Blog

Reducing Vehicle Idling Time at School

Reducing Vehicle Idling Time at School Helps Kids—and Parents—Breathe Easier

Source: energy.gov
Author:

Kay Kelly 
Clean Cities Project Leader,
National Renewable Energy Laboratory


Waiting in the line of cars to pick up my sons from school each day, I realized that my children and their classmates were walking out into invisible-yet-harmful fumes created by the dozens of idling vehicles outside their school. It concerned me, and I wanted to do something about it. That was three years ago, and today I'm happy to report an 85% decrease in the amount of carpool-lane idling at my children’s school.

In addition to being a concerned parent, I also help vehicle fleets adopt alternative fuels and implement advanced vehicles and technologies, like idle reduction, through my work with the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Clean Cities program. Professionally, I've come to understand the impacts that greenhouse gas emissions and petroleum consumption in transportation can have on the environment around us. My desire to leverage this knowledge in a way that would support improved air quality in my local community led me to volunteer to help address the idling issue at my children’s school.

When it came to tackling the effort, I wasn't alone. Armed with training and outreach materials supplied by the Clean Air at School’s: Engines Off (CASEO) program sponsored by theAmerican Lung Association in Colorado (ALAC), a dedicated group of parent volunteers, students, and teachers were able to help educate our school community about vehicle idling and the associated health and environmental risks that accompany it. My sons' school, a Jefferson County charter elementary school outside of Denver, Colorado, decided to accept the CASEO challenge for the 2015-2016 academic year as a way to improve the quality of the air in our school zone.

CASEO is an education program that has provided support for more than 40 Denver-area elementary and middle schools in their efforts to reduce vehicle idling. The program aims to increase awareness about the harmful impacts of idling, especially around young children, and to integrate behavior-changing mechanisms into the school culture. The year-long program includes collection and analysis of emissions data in and around school properties, an educational campaign spearheaded by school faculty and students, and student-led interventions including securing parent pledges and in-classroom presentations.

Over the course of 6 months, students, teachers, and parents observed and collected data on the idling habits of vehicles waiting in line to pick up children after school. Once we completed our baseline data observation in December 2015, we shared our findings with the school community to help everyone understand how idling vehicles were negatively impacting air quality at our school. We then implemented an education campaign to encourage drivers to turn off their engines while waiting to pick up students from school. The school community was very receptive to our campaign. What we saw was that on the worst idling day, in December 2015, 81 out of 94 cars sat idling, with engines running for an average of nearly 8 minutes each. By comparison, on the best day in April 2016, only 13 out of 124 cars sat idling, and engines ran for an average of 5.2 minutes.

We learned from an air quality program coordinator at the American Lung Association in Colorado that idle reduction efforts are particularly important in school zones due to the impacts of exhaust on children’s lungs, which continue to develop until the age of 18. Exposure to excess exhaust and smoke can stunt lung growth and contribute to many lung disorders, including asthma. Children are more at risk because of their faster rates of respiration and the amount of time they spend playing outdoors.

Since the idle-reduction educational campaign began, we've seen some big improvements. Many more drivers choose to turn their engines off in the carpool lanes, and this prevents a lot of pollution from getting into the air our children breathe every afternoon as they leave school. This simple choice has resulted in eliminating nearly 6 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from the school zone compared to our baseline. In fact, the school was recognized as an ALAC Clear Skies Award recipient for 2016. 

In addition to averting air quality problems through the idle reduction effort, we're gaining other benefits, too. Parents enjoy the fuel savings realized by simply shutting off the engine while waiting. In addition to greenhouse gas reductions, the program also eliminated more than 460 gasoline gallon equivalents of petroleum consumption. There is less wear on the engine when idling is reduced, and the quieter noise level is an unexpected but very welcome benefit.

Back-to-school time can once again generate those lines of idling cars. Check out the resources in your area that can help promote idling reduction at your school or in your district. The Clean Cities program also provides the IdleBox Toolkit, a free online education and outreach resource, for people who want to start their own idle-reduction campaigns.

It makes the return to school a little more pleasant for us—and a whole lot healthier for our kids. 

HOW CAN I PARTICIPATE?

  • Accept the challenge to improve the quality of the air in your school zone
  • Access training and outreach materials supplied by the Clean Air at Schools Engines Off program or visit Clean Cities to access the IdleBox Toolkit
  • Observe and collect data on the idling habits of vehicles waiting in line to pick up children after school
  • Implement an education campaign to encourage drivers to turn off their engines while waiting to pick up students from school

Read More

Fact of the Week

From the 1920s to the 1970s, the evolution of engines (measured by compression ratio) and the evolution of fuels (measured by octane rating) occurred in tandem.  Gasoline octane improvement during that period (red markers in the graph below) was likely due to refinery technology improvement and the addition of lead, which guards against engine knocking.  In 1973, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandated a reduction in the lead content of gasoline and eventually banned the use of lead in fuel for on-road vehicles. Since that time, other sources have been used as fuel oxygenates to control engine knock and the average octane rating of gasoline has been fairly constant at about 88-90 AKI (anti-knock index).

The engine compression ratio of new cars and light trucks (black markers below) improved along a similar course as octane rating from the 1920s to the 1970s.  After that time, the average compression ratio continued to improve due to advanced engine design and controls, diverging from the octane trend. There is some concern that in the future, auto manufacturers will reach the limit of technological increases in compression ratios without further increases in the octane of the fuel.Plot chart showing the Average Engine Compression Ratio Compared to Average Gasoline Octane Rating, 1925-2015Note: AKI = anti-knock index.

SUPPORTING INFORMATION

Average Engine Compression Ratio Compared to Average Gasoline Octane Rating, 1925-2015

YearAverage Compression Ratio for New Light VehiclesAverage Octane Rating (AKI) YearAverage Compression Ratio for New Light VehiclesAverage Octane Rating (AKI)
1925 not available not available   1971 8.64 90.08
1926 not available not available   1972 8.46 90.25
1927 4.44 not available   1973 8.13 90.13
1928 4.53 not available   1974 8.34 89.67
1929 4.57 not available   1975 8.32 89.71
1930 4.63 61.44   1976 8.27 89.62
1931 4.72 61.46   1977 8.28 89.63
1932 4.87 62.10   1978 8.29 89.43
1933 5.10 64.46   1979 8.30 89.49
1934 5.35 68.47   1980 8.40 88.97
1935 5.66 70.46   1981 8.50 89.01
1936 5.98 70.46   1982 8.58 88.80
1937 6.13 71.02   1983 8.66 88.04
1938 6.22 72.16   1984 8.69 88.25
1939 6.28 72.76   1985 8.81 88.25
1940 6.28 74.05   1986 8.95 88.10
1941 6.26 77.32   1987 8.98 88.22
1942 6.38 76.53   1988 9.02 88.40
1943 not available 75.01   1989 9.04 88.45
1944 not available 74.11   1990 9.00 88.27
1945 not available 72.27   1991 9.00 88.19
1946 6.47 77.83   1992 9.10 88.24
1947 6.49 77.54   1993 9.10 88.25
1948 6.49 77.79   1994 9.30 88.26
1949 6.47 78.17   1995 9.30 88.26
1950 6.86 79.81   1996 9.30 88.10
1951 6.90 81.19   1997 9.30 88.05
1952 7.04 80.52   1998 9.35 88.10
1953 7.34 81.54   1999 9.39 88.04
1954 7.52 82.33   2000 9.42 87.87
1955 7.92 83.48   2001 9.53 87.86
1956 8.49 85.15   2002 9.58 87.88
1957 8.98 85.88   2003 9.64 87.82
1958 9.24 86.61   2004 9.70 87.75
1959 9.06 87.02   2005 9.76 87.66
1960 8.91 87.81   2006 9.87 87.61
1961 8.84 88.04   2007 9.94 87.59
1962 9.07 88.26   2008 10.04 87.54
1963 8.91 88.46   2009 10.09 87.55
1964 8.79 88.72   2010 10.22 87.53
1965 9.02 89.02   2011 10.26 87.52
1966 9.20 89.24   2012 10.34 87.57
1967 9.26 89.77   2013 10.39 87.59
1968 9.43 89.84   2014 10.50 87.60
1969 9.48 90.02   2015 10.52 87.65
1970 9.52 90.05        

Note: Average octane rating based on refiner sales volumes.
Sources:
Frontiers in Mechanical Engineering, "A Historical Analysis of the Co-evolution of Gasoline Octane Number and Spark-Ignition Engines," January 6, 2016.
2014-15 Average octane rating calculated from Energy Information Administration, Refiner Motor Gasoline Sales Volumes, accessed June 29, 2016.
2015 Average compression ratio calculated from Ward's Auto, "North America Light Vehicle Engines Availability & Specifications, 2014," accessed June 29, 2016.

 

Read More

FAQ: Addressing Concerns about Electric Vehicle Well-to-Wheels Life Cycle Emissions

FAQ:

Question: Are Electric Vehicles truely cleaner than their traditional counterparts when you consider the source of the electrical power used to charge the vehicles?

Answer:  Vehicle emissions can be evaluated on a direct basis and a well-to-wheel basis. Direct emissions are emitted through the tailpipe, as well as through evaporation from the vehicle's fuel system and during the fueling process. Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) produce zero direct emissions. Well-to-wheel emissions include all emissions related to fuel production, processing, distribution, and use. In the case of gasoline, emissions are produced while extracting petroleum from the earth, refining it, distributing the fuel to stations, and burning it in vehicles. In the case of electricity, most electric power plants produce emissions, and there are additional emissions associated with the extraction, processing, and distribution of the primary energy sources they use for electricity production.

The life cycle emissions of a PEV depend on the sources of electricity used to charge it, which vary by region. In geographic areas that use relatively low-polluting energy sources for electricity production, PEVs typically have a life cycle emissions advantage over similar conventional vehicles running on gasoline or diesel.

In Louisiana specifically, energy produced from natural gas comprises 63.05% of the electricity used to charge PEVs, followed by nuclear power, which comprises 14.54%. According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Emissions from Hybrid and Plug-In Electric Vehicles page (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/electric_emissions.php), which provides a breakdown of electricity sources and annual emissions per vehicle type by geographic location, annual emissions per vehicle for PEVs in Louisiana is around 4,588 pounds (lbs) of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent, while annual emissions per vehicle for conventional gasoline vehicles is approximately 11,435 lbs of CO2 equivalent. 

On a national level, 33.28% of electricity is produced from coal and 32.77% of electricity is produced from natural gas. This breakdown of electricity sources results in an annual emissions per vehicle of 4,815 lbs of CO2 equivalent for PEVs, compared to the 11,435 lbs of CO2equivalent in emissions from conventional gasoline vehicles. As such, life cycle emissions from PEVs has generally been shown to be lower than conventional gasoline vehicles in the United States.

You may also refer to the AFDC Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Fuel Type figure (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/data/10741), which displays the results of a meta-analysis of studies looking at the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of a range of fuel-vehicle pathways. According to this figure, PEVs have the lowest GHG emissions, although, as mentioned previously, this varies depending on fuel mix of electricity.

For detailed information about PEV considerations, we recommend you refer to the AFDC Benefits and Considerations of Electricity as a Vehicle Fuel page (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/electricity_benefits.html). In addition, please see the AFDC Electricity page (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/electricity.html) for more general information about PEVs.

Read More

Fact of the Week

Although most electric vehicles (EV) have shorter ranges than gasoline vehicles, there are EVs with ranges equal to or greater than some gasoline-powered models. For the 2016 model year (MY) the maximum range for an all-electric vehicle (AEV) is 294 miles while the minimum range for a gasoline model is 240 miles. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) use both gasoline and electricity drawn from the grid. The all-electric range of PHEV models varies greatly, and the total gasoline and electric range of a PHEV is between 150 and 600 miles in MY2016 vehicles. The ranges for EVs have been increasing since their debut in the mass market but technological improvements have also increased the ranges for gasoline vehicles. For 2016, the median range for gasoline vehicles is 412 miles while the highest range is just over 700 miles.

BREADTH OF AEV, PHEV, AND GASOLINE VEHICLE RANGES, MY 2016Graph showing breadth of AEV, PHEV, and gasoline vehicle ranges for the model year 2016

SUPPORTING INFORMATION
Fact #939 Dataset

Breadth of AEV, PHEV, and Gasoline Vehicle Ranges, MY 2016 (Miles)

Vehicle RangeAll-Electric
Vehicles
Plug-in Hybrid
Electric Vehicles
Gasoline
Vehicles
Minimum Range 62.0 150.0 240.0
Median Range 83.5 440.0 412.0
Maximum Range 294.0 600.0 703.0

Source: U. S. Department of Energy, FuelEconomy.Gov data, accessed May 19, 2016.

Notes:
  • Vehicle ranges are Environmental Protection Agency estimated ranges. Each make and model was counted only once, selecting the configuration with the longest range.
  • Plug-in hybrid vehicle range is the total of both gasoline and electric miles, assuming a fully-charged battery and a full tank of gasoline.
  • Hybrid-electric vehicles which are fueled only with gasoline are included in the gasoline vehicle data.

Read More

Question of the Month: What are the current and future light-duty vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards?

What are the current and future light-duty vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards?

Answer:  According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), light-duty vehicles (LDVs) emit nearly 60% of transportation-related GHG emissions and use more than half of all petroleum transportation fuel in the United States. In 1975, Congress enacted the Energy Conservation and Policy Act, which directed the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to implement the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program. The goal of the CAFE program is to reduce national energy consumption through fuel economy improvements. Specifically, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as part of DOT, develops annual fuel economy requirements for new passenger cars and light-duty trucks. Fuel economy is measured based on the average mileage a vehicle travels per gallon of gasoline, or gallon of gasoline equivalent for other fuels.

In 2009, President Obama announced a new national program to harmonize fuel economy standards with GHG emissions standards for all new light-duty cars and trucks sold in the United States. Under this program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) develops GHG emissions standards that correspond with NHTSA CAFE standards for each model year (MY). Thus far, the EPA and NHTSA have implemented the program in two parts, beginning with MYs 2012 to 2016 and followed by MYs 2017 to 2025. GHG emissions and CAFE standards have become increasingly stringent from one MY to the next.

In the final rule that established the coordinated standards for MYs 2017 to 2025, the EPA and NHTSA committed to perform a midterm evaluation (MTE) to (i) determine whether any changes should be made to the GHG emissions standards for MY 2022 to 2025, and (ii) set final CAFE standards for those MYs. This past July, the EPA and NHTSA completed the first step of the MTE with their issuance of a draft technical assessment report. For more information on the MTE, please see the EPA Midterm Evaluation of Light-Duty Vehicle GHG Emissions Standards page (https://www3.epa.gov/otaq/climate/mte.htm) and the NHTSA Midterm Evaluation for Light-Duty CAFE page (http://www.nhtsa.gov/Laws+&+Regulations/CAFE+-+Fuel+Economy/ld-cafe-midterm-evaluation-2022-25). 

NHTSA CAFE Standards

NHTSA determines CAFE standards based on each vehicle’s size, or its footprint, which is essentially the distance between where each of its tires touches the ground. In general, the larger the vehicle is, the less stringent the fuel economy target will be. NHTSA then calculates each manufacturer’s fleet-wide compliance obligation, which is weighted based on vehicle sales (e.g., if 15% of a manufacturer’s sales are one model, that model gets a “weight” of 0.15 in average fuel economy calculation), each vehicle’s footprint, and the volume of vehicles the manufacturer actually produces.

Based on previous MY sales, NHTSA estimates that by MY 2025, passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks will need to meet an estimated combined average fuel economy of at least 48.7 to 49.7 miles per gallon. This estimate is subject to change based on the actual individual manufacturer fleet composition and production volumes. To view the annual standards, please refer to page 4 of the NHTSA CAFE Regulations for MY 2017 and Beyond fact sheet (http://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/rulemaking/pdf/cafe/CAFE_2017-25_Fact_Sheet.pdf).

EPA GHG Emissions Standards

Similar to the NHTSA CAFE standards, the EPA also uses the footprint-based approach to determine carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions standards in grams per mile (g/mi) for each vehicle manufacturer. The EPA GHG emissions requirements are linked to the CAFE standards, and are also based on individual manufacturer fleet and production volumes. The EPA’s passenger car standards call for COemissions reductions of 5% per year from MY 2017 to 2025. Light-duty trucks will have a bit more time to adjust to the standards, beginning with a 3.5% reduction per year from MY 2017 to MY 2021, then ramping up to a 5% reduction per year from MY 2022 to MY 2025. Refer to page 4 of the EPA GHG Emissions Standards for MY 2017-2025 fact sheet (https://www3.epa.gov/otaq/climate/documents/420f12051.pdf) to see the projected CO2 emissions targets.

Compliance

Manufacturers can meet these standards in a variety of ways. In addition to making direct improvements to vehicle components (e.g., engines and transmission efficiency, light-weighting), manufacturers may also achieve compliance by generating credits. First, manufacturers are required to calculate average fleet-wide tailpipe CO2 emissions and average fleet-wide fuel economy. These values serve as the baseline to which any additional earned credits can be added. The regulation also offers incentives to encourage advanced vehicle technologies.

These credits and incentives include:

  • Air Conditioning and Off-Cycle Improvements (EPA and NHTSA): Manufacturers can earn credits from efforts such as air conditioning efficiency improvements, as well as from off-cycle technologies that result in real-world benefits, like engine start-stop or solar panels on plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).
  • Advanced Technology Vehicles (EPA Only): The EPA regulation also includes incentives to encourage the production of advanced technology vehicles. For MYs 2017 to 2021, manufacturers that produce all-electric vehicles, PHEVs, compressed natural gas vehicles, and fuel cell electric vehicles may “count” these vehicles as more than one vehicle in their emissions compliance calculations. 
  • Hybrid Electric Full-Size Pickups (EPA and NHTSA): Manufacturers are encouraged to produce a certain percentage of full-size pickup trucks that are hybrid electric vehicles, as they will receive compliance credits for doing so.

 

For more information on LDV GHG emissions and CAFE standards, please refer to the following resources:

 

Stay tuned for next month’s Question of the Month, where we will delve into the medium- and heavy-duty engine and vehicle standards.

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team
technicalresponse@icfi.com
800-254-6735

Read More

It's being called the "Great Flood of 2016"

by Ann Vail Shaneyfelt

August 16, 2016 - The last few day have been trying ones for most of us here in south Louisiana. If we aren't flooded, then our friends and family likely are. Recovery will take some time but many buildings and offices are slowing starting to open back up and roads are starting to clear and reopen.

Many schools and homes were completely flooded and will take time to get back to normal. The school where all three of my children attend will not be open for another 3-4 weeks. Until then, I will likely spend much of the work week working from home with Stephanie and Rose handling the office. Please bear with us while we get our city back to normal and start rebuilding and cleaning up after the flood.

More information on the flood:

  • Louisiana Flood of 2016 resulted from '1,000-year' rain in 2 days article via NOLA.com 
  • The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank was flooded - and is in need of donations
  • Meet the Hero's of the "Cajun Navy, article via The Hayride
  • 90% of Homes in Denham Spring are Floded via WWLTV

Read More

Fact of the Week

In model year 2011, there were just three different models of all-electric vehicles (AEV) available and their ranges on a full charge (according to the Environmental Protection Agency) spanned from 63 to 94 miles. By model year 2016, the number of AEV models increased to twelve and the available ranges expanded as well from a minimum of 62 miles for the Mitsubishi i-MiEV to a maximum of 294 miles for the Tesla Model S 90D. From 2011 to 2016, the median of the AEV ranges increased by just over 10 miles – from 73 to 83.5 miles.

Breadth of AEV Ranges
2011 & 2016

Graph showing breadth of AEV ranges in model year 2011 and model year 2016

Supporting Information
AEV by Range Model Year, 2011 and 2016

Model YearMakeModelRange (Miles) 
2011 smart fortwo electric drive coupe 63 MY 2011 Median = 73 miles
2011 Nissan Leaf 73
2011 BMW Active E 94
2016 Mitsubishi i-MIEV 62 MY 2016 Median = 83.5 miles
2016 smart fortwo electric drive coupe 68
2016 Ford Focus Electric 76
2016 BMW i3 BEV 81
2016 Chevrolet Spark 82
2016 Volkswagen e-Golf 83
2016 Fiat 500e 84
2016 Mercedes-Benz B250e 87
2016 Kia Soul Electric 93
2016 Nissan Leaf (30 kW-hr battery pack) 107
2016 Tesla Model X AWD - 90D 257
2016 Tesla Model S AWD - 90D 294

Note: Median is based on the listed models; some of these AEV models are available with different battery capacities/body styles, which have shorter ranges.
Source: U. S. Department of Energy, FuelEconomy.Gov data, accessed May 19, 2016.

Fact #938 Dataset
SUBSCRIBE to the Fact of the Week

Read More

What “Stranger Things” Didn’t Get Quite-So-Right About the Energy Department

By: Paul Lester
Digital Content Specialist, Office of Public Affairs

August 5, 2016 - 3:01pm - Last weekend I binge-watched a new Netflix sci-fi horror series called “Stranger Things.” It’s set in fictional 1980s Hawkins, Indiana, a small town where a boy named Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) mysteriously goes missing. His mother Joyce (Winona Ryder) is desperate to find him, and Hawkins police chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) launches his own investigation into the matter. A girl with supernatural abilities shows up. She knows where to find him, but the search leads them to an alternate dimension, gruesome monsters and ... the Energy Department.

Yes, that’s right, the Energy Department, where I -- and thousands of my closest friends -- work. And while I really enjoyed “Stranger Things” as a mashup of Goonies and X-Files with some amazing 80s music mixed in, the show’s portrayal of the Energy Department was a little less than accurate. Here’s why (spoilers ahead!): 

HAWKINS NATIONAL LABORATORY DOESN’T EXIST. 

In the show, Hawkins National Laboratory is a tightly secured Energy Department facility in the middle of a deep, dark forest. The truth is Hawkins National Laboratory -- just like the fictional town of Hawkins --  doesn’t exist. However, one of the National Laboratories has a forest connection! Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois is named after the surrounding Argonne Forest. Established in 1946, Argonne is America’s first designated National Lab and was founded to continue Enrico Fermi’s work on nuclear reactors. Argonne is now a multidisciplinary science and engineering research center that focuses on important energy, environment, technology and national security issues. Learn more about the Energy Department’s 17 National Laboratories.

THE ENERGY DEPARTMENT DOESN’T EXPLORE PARALLEL UNIVERSES. 

There are several scenes in the show where Hawkins Laboratory researchers don full body suits and protective gear to walk through a peculiar portal, which transports them to an alternate dimension known as “The Upside Down.” While the Energy Department doesn’t chart parallel universes, it does help power the exploration of new worlds. We’re talking outer space, not the bizarro cosmos in “Stranger Things.”  For instance, the Energy Department makes nuclear batteries called Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators for NASA. These batteries convert heat generated by the decay of plutonium-238 into electric power and were used in deep space missions like the Viking mission to Mars in the 1970s, the Voyager interplanetary space missions, Curiosity Mars Rover, and New Horizons -- which flew by Pluto last year. For the first time in 30 years, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory recently produced 50 grams of new plutonium-238, which could be used in future space missions. Check out this cool infographic to learn more about the Energy Department’s role in space exploration.

THE ENERGY DEPARTMENT DOESN’T MESS WITH MONSTERS. 

“Stranger Things” depicts the Energy Department as a federal agency confronting terrifying monsters lurking in different dimensions. We don’t mess with monsters, but the Energy Department is in the business of detecting invisible dangers. Energy Department scientists throughout the country create new technologies that help prevent terrorists from getting their hands on nuclear materials. For example, Sandia National Laboratories developed a mobile scanner that can be used in shipping ports around the world to quickly detect radiological materials hidden inside massive cargo containers.

NATIONAL LABORATORY SCIENTISTS AREN’T EVIL -- THEY’RE ACTUALLY REALLY NICE (AND SMART)! 

In “Stranger Things,” actor Matthew Modine plays Hawkins National Laboratory’s Dr. Martin Brenner, a sinister scientist whose motives are questionable. However, actual National Laboratory scientists are among the brightest people in the world, working hard to solve the nation’s toughest energy problems. And not all of them are men! Meet some of the inspiring women scientists who work at the Energy Department.

LIGHTS AREN’T POWERED BY MONSTERS OR OTHER LIFEFORMS. 

Ok, this one isn’t really Energy Department related but it does deal with electricity, which is one of the agency’s major focus areas. A few episodes in, Joyce realizes the monsters who have taken her son cause the lights in her home to flick on and off. Later on, she communicates with her son by hanging Christmas lights inside her house and paints letters on the wall. Ouija board style, Joyce asks questions and Will lights up letters to spell the answers. Check out this fun GIF generator to see the effect in action and spell out your own secret message! This probably isn’t a shocker, but electric current actually powers Christmas lights, not monsters or other lifeforms. Christmas light bulbs illuminate when electricity travels through a closed circuit, passing over a filament, causing it to glow brightly. Learn more about how Christmas lights work.

Read More

VW owners, get the facts!

You may have heard that Volkswagen has agreed to a settlement with the FTC that will provide up to $10 billion to owners and lessees of VW and Audi 2.0 liter diesel cars. VW claimed 500,000 cars had low levels of harmful emissions, but they were actually much higher.

Did you know that VW will buy back affected cars for thousands of dollars more than their current replacement value? That’s compensation for VW’s untrue emissions claims and for the trouble of replacing the car.

If environmental regulators approve a modification to the cars, people who own or lease will have the option for VW to implement the modification and get money in compensation.

If you own one of these cars, visit VWCourtSettlement.com. At the site, you can enter your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) and find out how much you can get. Or you can call 844-98-CLAIM and ask.

It’s particularly important for you to get this information if you’re considering selling your car. Potential buyers may offer what sounds like a good deal, but it’s still less than you can get for a buyback under the FTC’s settlement with VW. Whether it’s a private purchaser or an unscrupulous dealer, those buyers are just going to turn around and sell the car back to VW for more money through the court-approved buyback program.

If you participate in the buyback program, you can use the money for anything you want. You don’t even have to buy a car with it. If anyone tells you something different – for example, that you have to buy another VW or Audi car – they’re lying.

Don’t let anyone pressure you by saying you need to “Act now!” You don’t. You’ll be able to submit a buyback claim until September 1, 2018. Buybacks could start in late Fall 2016, and emissions modifications will begin once approved, so you have time to consider your decision.

If someone makes you an offer for your VW or Audi car, or suggests limits on the buyback program that don’t exist, please report them to the FTC. "We worked very hard to get a fair deal for VW and Audi owners and lessees, and we don’t want anyone to undermine it" says the FTC.

Source: Federal Trade Commission
Author: Nat Wood

Read More

Progressive Policies Lead to Industry Growth

California is home to the Nation’s most rapidly expanding clean transportation technology industry.  Progressive climate and energy policies outlined in the report, “California’s Clean Transportation Technology Industry: Time to Shift into High Gear”, have fostered a secure environment for investors.  Improvement to local communities has been supported through the creation of over 20,000 high quality jobs provided by companies and firms worldwide moving to California in order to take advantage of opportunity.  
Details can be found by reading the press release or the full report.

Read More