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Inspiring the Next Generation of Scientists and Engineers—As We Were Inspired

Ten-year-old Leo worked in the Education Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), fitting together snap-on electrical circuits. The boy from a Denver community center was enthralled by the sheer joy of adding buzzers, lights, and switches to the device. Sitting at a desk nearby, Rhielle carefully colored a drawing of a solar panel. “I want to be everything: a singer, waitress, scientist, baker—because baking is a science,” the eight-year-old explained. Everywhere, the room buzzed with energy, as 16 grade schoolers performed experiments and talked to volunteer researchers as part of a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) outreach connecting NREL with our local community.

It reminded me of my own start on the pathway of scientific discovery. As a high school student in Regensburg, Germany, I wondered about this exotic world of test tubes and microscopes—and so visited the office of a distinguished biologist in my hometown university. I asked if he would talk to me—but he was busy at the moment. Instead, this scientist invited me into his laboratory, where I saw first-hand some of his experiments. Later, we chatted and he gave me a basic college text.

He continued to follow me, and mentored me throughout my science studies. I’ve never forgotten that lesson about the importance of sharing science with younger minds. That is why I’m so enthusiastic about STEM learning, and support it passionately at NREL. Whenever we can engage younger students—especially those who may not have had a chance to consider science and engineering as careers—we are building our future.

Throughout the year, NREL actively engages in a range of STEM events. Last May, we held NREL’s 27th annual Junior Solar Sprint and Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) Battery Car Competitions on campus, attracting 53 teams from 18 Colorado middle schools. Maybe you’ve been to something like this. Some cars scoot, some fizzle—yet regardless of the finish, everyone gains hands-on experience. Likewise, we co-sponsored the 27th Colorado Science Bowl, giving kids a chance to test their knowledge against other aspiring young researchers. This year the Lambkins from Ft. Collins roared to victory, correctly answering a range of questions across the sciences. We were part of the first Energy Day Colorado this fall, giving academic awards to promising scholars.

Whenever we can, we try to open our doors to prospects. Hannah, a high school sophomore from Boulder, won an NREL-sponsored award at the Colorado Science and Engineering Fair. Sure, she’d already gotten a plaque made from a recycled solar panel and a stipend of $100 for a building cooling project—but we wanted to give her something more. So we arranged a campus tour so that she could talk to researchers in her field. She chatted happily, and afterwards declared, “This place is cool.” Although she has a ways to go, she was clear: because both science and NREL are now positively linked in her mind, she hopes to one day work at the lab. Now that would be cool.

Of course, we won’t know for years whether Hannah will come here, chose another national laboratory, or find a different path. Likewise, we can’t foresee whether Leo will become an electrical engineer or Rhielle seek a career as a chemist. But we do know that 3,688 students who have visited NREL this year, or gone to competitions we’ve run, have all gained exposure to STEM activities. We can’t tell immediately how much impact these encounters have had—although the smiles of students tell us a lot—but speaking from personal experience, we should be confident that this type of inspiration can last a lifetime and will build our future.

Kids enjoying STEM activities at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL)

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New Initiatives Will Use Supercomputers to Improve Transportation Energy Efficiency

DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office commits $2.5M in FY2018 funds to Big Data and High Performance Computing Initiatives.

Did you know, the 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 $2M 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.

Sponsored by DOE’s the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the High Performance Computing for Mobility (HPC4Mobility) Program is part of the larger HPC4 Energy Innovation Initiative, a Department-wide effort comprised of, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Office of Fossil Energy, and the Office of Nuclear Energy.

To learn more about the Department's work with industry, academia, and community partners on advanced vehicle technologies, please visit the Vehicle Technologies Office website

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Together we can accomplish more than we ever could apart.

2018 Membership Dues Drive

With the support of our 2017 members, we were able to expand our presence across the state and work on projects that will have far reaching effects on adoption of clean fuels in our 56-parish territory.

For example, here are some of our biggest accomplishments for 2017:

  • Hosted 72+ hours of clean fuel education
  • Reduced Green House Gas emissions by 48,000 tons
  • Conducted outreach in nearly 10 cities across the state
  • Successfully submitted a proposal to the FHWA for Alternative Fuel Corridors signage with our state LDEQ
  • Analyzed the NOx emissions for projects proposed to the LDEQ for VW funding
  • Received funding from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to analyzed a state agency's sedans for potential EV implementation 
  • Supported a new automotive training center to become a NAFTC National AFV Training Center
  • Assisted the East Baton Rouge School system to rebuild their fleet by adding propane buses after the August 2016 flood destroyed 110 of their buses
  • Created 2 Motorweek videos highlighting Louisiana AFV fleets 
  • and more!

In 2018, we have ambitious goals to continue to support the adoption of alternative fuels and fuel reduction practices. With support from valued stakeholders like you, LCF will:

  • Launch a Green Fleets Certification program in January 2018
  • Add new fleet analysis benefits for qualified 2018 members
  • Continue to work closely with the state office of procurement to get more AFVs on the state bid list
  • Continue to work with the state's lead agency for the VW Settlement to facilitate communication by conducting outreach and assisting fleets and applicants with the process
  • Work with LDOT and LDEQ to install signage for any Alternative Fuel CNG and LPG corridors that get approved under the FHWA Alternative Fuel Corridors signage program.
  • Create an RNG curriculum to help landfills learn how they can produce high quality renewable natural gas

There is still a lot more that needs to be done in 2018. Together we can accomplish more than we ever could apart. We invite you to join with us to support the growth of domestically produced, cleaner and affordable alternative fuels in Louisiana by joining our coalition as a 2018 member.

Can we count on you?

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2018 Fuel Economy Guide Helps Consumers Save Money

A photo of a person working at a laptop with the FY18 fuel economy guide showing on the screen.Just in time for the New Year, the 2018 Fuel Economy GuidePDF 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 formatPDF 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.

 

In addition to the guide, fueleconomy.govfeatures other useful tools and information to help car buyers. The website includes “best-in-class” lists across multiple market categories and provides a Top 10 most fuel-efficient vehicle list for electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and non-plug in vehicles.

For those in the market for a new or used car, the Find-a-Car feature, as well as the Find-a-Car app, allows users to search for and compare fuel efficiency data by class, make model, and year. EPA data on miles per gallon equivalent and estimated annual fuel cost are available for each vehicle. The Fuel Economy Guide provides this information for all vehicles dating back to 1984.

Users can also track their own personal fuel economy through the My MPG tool or calculate the fuel cost for a road trip. Gas Mileage Tips provide specific savings for driving more efficiently and keeping your car in shape.  

The MY 2018 Fuel Economy Guide is only available electronically (PDF). With the MY 2018 Fuel Economy Guide and FuelEconomy.gov, consumers have the tools and data available to save money on fuel, whether they are shopping for a new vehicle or making the most out of their current one. 

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Webinar: Renewable Diesel and Biodiesel Blends for Fleets

Free Webinar for Clean Cities Stakeholders

Renewable Diesel and Biodiesel Blends for Fleets

Thu, Feb 8, 2018 
1:30 PM - 2:30 PM CST

What can I do to meet sustainability goals and reduce fuel costs? Louisiana Clean Fuels and the  Center for Sustainable Energy invites you to a webinar where you will learn the secrets behind achieving both utilizing renewable diesel and biodiesel blends. The webinar will cover the fuel efficiency, cost, availability, OEM approval and quality aspects of the fuels. Project implementation will also be covered.

Your Presenter:

Troy Shoen, Sr. Manager of Marketing at REG | https://www.regi.com/

Troy Shoen has been an expert in marketing various aspects of the advanced biofuels industry for the past seven years. For six years he managed marketing efforts for a biofuels feedstock and animal feed ingredient company before joining Renewable Energy Group as Senior Manager, Marketing in July 2015.

He currently leads the efforts to promote the economic and value-added benefits of integrating biodiesel into distributor and retailer fuel programs.  

Troy holds a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Iowa in addition to Bachelor Degrees in Journalism and Communication Studies.   

 

 

 

This webinar is free to attend for all Clean Cities Stakeholders. No code required.

 

 

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Attend the Energy Independence Summit 2018

Make Plans to Attend the Energy Independence Summit 2018

February 11-14, 2018 | Renaissance Dupont Circle Hotel | Washington, DC

The nation's premier clean transportation policy summit provides a critical opportunity to make sure the nation's policymakers understand the importance of maintaining federal support for clean transportation.  It will also be a key venue for the nation's Clean Cities Coalitions and leaders in the clean transportation industry to network and build partnerships with each other, and with key leaders in the Administration and Congress. Please take advantage of our Early Bird registration rates and Register Today.

Considerable registration discounts are available for members of a Clean Cities coalition. Please contact Ann Vail at ann@louisianacleanfuels.org if you intend to register as a member of Louisiana CleanFuels.

Please contact Ken Brown at Transportation Energy Partners at ken@akbstrategies.com or (202) 674-7777 if you have questions or would like additional information about the Summit. We look forward to seeing you in DC!

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3 Ways Distilled Biodiesel Can Give You a Competitive Advantage

“What are some benefits of distilled biodiesel?”


The answer is as simple as 1, 2, 3 — the benefits wholesalers, retailers and fleets get with distilled biodiesel: 

  1. Superior cold weather performance
  2. Lower carbon intensity with decreased supply and price fluctuations through feedstock flexibility
  3. Easier blending
Those are the top three benefits we’ll focus on in this article. If you want to take a deeper dive into the topic, including the science behind distillation, download our free white paper on distilled biodiesel.

Superior cold weather performance

Distilled biodiesel has advanced cold flow properties because distillation does a better job than other purification methods at removing minor components that can contribute to filter plugging. Far too often people think Cloud Point is the only thing that matters when using biodiesel in the cold. Even with a higher Cloud Point, distilled biodiesel can outperform undistilled low cloud biodiesel in cold weather.

Feedstock flexibility

The ability to create high-quality biodiesel from a variety of feedstocks — feedstock flexibility, as we call it at REG — has a couple of big advantages. One is it can provide more nimbleness in the commodity markets. If a particular feedstock is experiencing price or supply fluctuations, we can turn to another feedstock and know that our end product will still meet ASTM and customer specifications. This, of course, is good for our customers, too. 

Another advantage of feedstock flexibility is the ability to make biodiesel from feedstocks such as animal fat, used cooking oil and inedible corn oil that can allow for lower carbon intensity (CI) scores. Carbon intensity is the measure of greenhouse gas emissions associated with producing and consuming a fuel. Some of the feedstocks with favorable CI scores can result in biodiesel with a higher Cloud Point, but with Cloud Point being less of an issue with a distilled product, users can get a fuel with lower carbon intensity that helps them reach sustainability goals and also performs well in cold weather. 

So to recap, under this single benefit of feedstock flexibility comes several other advantages, including supply, price and sustainability. 

Ease of blending

You may be sensing a theme related to the removal of minor components in the distillation process — and it has yet another benefit. It helps create the purest type of biodiesel. A purer biodiesel means there are fewer minor components. Fewer minor components means less effort is required to fully mix the biodiesel molecules and petroleum diesel molecules. 

Free white paper

If you’d like to learn more about distilled biodiesel, including the distillation process and how it differs from the traditional method of purifying biodiesel, read this white paper. 

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Louisiana Fleets Honored by LCF at 2017 Clean Fuel Leader Awards

EBR Schools, GreenSeasons and UL Lafayette take away top honors

Each year, Louisiana Clean Fuels recognizes fleets in its territory for use of alternative fuels, emissions reduction and fuel saving measures and honors outstanding fleets and projects. To qualify for the awards, fleets need only to participate in the Clean Cities Annual Reporting process by sharing their fuel usage and fleet information with Louisiana Clea Fuels, a U.S. Department of Energy designated Clean Cities Coalition since 2000.

The 2017 Awards are based on fuel statistics and data gathered for the 2016 Clean Cities Annual Report.

  • Rising Star
  • Innovative Project of the Year
  • Resilience Award
  • 2 Lifetime Achievement Awards
  • Various recognition awards for outstanding fleets

Rising Star: East Baton Rouge Parish School System

The 2017 Rising Star Award is for a fleet that has just begun its journey with alternative fuels. This particular fleet responded to the devastation of the great flood of August 2016 and decided to do something good for the children and their community by investing in cleaner burning, domestically produced alternative fuel buses for their district.

The East Baton Rouge Parish School System is the second largest school district in Louisiana serving over 42,000 students. The flood damaged homes and vehicles of its employees and students, the roads they use to travel, entire contents of school buildings, and the lives of its community. Thirty-five percent of employees and over 5,000 children were displaced by the flood. Over one hundred ten (110) school buses were destroyed and 189 school buses drivers displaced.  The Office of Transportation and the transportation shop were included in the seven administrative sites that flooded. Eight flooded schools were relocated to other school sites; and four non-flooded schools were relocated to make room for the displaced schools.

After the flood, the school system scraped together what funds they could and purchased 68 buses - 10 of which were propane. The school board also won DERA funding to offset the cost of more propane buses and has expressed their desire to purchase more.

Accepting the award for East Baton Rouge School System:

  • Warren Drake, Superintendent of Schools
  • Pat Friedrich - District Grant Writer
  • Gary Reese– Chief of Student Support Services 

 

Innovative Project of the Year: University of Louisiana at Lafayette

This year’s Innovative Project of the Year goes to a university that is conducting groundbreaking research into cyber security of Electric Vehicles. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s innovative program is funding by a grant titled,  “Diagnostics Security Modules for Electric Vehicles to Building Integration project” and is funded by Idaho National Laboratory and the Department of Energy.

The goal of the project is to evaluate the cybersecurity of electric vehicle charging stations and Plug in electric vehicles, strengthen cyber security of the connected systems (such as smart buildings and other vehicles) and determine the effect that the increasing amount of electric vehicles may have on the grid.

The team at University of Louisiana at Lafayette consists of graduate students, undergraduate students, and professors. Dr. Raju Gottukkumala and Dr. Paul Darby lead the team. Dr. Gottukkamala is the Director of Research for the Informatics Research Institute at UL Lafayette, he is also an assistant professor at the university. Dr. Darby is an assistant professor in the Electrical & Computer Engineering department at UL Lafayette. Six students compose the remainder of the team - Andrew Roche, Rizwan Merchant, Adam Tauzin, Camille Charnews, Kaleb Leon, and Benjamin Armentor. They are also working with Kenneth Rohde at Idaho National Laboratory. 

Accepting the award for Univeristy of Louisiana at Lafayette:

  • Dr. Raju Gottumukkala
  • Dr. Paul Darby
  • Dr. Henry Chu
  • Mr. Ben Armentor
  • Mr. Camille Charnews
  • Mr. Rizwan Merchant

 

Resilience Award: GreenSeasons

The 2017 Resilience award goes to a Louisiana fleet whose commitment to alternative fuels was put to the ultimate test. Back in early 2016, they converted twenty-three of their trucks to CNG and started construction of a private, onsite slow-fill natural gas station. Everything seemed to be on track and going smoothly. Then, in August of 2016, the worst natural disaster to hit our country since Hurricane Sandy dumped nearly 7.1 trillion gallons of water on the southern half of our state. Every one of their vehicles was underwater as was their new private CNG station.

When asked why he wanted to stick with alternative fuels after everything was damaged, Chris CasseIberry said that reducing GreenSeason’s carbon footprint was just that important to him. He also needed to have a constant and reliable source of fuel, ensure that his trucks were properly fueled every night, and wanted to reduce his overall cost of fuel for his fleet. In addition to utilizing CNG in their fleet, GreenSeasons has eight commercial propane mowers. But he doesn’t plan to stop there. This company has big plans to eventually operate on 100% alternative and renewable energy sources.

 

Accepting the award for GreenSeasons:   Chris CasseIberry

 

Lifetime Achievement Awards:

The 2017 Lifetime Achievement awards go to two individuals who have worked tirelessly for much of their careers to promote the use of cleaner, domestically produced alternative fuels in our state.

  • Robert Borne, Entergy
  • Jean Kelly, LDEQ

 

2017 Top Performing Fleets

Top Performing Private Fleets

Republic Services             

  • 14,174.20 tons of GHG reduced
  • Achieved this through CNG usage plus fuel economy improvements & idle reduction

UPS                                                   

  • 3,532.5 tons of GHG reduced
  • Top User of Alt Fuels – Over 1 Million Gallons in 2016
  • Achieved this through CNG, Propane and Renewable Diesel

Waste Management                     

  • 245.80 tons GHG reduced
  • Achieved this through CNG fleet reduced petroleum use by 294,291 gallons in 2017

 

2017 Honorable Mention Private Fleets

In this group, Ivan Smith and Builders Supply offset the most petroleum through alternative fuel use, while GreenSeasons further reduced their GHG emissions through additional use of Propane in their commercial mowers and Fuel Economy Improvements, VMT Reductions and Idle Reduction.

Green Seasons                    

  • Reduced GHG emissions by 645.70 tons        
  • Fuel Economy Improvements, VMT Reductions and Idle Reduction
  • CNG and Propane
  • Winner of the 2017 Resilience Award

Builders Supply                    

  • Reduced GHG emissions by 98.30 tons
  • CNG Fleet and Idle Reduction

Ivan Smith Furniture                       

  • Reduced GHG emissions by 144.30 tons
  • CNG Fleet & Idle Reduction

Eagle Distributing                

  • Reduced GHG emissions by 97.60 tons

 

Top Performing Utility Fleet: Entergy                 

  • Reduced GHG emissions by 383.90 tons
  • CNG, E85, HEVs and Route Optimization

 

Honorable Mention for Utility Fleets

Centerpoint Energy

  • Reduced GHG emissions by 24 tons
  • CNG Fleet

Atmos Energy

  • Reduced GHG emissions by 6.7 tons   
  • CNG Fleet

 

Top Performing Municipal Fleets

St. Landry Parish Solid Waste District

  • CNG and RNG Reduced GHG emissions by 977.3 tons

City of Shreveport & Sportran

  • CNG Fleet Reduced GHG emissions by 552 tons

 

Honorable Mention Municipal Fleets

Bossier City             

  • CNG Fleet Reduced GHG emissions by 52.7 tons

Lafourche Parish School District

  • Propane buses Reduced GHG emissions by 18.27 tons

City of Lake Charles

  • Propane fleet Reduced GHG emissions by 137 tons

Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government

  • CNG Fleet Reduced GHG emissions by 34.9 tons

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New Tools in Transportation: AFLEET Update

Propane School Bus FuelingA newly updated version of the AFLEET Tool from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory is now available. AFLEET — short for Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation Tool — is a free publicly available tool that calculates and compares the costs and environmental benefits of a broad range of alternative fuel technologies.

The AFLEET Tool is ideally suited to aid those who make purchasing decisions for fleets as they compare vehicle technologies for emission reductions and air quality gains. This new version adds the ability to look at air pollutant emissions from well-to-wheel as it lets users evaluate not just “at-the-tailpipe” air pollutants, but also those arising from fuel production.

New AFLEET Features:

  • Idle Reduction Calculator 
  • Low-NOx engine option for CNG and LNG heavy-duty vehicles
  • Diesel in-use emissions multiplier sensitivity case
  • Well-to-pump air pollutants
  • Vehicle cycle petroleum use, GHGs, and air pollutants
  • Renewable diesel vehicles
  • Electric commercial trucks
  • Updated biofuel and RNG feedstocks

Learn more about AFLEET here.

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Vehicle Technologies Office Fact of the Week

Over half of all carbon monoxide (CO) emissions in 2002 were from highway vehicles; by 2016 that fell to 30%. The share of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from highway vehicles declined from 43% of all NOx emissions in 2002 to 34% in 2016. The highway share of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions declined by 9% during this same period. Highway vehicles contributed less than 3% of all particulate matter (PM) emissions.

Highway Share of All Pollutant Emissions, 2002-2016

Graphics showing highway share of all pollutant emissions (CO, NOx, PM, and VOC) from 2001 to 2016

Note: Particulate matter emissions include both fine particle matter less than 10 microns (PM-10) and fine particle matter less than 2.5 microns (PM-2.5). Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Emissions Inventory and Air Pollutant Emissions Trends Data.Fact #998 Dataset

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