Gas Prices: How Your Driving Behavior Impacts Costs at The Pump

On Thursday, the national average retail price for regular gasoline surged to another record high, hitting $4.41 per gallon.

While you may not be able to control the prices at the pump, you can control how you drive. Certain driving behaviors can actually help consumers save significantly when it comes to filling up at the pump, Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, told FOX Business.

It’s the “easiest” thing to do when trying to combat those rising fuel costs, he said. Keep your tachometer as low as possible. De Haan says drivers should keep feet light on the gas when accelerating. The heavier you are on the accelerator, the more fuel your engine is using, he said.

The tachometer should be used as a gauge for drivers to see how much fuel they’re actually using, according to De Haan.  The tachometer measures the working speed of an engine in RPMs, or rotations per minute. It is located next to the speedometer on a vehicle’s instrument panel.

“The higher the needle goes, the more gas your engine is guzzling,” De Haan said.  The objective is to keep your tachometer as low as possible and not to “bash on the pedal,” De Haan added.

Cars crowding the turn lane into Murphy Express at Beal Parkway and Racetrack Road as gas lines started popping up at numerous gas stations around the Fort Walton Beach area in Florida. (USA Today Network via Reuters Connect / Reuters Photos)

It’s also important to keep the speed of the car under control because speeding increases fuel consumption. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, gas mileage will decrease “rapidly at speeds above 50 MPH.”

The best way to control speed is using cruise control. Although cruise control may not be useful in some congested parts of the country, like New York or Chicago. However, the feature can be “more effective and efficient than a human trying to maintain the same pressure on the gas pedal,” according to De Haan.

Maintenance: Make sure your check engine light is not on If you have a check engine light on, especially if it’s flashing, it should be checked as soon as possible. A lot of sensors on cars are critically important, but the check engine light is the “most critical,” according to De Haan. When the light is flashing, “it’s basically telling you that it’s in distress,” De Haan said.

The car essentially goes into “limp mode,” which means “the car has lost some critical sensor or something is critically wrong and … is basically using up to twice as much fuel to protect itself from catastrophic damage,” De Haan added. Another thing motorists should be checking is tire pressure.

A man checks gas prices at a gas station in Buffalo Grove, Ill., March 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh / AP Newsroom). When a tire loses air pressure, there is more friction between the tire and the road. That increase in friction will lower a car’s fuel efficiency, according to De Haan.

Removing access weight

Leaving heavy objects in the back seat or truck of a car can also hurt fuel efficiency. In fact, every hundred pounds will reduce fuel efficiency by one to two miles per gallon, according to De Haan.

Racks that sit on the roof of cars, typically in the summer or winter months, are also working against drivers. Those racks will “absolutely destroy the aerodynamics of your vehicle” and drive down fuel efficiency by 25 to 35%, De Haan said.

“They’re just like a mattress on your roof,” he said. “Your car is working harder to offset that object on the top of your car.”

Keep an eye on your AC this summer

When the air conditioning is running in your car, “you’re generally putting more of a load on your engine. You’ll burn a lot less fuel if you crack a window instead, according to GasBuddy. 

MYTH: It takes more gas to restart your car

That may have been true 30 years ago, “but that’s why vehicles have adopted that start stop technology,” according to De Haan. In fact, if you’re going to be sitting in traffic more than 10 seconds, it makes more sense to shut the vehicle off.

Source: Gas prices: How your driving behavior impacts costs at the pump | Fox Business

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Airbus Flies A380 Passenger Jet on 100% Biofuel For The First Time

As part of a broader push on part of the aviation industry to reduce its carbon footprint, Airbus has conducted the first ever flight of its giant A380 jumbo jet using 100 percent biofuel. This is the third Airbus aircraft to fly using the sustainable fuel made up of primarily cooking oil, as the company works to certify the technology by the end of the decade.

The aircraft featured in the groundbreaking flight is the Airbus ZEROe Demonstrator, an A380 adapted for use as a flying testbed and one the company plans to also use to test out hydrogen combustion jet engines.


For this particular outing, the aircraft was loaded up with 27 tonnes of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), made mostly with cooking oil and waste fats. This powered the A380’s Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine across a three-hour test flight out of the Blagnac Airport in Toulouse France on March 28, with a second flight then carrying it all the way to Nice Airport on March 29.

This demonstration follows successful flights of the Airbus A350 and the Airbus A319neo single-aisle plane using SAF last year. Using the biofuel to now power the world’s largest passenger jet marks another step forward for the testing program, as Airbus aspires to bring the world’s first zero-emission aircraft to market by 2035.

Airbus isn’t alone in pursuing cleaner aviation with the help of cooking oil. Way back in 2012, Boeing made the first biofuel-powered Pacific crossing in its 787 Dreamliner using a mix of regular jet fuel and fuel derived mainly from cooking oil. In 2014, it even opened up a biofuel production plant in China based to ensure a consistent supply.

In emphasizing the potential of SAF, Airbus refers to the Waypoint 2050 report put together by collaboration of aviation experts to outline how the industry can achieve decarbonization by midway through the century. That report identifies the deploying of SAF as the single largest opportunity to meet these goals, with the potential to deliver between 53 and 71 percent of the required carbon reductions.

As it stands, all of Airbus’ aircraft are certified to fly with a 50 percent SAF-kerosene blend. Airbus aims to achieve certification for 100 percent SAF use by the end of the decade.

Which Came First, The Electric Pickup or The Charging Station?

How rural communities will fare in the battle for electric vehicles funds comes down to a sort of chicken and egg scenario, officials said.

Without acceptance of electric vehicles (EVs) in rural areas, federal funding for charging stations will go elsewhere. But without the charging stations, fewer rural residents will buy electric vehicles.

David Adkins, executive director and CEO of the Council of State Governments, an organization that provides states with research focusing on public policy issues, said if his family in rural Kansas is any indication, electric vehicles are gaining traction in rural communities.

“I’m confident that rural America will increasingly prioritize the need for EV charging stations once the electrified Ford F 150 becomes the truck of choice for farmers and ranchers,” he said. “And Ford will only be able to sell those trucks if charging capacity is ubiquitous.”

Ford and startup Rivian are already selling electric pickups, and several manufacturers have plans to join the market. Cost will make deployment of charging options in urban centers happen first, but without a nationwide network it will be hard to get commercial EVs in widespread use, he said.

EV charging networks will be necessary for tomorrow’s rural America, he said.

“EV charging stations are the next chapter in rural connectivity,” he said. “Right now the focus is on broadband access which primarily benefits those living and working in rural America. Charging stations on the other hand benefit both local residents and those traveling through rural America.”

Recently, the Biden Administration released “Charging Forward: A Toolkit for Planning and Funding Rural Electric Mobility Infrastructure,” a guide for rural areas to get the most out of the federal funding for the electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Getting those charging stations into rural areas is important for widespread adoption of EVs, the administration said.

“In rural parts of the country—home to 20 % of Americans and almost 70 % of America’s road miles—EVs can be an especially attractive alternative to conventional vehicles,” the administration wrote in its toolkit. “Rural residents drive more than their urban counterparts, spend more on vehicle fuel and maintenance, and often have fewer alternatives to driving to meet their transportation needs. Over the long run, EVs will help residents of rural areas reduce those costs and minimize the environmental impact of transportation in their communities.”

Ensuring that those charging stations go to rural areas will be a challenge, said U.S. Representative David Scott (D-Georgia), chair of the House Agriculture Committee.

“We are witnessing a point of major research, investment, and adoption of electric vehicles across the country and the world, driven in large part in an effort to mitigate the impacts of climate change,” Scott said at a hearing in January. “As with so many other technological advancements like electrification, broadband, or telephone service, I want to see what can be done to make sure that rural America is not left behind. And to that point, I want to also ensure that the needs of agriculture and rural residents are being considered with these important developments.”

The U.S. DOT said priority in the electric-vehicle charging network will be given to federally designated alternative fuel corridors, primarily located along interstate highways. Nominated by state and local governments, the corridors are highway segments with the infrastructure to support electric-vehicle charging stations, as well as other alternative fuels. The program requires charging stations at 50-mile intervals.

Some states in the American West have expressed concerns about that requirement.

“Western states face a suite of challenges related to planning and siting EV infrastructure, including the unique needs of both underserved and rural communities, vast distances between communities, limited electric grid infrastructure in sparsely populated areas, and a patchwork of federal, state, and private lands ownership boundaries,” the Western Governors Association, comprised of 19 states in the region, wrote in a policy resolution submitted to federal transportation officials in December.

“A number of western states have experienced challenges in meeting these defined metrics due to lacking electric infrastructure and suitable charging locations in sparsely populated areas.”

Part of the same fuel corridor goes through Appalachia, said Janiene Bohannon, director of communications with the Appalachian Regional Council, in an interview with the Daily Yonder. A map of the Electric Vehicle Charging State Location shows all the current electric vehicle charging stations across the country plus the current and proposed charging station corridors.

The number of EV charging stations in Appalachia is growing, she said. More charging stations means more connectivity for Appalachian residents and visitors.

“Bringing EV charging stations to the Appalachian Region will help to reduce its isolation and promote economic growth,” Bohannon said. “Additional electric vehicle charging stations could encourage a greater population that would visit Appalachia.”

Rural communities will have to deal with other larger challenges in installing EV charging stations, Adkins said.

“Another challenge states face in making the conversion to EV vehicles is the way surface transportation is funded,” he said. “The gas tax is currently a primary source of federal and state funding for streets and highways. States will need to update these revenue formulas in order to have funds to pay for infrastructure.”

Picking a technology to install is another obstacle. Tesla, for instance, has a proprietary charger, creating a “VHS v. Betamax-like market-based obstacle,” Adkins said.

“Like with solar, I believe significant subsidies will need to be provided to private sector players in order to build out initial EV charging networks,” he said. “It will be fun to watch how innovation occurs as the number of electric vehicles grows in the next decade.”

Source: Which Came First, the Electric Pickup or the Charging Station? | The Daily Yonder

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Natural Gas Market Soars To Record Heights

European and UK gas prices surged Wednesday to record peaks, energised by fears of runaway demand in the upcoming northern hemisphere winter. Europe’s reference Dutch TTF gas price hit 162.12 euros per megawatt hour and UK prices leapt to 407.82 pence per therm in morning deals.

However, prices later erased gains to flatline in early afternoon trade. “It’s panic and fear with winter just around the corner,” Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch told AFP.

Soaring gas prices — coupled with oil which has struck multi-year highs — have fuelled fears over spiking inflation and rocketing domestic energy bills. Gas demand is also heightened in Asia, particularly from China, while key Russian exports are falling.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared Wednesday that Europe was to blame for the current energy crisis, after soaring gas prices spurred accusations that Moscow is withholding supplies to pressure the West.

“They’ve made mistakes,” Putin said in a televised meeting with Russian energy officials. He said that one of the factors influencing the prices was the termination of “long-term contracts” in favour of the spot market.

Some critics have accused Moscow of intentionally limiting gas supplies to Europe in an effort to hasten the launch of Nord Stream 2, a controversial pipeline connecting Russia with Germany.

At the same time, global gas stockpiles remain worryingly low.

“Natural gas prices have climbed to new peaks … as insufficient levels of inventories ahead of the winter season drive concerns for a spike in inflation and energy prices for consumers,” XTB analyst Walid Koudmani told AFP.

“These supply constraints could translate into higher costs of fuel moving into the winter months, a prospect which could further slow down economic recovery and worsen moods across markets.”

Europe’s energy crisis has also been exacerbated by a lack of wind for turbine sites, coupled with ongoing nuclear outages — and the winding down of coal mines by climate-conscious governments.

Gas demand has also galloped higher in recent months as economies reopened worldwide from their Covid-induced slumber. “The rebound in industrial activity across the world following months of Covid-related restrictions and widespread remote working … boosted demand for natural gas,” noted UniCredit economist Edoardo Campanella.

European gas futures have now multiplied by eight since April. And the market is set to shoot even higher, according to French bank Societe Generale. “Never before have power prices risen so far, so fast,” wrote Societe Generale analysts in a client note.

Shows evolution of the price of natural gas in Europe this past year to September 28 on the Dutch TTF Gas market Shows evolution of the price of natural gas in Europe this past year to September 28 on the Dutch TTF Gas market Photo: AFP / Patricio ARANA

“And we are only a few days into autumn — temperatures are still mild. “A cold winter could cause severe problems for Europe’s energy markets, where politicians are already trying to contain the fallout.”

European leaders are divided on how to respond to the record rise in energy prices, with France and Spain calling Wednesday for bold EU-wide action, while others urged patience. The European Commission — which is the European Union’s executive arm — will next week propose measures to mitigate the price surge for consumers.

Those suggestions will then be discussed by the bloc’s leaders at a summit in Brussels on October 21-22. Britain is particularly exposed to Europe’s energy crisis because of its reliance on natural gas to generate electricity.

By Roland Jackson

Source: Natural Gas Market Soars To Record Heights

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Heavy-Duty Hydrogen: Fuel Cell Trains And Trucks Power Up For The 2020s

The 2010s saw battery-electric cars move into the mainstream led by Elon Musk’s Tesla, and as that trend gains steam there are signs the decade ahead will see hydrogen gain commercial viability in transportation, particularly for heavy vehicles like trains and long-haul semis that need a more flexible powertrain than multi-ton battery packs.

The first zero-emission “hydrail” project in the U.S. will be in Southern California, where the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority plans to operate a FLIRT H2 train from Swiss supplier Stadler from 2024. The first train, with two cars and a rooftop power pack containing fuel cells and hydrogen tanks, will run on a nine-mile commuter rail line between San Bernardino and Redlands, under a contract worth $23.5 million, according to the SBCTA, with an option to purchase four more trains.

French industrial conglomerate Alstom already has hydrogen-powered Coradia iLint trains running in Germany on a commuter rail line, with more headed to France and the U.K. Like Stadler, it wants to replace diesel models in North America, particularly on regional passenger lines. China saw the first fuel cell tram go into operation in 2015 and government-backed officials are increasingly promoting hydrogen.

Today In: Business

This is happening as startup truckmaker Nikola Motor raises funds and lines up partnerships to begin delivering fuel-cell semis from 2021, Hyundai moves ahead with a multibillion-dollar plan to commercialize hydrogen cars, trucks and ships and Toyota builds up a fleet of fuel cell trucks operating at the sprawling Port of Los Angeles.

Electric cars have become viable because “battery costs plummeted when production scaled up and the same is likely with fuel cells and renewable hydrogen,” says transportation researcher Dan Sperling, a University of California, Davis, professor and a member of the state’s Air Resources Board which sets the nation’s toughest exhaust pollution rules.

“Increasing pressure—and demand—for zero-emission vehicles is likely to be the impetus for the hydrogen fuel cell revolution. Will the U.S. lead or follow?”

The proliferation of electric-drive vehicles–both battery- and hydrogen-powered–and growth in the clean energy market are a marked contrast to current U.S. federal policies. Under President Donald Trump, fuel-economy rules have slackened, environmental guidelines on air and water pollution have eased amid the administration’s advocacy of domestic drilling, mining and fracking. Nevertheless, with broad global concern about the cost and dangers of climate change fueled by carbon emissions, billions of dollars continue to be funneled into creating consumer and commercial markets for cleaner, more sustainable alternatives.

Electric trains are common, but traditionally require costly catenary power lines or electrified rails to operate. By contrast, a fuel cell system creating electricity onboard the vehicle allows trains to run on existing tracks with no additional investment in infrastructure needed. Alstom estimates that 90% of the rail network in the U.S. isn’t electrified, meaning there’s a vast potential for its next-generation vehicles. That makes California, where the state is focused on reducing harmful diesel exhaust and carbon emissions, a natural early market.

Hydrogen power technology has been around for decades, used in past NASA spacecraft, but costly materials, including precious metals in fuel cell membranes that help generate electricity and carbon fiber fuel tanks, as well as long-term durability issues limited its appeal for transportation. What’s more, industrial production of hydrogen from natural gas, with byproduct carbon emissions, undercut its appeal as a green fuel. But aggressive R&D over the past decade have chipped away at costs, with synthetic alternatives replacing metals like platinum in fuel cells, while durability and performance in extreme heat and cold continue to improve. At the same time, the rising availability of cheap renewable wind and solar power and improved use of electrolysis to extract hydrogen from water rather than natural gas developed by companies such as Norway’s Nel Hydrogen may be a gamechanger for the fuel’s environmental profile.

From 2000 through the end of 2019, just 252 megawatts of green hydrogen generation were installed globally, according to an estimate from industry researcher Wood MacKenzie. That’s poised to change sharply. “By 2025, an additional 3,205 MW of electrolyzers dedicated to green hydrogen production will be deployed globally – a 1,272% increase,” it said in a recent report.

Access to cheap solar power in Southern California is key to Nikola’s hydrogen truck plans. The Phoenix-based startup, working with Nel, intends to build and operate a network of highway-adjacent hydrogen fuel stations that are also close to its initial customers, starting with beermaker Anheuser-Busch. Led by entrepreneur Trevor Milton, Nikola aims to build 25 trucks next year and 400 in 2021. If all goes well, by 2022 the company will be making eight tons of green hydrogen daily from renewable electricity at each fuel station, enough to keep 250 trucks running.

While near-term projects such as the Redlands commuter line and regional passenger trains using Alstom’s models in Europe are viable, hydrogen isn’t ready to move into heavier freight rail, a far bigger market, according to U.S. Energy Department researchers.

25% FDD“Freight locomotives for long-distance hauling is the most technically challenging but has the highest societal value in that the diesel volume displacement with hydrogen fuel would add significantly to economies-of-scale and reduced fuel cost,” according to a recent report for the Energy Department and Federal Rail Administration prepared by Sandia National Laboratories.

“Future critical developments needed to move the technology forward include higher efficiency fuel cell systems, taking advantage of lower projected costs and modularity, higher durability membrane electrode assemblies using advanced materials, tighter system controls and optimized operating conditions, and the ability to deliver hydrogen to the locomotives at a competitive cost.”

                         

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From Los Angeles, the U.S. capital of cars and congestion, I try to make sense of technology-driven changes reshaping transportation, cities and how we get around. I’ve tracked global automakers, advanced vehicle tech and environmental policy for more than two decades, including 15 years at Bloomberg, and squeezed in stints in the financial and corporate worlds. What’s your story?

Source: Heavy-Duty Hydrogen: Fuel Cell Trains And Trucks Power Up For The 2020s

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http://www.h2innovationlab.com SCRIPT FOR TRANSLATION: Imagine driving off in your fuel cell car and stopping just outside your gate for a two minute fuel-up from a self-powering hydrogen production facility that is also providing all the needed electricity to your neighborhood. Imagine a world with public transportation and trains free of polluting noisy diesel or overhead power lines. Not slow charge batteries but rather high speed fuel up from a facility that produces a clean, reusable fuel on-site. Large marine vessels powered on-board using the very substance they are floating on. This reality is closer than we may think. A recent breakthrough in science has discovered a means of sustainable self-powering hydrogen energy generation. A system so efficient that it does not requiring any external power source. Self-powering energy with a 2000% efficiency makes On-site production a viable option and opens doors to so many possibilities. Stimulating a rapid move to hydrogen fuel-cell cars and transportation. Eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and rectifying earths depleting supply of oil. Finally an efficient means of producing clean, re-usable, self-sustaining hydrogen energy to fuel cars, buses, trains and almost any type of transportation. Just 100 years ago crude oil was the catalyst of the industrial revolution. Today this new break-through in science could be the biggest discovery since energy itself. A technology owned and maintained by the energy supplier and easily integrated into existing infrastructure. Imaginable energy supply capabilities that were once considered impossible. Hydrogen will soon be the predominant fuel, the question is whose name is going to be associated with the technology that paves the way to our future energy supply. Sound too good to be true? Does it defy laws of physics and energy? How would it be integrated into the energy infrastructure? To answer these questions and learn more, please view the full indexed series on the ‘H2 Innovation Lab’ website. Please see the description for this link.
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