Cornell, McGill U Win Chem-E-Car Competition

Cornell University and McGill University tied for first place in the 17th Annual Chem-E-Car competition. The collegiate event features cars ranging in size from shoeboxes to fire hydrants powered by alternative fuels. The competition is sponsored by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and its goal is to teach chemical engineering students to think creatively about alternative fuels. Cornell’s winning car Drifter was powered by a zinc alkaline battery, while McGill’s Navona Car was powered by a lead flow battery.

First place winner (tie) in the Chem-E-Car Competition Cornell University.

First place winner (tie) in the Chem-E-Car Competition Cornell University.

“The Chem-E-Car competition is a great avenue for students to apply chemical engineering principles in a creative way and in a group setting, they are critically important skills for these young professionals to have as they begin their journeys in the industry,” said Cheryl Teich, AIChE President.

For the competition, the teams create a car using a variety of materials and fueling methods, showcasing their innovation and creativity. For the first time ever, three teams used 3D printing to make parts of their cars while other teams used beef liver and hydrogen peroxide, Vitamin C, and dyes to produce a chemical reaction to power their car.

First place winner (tie) in the Chem-E-Car Competition McGill University.

First place winner (tie) in the Chem-E-Car Competition McGill University.

An hour before the competition, the students are told the load of water their car must carry and the distance it must travel. The students then must calculate the appropriate chemical reaction that will propel the car as close as possible to the distance goal. This year, the cars had to carry 230 milliliters of water for 20.3 meters, and the winning teams were 5 centimeters from the finish line, both taking $2,000 first place prizes.

McGill has only participated in Chem-E-Car for the past two years and is now national champions. This is Cornell’s fourth national championship, having won Chem-E-Car in 2008, 2010, and 2012. The third place award went to the University of California, Davis. Their vehicle, Leadfoot, was powered by a lead acid battery. Chem-E-Car Competition prizes are sponsored by Chevron.

Portland Int’l Airport Adds EV Charging

Portland International Airport (PDX) has become the airport with the largest number of electric vehicle (EV) chargers in the country. PDX installed 42 L1 PowerPost EV charging stations that are designed and manufactured by Telefonix. EV drivers are able to recover about 5 miles of range for every hour they are plugged in. The range lost in a typical commute of twenty miles is recovered in about 4 hours at a cost to the facility of less than 75 cents. The PowerPost EV charging stations will be free to use for employees and visitors.

“This installation makes a huge statement,” said Bill Williams, business development manager for Telefonix, EVSE Division. “The electric vehicle movement is gaining steam and will continue to do so. Facilities like PDX are acknowledging this growing community and sending a signal that they support those who are embracing electric vehicles by installing stations for both airport employees and travelers.”

Telefonix Inc. (PRNewsFoto/Telefonix Inc.)

Telefonix Inc. (PRNewsFoto/Telefonix Inc.)

According to Telefonix, Portland International Airport chose PowerPost level 1 electric vehicle charging stations for their integrated, retractable cord reel, which keeps cables off the ground, reducing maintenance and tripping hazards. They were also selected because they are level 1 units, which have low current requirements and allow for an efficient use of energy. Level 1 charging is well suited for long-dwell parking that is typical at airports and workplaces. In addition, the low-current requirements of level 1 also allowed the airport to install more charging stations as compared to more powerful chargers that often require costly upgrades to the electrical supply.

“We are excited to support our travelers and employees with these new EV charging stations,” said Vince Granato, Port of Portland chief operations officer. “Voted America’s Best Airport in 2013, 2014 and 2015 in Travel + Leisure’s Reader Survey, we take pride in delivering a memorable and positive experience to those who use our facilities. The installation of EV charging stations is one of our many environmental initiatives, which are central to how we do business and serve as good community stewards.”

Williams added, “Airports are really taking an aggressive approach to delivering on the need for electric vehicle charging infrastructure,” “Given that customers parking for 4 hours or more represent over 85% of all occupied spaces at an airport and the fact that airports often have sustainability initiatives in place, it’s a perfect fit.”

The Quest for a Sustainable Highway

The Mission Zero Corridor Project in Troup County West Georgia is trying to build a ‘green highway’. The travel corridor would, according to Innovia Technology, who has been commissioned for the project, rethink the purpose and function of infrastructure to generate social, environmental and economic value.

Ray-C-Anderson-Memorial-Highway-Exit-14-artist-impressionSome of the technologies being looked at for the project include algae biodiesel gas stations, smart solar-powered roads, moon-cycle adjusting lights, wildlife bridges, driverless cars, electric-car charging lanes and cultural greenways.

“Worldwide the highway infrastructure is continuously maintained, rebuilt and expanded at considerable economic and environmental cost. The Mission Zero Corridor Project is proposing an alternative future where highways have a positive impact on our communities. It’s very exciting to be involved in making this vision a reality,” said Alastair MacGregor, CEO of Innovia Technology, of the challenge ahead.

The late Ray C. Anderson, founder of Interface, Inc. developed the Mission Zero framework to eliminate Interface’s environmental impact while maintaining productivity and still turning a profit. The aim was a promise to “eliminate any negative impacts the company may have on the environment by 2020” and the framework created a blueprint for business sustainability. As a memorial, the Ray C Anderson Foundation is using a 16 mile stretch of Interstate 85 as the living experiment of the “regenerative, restorative and sustainable highway”.

To get the project started the Foundation and Interface funded a vision study through The Georgia Conservancy’s Blueprints for Successful Communities program. Using Interface’s Mission Zero framework as a roadmap, graduate students in the School of Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology, with studio instruction from a team of architects from Perkins+Will in Atlanta, explored how a highway could be a tool of change. The outcome was an inspirational report that identifies a broad range of potential technologies and opportunities. Innovia’s role is to provide a creative exploration of new opportunities, evaluate the technologies for viability and scalability, and to propose a strategy to bring the vision to life.

Louisiana Clean Fuels Honors Republic Services

Louisiana Clean Fuels has awarded its Fleet of the Year Award to Republic Services of Baton Rouge for their use of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). Republic’s collection company, BFI Waste Services has reduced its use of petroleum and emissions by using CNG. Louisiana Clean Fuels presented the Award at its 15th annual Clean Fuel Leader Awards Gala in Baton Rouge on Thursday evening, May 21.

“We have a responsibility to lead by example, and reduce vehicle emissions whenever possible,” said Alexander Burgess, area president of Republic Services. “We believe that we can make a meaningful difference in the communities we serve by doing our part to preserve the natural beauty of the Gulf Coast for future generations. Our employees are proud to call Louisiana home, which makes this recognition special on a personal level for every member of our team.”

Republic Services CNG truckRepublic added 42 CNG powered collection trucks and installed a new natural gas fueling station to support its expanding fleet in Baton Rouge in 2014. Republic plans to deploy 18 additional CNG powered trucks this summer. This expansion, combined with the CNG fleet already serving customers in the Shreveport area, is expected to make Republic Services’ collection company the largest natural gas fleet operator in the State of Louisiana.

“Louisiana Clean Fuels is dedicated to educating both public and private fleets on the benefits of alternative fuels as well as assisting them in their efforts to transition to cleaner burning, domestically produced alternative fuels,” said Ann Shaneyfelt, executive director of Louisiana Clean Fuels, a designated Clean Cities Coalition. “That’s exactly what Republic Services is doing in our area and nationwide. We congratulate Republic for their progress in converting their Louisiana Fleet to CNG. This year, we are proud to honor them with the Louisiana Clean Fuels ‘Fleet of the Year’ award for their successful roll out of their CNG refuse haulers at their Baton Rouge Division.”

According to Republic Services, they operate a fleet of more than 2,200 CNG vehicles and 36 natural gas fueling stations nationwide, and their CNG fleet helps to save roughly 18 million gallons of diesel fuel annually.

SMART Adds Propane AutoGas

SMART has added 61 new Connector paratransit propane autogas fuel system buses. This, says SMART, makes them the second largest propane autogas powered paratransit fleet in Michigan and one of the top five largest in the country.

“SMART is committed to responsibly and eco-consciously serving the communities in southeast Michigan. By using domestically produced propane we help support local jobs and our economy,” said John C. Hertel, IMG_4653general manager. “In addition, using the autogas technology will improve our operations, lower costs and preserve the environment in which we work, live and play.”

SMART says the propane autogas investment will reduce emissions, save money, and extend the life of the vehicles. The total fuel and maintenance savings is projected to be $1.1 – $1.7 million over the lifetime of the fleet with a return on investment of less than four months. In addition, SMART says the cost of building on-site refueling stations at each of its three terminals was determined to be less expensive than other refueling station options. The vehicles and propane stations are grant funded.

“Residents in Southeast Michigan are breathing easier due to SMART’s decision to fuel paratransit buses with propane autogas,” said Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing for ROUSH CleanTech, whose company did the propane autogas conversions. “Plus, this abundant alternative transportation fuel means reduced operating and ownership costs for the transit agency.”

Delivery of all 61 SMART Connector autogas vehicles has been on-going since February and to date 14 vehicles have been placed into service. The full fleet is expected to be in service by the end of July.

Yellowstone Distributed Energy Project Powers Up

Old hybrid batteries have a new home on the range. Toyota has flipped the switch on a project that is reusing 200 old battery packs from Toyota Camry hybirds. The Lamar Buffalo Ranch field campus in Yellowstone National Park, now not only features buffalo, but an innovative distributed energy system that combines solar power generation with re-used Camry Hybrid battery packs. The result according to Toyota: reliable, sustainable, zero emission power to the ranger station and education center for the first time since it was founded in 1907. Solar panels generate the renewable electricity stored within the 208 used Camry Hybrid nickel-metal hydride battery packs, recovered from Toyota dealers across the United States.

Announced in June 2014, the partnership among Toyota, Indy Power Systems, Sharp USA SolarWorld, Patriot Solar, National Park Service and Yellowstone Park Foundation is an innovative effort to extend the useful life of hybrid vehicle batteries while providing sustainable power generation for one of the most remote, pristine areas in the United States.

Toyota_Yellowstone_Battery_001“Through our long-standing partnership with Yellowstone National Park and the Yellowstone Park Foundation, Toyota has helped preserve Yellowstone for future generations,” said Jim Lentz, chief executive officer, Toyota North America. “Today, our relationship with Yellowstone continues, as more than 200 battery packs that once powered Toyota Camry hybrids have found a new home on the range.”

On an annual basis, the solar system will generates enough electricity to power six average U.S. households for a year, or plenty of power for the five buildings on the Ranch campus. The hybrid batteries provide 85kWh of energy storage to ensure continuous power, as the system charges and discharges. Onsite micro-hydro turbine systems, capturing energy from a neighboring stream, are scheduled to join the power mix in 2016.

The Yellowstone system is the first of its kind to use recovered hybrid vehicle batteries for commercial energy storage. Each battery pack has been disassembled and tested, and every piece that could be was repurposed. New components were also designed and built by Indy Power Systems specifically for this application, including an onboard battery management system for each battery pack. The battery management system is designed to maximize battery life and will also provide important insights into real-world performance. These insights will help Toyota design future battery performance and durability improvements.

“Toyota’s innovative response to solve a difficult problem has helped Yellowstone move closer to its goal of becoming the greenest park in the world,” added Steve Iobst, acting superintendent of Yellowstone.

Advanced Disposal Opens Gas-to-Energy Plant

Advanced Disposal has opened the doors to a new gas-to-energy plant built on behalf of the Sarasota County, Florida landfill. To celebrate, elected officials, media and community members toured the landfill and facility including the new gas-to-energy plant built by Aria Energy Company. The plant is comprised of three engines that can produce as much as 4.8 MW of electricity. Gas produced by the landfill is converted by the plant’s generators. The power created at the facility, operated by Advanced Disposal, produces energy that will be sold around the state of Florida.

Sarasota County Landfill Tour“This is a really great opportunity for the county, as well as for Aria Energy, to take a resource that would otherwise be burned away into the atmosphere and use it to create something that is usable by the community,” said Sarasota County Public Utilities Solid Waste Engineer Jason Timmons.

Guests were also invited to participate in landfill facility tours. The company said in a news release this allowed consumers to better understand where the methane is created to power the generators.

Advanced Disposal General Manager Tim Ferris provided the landfill tours and answered guests’ questions. “This is an exciting time for Sarasota County Landfill,” said Ferris. “While we are not operating the new gas-to-energy facility, we are proud to operate the landfill that produces the gas, which in turn will provide energy to not only the local community, but also across the state.”

ampCNG’s CNG as Truck Fleet Surpasses 30M Miles

ampCNG’s compressed natural gas (CNG) long-haul truck fleet has surpassed 30 million miles. The Class 8 CNG trucks achieved a fuel efficiency of 6.17 miles per diesel equivalent gallon. The company says with this achievement, they have demonstrated the commercial and operational viability of CNG as a fuel for heavy-duty trucks. ampCNG’s primary business is developing, owning, and operating public access CNG fueling stations built for the heavy-duty trucking industry. ampCNG currently owns and operates 21 CNG stations nationwide (19 of which are part of amp Trillium, ampCNG’s joint venture with Trillium CNG) and has plans to open several more this year.

RDF Kenworth PhotoGrant Zimmerman, Senior Vice President of Business Development at ampCNG, said of the milestone, “We are proud that our fleet has now run 30 million miles on CNG and we will be putting our operations experience to good use. We look forward to continuing to share our proven CNG operating experience to help more trucking fleets safely reduce and stabilize their fuel costs by converting to CNG.”

The 42-truck fleet is leased by Renewable Dairy Fuels, a subsidiary of ampCNG, and operated by Ruan. The fleet carries raw milk from Fair Oaks Farms to processing facilities in Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee and Indiana. Since deploying the CNG trucks in 2011, ampCNG has displaced approximately 4.6 million gallons of diesel and eliminated approximately 7,100 tons of CO2.

Zimmerman added, “We don’t want to be in the trucking business, but we felt it was important to put these trucks on the road to prove that CNG works for the Class 8 market. Along the way, we reduced operating costs for our dairy customers and helped the environment. Furthermore, the drivers report that they actually prefer CNG versus their old diesel units because the CNG trucks are cleaner and quieter.”

Georgia Power Rolls Out EV Fleet

Georgia Power has rolled out a new fleet of 32 new plug-in electric hybrid Chevy Volts during an onsite event. Georgia Power Chairman, President & CEO Paul Bowers was joined by Commissioner Tim Echols of the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) and Michael Beinenson of the EV Club of the South to celebrate the edition of the alternative energy electric vehicles (EVs).

Georgia Power rolls out new fleet of EVs. (PRNewsFoto/Georgia Power)

Georgia Power rolls out new fleet of EVs. (PRNewsFoto/Georgia PowerCEO Paul

“We are leading by example and demonstrating to our customers, and other Georgia businesses, that electric transportation works for all drivers,” said Bowers at the event. “Through constructive regulation, and partnerships with organizations like the EV Club of the South, we are growing the EV market in Georgia and helping our customers reap the overwhelming benefits of driving electric.”

Bowers also noted Commissioner Echols’ leadership in increasing awareness of EVs in Georgia, including support and involvement in the annual Alternative Fuel Vehicle Roadshow each June.

Georgia Power, elected officials and community leaders mark the roll out of Georgia Power's new fleet of EVs. (Left - Right) Latanza Adjei (Vice President of Sales, Georgia Power); Kenny Coleman (Senior Vice President of Marketing, Georgia Power); Michael Beinenson (President, EV Club of the South); Commissioner Tim Echols (Georgia Public Service Commission); Paul Bowers (Chairman, President & CEO of Georgia Power); and Carl Jackson (Electric Transportation Manager, Georgia Power). (PRNewsFoto/Georgia Power)

Georgia Power, elected officials and community leaders mark the roll out of Georgia Power’s new fleet of EVs. (Left – Right) Latanza Adjei (Vice President of Sales, Georgia Power); Kenny Coleman (Senior Vice President of Marketing, Georgia Power); Michael Beinenson (President, EV Club of the South); Commissioner Tim Echols (Georgia Public Service Commission); Paul Bowers (Chairman, President & CEO of Georgia Power); and Carl Jackson (Electric Transportation Manager, Georgia Power). (PRNewsFoto/Georgia Power)

The new, Georgia Power-branded Chevy Volts will be seen around town in communities from Savannah to Columbus to Rome and will be driven daily by Georgia Power employees as they serve customers. The EVs will be used primarily by the company’s energy efficiency experts as they travel to conduct energy audits at homes and businesses, a service provided to help Georgia Power customers save money and energy.

In 2014, Georgia Power launched a new electric transportation initiative to advance Georgia as an exceptionally EV-friendly state through its Get Current. Drive Electric. program. The program currently includes an ongoing public education campaign, EV charger rebates for business and residential customers and special rates and charging options for EV customers.

Black & Veatch Commission Microgrid

Black & Veatch has commissioned its new microgrid system that provides power to the Rodman Innovation Pavilion located at the company’s Kansas World Headquarters. The microgrid uses a combination of natural gas, solar energy, geothermal and battery storage, and is the first of its kind in the state. It can operate as an independent power source or in support of the utility electric grid adding resiliency to the building and lowering energy costs. The microgrid provides enough clean energy to run the entire Innovation Pavilion.

“We are excited to launch this new technology that highlights the broad range of expertise we have within Black & Veatch,” said Steve Edwards, president and CEO. “It also demonstrates the strong level of support and interest in the design from our professionals who are working on sustainable solutions around the world.”

Black & Veatch’s system includes two natural gas-fired microturbines that deliver onsite electrical power generation. During winter months, heat is recovered from the microturbines to support heating. A geothermal heat pump system with 15 wells drilled 500 feet deep helps heat and cool the Pavilion. The microgrid system also uses battery energy storage to capture energy from generation resources and deliver electricity to the World Headquarters during times of high electric demand, such as in the summer months.

To learn more about the complex interactions of the different energy technologies, Black & Veatch guests can interact with a large screen display that shows the microgrid operations in real time. The microgrid is continually monitored by Black & Veatch’s cloud based analytics platform, ASSET360. It collects data from the system and monitors the performance of each component based on factors like solar radiation, cloud cover, outside temperature and more. It calculates how much energy is being generated and used in the building, providing the company’s energy experts with insights on ways to improve system operations.