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

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Has OPEC lost its grip on oil prices?

In an article on USA Today, Hossein Askari, Iran professor of business and international affairs at George Washington University, says "OPEC is just powerless. They cannot agree to anything, both for political reasons and economic realities."
"I think we're in a newer paradigm for the oil market," said Rob Haworth, investment strategist and commodities expert at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. OPEC "can't afford to cut production in a meaningful way, so we are back to the market and the fundamentals of supply and demand and cost of production being the driver of price."

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Next Generation Heavy-Duty Natural Gas Engines Fueled by Renewable Natural Gas

This White Paper explores the need—and leading approaches—to immediately start deploying zero-emission and near-zero-emission heavy-duty vehicle technologies on a wide-scale basis in the United States.

During low oil prices, fleets with own CNG still saved money

Researcher Jon Gabrielsen says that "In the United States, with oil around $40/barrel of crude, just one alternative fuel remained cost-competitive, the analysis finds: compressed natural gas, or CNG." "I had to concede that despite the challenges to equip for CNG and the costs to upfit the vehicle, the savings are even larger, making it the lowest break-even proposition against diesel."

You can find his report here.

"Any time that one can fuel a commercial vehicle with CNG for at least fifty cents per DGE less than with diesel fuel then one will have at least a 3-year or shorter payback by having equipped for CNG instead of diesel."

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

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.