An overview of options for our current and future transportation needs.
Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG
- April 4, 2008
Featured Presenters offering an open Q&A period at the end of the event.
The annual Green Vehicles workshops success is in part due to local grass roots efforts to make local decision makers, future leaders and the local populace aware of what is available with regards to a greener and more sustainable transportation future. Hosting the event was the MATC (Milwaukee Area Technical College) with sponsorship from a number of state and local businesses including WE Energies, Wisconsin Electric, Clean Cities Wisconsin, Wisconsin Engine Manufacturers and Distributors Alliance and the MiHG.
A gathering of students, academia and environmentally minded MiHG
members turned out to hear from a cross section of local political and transportation professionals who laid out a road map for today’s transportation offerings as well as tomorrows.
The first presenter was Ann Beier, Director of the Office of Sustainability for the City of Milwaukee. Her emphasis was to show the cities conversion of its diesel fleet to using Bio-diesel. From B10 (10% Biodiesel, 90% Diesel) in the winter and B20 in the summer.
Afterwards, a 26 year old political powerhouse by the name of Marina Dimitrijevic, Milwaukee county supervisor from District 4, discussed Milwaukee’s commitment to a sustainable future. Her contributions to date include creating and sponsoring Milwaukee’s “Green Print Law” which aims to raise environmental and conservation standards to preserve resources for future generations. With the new law in place, energy conservation retrofit plans for many of Milwaukee’s government buildings is in progress due in part to her tireless efforts.
Energy and its Costs
The next presenter, Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin
discussed transportation in the Post-Oil economy. The presentation highlighted Energy Return on Energy Invested (expending a unit of energy to produce a number of units of other types of energy that can be used) from a number of current Electrical and Liquid fuel sources.
Energy Return on Energy invested – Today’s status
|Electricity Production Method||Ratio||Liquid Fuel||Ratio|
|Hydro||12||Tar Sands||3 to 4|
|Wind||17+||Coal to Liquids||3|
| || ||Corn to Ethanol||1 to 2|
With further research, Crude oil at its best appears to have an EROEI of just 10 for Saudi Crude Oil (the easiest in the world to extract) to less than 3 for Crude oil found and processed right here in the US. As we move forward, Liquid fuels EROEI will fall further with more energy expended to bring liquid fuels to your local gas station whereas renewable sources EROEI’s are increasing thanks to technology gains.
The next presenter was one of MATC’s own. George Stone, MATC instructor of Natural Sciences not only Emceed the event but presented a disheartening look at Global Warming today. It is as simple as this. We have had a number of ice-ages and warming global climates over the previous 800,000 years. By studying atmosphere trapped in bubbles from Ice-Core samples for greenhouse gas concentrations (CO2, CH4 and N2O), the results are painfully clear. The Anthropogenic effects (those that are derived from human activities) of CO2 release and atmospheric concentration over the previous 200 years show a runaway with current CO2 concentrations exceeding of 384 ppm (Spring 2008). That level has never been experienced before using ICE-core sample analysis. In fact, peak CO2 concentrations from those analyses show the planet reaching peaks of just 290 ppm during any of the previous warming periods!
Francis Vogel, Executive director of Wisconsin Clean Cities
– SE presented updates with regards to the 2007 US Energy Policy Act and Cellulosic research being conducted within Wisconsin.
John Baldus, Wisconsin Office of Energy Independence and Ben Laurant, Bio-fuels engineer from URS presented material on the current production methods including various feed stocks of Ethanol and Bio-diesel production today as well as tomorrow.
Bob Reagan, Senior Marketing specialist for WE energies and Jo-Ann Yantzis, Regional manager of Clean Energy Fuels
presented very detailed information on CNG’s present uses, source pollution data and local supplies. Besides the much lower SMOG forming and GHG emissions potential, the less costly fuel could be a boon for local economies and air quality.
Mike Andrews, Director of Johnson Controls Governmental Affairs, revealed JCI’s current battery production capability for both mild and full hybrid solutions plus future supply contracts up to and including PHEV solutions using JCI/SAFT chemistries and turn key packaging. During the Q&A period, he answered a question with regards to near term large quantity OEM pricing and said. “$250 to $300/kWh price targets would be very aggressive.”
Alternative Fuel Vehicles Including Hybrids
GM’s fleet account executive, Rich Gunther discussed progress on the Chevrolet Volt PHEV and revealed GM’s plan of a 2010 release as a 2011 vehicle is still intact. Larger E85 vehicles are being offered under the guise of a cleaner alternative even with all of the negatives. The highlight was a quick discussion about the previously announced Cellulosic Ethanol initiative through Coskata
. With the ability to produce Ethanol via Cellulosic means from feedstock as varied as Switchgrass, Wood chips and even old tires plus an EROEI as high as 7.7 (see table above) for as little as $1.00 per gallon, there is hope that we may have a greener yet sustainable fuel in the near future. The Coskata pilot plant is expected to produce upwards of 50 Million gallons/year by 2011.
Ford was represented by an MATC staff member, Craig Kuehl who emphasized not only Ethanol capable vehicles but also Ford’s research into current and future hybrids, diesels and fuel efficient gasoline powered automobiles using DI (Direct Injection) and Turbo-charging from the previously covered EcoBoost program.
Toyota’s past and current hybrid history including current offerings was presented by a local dealership rep, John Dolan, Hybrid Specialist for Smart Motors
. From initial ideas and the G21 “Global 21st century” program promoted by Toyota’s past Chairman, Eiji Toyoda, to its present day iteration, the Prius was and will always be a work in progress. The next gen Prius-III will use NiMH as previously announced and will begin using Li-Ion’s for a PHEV variant sometime in the future.
Honda was represented by a Wisconsin area dealer, Chris Schneider, president of Honda Motorwerks
. Through a DVD presentation, he described his own vision of future without gasoline including CNG and his own electrically powered NEV (Neighborhood Electric Vehicle) that he drives on a daily basis.
Another local NEV company was represented by Product Specialist, Earl Huebner of Columbia ParCar
. In his company’s case, it was not just NEV’s but promotion of small NEV like electric vehicles performing activities as varied as Coal mine machine lubrication to Airport Tarmac services.
The day’s final presentation was given by another MiHG member, Tim Thompson, President of Green Autos
of Janesville, WI. He not only covered the ZENN but discussed their involvement with EEStor as seen in the recently reported EEStor power storage nears commercial application … possibly?
Just before the final featured presenter Q&A, George Stone recognized both Bradlee Fons of the MiHG
and Eric Powers of Hybridfest
for their local efforts promoting Hybrid and alternative fuel vehicle ownership.
The locally sponsored event brought current and future ideas to the forefront and could be best described as both a success and a work in progress for the betterment of all concerned.