Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hybrids & Electrics Need Better Signage

From USA Today:
Rules urge bigger hybrid, electric car signage
Dec 25, 2012

Written by
Chris Woodyard
USA Today

Hybrid and electric cars need prominent labeling inside or out to warn rescuers of the hazards posed by their high-voltage systems after a serious crash, according to an influential industry panel.

Hybrids or electrics should have inch-high letters or badges on both sides and the rear that are visible to first responders from at least 50 feet, says the committee of experts from SAE International, formerly the Society of Automotive Engineers, who looked at the issue. An alternative, it said, was distinctive lettering on the dashboard that rescuers can easily see through the windows.

The panel issued a variety of other safety recommendations for electrified vehicles, from quick-reference guides for first responders for each electrified model to guidance for tow-truck operators. The recommendations will ensure rescuers "will not get electrocuted," says John Frala, a member of the committee and an electric-vehicle-repair instructor at Rio Hondo College in Whittier, Calif. "It's going to save lives."

Firefighters have worried about risks since the first modern hybrids and electric cars started showing up more than a decade ago. Even though high-voltage lines are often bright orange, the increasing number of electrified models has led to worries that first responders can't instantly identify vehicles that present special hazards as they go about cutting them up to extract trapped passengers.

"Hybrids and electrics are proliferating like rabbits," says Buckley Heath, a training officer for the Overland Park, Kan., Fire Department. "If badging is visible from 50 feet, visible on all sides and standardized, that can be nothing but a plus for us."

While automakers aren't legally bound by the SAE Hybrid Technical Committee's recommendations, they typically follow its findings. Automakers fully participated in the SAE process, along with automotive engineers and emergency response experts, says Todd Mackintosh, the committee's chairman and an engineer for General Motors.

Many automakers already have prominent lettering to indicate electric powertrains, Mackintosh notes. He says distinctive badges, such as Toyota's "Hybrid Synergy Drive" label on the backs of several models, would suffice. Also, he says, the recommendations allow some "wiggle room" for smaller vehicles.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

FEMA Awards $1 Million For First Responder Training

The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium has been awarded a grant for $1 million to train first responders on how to handle accidents involving alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles.
"The next generation vehicles that use alternative fuels and advanced technologies are just as safe as conventional vehicles, but different," [Al Ebron, NAFTC executive director,] said. "Therefore, it is critical that our first responders are properly trained to understand the differences, so they can safely respond, without any hesitation, to an accident involving these vehicles."

The grant will fund training at 12 state fire academies and allow NAFTC to offer 8,500 scholarships to firefighters.

NAFTC has been conducting its First Responder Safety Training program since 2005 and has trained thousands of firefighters and other first responders.

Monday, December 17, 2012

"Post-Election Roundup: What the Results Mean for Alternative Fuels and Vehicles"

"Our panelists will present the key opportunities in the face of gridlock, forecast what, if anything, will change with the President's new mandate, and share how alternative fuels leaders can get the most out of the next four years... and beyond.".
Introduction: Phillip Wiedmeyer, Alabama Clean Fuels and Transportation Energy Partners

Moderator: Ken Brown, Transportation Energy Partners


Genevieve Cullen, Vice President, Electric Drive Transportation Association

Paul Kerkhoven, Director of Government Relations, Natural Gas Vehicles for America

Phil Squair, Senior Vice President, Public & Governmental Affairs, National Propane Gas Association

Daniel J. Weiss, Senior Fellow and the Director of Climate Strategy, Center for American Progress

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pickens TEDx Talk

T. Boone Pickens gave a TEDx talk at Oklahoma State, telling them his 10 Big Rules:

  1. Have a good work ethic
  2. Make a plan
  3. Look for big things
  4. Take advice from smart people
  5. Make your case in 3 minutes or less
  6. Don't be afraid to make a decision
  7. Embrace change
  8. Don't cheat
  9. Have patience
  10. Be generous

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Reliability Of Fuel Cells

During Hurricane Sandy "many of the diesel, propane and battery cell phone tower backup generators were affected by the storm," but the more than 60 Altergy fuel cells that provided backup power to cell phone towers continued to operate without any issues. That is, zero downtime, 100% functionality, during the worst hurricane to hit the northeast United States. UTC Power, another fuel cell manufacturer, had 20 units supplying power during the hurricane and only one shut down due to "components beyond the fuel cell."

While both fuel cells and diesel generators can run for a long time, diesel engines have more moving parts and require more maintenance.

Friday, December 7, 2012

CNG Vehicle Growth In China

From GNV Magazine:
China may have 1.5 million natural gas vehicles by 2015

November 30, 2012. China has the potential to become the world's largest market for natural gas automobiles with 1.5 million vehicles expected to hit the roads by 2015, according to experts.

While attending a natural gas auto forum in southwest China, Brenda Smith, a council member of the Asia Pacific Natural Gas Vehicles Association (ANGVA), said the world was ready to embrace an era of natural gas automobiles and China was leading the way.

Experts at the forum predicted as many as 1.5 million vehicles could be seen on the roads by 2015. China has more than one million natural gas automobiles on the road, and about 100.000 new vehicles are put into use each year.

China's natural gas automobiles will see robust growth in the next few years due to the economic and environmental advantages of natural gas, said Long Zezhi, a senior engineer in the petroleum and natural gas field.

Yao Mingde, honorary director of the China Road Transport Association, informed that China has already formed a complete industrial chain. It includes natural gas compression and liquefaction as well as its storage and transportation, and the manufacturing of natural gas cars and their parts and accessories.