Alternative Fuels Australia

Archive for the ‘Diesel’ Category

Alternative fuel vehicle sales for October 2007

Posted by Car Geek on November 18, 2007

Alternatively fuelled vehicles showed a general improvement last month over September’s figures, with diesels showing particular improvement compared to last month and October 2006. Some of the highlights:

  • Non-petrol vehicle sales were growing faster than petrol vehicle sales compared to 2006, with combined alternative fuel passenger and 4WD vehicle sales representing 13% of the total sales in October 2007, compared with 10% in October 2006.
  • Diesel vehicles recorded the strongest growth, with diesel passenger vehicle sales growing by 14% over the previous month and 60% over October 06. Diesel 4WD sales were also higher, with October recording 21% higher sales over September.
  • Hybrid vehicles also recorded growth, particularly in the hybrid 4WD market, which grew 128% compared to September. Hybrid sales are now split roughly equally between private and fleet operators, showing an increase in the uptake of hybrids among private owners.
  • LPG was the only fuel to record a decrease in sales, likely due to a trailing off of initial interest after the federal government’s LPG incentives were introduced. Non-private or fleet operators are still overwhelmingly the major buyers of LPG passenger vehicles, buying some 50 times as many of the vehicles as private operators.
  • No data on ethanol-capable vehicles was available, though Saab is the only company to sell such production cars in Australia.

(Source: FCAI)

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Posted in alternative fuels, Diesel, Ethanol, Hybrid, LPG | 1 Comment »

Holden backs diesel as an alternative fuel

Posted by Car Geek on October 21, 2007

Holden Astra CDTi. Image from http://flickr.com/photos/mybarina/1152714133/, licenced under CC 2.0. Despite showing off an ethanol-powered Commodore station wagon at this year’s Sydney motor show, Holden has come out and stated that diesel is, in their opinion, the best fuel for Australia’s immediate driving needs.

Director of innovation at Holden, Richard Marshall, supported the use of alternative fuels but backed diesel as the best solution right now.

“We think drivers will begin to understand and choose the alternative powertrain solution that suits their transport needs,” he said. “Where drivers spend most of their time in heavily-congested traffic, petrol hybrids may offer the appropriate level of performance with low fuel consumption.

“For people whose driving habits typically include a mix of inner city, suburban and country driving, diesel vehicles may be more likely to deliver powerful performance and better fuel economy.”

Holden currently imports some diesel models, such as the Astra, but has no plans to build either a diesel or a hybrid vehicle in Australia in the near future. A hybrid Commodore would be “priced too high” without government incentives, according to Marshall, while a diesel version could cost more than $50 million to develop. No word was mentioned of Holden’s plans for biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.

(Source: Adelaide Now)

Posted in Diesel, Holden | Leave a Comment »

Australia may lose out in European car battle

Posted by Car Geek on September 14, 2007

Arguments between European car manufacturers and the European Union could result in further delaying imports of cleaner cars into Australia, including a variety of “clean diesel” vehicles.

The European Union has set a vehicle emissions target of 130 g of CO2 per km for its manufacturers by 2012, but auto makers says it’s “not feasible” and would add A$4100 to the cost of every car, potentially forcing them to move production outside of the Union. Adding to this potential delay is the reluctance of the European auto industry to import its clean diesel vehicles to Australia, where the quality of diesel is less of that in Europe. Australian diesel still has a relatively high level of sulfur, though this will drop from January 1, 2009 from 50 parts per million to 10 parts per million, in line with the upcoming Euro V regulations.

Speaking at the Frankfurt auto show, Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne said that car makers supported the EU legislation, but needed more time to achieve the targets. “Lead time is a common practice around the world. The Government of Japan agreed on new CO2 requirements with the car industry last year which will result in average emissions of 138 grams of CO2 per kilometre from 2015,” he said.

“The best solution to reduce CO2 emissions from cars and to safeguard jobs and investments in Europe is an integrated approach, combining further improvements in vehicle technology, an increased use of alternative fuels, improved infrastructure and traffic management, a more economic driving style and harmonised CO2-related taxation.

“This requires a partnership involving the automotive industry, the fuel industry, policy makers at all EU government levels and consumers.”

(Source: The Age)

Posted in Diesel, Legislation | 2 Comments »

Researchers say diesel exhaust kills throat cells

Posted by Car Geek on September 13, 2007

A sign highlighting the dangers of pollution. Image from http://flickr.com/photos/found_drama/330030343/, licenced under CC 2.0. Researchers at Deakin University in Victoria have shown that emissions from engines burning diesel fuel are far more harmful to airway cells than those from biodiesel. Associate Professor Leigh Ackland, who led the research, said that the escalating need for fuel use may pose a major health hazard.

“The fumes from burning fuels, including diesel, contributes to pollution and can cause heart disease, bronchitis and asthma. Efforts are underway to replace petrol and diesel with cleaner biofuels, such as biodiesel, but there is considerable resistance to this,” Professor Ackland said.

“This study provides clear evidence that diesel exhaust is more harmful to our health than biodiesel exhaust.”

 The study, published in the latest edition of the Immunology and Cell Biology journal, determined that the particulate emissions in diesel, which are higher and more dangerous than petrol or biodiesel, stimulated a “death pathway” response that caused human airway cells to “fuse together and die”. Particulate emissions from biodiesel, by comparison, caused hardly any cell death. Professor Ackland said that this is a clear sign for a need to move towards replacing petroleum-based fuels with biofuels.

“It is clear that breathing in diesel fumes is going to have a far more detrimental effect on our health than biodiesel. Given the level of cell death we have found, diesel exhaust could be the cause of respiratory disorders such as asthma and could even be implicated in cancer,” she said.

(Source: Deakin University via ScienceDaily)

Posted in Biodiesel, Diesel | Leave a Comment »

Brief hiatus for this week

Posted by Car Geek on September 11, 2007

Updates will be sparse for the remainder of this week while I’m travelling, however the site will be running full steam ahead next week. In the meantime, keep a close eye on the Frankfurt Auto Show (currently underway), because there’s some great ideas coming out of there: the Opel Flextreme, which is based on the same E-flex plug-in hybrid platform at the Chevrolet Volt, emits only 40g of CO2 per 100km, thanks to its diesel recharging engine; the Volvo ReCharge plug-in hybrid, with a flex-fuel engine; and the Hyundai i-Blue fuel cell concept car.

See you next week!

Posted in Diesel, Ethanol, Hydrogen, Hyundai, PHEV, Site, Volvo | Leave a Comment »

Australian GHG emissions rising again

Posted by Car Geek on August 15, 2007

Recent Australian GHG emissions. Image from The Climate Institute.

Despite a brief drop in total emissions last year, the latest figures from The Climate Institute show that total greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise. The cause: the continued increase of electricity use, as well as a significant increase in emissions from diesel and automotive LPG in the past twelve months.

The Climate Institute’s chief executive, John Connor, attributes the recent rise largely to fluctuations in consumer fuel purchasing:

“Petrol emissions dipped around the time of the first prices rises but appear to be recovering despite recent price hikes. In the case of LPG, price signals plus direct subsidy assistance appear to be making inroads and consumption of automotive LPG has increased 2.5% between April and May.

“This highlights that while price signals like emissions trading have an important role to play, unless carbon prices are high, pricing alone will not be enough turn our increasing greenhouse pollution levels around in the short term.”

The continued rise in greenhouse gas emissions over the past two years means that Australia continues to edge closer to its unofficial Kyoto target, and may exceed it within twelve months at the current rate of increase.

I’m sure you all know what to do if you want to help turn these figures around by now: keep your car in good shape, inflate your tyres, use biofuel blends where possible, and above all, drive efficiently! Riding, walking and public transport can potentially save more than buying a hybrid vehicle, and they keep you in better shape.

(Source: The Climate Institute)

Posted in Diesel, Global warming, Greenhouse gases, LPG | Leave a Comment »

Australia needs to improve its diesel fleet: expert

Posted by Car Geek on August 12, 2007

An old diesel pump, from http://flickr.com/photos/yvettiefred/225841445/. Licenced under CC 2.0. With sales of passenger diesel vehicles increasing rapidly, some are raising concerns about the potential health hazards that diesel emissions can pose. Although Europe and the United States both have quite strict diesel particulate regulations, Australia has not yet caught up in both technology and regulations.

Associate Professor Vishy Karri, from the School of Engineering at University of Tasmania, says that Australia is in danger of falling behind global trends in reducing diesel emissions. “I would love to see Australia put strict regulations in place. In my opinion we are lagging behind and should be acting on these things sooner rather than later,” he said in an interview with the Mercury.

Although sulphur content in diesel fuel (the primary cause of particulate and smog emissions) has been greatly reduced from 500 parts per million to only 50 ppm in the past year, with a further reduction to the upcoming European standard of 10 ppm planned for 2009, the primary source of potentially dangerous emissions is not cleaner new passenger vehicles, but an ageing road transport fleet that is responsible for over 70% of diesel fuel consumption in Australia. A recent report by the National Environment Protection Council has stated that the individual states need to assist in improving the emissions of the diesel truck fleet through the use of particulate filters and oxidisation catalysts.

Alternatively, Dr Karri has supported the use of biodiesel to reduce emissions in any diesel vehicle. Biodiesel decreases almost all types of emissions, with the exception of NOx, and is produced from renewable sources in Australia such as canola. According to Dr Karri, “there are some staggering figures that show hydrocarbons and greenhouse gas emissions are significantly reduced, even with 2 per cent biodiesel mixture into diesel.” Despite a lack of warranty support from manufacturers, most diesel vehicles need no modification to run even pure biodiesel.

(Source: Mercury)

Posted in Biodiesel, Diesel, Legislation | 3 Comments »

Hyundai won’t bring its hybrids to Australia

Posted by Car Geek on August 6, 2007

Hyundai i30, image from Hyundai AustraliaHyundai has stated that it has no plans currently to bring its hybrid lineup to Australia, choosing to rely instead on increasing its diesel range, according to carsguide. The car manufacturer currently produces hybrid petrol-electric vehicles for its home nation of South Korea and is looking into fuel cell development in the long term, but Hyundai Australia CEO Steve Yeo says that the short term non-petrol strategy will focus on diesel:

“[Hybrids are] for the future. For the time being we have a diesel strategy. Probably at the time of our i30 we can also give an idea of how to utilise our diesel strategy, including the i30.”

Hyundai’s diesel range currently includes the Santa Fe, with the i30 (which replaces the Elantra hatch) coming to Australian shores in October.

Source: carsguide

Posted in Diesel, Hybrid, Hyundai | 1 Comment »

Industry roundup: diesel

Posted by Car Geek on July 22, 2007

This is the first of a number of feature articles where I hope to provide a basic synopsis of each major competitor in the alternative fuel market, from the widely available to the wildly speculative. These articles won’t go into a large amount of detail, but are mainly designed to provide a starting point for people who are new to the alternative fuel scene.  

To start, we’re looking at diesel fuel – not always recognised as an alternative fuel, but certainly a fuel with benefits to compete with standard unleaded petrol.

Essodiesel

What is it?

Petroleum diesel, more commonly referred to simply as diesel, is a fuel used primarily in heavy vehicles but increasingly in passenger vehicles. It is a distillate of fuel oil. Diesel is used in compression-ignition engines, which compress a mixture of air and fuel vapour to a point where it ignites, removing the need for spark plugs.  From a technical point of view, diesel fuel generally has a chemical formula of C12H26, and holds approximately 15% more energy per volume than standard unleaded petrol.

Can I use it?

Diesel can only be used in vehicles which have been designed for its use. It cannot be used in vehicles which  take any form of petrol. If you are unsure, consult your vehicle manual or manufacturer.

Why would I want to use it?

Diesel engines are generally more efficient than spark-ignition engines, owing mainly to their higher compression ratio. A turbocharger is often added in passenger vehicles to further increase efficiency and power. Diesel-powered vehicles can often use up to 30% less fuel than their petrol counterparts. In addition, diesel produces less carbon dioxide, reducing the amount of greenhouse gases from your vehicle.

Why wouldn’t I want to use it?

Despite reducing carbon dioxide, diesel fuel generally results in higher nitrous oxide (NOx) and particulate emissions, which can cause smog. Particulates of any size can also cause health problems. Advances in fuel processing (such as reducing sulphur) and vehicle technology (such as Bluetec and particulate filters) are helping to reduce many of these problems.

How much does it cost?

As an oil byproduct, the price of diesel fuel can vary with the price of oil. However, the variation is generally less than unleaded petrol. Reduced fuel consumption means that the cost per kilometre is generally less than unleaded. Diesel passenger vehicles generally cost more than their petrol counterparts.

Where can I get it?

Most major manufacturers make diesel vehicles of some description – many of these are small or mid-size vehicles, often from Europe where diesel passenger cars are very popular. Diesel fuel is widely available at most service stations, thanks mainly to its popularity in commercial vehicles.

Posted in Diesel, Features | 3 Comments »

First hybrid bus operator named

Posted by Car Geek on July 3, 2007

Ventura bus, from http://flickr.com/photos/hmoon101/325980245/

Hybrids might not yet be too popular as private vehicles, but if there’s one place they make perfect sense, it’s buses. Frequent stopping and idling makes a hybrid drivetrain with regenerative braking a wise choice for buses, making public transport an even wiser choice if you’re looking to use less fuel.

With these advantages in mind, Victoria is set to be the first state to trial a new diesel-electric hybrid bus. The Bus Association of Victoria recently announced that Ventura Bus Lines will be the operator chosen to test the new vehicle. Ventura already has a notable emissions record, operating the only ethanol-powered buses in the state. The new hybrid bus will enter service in 2008 on an as-yet-unnamed route that will “maximise its emission reduction capabilities”.

If you’re wondering what alternative fuels the buses in your state are running, keep checking here regularly – a full list of alternative fuel buses in each state is coming soon.

(Source: Australasian Bus News)

Posted in Buses, Diesel, Hybrid, Public transport | 3 Comments »