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May 18th, 2012:

New standards for fuel to reduce pollution in city

Published : Friday, May 18th, 2012 
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Category : EnergyPolicy & FinanceTransport and Logistics
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Beijing will introduce new fuel standards on May 31 that municipal officials say are nearly on a par with the European Union’s Euro V, the first Chinese city to do so.

All fuel sold by retailers in the Chinese capital will be required to adhere to the new standards, which are expected to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from 50 to 10 milligrams per kilogram, according to the Beijing environmental protection bureau.

“The new Beijing V standard fuel, once implemented, will greatly reduce the amount of pollutants in the air, including the PM 2.5, (particulate matter with a diameter smaller than 2.5 micrometers) and improve the city’s air quality,” said Li Kunsheng, director of the bureau’s vehicle management department. “The capital will become the first in the nation to meet the benchmark.”

Li said Beijing’s new standards will be close to the Euro V fuel standards. The European standards are the strictest in the world, according to Zhao Lijian, a researcher with the Energy Foundation.

According to Li, the most vital improvement of the new fuel is that it contains less sulfur, a major air pollutant.

“Excessive sulfur will lead to greater pollution,” Li said.

The cleaner fuel will also increase engine efficiency and reduce fuel consumption, Li said.

According to experiments conducted by the China Automotive Technology and Research Center, the new fuel will cut pollutant emissions by 15 percent.

“People can imagine, the tremendous improvement of the city’s air quality if all of the more than 5 million automotive vehicles in the city adopt the new petroleum,” Li said.

The production of low-sulfur fuel will increase costs, said Fu Xingguo, an engineer at Sinopec Corp, China’s largest oil refiner. However, the price of fuel will not be raised in the coming half year.

Fu also said Sinopec and China National Petroleum Corporation have mastered the technologies of petroleum refining, with the country’s oil processing capacity reaching 450 million tons in the year 2011.

“However, we are still challenged by the shortage of crude oil resources for the moment,” he said.

Fu said some 56.5 percent of the oil was imported last year and had a high sulfur content.

Car emissions have been increasing over the past few decades. “The exhaust emitted by automotive vehicles has replaced the coal-boilers to become the biggest source of air pollution in Beijing,” Du Shaozhong, former deputy director for the Beijing environmental protection bureau said in February.

Beijing has more than 5 million vehicles and 10 million registered drivers.

According to Li, drivers from other provinces also have to pump the refined gasoline or diesel fuel when coming into the capital.

“This is the rule of the city,” he said.

Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, said improved fuel quality and emission standards are key to improving the air quality.

“With many cities nationwide still adopting less strict fuel standards, Beijing is very much ahead of them,” he said.

Shanghai is adopting the China IV fuel standards and is considering implementing strict standards in 2013, according to the Shanghai environmental protection bureau.

However, Ma said execution and joint efforts with neighboring provinces are equally important.

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United Airlines and Alaska Airlines are both launching commercial flights powered by biofuel this week.

United, the world’s largest airline, will use algae-based biofuel for a Boeing 737-800 flying today from Houston to Chicago, Reuters reports. The fuel blend from Solazyme uses 60 percent traditional jet fuel and 40 percent biofuel.

Meanwhile Alaska Airlines says it will power 75 commercial passenger flights by a 20 percent biofuel blend, made from used cooking oil, starting this Wednesday. It will use the blend on flights originating in Seattle, going to Portland, Ore., and Washington, D.C.

Alaska Air Group estimates the biofuel will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent, or 134 metric tons, the equivalent of taking 26 cars off the road for a year. If the company powered all of its flights with a 20 percent biofuel blend for one year, it says this would save emissions equivalent to 64,000 cars.

The fuel was supplied by SkyNRG, a consortium of KLM, North Sea Group and Spring Associates, and made by Dynamic Fuels, a $170 million joint venture between Tyson Foods Inc. and Syntroleum Corp.

Last May the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest initiative, of which Alaska Air Group is a member, determined the region has the diverse stocks, delivery infrastructure and political will needed to create a viable biofuels industry. The group’s report said that no single technology is likely to provide enough sustainable fuel to meet its goal of carbon-neutral growth for the aviation industry by 2020, though oilseed, forest residues, municipal solid waste and algae are all promising feedstocks.

The group said there currently is no supply of aviation biofuels in the Pacific Northwest.

At the Paris Air Show in June, nine major airlines signed letters of intent to use biofuels from Solena Fuels for flights out of the San Francisco Bay area. American Airlines and United Continental Holdings led the deal’s development, and they were joined by US Airways, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Southwest, Frontier, JetBlue and Alaska Airlines, as well as FedEx.

Also at the air show, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines said it will start using biokerosene derived from cooking oil for more than 200 flights on its Paris-Amsterdam route this autumn. The fuel will be produced by Dynamic Fuels and supplied by SkyNRG.

In July ASTM International released a highly anticipated international standard for aviation fuel containing up to 50 percent biofuels. ASTM D7566, Specification for Aviation Turbine Fuel Containing Synthesized Hydrocarbons, will allow these fuels to be used by commercial airlines.

And in October, Virgin Atlantic Airways announced plans to fly commercial routes, by 2014, with a waste gas-based fuel that the company says has half the carbon footprint of standard aviation fuel.

Partners LanzaTech and Swedish Biofuels are creating the new fuel by capturing, fermenting and chemically converting waste gases from industrial steel production.

Tsang ‘did little’ to improve air

Green group says any progress on pollution during chief executive’s tenure is down to his predecessor
Ng Kang-chung
May 18, 2012

The city’s air quality has improved only slightly during Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen’stenure because of his lack of action to tackle pollution, a green group says.

?Improvements? in roadside air quality since the handover were instead due largely to measures worked out by the administration of Tsang’s predecessor, Tung Chee-hwa, Friends of the Earth said.

It urged Tsang’s successor, Leung Chun-ying, to roll out more assertive measures to combat the problem.

“Tung had set clear objectives, such as the retirement of old diesel vehicles and a push for owners of high-emission diesel taxis to use the relatively clean fuel of liquefied petroleum gas, which were effective measures,” Thomas Choi Ka-man, senior environmental affairs officer of the group, said.

“But Mr Tsang seemed to like to play around with trial schemes that achieved only minor improvements during his tenure.”

In Causeway Bay for example, between 1999 and 2002 the annual average concentration of fine particulate matter fell from 74.6 micrograms per cubic metre to 53.5mcg, a drop of 21.1mcg, the group said, citing a study by the University of Science and Technology. Fine particulate, known as PM2.5, refers to respirable hazardous particles of 2.5 microns in diameter. A microgram is one millionth of a gram.

In 2010, the district recorded a PM2.5 concentration of 46.5mcg per cubic metre – a drop of only 7mcg since 2002. Last year it was 45.3mcg. Tsang took over from Tung in 2005.

According to air quality guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation, the annual average concentration of PM2.5 should be 10mcg per cubic metre.

Other studies also showed roadside air improved at a diminishing rate during Tsang’s tenure, Choi said.

The Tsang administration launched a trial for low-emission zones for franchised buses in 2009 and subsidised a trial of six hybrid buses in 2010.

Choi said Tung’s policies were more effective than Tsang’s. “Tsang rolled out more voluntary trials and incentive schemes but lacked clear targets,” he said.

The green group urged the next government to set clear objectives.

“The carrot-and-stick approach should go side by side for policies to be effective,” said Choi, who proposed imposing higher licence fees for vehicles with higher emissions.

The government gives high priority to controlling street-level air pollution, the Environmental Protection Department says. A key strategy is to control emissions from cars, power plants, and industrial and commercial processes locally, it says.