By on October 12, 2010

The EU has ambitious CO2 targets: Less than 130g/km by 2012, less than 95g/km by 2020. Carmakers are shaking their heads: No way! Even the most electro-agnostic firms tinker with EVs (even if they are from Japan) to bring their average down. “No problem,” says a new study. The targets are a cinch to reach. What’s more, no heavy and expensive batteries to lug around. use the existing engine! No range anxiety. What is that miracle technology?

CNG, or Compressed Natural Gas. Using it instead of gasoline, the 2012 target could already be reached this year, says the study. The extremely ambitious 2020 target could be reached by 2015, if people would just put CNG in their tank. That message probably puts grins on the usually grim faces of the Russians. They supply most of Europe’s natural gas. And they are prone to turning off the tap if someone disagrees with them. That is not the biggest problem.

The biggest problem is that the study was conducted by Prof. Ferdinand Dudenhöffer’s CAR institute at the Essen University in Germany, says Automobilwoche [sub]. Dudenhöffer is the most quoted motormouth in Germany, and his predictions are usually wrong. Also, the car cannot run on CNG alone. To reach these goals in Dudenhöffer’s model, it needs 25 percent bio methane gas. That’s a lot of cow farts. The only thing that separates us from CNG nirvana? “Stricter rules. The stricter the rules, the more competitive becomes CNG,” says the often quoted professor.

Come on, EU: 130g CO2/km this year. 95g/hm by 2015 – and all of Europe would be driving with – Russian – gas.

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33 Comments on “How To Reach Ambitious CO2 Targets Without Really Trying...”

  • avatar

    IMO, that’s the problem with all this focus on hybrids and electrics. There is absolutely a place for them in the auto fleets of the future, but we (read: the media and collective enthusiasm) tend to think with too much polarity, pun fully intended.
    Anything that uses an existing infrastructure and tech is a big leap ahead anything else in market acceptance. I’ve always been very disappointed at the US EPA’s discouragement of CNG and LPG conversions for private vehicles. They love them in commercial fleets, but in the US, almost all private bi-fuel or pure gas conversions are for offroaders.

    • 0 avatar

      If you are saying that electrics have an existing infrastructure in place to power them, I agree. Anyone with access to a wall socket can drive one now, so it’s not some future possibility.

      I do not see a CNG supply system that could compete with the petrol supply model at this point.

  • avatar

    Some people discover America in a glass of water.

  • avatar

    Clearly CNG isn’t the answer if the goal is to prevent the planet from heating up. Sure it may heat up less  in a literal sense if you go for the whole global warming hype thing but if you look where the biggest natural gas reserves are located you realize that hooking the world on CNG will certainly not prevent the world from heating up  in a political sense.
    Pick your poison: the biggest reserve is controlled by a Russian sociopath hellbent on putting  the evil empire back together (Putin)and second largest reserve is controlled by a Persian religious loon who dreams of plunging the world into chaos in order to trigger the coming of some Shiite messiah called the Mahdi (Achmadinejad). I’ll take my chances with global warming any day above those characters. Not that that’s an option of course since they control a substantial portion of oil supplies too…So I reckon if we want to keep it cool on this planet in whatever sense  we need to take a serious look at batteries.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    “…if you go for the whole global warming hype thing….”

    It is fascinating to watch non-scientists talk about climatology as if it were akin to astrology.  How long can an advanced industrial society function when such a large portion of the population — and political leadership — is scientifically illiterate?

    • 0 avatar

      Man made global warming has been debunked to the point it’s a non-issue now. Fact is, we are entering a cooling phase now. Get off the sauce, Doc

    • 0 avatar

      How long can an advanced industrial society function when such a large portion of the population — and political leadership — is scientifically illiterate?

      A large portion of the population has always been scientifically illiterate.  That hasn’t changed, and probably never will.

      What has changed is that more people do not want to understand and do not respect the process of science.  This is part of the current of anti-intellectualism that’s rampant in the US.  Science, along with knowledge in general or erudition and sophistication, is now elitist, as mistrusted, whereas it used to be something we’d respect. **

      That such an attitude that plays into the hands of people who have a vested economic interest in the status quo is interesting.  It should worry conservatives, too, as fostering and nuturing aggressive, willful populist ignorance is just as likely to come back and bite them once they’re back in the driver’s seat.

      ** If you tried to put a man on the moon today, you’d have a million Tea Partiers complaining about how the Earth has always been good enough for us.

    • 0 avatar

      Man made global warming has been debunked to the point it’s a non-issue now

      Proof?  And I mean actual proof, not the selective quoting, deliberate misinterpretation and heresay that passes for “proof”.

      It’s been a while since I’ve had a nice climate crap, and I’m feeling cranky.

    • 0 avatar

      I wasn’t aware that anyone thought there was an anti-intellectualism trend right now…if I had to guess, I’d say the exact opposite. Anti-globalism, sure. Economic xenophobia, maybe.
      However, between the internet and the unnecessary politicization of issues like this–eg, like it or not, there are plenty of anti-industrialists who use environmentalism as their packaged platform, and plenty of greedy pro-business types who fight environmentalism in the name of profit–but we really need more regular people involved in environmental issues without another political agenda in their back pocket.

    • 0 avatar

      psarhjinian: What has changed is that more people do not want to understand and do not respect the process of science.  

      What has changed is that a large part of the “science” that supposedly proved manmade global warming is happening has turned out to be seriously flawed.

      Incidentally, true scientists should be skeptics regarding manmade global warming, given that it has not yet been proven. A true scientist does not take as fact something that has not been proven, and this has not yet been proven.

      And please don’t say that only scientists supported by the oil industry question whether global warming is being driven by manmade factors. Over 600 scientists have gone on record as saying that this has not been proven. It’s ridiculous to say that only those in the fossil fuel industry question whether global warming is being driven by manmade factors.

      For that matter, British Petroleum – yes, that BP – is a founding member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a lobbying group dedicated to passing a cap-and-trade bill. As the largest producer of natural gas, BP saw ways to profit from climate legislation, notably by providing subsidies on coal-fired plants that switched to natural gas.

      So let’s also drop the fiction that believers in manmade global warming – let alone proponets of cap-and-trade legislation – are operating with only the purest motives, while skeptics are oil-industry lackeys. That is pure nonsense.

      psarhjinian: This is part of the current of anti-intellectualism that’s rampant in the US.  Science, along with knowledge in general or erudition and sophistication, is now elitist, as mistrusted, whereas it used to be something we’d respect. **

      That is because certain parties have used bits and pieces of science, along with items taken out of context, to support their political agenda. We’ve seen this before – the flawed “research” that supposedly proved keeping a hand gun in the home was more dangerous to the owner than any intruder (turns out they focused on people with records and others who weren’t even entitled to own a firearm) and the silly studies “proving” that higher speed limits result in more deaths on limited access highways (it doesn’t).  

      Anyone who is paying attentiong SHOULD be skeptical. That’s not “anti-intellectualism,” that’s called being well-informed and using common sense.

      psarhjinian: Proof? And I mean actual proof, not the selective quoting, deliberate misinterpretation and heresay that passes for “proof”.

      You bear the burden of proving that it is happening. You can’t ask someone to prove that something that may not be happening really isn’t happening.

      I would suggest that focusing on overall energy efficiency is the best approach. I’m going to insulate my house to use less fuel to save money. I’m going to buy a more fuel-efficient car if gas prices may increase (my rule of thumb is that if can’t afford to drive a vehicle if the price of gasoline doubles, we can’t afford the car, period).

      We aren’t going to change our lifestyle based on hysterical gloom-and-doom scenarios that are best left to cheesy summer blockbusters.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, as practiced by some of its leading lights, climatology is closer to astrology than science. For example, take a look at the HadCRU leaked e-mails which haven’t been repudiated. Cooked data, oversimplification, unsuccessful attempts to pull trends out of round off, alternate data source shopping to support trends. If you want to call it a science, you need to prove that these people were doing science. I don’t see how that is possible.
      The science isn’t settled.
      Though it is possible the good professor wasn’t around for Lysenkoism.

  • avatar

    “That’s a lot of cow farts”

    Nice to know that high school-level prose never stops, just the kids getting older.

    Now, back to our program: CNG/LPG works for some – it sure burns clean, but I think the mileage is worse than gasoline, but cheaper, which offsets the price. A friend of mine used it in his J-10 Jeep for years and loved it.

    The bigger question is: how to begin to change the American landscape of suburbanites commuting into town every day. Sitting on the highway for 45-55 minutes twice a day to do a 20 mile each way trip is ridiculous, but many of us have no choice at present, unless we want to move, and we know that market’s shot right now, not to mention the type of neighborhoods that may be near to one’s place of business. That’s just this country. China and India seem to want gridlock. They’ll rue the day.

    So, in addition to a 300 hp ICE engine, fuel tank, electric motors, battery pack, CNG/LPG tank, assorted equipment to make it all work together, plus sufficient added weight for crash protection, windows too small to see out of, A/C, stereo, comfortable seats, over-sized brakes, you wind up driving a car that can reach 0-60 in record time, stop in record time, get 75 mpg when the engine operates, and keeps you comfortable, you have room for yourself and a briefcase! Bravo!

    Of course, I’m being facetious, but the industry appears to be taking the long way around the barn, but I suppose they have no choice right now. Time will tell how all of this falls out.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes.  Our approach all along has been that miles are a constant and the oil problem is solely a matter of efficiency.
      The drivers jammed in those two hour daily commutes absolutely had a choice.  And they chose a bigger house over a reasonable location.  Punishing automakers for consumer’s irresponsible choices is no solution.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ll qualify my comment: I was moved to this city by my company at the time, and bought a not-so-new home 12 minutes from work. Circumstances changed, and now I have the commute I’m stuck with, for now. It’s going to be twice as long very soon, unless a better opportunity comes my way.

    • 0 avatar

      As I sit parked on the freeway every morning and every afternoon slowly watching my time and money drain away, I often wonder why I am driving 40 mins to a building to essentially use the phone and internet, two things I already have at home. I occasionally bring up a work from home idea but it is always rejected outright.  Apparently my company would much rather I spend money to piss ~ 3.4 gallons of gas away every day than to dare trust me to do my job without someone looking over my shoulder.  I’ll have you know I get far more done without the stupid loud mouth sitting next to me in the office anyway.*  The icing to that cake is I am supposed to be so “proud” that I work for a “green” company because they turn off the lights after hours and do other meaningless gestures of feel-good-ism.  Before you say “wow, you should find another job”  believe me, this isn’t my first rodeo, it’s not much different anywhere else.  Just because you lucked into your dream job, don’t rub it in my face.
      *This is a fact because my stats are almost always better on the days that loud howard isn’t in the office.

    • 0 avatar

      Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner! THIS is the real solution. I am one of the lucky few who do officially work from home (though I admit that I screw it up by travelling 50% of the time to client sites, mostly by airplane so I still generate plenty of CO2). The commute is awesome. Down the stairs and into my office. My company’s office is 120 miles away – I go there about once a quarter for meetings, training, or special projects.

      As someone said, if all you do is use the phone and Internet/office network all day (which is pretty much ALL office workers these days), why on Earth do you need to drive to a building somewhere to do it??? Why do companies want to PAY for those gigantic buildings? Over 50% of my employer’s employees work from home. I would never, ever, ever go back to working in a cubicle farm.

  • avatar

    I get that CNG has lower toxic and particulate emissions, but I don’t see how it addresses anthropogenic CO2?  It’s still unlocking sequestered carbon, and in a form that’s not particularly efficient to start with.
    I could see this if we were still wasting CNG or LPG large-scale (we’re not) or if we’re talking about large-scale biogas (we’re definitely not).  So how are they working in the CO2 angle?

    • 0 avatar

      Burning methane generates less carbon dioxide per kilowatt than burning any other fossil fuel. So while you do still put carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, you put much less. That’s the carbon dioxide advantage of natural gas.

      How big is the advantage? As the article indicates, burning natural gas as the fuel in a car lets you meet, right now, the European Union’s aggressive carbon dioxide reduction goals for the future.

    • 0 avatar

      Psar, a chemistry snippet: Energy is generated in combustion by rearranging bonds between atoms. For the methane component of NG, there are four hydrogens for each carbon.  Whereas for most liquid fuels, the C-H ratio is closer to 2:1, or even worse for the aromatic fraction.  Therefore, you generate a lot more carbon (–> CO2) per unit of energy with liquid fuels.

    • 0 avatar

      To add to Truckducken’s explanation, that’s why a car burning methane already meets the European Union’s aggressive carbon dioxide reduction goals for the future.

  • avatar

    Speaking of China and gridlock: What would you you if you know that you have 1.5 billion people, they are all ditching their bicycles, and they want mobility? You would invest into the car industry like crazy, but you would also dump gadzillions into public transport. And this is what China is doing. What kind of a high speed rail system does the U.S. have? Don’t even ask. China already has the world’s longest high speed rail system, and they barely have started building. A few days ago, I was in the new Shanghai train station, located next to the Hongqiao airport, and the main hall was so huge that you could see the curvature of the earth. Trains already exceed 300 km/h (190 mph). A trip that used to take 3 hours by car was done in  20 minutes. Trains have exceeded 400 km/h in tests. As far a city public transport goes, they are building subways like mad. I lived in NYC for 25 years, and it took them longer to build the 8 mile Airtrain  (that ends, to the horror of some unsuspecting tourists, in Jamaica) than what takes China to build the 800 mile high speed route from Shanghai to Beijing.

    • 0 avatar

      I know this is somewhat off-topic, but I agree with you on rail 100%.

      There’s nothing I’d like better than to commute and travel on a high-speed train, for, if you’ve ever traveled long distance by train, it can be THE most civilized way to travel. This nation is too individualistic and has been to accept anything other than being able to hop in one’s auto and merrily motor down the highway in climate-controlled, balloon-tired luxury. It’s all about personal convenience. Having said that, I’d like nothing more than to commute by rail if it was less time than I take now. Drive to station, park, wait for train, hop on train, get off train at or very near to work’s doorstep in 55 minutes total or less. I’d do it in a heartbeat!
      It works for some people, but not in Cincinnati!

      China is in overdrive in building infrastructure, and that is commendable, but I’m concerned they’ll burn themselves out in a much shorter time than we did. USA was on top from 1944 to the early 1970’s, then wallowed along on battery-power until the 90’s, then the bottom dropped out. Japan was at the top of their game for a much shorter period of time. I feel China will burn out even quicker.

    • 0 avatar

      I love rail and trains.  I focused on it in college (mass transit and rail).  And there is no way it can ever be anything close to economical in the US.  It just can’t, unless there is some way for the capital investment costs to be defrayed by the builder.  This was done in the past by the questionable practice of rail companies having rights on the land around their rails.
      Also, people want the unrealistic. Like Zackman: I’d use it ‘if’ it was shorter than my commute time, ‘if’ it dropped me off at a ‘reasonable distance’ from work.  The plain truth is that over the distances a sub-one hour commute has, no speed of train can make up for the waiting time.  And once you get into your car, it’s harder to get out of it.  And then the convenience factor: What if you wanted to make another trip after work?  What if you had to stay later than the trains run?  You still need to own that car, and you still need to drive that car for other trips.  So it’s at most a reduction in the marginal cost of fuel and some wear items, while the per-mile cost of other, more time limited, wear items goes up.
      Finally, there really is no way to retrofit a rail system into the highly distributed patterns of life and work in the US.  This isn’t a question of ‘sprawl’, or zoning, or whatever bad word you’d want to say.  It’s a question of which came first: the rail or the living.  If the living came first, then it’s going to be all over, unless there are geographical features that caused linear development patterns (Long Island and NYC comes to mind).  Where that isn’t the case, it’s just so much infrastructure needed, and it’s all going to go through land that’s already in use, that the costs are enormous, far more than people would be willing to pay.  It’s not a question of subsidising it enough.  It’s not a question of removing all subsidies from all forms of transport (which I would be in favor of).  It’s just not feasible to limit your vehicles to a single path when there are so many distributed destinations.

    • 0 avatar

      Freight rail is booming in this country, so Americans do not have a problem with railroads, per se.

      Passenger rail works best in some places (Northeast corridor, for example), so it’s best to focus our resources on upgrading the service in those locations.

      And the main competition for high-speed passenger rail isn’t the automobile, it’s the airplane.

    • 0 avatar

      Seriously, rail can be feasible in the US. All we need is another billion people so it becomes a necessity instead of an option. But in our lifetimes, the only high speed rail that could work is the BosWash corridor. Amtrak has a plan for $117billion for a HSR upgrade there, but for all I know they may be using the same estimators as used for the Big Dig.

  • avatar

    To reach these goals in Dudenhöffer’s model, it needs 25 percent bio methane gas.

    Okay, “bio methane” is exactly the same, chemically, as natural gas – both are just methane. 
    So, what I suspect is really meant here is that if you divert the manure from direct field application, where some methane and CO2 would be released uselessly, and instead biodigest it and credit the car for the GHG “savings”, then you can get to the target CO2 (equivalents) / km value.  In other wods, it is based on a life-cycle analysis, not some fundamental difference in emissions from burning methane or “bio methane”.

    • 0 avatar

      I have no idea. I know Dudenhöffer, and anything is possible. The erticle in  Das Autohaus talks about “mixing” the gases. For instance:
      “Using a VW Passat with the Blue Motion version of the 1,4 TSI EcoFuel engine, CNG would reduce CO2 emissions to 116 g CO2/km. If you go a step further and mix 75 percent natural gas with 25 percent bio-methane, you would arrive at net emissions of 93 g CO2/km.” The “net emissions” could be a reference to what you say, but one needs your background to even suspect it.

  • avatar

    The logic behind using bio-fuels is that they are basically Carbon-Neutral, since the CO2 they release back into the atmosphere has just recently been bound by the plants that are used for creating said fuels. With oil and normal CNG/LPG/whatever, you are releasing CO2 that has been taken out of the atmospheric “cycle” millions of years ago and was never “supposed” to be re-released…

  • avatar
    Darth Lefty

    You’d be remiss not to mention the subsidy program that nearly bankrupted the state of Arizona in 2000.  40% off any car capable of running on CNG as well as gas… supposed to be spent on a little Suzuki with a big CNG tank, total cost to the state $10 million.  But actually it created a sudden and thriving market for giant SUV’s with a token CNG tank, running up a $800 mil tab before it was caught and fixed back to $140 mil, retroactively.

  • avatar

    Re: rail. Rail is a binary issue. Freight or people. They cannot coexist. If you want an efficient passenger service, you’ll need to recreate dedicated raillines to run it on. Not going to happen in NA. It’s been optimised for freight and it’s going to stay that way.

    Re: CO2. These “standards” are a knee jerk reaction to the AGW panic. As the years have ground down the hysteria you’ll see that all the supposed fixes put into place will slowly disappear or just be ignored. It will become political suicide to admit being stampeded into making them up in the first place. C’est la vie.

  • avatar

    I achieved low emissions targets 20 years ago by rigging the air pump in my 82 LTD to run constantly, thereby diluting the exhaust.
    I can’t get worried about 350 ppm of CO2, which has varied in cycles over time, without any help from people:

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