Tag Archive for 'transportation'

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Trucks

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Trucks
From prototype to reality as major manufacturers get on board

(Originally published on Fleet Owner, September 2017)

By Erik Neandross, CEO of Gladstein, Neandross & Associates

Hydrogen fuel cell medium- and heavy-duty vehicles were once a vehicle technology platform that was dominated by startups and early adopters but is now seeing investments from some of the trucking industry’s biggest names. Toyota, UPS and Kenworth have all made headlines recently for high-profile hydrogen fuel cell projects. Meanwhile, several other major truck manufacturers have said they’re exploring zero emission technology strategies to respond to increasing customer and regulatory pressures.

Fuel cells powered by hydrogen have become an attractive technology because the hydrogen powers an electric motor and the only emission out of the tailpipe is water. Hydrogen fuel can be made from 100% renewable sources and fill a hydrogen tank is a similar user experience for the driver as a gasoline or diesel vehicle, unlike plugging in a battery-electric vehicle.

Given hydrogen fuel cell vehicle’s zero tailpipe emission profile, areas with air quality issues—largely due to a concentration of heavy-duty diesel trucks—has become the ideal testing ground. More specifically, Southern California, which is home to the nation’s largest seaport complex and worst air quality, has become the epicenter for fuel cell vehicle R&D projects.

One of the first engine makers to tackle fuel cells was California-based US Hybrid Inc. They have been building fuel cell engines for transit buses, step vans, and military vehicles for several years. The company recently unveiled its first class 8 fuel cell port drayage truck featuring its PEM fuel cell engine that will run at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The fuel cell tractor, a Navistar International ProStar day cab, features US Hybrid’s FCe80, 80 kW PEM fuel cell engine, an estimated driving range of 200 miles under normal drayage operation, and can be fully refueled in less than nine minutes.

Salt Lake City start-up, Nikola Motor Co. announced they are beginning to build their Nikola One, a hydrogen fuel cell semi-truck that produces 1,000 horsepower, can generate 2,000 pound-feet of torque and travel 800 miles or more between fillings. Nikola also plans to help move the industry one step further by constructing a nationwide fueling network of over 350 hydrogen stations. Building the fueling infrastructure is critical for wide-scale deployments of fuel cell vehicles as there are currently only a few handfuls of stations across the nation.

Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s second-largest automaker, unveiled their “Project Portal” venture—a class 8 truck powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. Toyota will begin testing the concept vehicle in real-world use shuttling shipping containers between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and various freight depots up to 70 miles away.

Kenworth Truck Co., the first major heavy-duty truck maker to join the fuel cell race, recently announced that they are developing a hydrogen fuel cell tractor that will haul freight from the Southern California ports to nearby warehouses. The tractor, which will be delivered later this year, will use lithium-ion batteries to power an electric motor. The vehicle is one of several prototypes the company is developing with the aid of $9 million in grants from local and federal government agencies to develop and test low and zero emission drayage trucks.

The world’s largest package delivery company, UPS unveiled an extended range class 6 fuel cell vehicle that it will deploy in its “Rolling Laboratory” fleet of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles. UPS’ goal, in partnership with U.S. Department of Energy, is to develop a first-of-its-kind, zero tailpipe emissions delivery truck that meets the same route and range requirements of their existing conventional fuel vehicles.

With all of the recently announced projects and some of the industry’s biggest players beginning to join the race, it’s only a matter of time before we begin to see more hydrogen fuel cell trucks on the road.

Original article: http://fleetowner.com/emissions/hydrogen-fuel-cell-trucks

About GNA

GNA is the leading North American consulting firm specializing in market development for low emission and alternative fuel vehicle technologies, infrastructure, and fuels for both on- and off-road applications.

Wells Fargo Reports: Construction Spending Rose in August

Total construction spending was up 0.5 percent in August, though July’s drop was worse than first reported. Public spending was up slightly in August after considerable weakness in June and July.

Outlays Up Across the Board in August

  • Construction spending was up 0.5 percent in August. Revisions brought more of June’s weakness to July. Beyond the month-to-month volatility and revisions, total construction is running 4.7 percent ahead of last year on a year-to-date basis.
  • Private construction is buoying total construction outlays as the government continues to spend less on most construction categories. Public outlays are down 5.3 percent year-to-date.

Private Residential Had Solid Footing Pre-Storms

  • Private residential construction outlays were up 12.6 percent year-to-date through August. Both single- and multifamily units were up solidly. Construction spending data in coming months are likely to be very volatile due to hurricanes derailing projects and as rebuilding gets underway. The seasonal adjustment will likely exacerbate impacts during fall months. We expect residential construction to be a drag on GDP until maybe next spring.

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  The comment period ended last week on EPA’s review, which started last March, of the Final Determination of the Mid-term Evaluation of greenhouse gas emissions standards for light-duty vehicles for model years 2021-2025 (procedurally, the model year 2021 was considered a separate action).  EPA’s work was coordinated with a parallel rulemaking by DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regarding CAFE standards – Corporate Average Fuel Economy.  This topic drew a heck of a lot of interest: 405,908 comments; so far, though, just 7,764 are posted online. *:D big grin
*  Speaking of CO2 and greenhouse gas equivalents transportation CO2 emissions increased in 2016.  The US Energy Information Administration (EIS) released its report “US Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 2016” last week.  A few highlights (and recall that the economy expanded in 2016): overall carbon intensity (CO2/GDP) declined by 3.1%.  Emissions declined in 6 out of the past 10 years, and energyrelated CO2 emissions in 2016 were 823 (14%) million metric tons (MMmt) below 2005 levels.  Natural gas CO2 emissions surpassed those from coal. However, because natural gas produces more energy for the same amount of emissions as coal, growth in natural gas consumption contributed to the overall 2016 decline in total emissions.  Of the four enduse sectors, only transportation CO2 emissions increased in 2016.  Motor gasoline accounted for 56.0% of the 34 MMmt net increase in transportation-sector CO2 emissions in 2016—totaling 19 MMmt—an increase of 1.8% from the 2015 level.  Jet fuel emissions were up by about 4.0% (9 MMmt), diesel declined by 2.7%.
*  EPA released its Draft FY 2018– 2022 Strategic Plan last week.  The Strategic Plan is being revised, as required by the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) Modernization Act of 2010. EPA expects to submit a final Strategic Plan to Congress in February 2018.  The Strategic Plan reflects the Administrator’s three strategic goals: Core Mission – to “deliver real results to provide Americans with clean air, land, and water;” Cooperative Federalism – rebalancing power between Washington and the states; and Rule of Law – administering the law as Congress intended, focusing on statutory obligations.  Comments on the Draft are due 10/31.
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ABC Reports: Construction Input Price Growth Accelerates in August

Construction input prices rose 0.6 percent in August and are up 3.7 percent on a yearly basis, according to an analysis by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nonresidential construction input prices behaved similarly, rising 0.6 percent for the month and 3.5 percent for the year. 

Only three of the 11 key construction input prices fell for the month. The inputs experiencing declines in prices were steel mill products (-1.5 percent), prepared asphalt, tar roofing and siding products (-0.3 percent), and natural gas (-1.8 percent). Crude petroleum prices exhibited the largest increase, rising 11 percent on a monthly basis and 15 percent on an annual basis.

“If we consider what ought to be happening with respect to materials prices, we would expect them to be marching steadily higher,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “After all, the global economic recovery is an increasingly synchronized one. China is on pace to meet growth expectations this year. Europe, Japan, Brazil, Russia and other nations are experiencing meaningfully better recoveries this year compared to 2016. While some economies like Great Britain’s and India’s have stumbled a bit lately, the broader story is one of more rapid global economic growth, driven in large measure by a low interest rate, post-austerity policy environment.

“The world’s improving global economic environment has helped stabilize demand and prices for various commodities. As a result, we are not observing the sharp declines in input prices that occurred during much of 2014 and 2015,” said Basu. “Demand for materials in the United States also remains reasonably high, given ongoing momentum in a number of private segments and indications of stable activity among road builders. The fact that asset prices have been rising, including in key global equity markets, has contributed to pushing materials prices higher, with positive wealth effects triggering greater confidence among real estate developers.

“For now, policymakers around the world appear focused on supporting economic growth.  While this may ultimately translate into problematic global inflation, for now inflation remains under control,” said Basu. “That suggests that accommodative monetary policy will continue to remain in place in much of the world, which will support asset prices, economic growth and demand for construction materials. While surging construction materials prices are unlikely during the near term, with the exception of areas recently impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, so too are large declines.” 

Visit ABC Construction Economics for the Construction Backlog Indicator, Construction Confidence Index and state unemployment reports, plus analysis of spending, employment, GDP and the Producer Price Index.



Labor ShortagesChronic Labor Shortages are Changing the Way Many Firms Operate, Recruit and Compensate Workers, but Long-Term Economic Impacts Could Be Severe Without New Workforce Measures, Officials Caution

Seventy percent of construction firms report they are having a hard time filling hourly craft positions that represent the bulk of the construction workforce, according to the results of an industry-wide survey released today by Autodesk and the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said that many firms are changing the way they operate, recruit and compensate, but cautioned that chronic labor shortages could have significant economic impacts absent greater investments in career and technical education.

“In the short-term, fewer firms will be able to bid on construction projects if they are concerned they will not have enough workers to meet demand,” said Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer for the Associated General Contractors.  “Over the long-term, either construction firms will find a way to do more with fewer workers or public officials will take steps to encourage more people to pursue careers in construction.”

Of the more than 1,600 survey respondents, 70 percent said they are having difficulty filling hourly craft positions, Sandherr noted. Craft worker shortages are the most severe in the West, where 75 percent of contractors are having a hard time filling those positions, followed by the Midwest where 72 percent are having a hard time finding craft workers, 70 percent in the South and 63 percent in the Northeast.

The labor shortages come as demand for construction continues to grow.  Sandherr noted that construction employment expanded in 258 out of 358 metro areas that the association tracks between July 2016 and July 2017, according to a new analysis of federal construction employment data the association also released today. Growing demand for construction workers helps explain why 67 percent of firms report it will continue to be hard, or get harder, to find hourly craft workers this year.

Tight labor market conditions are prompting firms to change the way they operate, recruit and compensate workers, Sandherr noted.  Most firms report they are making a special effort to recruit and retain veterans (79 percent); women (70 percent) and African Americans (64 percent).  Meanwhile, half of construction firms report increasing base pay rates for craft workers because of the difficulty in filling positions.  Twenty percent have improved employee benefits for craft workers and 24 percent report they are providing incentives and bonuses to attract workers.

Forty-six percent of firms also report they are doing more in-house training to cope with workforce shortages while 47 percent report they are increasing overtime hours and 41 percent are increasing their use of subcontractors.  In addition, 22 percent report they are increasing their use of labor-saving equipment, 11 percent are using off-site prefabrication and 7 percent are using virtual construction methods like Building Information Modeling, or BIM for short.

“The ongoing labor drought continues to put pressure on the already high-risk, low-margin construction industry,” said Sarah Hodges, director of the construction business line at Autodesk, a leading 3D design, engineering, and construction software firm. “As labor challenges continue to grow, technology will play an increasingly important role supporting the existing workforce while inspiring the next generation of industry professionals.”

Sandherr called on federal, state and local officials to act on the measures in the association’s Workforce Development Plan to address the growing worker shortages. In particular, he urged the Senate to pass legislation to reform and increase funding for the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.

The survey was conducted in July and early August. Click here to see the national survey results, analysis of the data and regional and state-by-state results. Click here for the July 2017 metro construction employment data.