Clean Cities News

  • Alternative Fueling Station Locator Overhaul Boasts Improved User Interface

    It’s official—The Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Station Locator has undergone a major makeover. Constant improvement is at the site’s core, which is why the U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technology Office is always striving to make the AFDC’s tools easier to use and the data more accessible. The updated Station Locator offers new features and an improved user interface built on the same reliable, comprehensive, and fuel-neutral data that our partners have come to trust.

    Some of the notable new features include a sleek look and feel, simplifying the user experience, as well as a bigger map populated with consistent circle icons for each station location and updated colors representing each fuel type. Users will also notice a larger and more detailed view of specific station information.

    On the Station Locator home page, there are now two tabs at the top of the map: Find Public Stations and Analyze and Download Data.

    The Find Public Stations tab allows users to search for public stations at a specific location, with the option to search for all fuels or just one. The total number of stations that fit the search criteria can be found in the upper right.

    The search defaults to public stations and the following fuel-specific criteria:

    • Level 2 and DC fast charging electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE)
    • Propane stations with vehicle-specific fueling services (i.e., “primary” stations)
    • Hydrogen stations with full public access (i.e., “retail” stations)

    The Map a Route feature, also available on the Find Public Station tab, shows specified fuel types available along a route between two locations. It also displays search results on the right, sorted by distance from the search location.

    The Analyze and Download Data tab allows users to refine their search using filters, broken out into three categories: Location, Fuel, and Station.

    To search by Location, users can enter a state or a specific address and limit results within a certain mile radius. To search by Fuel, users can filter by a single fuel or multiple fuel types, and conduct fuel-specific searches, including the following:

    Compressed Natural Gas (CNG): fill type, vehicle accessibility, and fill pressure
    Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG): vehicle accessibility
    EVSE: charging levels, connector types, and networks
    Ethanol (E85): stations that also offer mid-level ethanol blends
    Propane: stations with limited vehicle-specific fueling capabilities (i.e., “secondary” stations)
    Hydrogen: stations with limited public access (i.e., “nonretail” stations)

    The Station options allow users to filter for public and/or private stations, planned stations, and by owner type and payment methods. All results display on the right, including counts, filters, and options to download the results or see the results on a map.

    The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) collects and confirms alternative fueling station data through a number of industry sources. To submit a new station for inclusion in the Station Locator, visit the online webform. For multiple station additions or updates, email technicalresponse@icf.com.

    Continue to monitor the U.S. Station Locator for new features, including an alternative fuel corridor planning tool.

  • The Work Truck Show / Green Truck Summit

    Registration is open for both The Work Truck Show, North America’s largest work truck event, and the concurrent Green Truck Summit, the industry’s premier conference on clean energy innovations for commercial vehicles.

    The Green Truck Summit and Work Truck Show will be held March 6–9 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. Educational sessions, the new Fleet Technical Congress, and the Green Truck Summit begin March 6, and the exhibit hall is open March 7-9.

  • Platooning Trucks to Cut Cost and Improve Efficiency

    Photo Credit: Department of Transportation

    At first glance, platooning doesn’t look like much—just a few tractor-trailers driving down the highway a bit closer together than we’re used to. But, what is actually happening is much more complex and presents the opportunity for significant safety, energy efficiency, and cost benefits. Early studies have shown that 65% of current long-haul truck miles could potentially be platooned, reducing total truck fuel consumption by 4%.

    What is Platooning?

    So, what is truck platooning? Platooning involves the use of vehicle-to-vehicle communications and sensors, such as cameras and radar, to virtually connect two or more trucks together in a convoy. The virtual link enables all of the vehicles in the platoon to communicate with each other, allowing them to automatically accelerate together, brake together, and enables them to follow each other at a closer distance than is typically possible with unlinked trucks.

    The technology detects and reacts to stopped or slow vehicles ahead of the platoon and adjusts as needed when a vehicle cuts in between the trucks in the platoon. With current platooning technology, each truck in the platoon has a human driver responsible for steering and taking over the speed and braking as needed. The driver of the first truck leads the platoon and navigates the route. As the technology improves, there may only be the need for a lead driver, or no human drivers at all.

    Why do it?

    Truck platooning could provide many benefits. When implemented, platooning can improve safety, increase energy efficiency, and reduce costs.

    Truck platooning technology includes automatic braking. The automatic brakes are able to react much faster than a human, improving safety and reducing the likelihood of collisions. Truck platoons also take up less space on the road, and experience fewer short or sudden acceleration and braking events, than unlinked trucks. The trucks travelling closer together at smoother speeds improves traffic flow and boosts the efficiency of delivering goods.

    Platooning is also a cost saver. With the trucks driving close together at a constant speed, the lead vehicle cuts through the air and reduces the amount of air hitting the front of, and flowing between, the following vehicles. This is similar to when race cars or cyclists draft off one another in a race. The reduced aerodynamic drag on all of the vehicles in the platoon means that the trucks use less fuel, which reduces operating costs.

    The U.S. Army is interested in platooning technologies for the potential to reduce the number of lives at risk in combat areas. Using platooning technologies in military applications could minimize the number of soldiers needed to man convoy vehicles, resulting in a reduced number of soldiers at risk of encountering roadside bombs.

    Coordinated Research

    The Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office’s (VTO) Energy Efficient Mobility Systems (EEMS) Program coordinates with the U.S Army and the Department of Transportation (DOT) in this shared space to accelerate research and development. DOT’s mission is to serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible, and convenient transportation system. DOT sees platooning as one way to improve the safety of trucking through collision avoidance features. VTO is interested in the potential to improve energy efficiency and cut costs for businesses and consumers through this technology.

    VTO’s EEMS Program is investigating the potential impact platooning technology could have on energy use in our transportation system. Recent EEMS research done by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory used telematics, or on-board data logging, to estimate the amount of platoonable miles traveled by trucks and found 65% of the miles could be platooned, resulting in a 4% reduction in total truck fuel consumption. Another recent VTO funded study assessed the energy impact of adaptive cruise control and showed that the middle truck in a platoon saves the most at shorter gaps, while the trailing truck saves the most at longer gaps.

    To learn more about the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) work on connected and automated vehicle technologies, visit the Energy Efficient Mobility Systems page on Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) website.

    This blog was authored by DOE’s VTO and originally appeared as an Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy blog. To stay up to date with VTO, subscribe here: https://energy.gov/eere/vehicles/vehicle-technologies-office-newsletters

  • Nearly Half of All New Cars Sold In 2017 Achieved Fuel Economy Above 30 Miles per Gallon

    In 2017, about 46% of all new cars achieved 30 miles per gallon (mpg) or higher while the number of cars exceeding 50 mpg rose to about 5%. For light trucks, almost two-thirds achieved fuel economy above 20 mpg and less than one percent fell below 15 mpg. By contrast, in 1975, about 88% of new cars achieved less than 20 mpg and about 7% got less than 10 mpg. For new light trucks in 1975, nearly all (97.5%) were under 20 mpg and about 28% were under 10 mpg. Over the 42-year period there have been many advances in engine technologies, transmission technologies, aerodynamics, tires, and high-strength lightweight materials that have increased efficiency of light vehicles.

    *Data for 2017 are preliminary, based on projected production data from the automakers.

    Notes: The definition of cars and light trucks is the same definition as in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy rulemaking. Thus, the car category includes cars, station wagons, and small 2-wheel drive sport utility vehicles (SUV). The light truck category includes pickups, vans, minivans, 4-wheel drive SUV, and large SUV. Fuel economy data are adjusted values that represent EPA’s best estimates of real world performance.

    Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 Through 2017, EPA-420-R-18-001, January 2018.

    This post originally appeared on Energy.gov.

  • 2018 National Biodiesel Conference & Expo

    Celebrate the past and build for the future at the 2018 National Biodiesel Conference & Expo. This anniversary gala will honor the accomplishments of the first 25 years of biodiesel and also focus on what’s next, examining where we are and where we want to go.

  • New Initiatives Will Use Supercomputers to Improve Transportation Energy Efficiency

    Did you know, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Laboratories are home to 32 of the fastest supercomputers on Earth? Scientists and researchers at the national labs use these supercomputers to accelerate research by creating models from complex data sets. Now, two new Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) initiatives—High Performance Computing for Mobility (HPC4Mobility) and Big Data Solutions for Mobility—will utilize the computing capabilities of the national labs to find solutions to real-world transportation energy challenges.

    These initiatives are part of VTO’s Energy Efficient Mobility Systems (EEMS) Program. The EEMS Program’s mission is to conduct early-stage research at the vehicle, traveler, and system levels to create knowledge, tools, and solutions that increase mobility for individuals and businesses while improving transportation energy efficiency.

    Big Data Solutions for Mobility

    VTO’s EEMS program has launched a $2 million multi-lab research initiative to develop new algorithms and big data tools that can model urban-scale transportation networks using real-world, near real-time data. The initiative will develop the data science approaches and HPC-supported framework for next-generation mobility systems modeling and operational analytics. This will deliver an understanding of transportation system efficiency opportunities that is not attainable with current approaches. Modeling informed by real-time data will allow transportation systems to respond to events such as accidents, weather, and congestion in such a way that optimizes the overall energy use of the system.

    The Big Data initiative includes researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory as well as partners from academia and industry.

    HPC4Mobility

    HPC4Mobility will provide cities, companies, transportation system operators, and others that qualify, access to national laboratory resources, including supercomputing facilities, data-science expertise, and machine-learning capabilities. These partnerships aim to discover opportunities for energy efficiency increases in mobility systems.

    This investment supports innovative and scalable HPC4Mobility projects. These projects will uncover opportunities for energy efficiency gains by applying high-performance computing resources to emerging transportation data sets. Initial VTO funding of $500K has been provided to the participating laboratories. Each selected external partner will provide in-kind cost-share contributions.

    The first year “seed” projects for HPC4Mobility include:

    • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will work with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority on HPC-enabled computation of demand models at scale to predict the energy impacts of emerging mobility solutions. Possible applications include modeling the impact of autonomous vehicles on transportation energy use and the hour-by-hour impact of ride hailing services on traffic congestion.

    • Oak Ridge National Laboratory will work with GRIDSMART Technologies, Inc. on reinforcement learning-based traffic control approaches to optimize energy usage and traffic efficiency.

    For more information, see the full EERE blog.

  • Webinar and Handbook Offer Guidance for CNG Vehicle Maintenance Facilities

    Since the start, natural gas vehicles have maintained an impressive safety record—in large part due to stringent industry codes and standards that have governed use of the fuel. Compressed natural gas (CNG) codes deal not only with the vehicles, but also with the design and use of vehicle maintenance facilities. All CNG-related codes are periodically re-evaluated, tested, and clarified to continue that legacy of safety.

    Though industry information regarding CNG vehicle maintenance facility safety requirements exists, it has been difficult for fleets to locate and decipher. To combat this the U.S. Department of Energy’s Technology Integration program published a first-of-its-kind guidance document—the Compressed Natural Gas Vehicle Maintenance Facility Modifications Handbook—which covers all aspects of indoor CNG vehicle maintenance facility protection.

    “This document involved strong collaboration with industry,” said NREL’s John Gonzales, a co-author of the Handbook. “It will help fleet and facility managers better understand the steps necessary to upgrade their facility safely when introducing natural gas vehicles into their fleet.”

    The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which authored the report on behalf of the program, recently hosted an accompanying webinar—now available as a video—covering topics included in the handbook and how to put this guidance to use.

    Facilities that maintain CNG vehicles are faced with a different set of hazards than facilities dealing with conventional liquid fuels, such as gasoline and diesel, where liquid spills are dealt with near the floor. Because natural gas is lighter than air and rises to the ceiling, facilities that handle CNG must be designed differently to account for the unique properties of natural gas and protect against ignition of gas releases.

    The handbook empowers managers to evaluate their facility in order to understand the physical modifications or changes in operating protocols necessary to be in compliance with codes. It also presents recommendations for working with local codes officials, and discusses the specific protocols and training needed to ensure the safety of personnel and facilities.

    To learn more, watch the recording of the Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Vehicle Maintenance Facility Modifications webinar featuring speakers from Sandia National Laboratories, NREL, and Gladstein, Neandross & Associates.

    For more information, download the full Compressed Natural Gas Vehicle Maintenance Facility Modifications Handbook.

  • 4 Tips to Improve Electric Vehicle Battery Range this Winter

    Electric vehicle (EV) batteries charge by moving ions through a liquid electrolyte. As the temperatures outside drop, the electrolyte in lithium ion EV batteries thickens and it becomes more difficult for ions to move through (much like the challenge of walking through snow versus dry pavement). This increased resistance results in less EV battery range as more energy is needed for each ion to move. Fortunately, there are things you can do to stay warm and improve your EV range.

    Follow these four tips to get the most out of your EV battery this winter:

    1. Warm the battery/cabin while your vehicle is still plugged in. By leaving your vehicle plugged in, you use electricity from the grid to get it warmed up, rather than drawing energy from your battery. Once you hit the road, there’s more battery charge left available for driving.

    2. Use your vehicle’s heated accessories. Heated accessories (steering wheel, seats, etc.) use less energy than heating the entire cabin. In addition, the warmth on your backside and fingers can minimize the amount of cabin heat needed to make you and your passengers feel comfortable.

    3. Practice eco-driving. Using eco-driving techniques can help get the most out of your range all year round. Some eco-driving tips include watching your speed, minimizing hard starts, and maximizing your regenerative braking by coasting when possible and depressing the brake pedal gradually, when needed. Visit FuelEconomy.gov for more EV eco-driving tips.

    4. Be sure to brush off your car before driving. Snow or ice on your vehicle adds extra weight that your battery has to drag along and increases aerodynamic drag by changing your vehicle’s profile. Since EVs don’t produce waste heat from the engine, snow on your hood will stay put if you don’t brush it off before your start your trip.

    Use these simple tips to stretch your EV range this winter. To learn more about electric vehicle, visit the Alternative Fuels Data Center’s Hybrid and Plug-In Electric Vehicles section.

    This post originally appeared on Energy.gov.

  • 2018 Fuel Economy Guide Helps Consumers Save Money

    Just in time for the New Year, the 2018 Fuel Economy Guide is now available at FuelEconomy.gov. The guide is published annually by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and offers data on current model year (MY) vehicles.

    This year’s guide provides fuel economy ratings for more than 1,000 light-duty vehicles, along with projected annual fuel costs and other information for prospective purchasers. The guide, available in an electronic-only format this year, is designed to help car buyers choose the most fuel-efficient vehicles that fit their needs.

    The MY 2018 Fuel Economy Guide includes fuel economy information for plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles and details fuel economy leaders across several vehicle classes. Data is updated regularly as manufacturers provide additional information about MY 2018 vehicles.

    For more information, see the full Energy.gov blog.

  • Study Captures Consumers’ Pulse on Plug-In Electric Vehicle Preferences

    How far must a plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) travel on a single charge for someone to consider purchasing one? Does a person’s age or geographic region affect the likelihood that they would buy a PEV? What percentage of consumers are aware of electric vehicle charging station locations near their home or work?

    A new report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, The Barriers to Acceptance of Plug-in Electric Vehicles: 2017 Update, aims to provide current insights on these questions and more. The report details the findings of a study into the American public’s sentiments on plug-in electric vehicles. The study, conducted in February 2017, covered a 1,017-household sample designed to be representative of the U.S. population. This is the third in a series of annual studies tracking consumer attitudes toward plug-in electric vehicles.

    Consumer Views Quick Facts

    • 58% of respondent households owned two or more vehicles.
    • 42% of respondents stated their next vehicle purchases would likely be sedans.
    • 46% of respondents were able to name a specific PEV make and model.
    • 24% of respondents stated they would consider or expect to purchase plug-in hybrid electric vehicles for their next vehicle purchase or lease.
    • 47% of respondents would consider purchasing an all-electric vehicle, if the vehicle was able to travel 300 miles on a single charge.
    • 54% of respondents could consistently park their vehicles near electrical outlets at home.

    The study revealed that respondents who were aware of plug-in electric vehicle charging stations were more likely than respondents overall to view PEVs positively and be willing to consider purchasing them. In addition, respondents in the West and Northeast census regions were more likely to consider purchasing a PEV. For more insights, read the full NREL report funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office.