Saturday, November 26, 2016

How Much Do You Know About Fuel Cells

Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Hydrogen and Fuel Cells?
Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies power cars, buildings, and more. But how much do you know about them?

Test your knowledge with this recent Energy Department blog post, Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Hydrogen and Fuel Cells?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Question of the Month: How are conventional light-duty vehicle fuel economy ratings determined and reported?

Answer: It's important to understand the who, what, when, where, and why (and how!) of fuel economy testing and labeling. In particular, you may be interested in the recent changes described below (see "When" section).

"Who" is tested?
Most light-duty vehicles must be tested for fuel economy. Exceptions include motorcycles, pickup trucks and cargo vans with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) above 8,500 lbs., and passenger vehicles with a GVWR above 10,000 lbs.

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) test a representative vehicle for each light-duty model and report the results to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA reviews the results and confirms estimates for about 10% to 15% of the vehicles through tests at the National Vehicles and Fuel Emissions Laboratory (NVFEL).

How are vehicles tested?
Vehicles are tested in a laboratory using a standardized procedure established by the EPA. The vehicle's drive wheels are placed on a machine called a dynamometer that simulates the driving environment—much like an exercise bike simulates cycling. The energy required to move the rollers is adjusted to account for wind resistance and the vehicle's weight. On the dynamometer, a professional driver runs the vehicle through standardized driving routines, which simulate "typical" trips in the city or on the highway. Each driving routine specifies the speed the vehicle must travel during each second in the test. To measure the fuel economy of the vehicle, a hose is connected to the tailpipe to collect the engine exhaust during the tests. The carbon in the exhaust is measured to calculate the amount of fuel burned.

From there, the manufacturer enters the test results into an equation the EPA has established to determine the final city and highway fuel economy estimates (see the Code of Federal Regulations, 40 CFR 600.210-12, for more information. Combined city/highway fuel economy is calculated by weighting the city miles per gallon (mpg) value by 55% and the highway value by 45%. Combined fuel economy values provide consumers with a quick and easy comparison point across vehicles.

What information is included on the fuel economy label?
In addition to providing city, highway, and combined city/highway mpg fuel economy estimates, the new fuel economy label provides information about emissions and fuel cost:
  • Comparing fuel economy to other vehicles: The label shows the average mpg rating of similar sized vehicles for users to easily compare fuel economy. It also estimates how much money you would save or spend in fuel costs over five years compared to the average vehicle.
  • Annual fuel cost: Based on annual mileage assumptions, projected fuel price, and mpg rating, the label displays estimated annual fuel cost.
  • Emissions information: The label rates the vehicle on a scale of 1 to 10 for (a) fuel economy and greenhouse gas and (b) smog emissions, making it easier for consumers to choose cleaner vehicles.
  • QR Code: Users are able to scan the QR Code on the label to access helpful tools and additional information about the vehicle's fuel economy and emissions.
When did this rating system come into effect?
The EPA's fuel economy testing and labeling procedures were initially established in the late 1970s and have evolved over time. The EPA updated its fuel economy methodology with MY 2008 vehicles and again this year with MY 2017 vehicles. The 2008 methodology changes incorporated the effects of faster speeds and acceleration, air conditioner use, and colder outside temperatures. These updated methods improved the accuracy of fuel economy estimates.

This year's changes are more subtle. As described in the "How" section above, the EPA is responsible for providing an equation that manufacturers use to calculate the final city and highway fuel economy for their vehicles. Starting with MY 2017 vehicles, the EPA updated the equations used to calculate fuel economy estimates for some vehicles. The updated equations better reflect the more fuel-efficient vehicles and advanced technologies (e.g., hybrids and tubocharged engines) on the road today. While most vehicles will not be affected, some fuel economy estimates will decrease by 1 to 2 mpg.

MY 2011–2016 mpg estimates on have been converted to the new ratings system to allow for easier comparison of fuel economy of newer and older cars.

Where is fuel economy data available?
EPA fuel economy estimates are displayed on the Fuel Economy and Environment stickers affixed to the window of new vehicles. Fuel economy estimates for vehicles from model year 1984 to present are also available online at DOE's website.'s Find a Car tool allows users to search by vehicle make, model and year. The website's My MPG page allows consumers to calculate, track, and post their fuel economy to compare it with the EPA test ratings and other users' posted results. Full fuel economy data is downloadable in PDF or spreadsheet form on

Why does this matter?
Accurate and detailed fuel economy information allows consumers to make informed decisions. Widely available and clearly presented data supports the purchases of clean and efficient vehicles. As always, it is important to remember that the EPA ratings are a useful tool for comparing vehicles because they are always done the same way under the same set of conditions. However, since consumer driving conditions and styles can vary greatly, the fuel economy some drivers achieve may vary from the EPA's estimates. For tips on improving your fuel economy, visit the Factors that Affect Fuel Economy page on

Watch for more information next month on how fuel economy for bi-fuel vehicles, including plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, is tested and reported.

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Clean Energy Fuels Corporation Still Not Profitable

The supply of natural gas still exceeds demand. The author of this article considers OPEC an unlikely threat to national security. "The optimism concerning natural gas vehicle demand in the U.S. has been and is ahead of its time."

Friday, October 28, 2016

What idle reduction technologies are available for heavy-duty vehicles?

Question of the Month: What idle reduction technologies are available for heavy-duty vehicles?

Answer: Heavy-duty vehicle idling, or running a vehicle's engine while it is not in motion, occurs for a number of reasons, including temperature control during required rest stops, powering electronic equipment, and to avoid cold starting the vehicle. According to Argonne National Laboratory (Argonne), more than 6 billion gallons of diesel and gasoline fuel are wasted by vehicle engine idling—with half from medium- and heavy-duty vehicles alone. Argonne estimated that a heavy-duty long-haul truck generally idles around 6 hours per day, or 1,830 hours per year. Not only does this wasted fuel cost more than $20 billion a year, but it also results in increased emissions of air pollutants, such as oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter. This is particularly an issue for school buses, as these emissions can have harmful health impacts on children. A number of states, counties, and municipalities have implemented vehicle idling restrictions and regulations to address this issue.

Idle reduction technologies afford drivers with the same comforts and services offered by engine idling, but are much more fuel efficient. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) SmartWay Program and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have evaluated a number of idle reduction technologies for heavy-duty vehicles to identify their fuel reduction benefits. There are two main categories of idle reduction technology: onboard equipment and truck stop electrification (TSE) sites.

Onboard Idle Reduction Equipment
Onboard idle reduction equipment is installed directly on the vehicle. This technology can help reduce idle time at any location, including roadsides, delivery sites, and truck stops. Examples include auxiliary power units (APUs), which are small diesel-powered generators that provide power for temperature control systems and electronic devices, and coolant heaters, which keep the vehicle's engine warm to avoid cold starting. Other technologies include cab or bunk heaters, engine recovery systems, storage air conditioners, and automatic engine stop-start controls. For a complete list and detailed descriptions of available onboard idle reduction equipment, please refer to the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Onboard Idle Reduction Equipment for Heavy-Duty Trucks page listed below.

Truck Stop Electrification
TSE sites, also referred to as electrified parking spaces, allow drivers to power temperature control systems and other appliances using equipment provided at the site. Note that TSE can reduce direct vehicle emissions and fuel consumption, although there may be indirect emissions impacts associated with the source of electricity used to power the equipment. There are two types of TSE: single-system electrification and dual-system electrification.

Single-system electrification is comprised of off-board equipment that is stationed at the truck stop. Drivers parked at the site have access to services such as internet, heating, and air conditioning. Dual-system electrification, also known as "shorepower," requires both onboard and off-board equipment because trucks must be able to plug into the external electrical outlets provided. Trucks must have equipment that is compatible with these electrical outlets.

Currently, there are more than 100 TSE sites in operation across the United States, comprising a total of nearly 2,600 parking spaces. For a map of TSE sites, please see the AFDC TSE Locator.

Market Availability Resources
The number of drivers that utilize idle reduction equipment, as well as the portfolio of available technologies, continues to grow. For up-to-date information about available idle reduction technologies for heavy-duty vehicles, see the following resources:
  • EPA's SmartWay Idling Reduction Technologies (IRTs) for Trucks and School Buses:
    • This page includes detailed information about the verification procedure, as well as a list of SmartWay verified idle reduction technologies for trucks and school buses.
  • DOE's National Idling Reduction Network News:
    • Each month, the National Idling Reduction Network releases a newsletter, including information about fleet adoption of idle reduction technologies, new available technologies, funding opportunities, and relevant regulatory news. Check out the September 2016 newsletter for notable news from heavy-duty idle reduction technology manufacturers, including a solar-powered idle reduction system.
  • DOE's Clean Cities IdleBox Toolkit:
    • The IdleBox Toolkit provides outreach materials and educational resources on vehicle idle reduction, including presentations, fact sheets, and other publications specifically for heavy-duty vehicles.
  • North American Council on Freight Efficiency's (NACFE) 2016 Annual Fleet Fuel Study:
    • NACFE conducts an annual survey of Class 8 truck fleets to better understand heavy-duty fleet adoption of idle reduction technologies and practices. Check out the 2016 study, which covers trends in idle reduction technology, based on data collected from 15 North American fleets about their use of 69 different fuel-efficient technologies.
Additional Resources
For more information about heavy-duty vehicle idling and idle reduction technologies, please refer to the following resources:
  • AFDC Heavy-Duty Truck Idle Reduction Technologies:
  • Argonne Reducing Vehicle Idling:

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

Monday, October 10, 2016

Shell Gets LNG Contract With Carnival Cruises

Carnival will introduce two LNG-powered cruise ships that will come online in 2019. Shell got the contract to supply the fuel. "These ships will be the first in the cruise industry use LNG to generate 100 percent of the ship’s power both in port and on the open sea – an innovation that will significantly improve air quality to help protect the environment and support Carnival Corporation’s sustainability goals."

LNG-Powered Marine Vessels For Volkswagen

Volkswagen Group has committed to using two LNG-fueled car carriers to transport cars between Europe and North America.
The two LNG-powered vessels have a capacity of about 4,500 vehicles. The car carriers, equipped with a 105,000 cubic foot LNG tank installed below deck, will have a comparable capacity to conventional transatlantic freighters. Both ships will feature a 12,600 kW engine developed by MAN Diesel & Turbo.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Current And Future Medium- And Heavy-Duty Vehicle Fuel Efficiency And Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards

Question of the Month: What are the current and future medium- and heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards?

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (collectively, HDVs) are expected to surpass light-duty vehicle (LDV) emissions by 2030. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 directed the U.S. Department of Transportation to establish fuel efficiency standards for HDVs. Then, in 2010, President Obama announced a new national program to implement coordinated fuel efficiency and GHG emissions standards for medium- and heavy-duty engines and vehicles. As you may have seen last month, EPA and NHSTA recently finalized the most recent set of requirements under this program.

First promulgated by EPA and NHTSA in 2011, these coordinated standards are being implemented in two separate phases, beginning with Model Year (MY) 2014 to 2018 (Phase 1, which has now been extended through 2020) and followed by MYs 2021 to 2027 (Phase 2), with some exceptions. Under Phase 1, the GHG emissions and fuel efficiency standards generally increase in stringency in MY 2017, then remain steady through MY 2020. GHG emissions and fuel efficiency standards under Phase 2 of the program increase first in MY 2021, and then again in MYs 2024 and 2027. Although the Phase 2 standards do not begin until MY 2021, manufacturers may need to begin compliance measures beforehand in order to be adequately prepared to meet the targets.

Fuel efficiency and GHG emissions standards are determined differently for each of five regulated heavy-duty (HD) engine and vehicle categories: combination tractors; vocational vehicles; HD engines used in combination tractors and vocational vehicles; trailers used with combination tractors; and HD pickup trucks and vans. For more information on these categories, please refer to pages 3 and 4 of the EPA Phase 2 fact sheet.

NHTSA Fuel Efficiency Standards
NHTSA's fuel efficiency standards are designed to take into account the different functions of each of the regulated vehicle categories. Therefore, the standards are calculated differently for each vehicle category. For HD pickup trucks and vans, there are separate gasoline and diesel target values.

The vehicle-based standards for combination tractors and vocational vehicles are calculated based on weight class, as well as specific characteristics of the vehicle category that affect fuel consumption and emissions, such as roof height for combination tractors and drive cycle for vocational vehicles.

The HD engine standards are determined by the size of the engine, the fuel type (diesel or gasoline), and the characteristics of the respective vehicles into which they are installed. The HD pickup and van standards, engine and chassis included, are fleet-average standards based on fuel-specific (gasoline and diesel) target values that are determined by a "work factor" curve. The "work factor" curve takes into account the payload and towing capacity of the vehicle and whether the vehicle has 4-wheel drive. Like the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program for LDVs, the HD pickup and van targets are production-weighted based on the manufacturer's total sales volume of all of its different HD pickup and van models.

Compliance Timeline
Manufacturers were required to meet Phase 1 fuel efficiency standards for combination tractors, vocational vehicles, and HD engines beginning either in MY 2016 or 2017. Phase 2 standards apply in MY 2027, with phase-in standards for MYs 2021 and 2024. Trailer fuel efficiency standards are voluntary beginning in MY 2018, and mandatory effective MY 2021. Manufacturers were not required to participate in the Phase 1 HD pickup and van program until MY 2016. At the outset of the program, NHTSA gave manufacturers the option to choose one of the alternative phase-in options for the Phase 1 standards. Phase 2 HD pickup and van standards begin in MY 2021 and increase in stringency by 2.5% each model year through MY 2027.

Fuel Efficiency Standards and Targets
To view the final Phase 1 standards and HD pickup and van targets, please see the Phase 1 Final Rule. For the recently finalized Phase 2 standards and targets, see the Phase 2 Final Rule. You may also reach out to TRS directly ( if you would like specific information about where to find the finalized standards.

EPA GHG Emissions Standards
EPA also takes into account the varying functions of each of the regulated vehicle categories in its GHG emissions calculation. It uses the same factors as NHTSA to determine emissions standards for each vehicle category, except measurements are based on grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted.

Compliance Timeline
EPA's mandatory Phase 1 GHG emissions standards for combination tractors, vocational vehicles, and HD engines began in MY 2014. The timeline for the Phase 2 standards mirrors that of the NHTSA fuel efficiency standards. However, Phase 2 trailer emissions standards differ in that they are mandatory in MY 2018. For Phase 1 of the HD pickup truck and van program, similar to the fuel efficiency targets, manufacturers were given the option to choose from two alternative phase-in options. As with the Phase 2 fuel efficiency targets, the separate GHG emissions targets for diesel and gasoline HD pickups and vans will increase in stringency under Phase 2 by 2.5% per year from MY 2021 to 2027.

Emissions Standards and Targets
GHG emissions standards and targets for Phase 1 and Phase 2 can be found in their respective final rules. Please refer to the Fuel Efficiency Standards and Targets section above for more information.

Manufacturers may employ many different compliance measures to meet the fuel efficiency and GHG emissions standards. These measures vary depending on the vehicle category. Each vehicle category has a different certification testing process to determine its GHG emissions and fuel efficiency values. These values are the baseline to which any additional earned credits can be added. The regulation also offers incentives to encourage advanced vehicle technologies.

The credits and incentives available for both the EPA and NHTSA programs include:
  • Advanced Technology Credits: Phase 1 of the program incentivizes manufacturers to produce advance technology vehicles and engines by effectively allowing manufacturers to "count" certain vehicle and engine types as more than one in their compliance calculations. This includes vehicles with hybrid powertrains and Rankine-cycle waste heat recovery systems, as well as plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). As the new Phase 2 standards are premised on some use of Rankine-cycle engines and hybrid powertrains, these technologies will not qualify as advanced technologies under Phase 2. From MY 2021 through MY 2027, advanced technology credits (with considerably higher multipliers) will only be offered for PEVs and FCEVs.
  • Innovative Technology and Off-Cycle Credits: Both Phases 1 and 2 of the program allow manufacturers to earn credits for off-cycle technologies that result in benefits that are not captured in certification testing procedures.
  • Early Credit Multipliers: Phase 1 of the program enabled manufacturers to earn credits for early compliance. Phase 2 will not include early credits.

For more information on the medium- and heavy-duty engine and vehicle GHG emissions and fuel efficiency standards, please refer to the following resources:

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team