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fleebut

EPA vs Vehicle Carbon Emission Credit

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Flex fuel vehicles are losing value upon auto industry per EPA rating system. The low utilization of E85 fuel within flex fuel car ownership surveys has forced EPA to push carbon rating of these vehicles up and value to automotive industry down. We should understand the engineering of modern vehicles turn heavily upon the conformance to government emission regulations. This is the primary driving force upon future plans to invest capital and development of new model cars. Note that EPA likes electric and hydrogen cars no matter the real carbon emissions and offers automotive industry zero grams per mile rating. The reality of real carbon emission will place a hybrid at higher value as compared to electric car in much of the country with higher coal power plants. So, what's going on here? Much of the rating system is biased and set in place per belief system of government agency that throw more weight per desire and not science. Take the example of cutting much of the ethanol value of carbon efficiency off at the knees per theoretical indirect land use formulations. In common talk its merely a WAG system put in place to thwart progress of ethanol as a environmental solution. Also, we all know ethanol only improves vehicle emissions and engine thermal dynamics potential yet this low carbon fuel is positions along side heavy carbon diesel per MPG ratings. Something is wrong with that measure. My guess to pull ethanol out of this malaise of not being awarded rightful carbon rating and environmental benefit, is the E85 only light duty vehicle. That would force EPA to accept the full benefit of ethanol. Currently the natural gas fossil fuel vehicles will get better ratings as compared to flex vehicle. A flex vehicle that has potential to utilize negative carbon fuel such as cellulosic. Something is amiss with how we rate fuel per carbon emissions. I would guess the genius of such rating system merely lies within minds of those with bias that throw in the mix their inaccurate assumptions to factor away to desires. The rating system, especially for fuel, should entail simple hard provable data as must all benchmarks. Probably a BTU carbon rating. The fuel delivered to electric car should be rated as well as hydrogen. Why does the EPA assume the electric car will fuel up on solar or wind power, then pivot to assume flex cars will use gasoline. Why does the EPA assume jungle will be tore down to farm grain for ethanol, then turn heads away from the horrible rare earth mining industry problems for battery car, solar, wind? How about the mercury pollution of typical grid power, yet the focus on fertilizer runoff of farm field. The yearly improvements of the farming and ethanol industry that goes unacknowledged.

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You said a lot there Fleebut- and it is true. The Flex fuel auto was fine to build out the infrastructure but as we all know- the spread is not in favor of E85 often in an FFV (especially in winter and out of the cornbelt).

 

I said from day one that we did not need more FFV's - we needed better ones or dedicated far superior ones. Unfortunately the public just does not "get" the advantage of fuel freedom- and that includes my wife who just does not value freedom as much as getting to fill up only once a week on crapoline vs perhaps one day less on E85. A proper dedicated E85 car that is both more efficient and has the same range as gasoline (perhaps with a slightly larger tank if all cannot be gain with efficiency) would be the "cat's meow". We likely need both dedicated and flex for the interim.

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Longer refuel range would be a bonus. Something the EPA doesn't care about and doesn't control. Lower cost fuel definitely a bonus as well as the long list of environmental benefits such as air quality, and economics. But, what is the car company motivation to invest in ethanol solutions? Not much. The FFV benefit to CAFE standards is mostly gone. We have cheaper gasoline and nothing in the EPA regulations offers incentive to build efficient E85 vehicles. In fact the lower carbon fuel is penalized per MPG ratings and tax rates based on gallon measure. Imagine if EPA took similar tack on BEV? They are very impracticable, extremely short trip, costly, require huge incentives, have little environmental value upon current grid power, require huge investment in infrastructure, and have very slow growth rate. Most would say a poor solution. Meanwhile E85 is sitting already in hand, requiring little investment in infrastructure. Actually, as we all know an easy task for automotive (once EPA gave up certification wealth) to change entire auto fleet to FFV. The curtain was pulled back last year on what would be possible, per the Cummings E85 engine. Fifty to 60% carbon reductions and 85% reduction with cellulosic fuel. That solution would then be rated top tier, above other solutions in practical reality terms. The accomplishment is within bounds of current technology. Doesn't require much investment other than receiving proper credit for accomplishment. The magic was utilizing diesel compression ratio's, turbocharging, spark ignition, EGR, proper transmission, and down sizing engine. The auto industry knows how to do all these things. Ethanol fuel availability is poised to ramp up quickly given R&D breakthroughs and processing efficiency. The land mass available upon globe is huge. Environmental benefit to wild life, diversity, CO2 conversion, and job creation is huge per this biological solution. How damaging to globe for rare earth metal mining and recycling?   

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Oddly enough,  Hyundai looks like it has potential candidate in it's 1.8L GDCI engine.

 

They have other High compression engines on the market today, but offer no FFV models.

 

My beef with the auto industry currently is their ambivalence to the publics' interest in FFVs

 

I go to a dealer to inquire about their offerings of alternative fueled vehicles( or FFVs) , and am

 

promptly excoriated -- "why do you want to do that?" 

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My beef with the auto industry currently is their ambivalence to the publics' interest in FFVs

 

I go to a dealer to inquire about their offerings of alternative fueled vehicles( or FFVs) , and am

 

promptly excoriated -- "why do you want to do that?" 

Exactly Greengenes.. really gets my blood boiling too   And to top if off the Sales staff no virtual ZERO about E85

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Automotive has steadily increased efficiency of ICE and nowadays common to achieve efficiency higher than the common coal steam turbine of power production. So, Houston we have a problem when claiming the BEV has no carbon emission and superior choice to any hybrid. Ethanol fueled vehicle would only drive the math north. I would guess if ever so motivated the EPA could be sued if not allocating zero grams carbon emission to E85 vehicle class. When you review their mission per law and practice, it would appear they would be forced into applying the same credits. If this were to develop...Katy bar the door, as conventional auto technology, the lowest cost denominator, could easily slide into production floor of new model development and afford the industry a whale load of power to meet CAFE and carbon standards. And it would be true emission and carbon savings. I could see Cummings engine offerings upon the truck and tractor fleets. Maybe automotive such as Ford utilizing their 1 liter Eccoboost E85 for Fusion cars and high end performance cars gaining race quality performance from E85 class.   

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University of Toronto recently published a study, utilizing natural gas fuel for light vehicle comparisons. A conventional gasoline car, CNG, hybrid CNG and BEV being charged up by natural gas power plants. They compared life cycle emissions and cost of ownership between these vehicles. The CNG fuel lowed emissions as compared to conventional gasoline car. The hybrid CNG car even more so with out much additional cost of ownership. The BEV was 30% more expensive and the emissions about the same as natural gas power plants operate at 30-60% efficiency. The advantage of BEV is to shift emissions away from urban zones. The plug in hybrid would be classified likewise to BEV. So, the sweet spot to influence consumers and minimize environmental harm is hybrid conventional engine powered on CNG. One should surmise that the grid has a large portion of low efficiency coal power plants and this fact should add to dissuade use of BEV. Also, one could conjecture to value of E85 vehicle as superior choice as this is not a fossil fuel, will increase thermal efficiency of engine, a lower carbon fuel, will benefit likewise by hybrid efficiency, easier to refill, less expensive to manufacture, less supporting infrastructure cost required, cellulosic fuel stream will only improve the math. So, it is obvious what path forward the country should make. What am I missing? 

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The replies to date concerned of public acceptance of E85. The bad image of the fuel and lower driving range. We know much of the benefits and hurdles, just flummoxed on how easily the fuel is impugned or bypassed. We've been told the history of ethanol repeats. As we know Henry Ford was building cars and pushing for ethanol fuel. He was building a commercial ethanol process plant just before Prohibition brought the construction to halt and same with ethanol fuel. Petrol position to tetraethylead for octane boost, one of their products, and in process killed the inventor and poisoned most of the country. My personal experience per the Jimmy Carter days of gasohol were just as ruckus, with most entering a foray into incriminating ethanol damage propaganda. They really had much hysteria of engine damage. So the public acceptance of ethanol fuel as a better alternative, present day, just as impugned. I do believe as I've followed the energy sector and auto technology for most of my life...I smell a rat. History repeats and the anti-ethanol coalition powered by profits of petrol are indeed effective. While EPA has employees within the ranks that desire the ethanol solution, I believe they are outnumbered and outranked. They are in the coalition as most desire other solutions and think ethanol is just an deterrence to prime objective. They fear ethanol taking off as a solution. Auto manufactures are just trying to keep out of the foray and play by the rules. Those rules offer no benefit to designing cars for efficient high ethanol blends. I was reviewing some old engine testing by EPA as part of this website http://www.americanenergyindependence.comand once again per the engineering results confirm the value of alcohol fuel. It did strike me how efficiency always climbed upon higher alcohol blends and neat alcohol very impressive. Efficiency surpassed diesel with spark ignition. I won't bore you with all the characteristics of alcohol fuel that make for optimum combustion, but their are many. And the technology to achieve such low emissions and high efficiency is rather low. You could build a cheap port injection high ethanol blend engine and replace expensive diesel engine. Cars that invest in high efficiency diesel powered cars are already lined up per comparable torque. The torque curve of ethanol engine is superior to diesel, meaning available in the sweet spot of most driving. Also, they could manufacture a high ethanol blend spark engine much cheaper than diesel. As far as emissions. Note first the natural RVP emissions about half of all the emissions modern day. Meaning just plain evaporation. High blend ethanol will eliminate most of this. Alcohol has cold start issues and this warm up time just about the entire pollution stream. But, the testing confirmed heated air intake, improves the problem greatly as well as higher speed starters. It's not that difficult to heat intake air for start up and in the process eliminates most of the harmful pollution. BTW, these optimized engines for alcohol achieve mileage above gasoline. Now, modern day we have vastly more efficient gasoline engines with hybrid technology, but realize the same technology will still boost the ethanol engine above gasoline. Gasoline can not compete. Also, just the simple fact, that ethanol has less carbon atoms will make the carbon emissions -30% on mileage basis alone. That is before the well to wheel befits kick in i.e. short supply chain, non fossil fuel, corn plant CO2 conversion, soil sequestration of CO2.  

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A good relatively easy read doc for E85 engine http://cumminsengines.com/uploads/docs/ETHOS-final-report.pdf

 

"Cummins believes an optimized E85 engine can be highly competitive on a total cost of ownership basis and deliver over 50% CO2 emissions reductions relative to current production medium duty gasoline and diesel powertrains. " "Cummins believes the Ultra-Low Carbon Powertrain Program" provided a clear vision of a technology pathway that can make significant contribution to air quality programs throughout  the United States and particularly California. "

 

High points. The mileage of E85 higher than unleaded fueled van. Bench tests of E85 engine efficiency as compared to DI turbo unleaded engine (state of art) impressive. E85 purchased was 12% more expensive on an energy basis. After lowering efficiency of the E85 engine base values by this 12% and mapping the two engines efficiency upon operation scenarios, the E85 usually beat the unleaded engine. Meaning cheaper to use E85 engine. When compared to diesel, the fuel costs about the same. However, as compared to diesel the E85 engine 700# lighter, cheaper to manufacture, and has less expense for controlling tailpipe emissions. Really impressive the E85 engine power density is 2.7x that of diesel and torque 2x. So, less than half the engine required. Because of the high chamber pressure required for optimal E85 engine, the diesel engine a must for conversion stock. It doesn't sound particularly difficult to convert a diesel to E85. A new head and pistons with cheaper emission equipment. Now don't forget this engine is a rough attempt to achieve an optimize E85. Meaning the current unleaded and diesel engine technology is highly polished and at the cutting edge of maximizing capability. The optimized E85 engine is only at the starting line of achieving likewise. Cummins thinks the weak spot of E85 engine efficiency operation of low HP zone can be overcome with EGR dilution and/or lean burn. Also, the high compression trade off and lowering boost pressure, needs to be researched. The hot exhaust of E85 engine as compared to diesel cranks up the power of turbo. Opportunities to use the extra power for higher boost pressure or generating electric power. The higher temps of turbo will heat intake air more as compared to diesel. After turbo cooler technology could be utilized to boost E85 engine efficiency for this reason. Lower cost of E85 engine may enable more spending on hybrid technology. My reading of other optimized ethanol engine bench tests show a jump up in performance from E85 to neat alcohol on both power, efficiency, and emissions. Something to think about. So, once again the magnitude of true carbon emission reductions that can be achieved quickly, the lower cost of operation, the high durability of diesel like engine, the lower vapor emissions, lower unhealthy emissions, and the head room for improvement must be making decision makers uneasy. It's growing more apparent, the best path forward to help environment and the consumer and help both sooner. 

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Also, one must evaluate the FFV value to ethanol. Unleaded fuel engine engineers must fear ethanol as the fuel has high ability to destroy their engine. How? The fuel has high ability to produce HP and torque and very high combustion pressures. Way above the design limits of the unleaded engine. For example the efficiency of internal combustion engine roughly balanced on eliminating pre-ignition knock, maximizing combustion pressure, and running lower RPM. Ethanol has fuel attributes that make it possible to improve all of these. Ignition advance is one of the most powerful engine parameters to change with ethanol fuel to increase efficiency yet the typical unleaded engine will quickly retard spark upon the fuel injector duration. This apparently the quickest indication that more fuel and HP is on the way. A condition upon unleaded fuel that will produce engine destroying knock. Problem is the FFV engine parameters treat E85 like unleaded and run with sub optimal advance. The unleaded engine is designed from ground up for gasoline and can not physically sustain high efficient E85 combustion. So, consumer can't see much value of E85 other than lower price and more fill ups. Big woop. Meanwhile the federal regulations are ticking citizens off that think ethanol fuel is inferior. Personally, I would prefer fed grants and regs that would push optimal E85 vehicles. Consumers would benefit and the image of ethanol greatly improved. Same for environment benefits. Also, since the vehicle is E85 only the full environmental benefit must be allocated to the vehicle.  

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