|2020/1/26 10:30||Green Car Congress||
Study links exposure to diesel exhaust particles to pneumococcal disease susceptibility
Researchers from the University of Liverpool, Queen Mary University, London and Trinity College Dublin have linked exposure to diesel exhaust particles (DEPs) to susceptibility to pneumococcal disease. An open-access paper on the work is published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that air pollution is responsible for 7 million deaths per year, with 7% of these attributable to pneumonia. Many of these fatalities have been linked to exposure to high levels of airborne particulates, such as diesel exhaust particles (DEPs). The bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most common cause of pneumonia and meningitis and the leading cause of infectious disease deaths in under-5s and elderly groups worldwide. In the majority of healthy people, this bacterium lives harmlessly in the back of the nose and throat without causing any symptom. However, if the pneumococcus gains access to normally sterile sites in the body, such as the lungs and blood, it has the potential to cause life-threatening diseases. The researchers sought to determine whether exposure to DEPs could promote the progression of asymptomatic nasopharyngeal carriage of Streptococcus pneumoniae to invasive pneumococcal disease. The researchers, led by Professor Aras Kadioglu from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Infection & Global Health, used a combination of mouse models and lab-based assays in both mouse and human cells to provide insight into the link between DEP exposure and pneumococcal disease. The researchers found that following exposure to DEPs, airway macrophages, which are key immune cells for controlling bacterial infections and removing debris from the body, become congested with DEPs, reducing their ability to kill the pneumococcus. from Shears et al. This allows the bacteria to survive more easily in the airways, invade the lungs, and cause significant inflammation, which eventually leads to bacterial translocation into blood, thereby causing severe disease. We know that exposure to air pollution is harmful, responsible for millions of deaths every year, of which a significant proportion is due to pneumonia. What we did not know however, was how pollution, such as diesel exhaust particles, actually causes airway disease. In this study, we have now discovered the cellular mechanisms behind this. Our study highlights an urgent need to tackle airway pollution if we are to reduce life threatening respiratory diseases such as pneumonia.—Professor Aras Kadioglu Our study shows that exposure to DEPs, which is a major airborne particulate pollutant both here in the UK and abroad, may be one of the key factors involved in the switch from harmless pneumococcal colonisation of the nasal tissues to severe disease, such as pneumonia. Our data provides further insight to support previous observations of increased pneumonia hospital admissions in countries such as China, where airborne pollution levels are highest. The reduced ability of DEP exposed airway macrophages to control the infection appears to be key in the increased number of cases of pneumococcal disease. This study adds further impetus to reduce global pollution levels.—Dr Rebecca Shears, first author Resources Shears, Rebecca K. et al. (2020) “Exposure to diesel exhaust particles increases susceptibility to invasive pneumococcal disease” Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2019.11.039
|2020/1/26 10:00||Green Car Congress||
GTI launching a hydrogen technology center
GTI, a research, development and training organization focused on natural gas and energy markets, is launching a hydrogen technology center. GTI focuses its R&D efforts on the generation of clean hydrogen using hydrocarbon fuels that incorporate carbon capture and/or carbon sequestration in a cost-effective manner. These technology efforts are directed at both large-scale hydrogen production using natural gas feedstock, and smaller distributed hydrogen production for transportation or remote power generation using either gaseous or liquid hydrocarbon fuels. GTI has partnered with government and private industry to develop, evaluate, and demonstrate technologies that further the use of hydrogen as a transportation fuel by delivering infrastructure, vehicle, engine, fuel dispensing, and system solutions for clean transportation fuel cell vehicles. GTI hydrogen fueling site at UT Austin. GTI has leveraged its expertise with natural gas pipeline infrastructure to assess the impacts of injecting hydrogen into the North American natural gas pipeline infrastructure network. This and component performance work looks at material compatibility in the pipeline delivery infrastructure as well as the ability for end-use equipment to utilize hydrogen blended with natural gas. GTI has expertise in new storage and conversion technologies with materials development and testing. Using functional materials to store hydrogen and methane can increase gas storage capacities at lower and safe pressures. Key elements of GTI storage projects have focused on hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles.
|2020/1/26 9:30||Green Car Congress||
Amazon to deploy 10,000 electric delivery rickshaws in India by 2025
In an effort to reduce carbon emissions, Amazon will deploy 10,000 electric delivery rickshaws in India by 2025. This commitment comes after successful pilots across different cities in 2019; learnings from these pilots have helped the company create scalable and long term EV variants to build this large fleet. These EVs are in addition to the global commitment of 100,000 electric vehicles in the delivery fleet by 2030 announced in the Climate Pledge signed by Amazon. (Earlier post.) Amazon ordered 100,000 electric delivery vehicles from Rivian—the largest single order yet of electric delivery vehicles—with vans slated to start delivering packages to customers in 2021. The fleet of 10,000 EVs in India will include 3-wheeler and 4-wheeler vehicles which have been designed and manufactured in India. In 2020, these vehicles will operate in more than 20 cities of India, including Delhi NCR, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune, Nagpur and Coimbatore. Amazon India has been working with several Indian OEMs to build a fleet of vehicles that ensure sustainable and safe deliveries of customer orders. In addition, the government’s focus to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles in the country, and steps towards setting up of charging infrastructure with the FAME 2 policy has helped the company accelerate and chart its vision for EVs in India.
|2020/1/25 11:00||Green Car Congress||
UGA study finds black carbon aerosols from GDI engines will worsen public health, climate; need for GPFs
The gasoline direct injection (GDI) engine is one of the most prominent technologies car manufacturers adopted to achieve the fuel economy and carbon dioxide emission goals established in 2012 by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The market share of GDI-equipped vehicles increased from 2.3% in model year 2008 to 51% in model year 2018. The EPA projects 93% of vehicles in the U.S. will be equipped with GDI engines by 2025. However, while this technology boosts fuel efficiency and reduces CO2 emissions, GDI engines also produce more black carbon aerosols than traditional port fuel injection (PFI) engines. Unlike the conventional port fuel injection (PFI) engines which mix fuel and air prior to injection into the engine cylinders, the GDI technology involves spraying the fuel directly into the cylinders, allowing for higher compression ratios. As a result, GDI engines achieve higher combustion efficiencies compared to their PFI counterparts, leading to the enhanced fuel economy and consequently, reduced CO2 emissions by up to 14%. However, similar to diesel engines, the direct injection of fuel in GDI engines creates fuel-rich pockets near the injection zone, and the combustion conditions in these pockets are conducive to formation of carbonaceous particulate matter (PM), especially black carbon (BC). Consequently, GDI engines emit larger amounts of BC compared to PFI engines, as has been confirmed by several laboratory studies. —Neyestani et al. A strong absorber of solar radiation, black carbon exhibits significant climate warming properties. In a study published in the ACS journal Environmental Science and Technology, a team of researchers at UGA predicts the increase in black carbon emissions from GDI-powered vehicles will fuel climate warming in urban areas of the US that will significantly exceed the cooling associated with a reduction in CO2. … the increase in BC associated with the shift would lead to an annual average positive radiative effect over the U.S. of approximately +0.075 W/m2, with values as large as +0.45 W/m2 over urban regions. On the other hand, the reduction in CO2 emissions associated with the enhanced fuel economy of GDI vehicles would yield a globally uniform negative radiative effect, estimated to be −0.013 W/m2 over a 20 year time horizon. Therefore, the climate burden of the increase in BC emissions dominates over the US, especially over source regions.—Neyestani et al. Credit: ACS, Neyestani et al. In addition, they believe the shift will nearly double the premature mortality rate associated with vehicle emissions, from 855 deaths annually to 1,599. The researchers estimate the annual social cost of these premature deaths at $5.95 billion. Even though emissions from gasoline vehicles constitute a small fraction of the black carbon in the atmosphere, the vehicle emissions are concentrated in regions with high population densities, which magnifies their effect.—Rawad Saleh, an assistant professor in UGA’s School of Environmental, Civil, Agricultural and Mechanical Engineering and the study’s principal investigator The increase of black carbon is an unintended consequence of the shift to GDI-equipped vehicles that some scientists suspected was based on experimental data, according to Saleh. He says the UGA study is the first to place these experimental findings in a complex modeling framework to investigate the trade-off between CO2 reduction and an increase in black carbon. While previous research has reported the shift to GDI engines will result in net benefits for the global climate, the UGA researchers say these benefits are rather small and can only be realized on timescales of decades. Meanwhile, the negative impact of black carbon can be felt instantaneously. Our research shows the climate trade-off is much different on the regional scale, especially in areas with high vehicle densities. In these regions, the climate burden induced by the increase in black carbon dominates over the climate benefits of the reduction in CO2. The study concludes the social cost associated with the acute localized climate burden and public health impacts induced by GDI vehicles largely overweigh their marginal global climate benefits.—Rawad Saleh While a quantitative economic analysis that weighs the social costs associated with these impacts against the benefits associated with the reduction in CO2 emissions is beyond the scope of this work, our results provide strong evidence that such analysis is necessary for developing robust policy vis-à-vis the position of GDI in the landscape of future vehicle technologies. We note that the results obtained in this study do not account for the potential of incorporating gasoline particulate filters (GPFs) for reducing BC emissions from GDI vehicles. GPFs impose a penalty on fuel economy and are subject to technical challenges that need to be resolved before reliable practical implementation. Our results suggest that the development and implementation of GPFs is crucial for GDI engines to be a viable solution for enhanced fuel economy without compromising air quality. —Neyestani et al. Resources Rawad Saleh Resources Soroush E. Neyestani, Stacy Walters, Gabriele Pfister, Gabriel J. Kooperman, and Rawad Saleh (2020) “Direct Radiative Effect and Public Health Implications of Aerosol Emissions Associated with Shifting to Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) Technologies in Light-Duty Vehicles in the United States” Environmental Science & Technology 54 (2), 687-696 doi: 10.1021/acs.est.9b04115
|2020/1/25 10:30||Green Car Congress||
J.D. Power survey finds consumers continue to lack confidence in future mobility technologies
Consumers continue to lack confidence in the future mobility technologies that automakers are eager to bring to market, according to the J.D. Power 2019 Q4 Mobility Confidence Index Study fueled by SurveyMonkey Audience. The Mobility Confidence Index remains 36 (on a 100-point scale) for self-driving vehicles and 55 for battery-electric vehicles for a third consecutive quarter. Consumer opinion doesn’t change overnight, especially when it comes to new mobility technologies, but the more consumers are exposed to these technologies, the more the needle might gradually move towards acceptance. Right now, they simply don’t know enough to fully put their trust in these systems.—Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction & human machine interface research at J.D. Power The quarterly study, which will include feedback from Canadian respondents in 2020, explores market readiness and acceptance for self-driving and battery-electric vehicles, as seen through the eyes of consumers and industry experts. Sentiment is segmented into three categories: low (0-40), neutral (41-60) and positive (61-100). J.D. Power is joined by global survey software company SurveyMonkey to conduct the study in which more than 6,000 consumers and industry experts were polled about self-driving vehicles and more than 5,000 were polled about battery-electric vehicles. Following are key findings about self-driving vehicles: Mobility Confidence Index remains low for self-driving vehicles: Consumers continue to have a low level of confidence about the future of self-driving vehicles, which is stalled at an overall score of 36 for the third quarter in a row. Additionally, all attributes analyzed in the study largely remain flat, with comfort riding in a self-driving vehicle and comfort with self-driving public transit the lowest-scoring. The jury is out on potential traffic safety improvements: Consumers are split about whether traffic safety will be improved with self-driving vehicle technology. The majority (59%) of those who express having “a great deal” of knowledge about self-driving technology believe traffic safety will be better, compared to 55% with “no knowledge at all” who believe it will be worse. One consumer said, “As I see more people engrossed in using their cell phones while driving, I think that self-driving vehicles would actually make driving safer as a whole.” One concern was “[A vehicle’s] computer can’t be programmed for every possible thing that might be encountered and appropriate action taken.” Another noted, “I would like to see a lot more evidence of SAFETY!” Knowledge about self-driving vehicles affects purchase consideration: Only 11% of survey respondents express they are “extremely likely” to purchase or lease a self-driving vehicle. The results vary widely based on respondents’ self-reported knowledge level on the subject. Of those stating they know “a great deal” about self-driving vehicles, 32% are “extremely likely” to purchase or lease one; of those stating they know “nothing at all”, the likelihood drops to 3%. Following are key findings about battery-electric vehicles: Mobility Confidence Index remains neutral for battery-electric vehicles: With an overall score of 55 for a third straight quarter, confidence about the future of battery-electric vehicles remains neutral. Attributes scoring lowest include likelihood of purchasing an electric vehicle and reliability of electric compared to gas-powered vehicles. Prospects for battery-electric vehicles improving, say experts: According to industry experts, prospects for battery-electric vehicles have improved over the past three months. New product announcements and battery development are positive drivers for this improvement. “[There are] more entries into the market that are better and are actually vehicles customers want to drive—from brands they trust,” said one expert. Infrastructure and cost to produce have risen to the top challenges for battery-electric vehicles over the past three months. For automakers it is critical that the coming wave of new products stimulates new consumer demand. Otherwise, too many products will continue to chase too few customers, which will be financially disastrous for many automakers.—Kristin Kolodge This data should be alarming to automakers, who have work to do in informing and persuading consumers to accept self-driving vehicles. Only 32% of consumers say they know a great deal or a fair amount about self-driving vehicles. And only 18% say they are extremely or very comfortable riding in a self-driving vehicle. The same percentage say they are extremely or very comfortable being on the road with others using self-driving vehicles.—Jon Cohen, chief research officer at SurveyMonkey The LA Times recently reported that despite the debut of 45 pure electric and plug-in hybrids in the United States last year, only 325,000 plug-in passenger vehicles were sold, down 6.8% from 349,000 in 2018 (data from Edmunds). That works out to 2% of the 17 million vehicles of all types sold in the United States in 2019.