty vehicle category is also used in Energy Policy Act vehicle acquisition requirements. Note that there is a distinction between vehicles and engines in the EPA's classification because there are separate emissions standards for each.

Passenger Vehicles
  • Light-Duty Vehicle: <8,500 lbs.
  • Medium-Duty Vehicle: 8,501 – 10,000 lbs.
Heavy-Duty Vehicles and Engines
  • General Trucks
    • Light-Duty Trucks: <8,500 lbs.
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle Heavy-Duty Engine: >8,500 lbs.
  • Heavy-Duty Trucks
    • Light-Duty Truck 1 and 2: <6,000 lbs.
      • Split is based on loaded vehicle weight (LVW), where:
        • Light-Duty Truck 1: <3,750 lbs. LVW
        • Light-Duty Truck 2: 3,751 – 6,000 lbs. LVW
    • Light-Duty Truck 3 and 4: 6,001 – 8,500 lbs.
      • Split is based on adjusted loaded vehicle weight (ALVW, the average of the GVWR and the curb weight, which is the weight of the vehicle without passengers or cargo), where:
        • Light-Duty Truck 3: <5,750 lbs. ALVW
        • Light-Duty Truck 4: >5,750 lbs. adjusted ALVW
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle 2b: 8,501 – 10,000 lbs.
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle 3: 10,001 – 14,000 lbs.
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle 4: 14,001 – 16,000 lbs.
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle 5: 16,001 – 19,500 lbs.
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle 6: 19,501 – 26,000 lbs.
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle 7: 26,001 – 33,000 lbs.
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle 8a: 33,001 – 60,000 lbs.
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle 8b: >60,000 lbs.
  • Heavy-Duty Engines
    • Light Light-Duty Truck: <6,000 lbs.
    • Heavy Light-Duty Truck: 6,001 – 8,500 lbs.
    • Light Heavy-Duty Engine: 8,501 – 19,500 lbs.
    • Medium Heavy-Duty Engine: 19,501 – 33,000 lbs.
    • Heavy Heavy-Duty Engine Urban Bus: >33,000 lbs.


U.S. Census Bureau

The U.S. Census Bureau uses the following Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey classes to measure how many private and commercial trucks operate within the United States.

  • Light-Duty Vehicle: <10,000 lbs.

  • Medium-Duty Vehicle: 10,000 – 19,500 lbs.

  • Light Heavy-Duty Vehicle: 19,001 – 26,000 lbs.

  • Heavy-Duty Vehicle: >26,000 lbs.


States are not consistent, as some use one of the classifications above and others develop their own classifications for various state laws, regulations, and incentives related to vehicles. Be sure to check your state legislation and program guidance to determine which classifications apply. For example, the California Air Resources Board typically uses "heavy-duty" to describe vehicles with a GVWR greater than 14,000 lbs., which is referenced in the Mobile Source Emissions Reduction Requirements.


Looking for a more visual comparison of the various classifications? Check out the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Vehicle Weight Classes and Categories chart.


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