Driving Mobility 4: Sustain OC Advanced Transportation Symposium

Past Tides
September 29, 2017 By Wendy Wolfson

Advanced transportation infrastructure to power OC growth

Despite the projected increase in population and current congestion, Southern California could have cleaner air and less congested roads in the future. Participants in the “Driving Mobility 4” symposium discussed the practicalities of implementing sustainable advanced transportation technologies in Orange County and beyond. Sponsored by Sustain OC on June 27 at the Cove, this meeting of major players in the transportation market, startups, government agencies and academics from UCI is one of a series of strategy meetings on how to apply cleaner technologies and data to help Southern California’s economy flourish energy-effectively. Sustain OC is the regional hub for business sustainability ventures and acts as the e4Mobility Advanced Transportation Center in Orange County and the Inland Empire.

Some symposium highlights:

In the session, “Drivers for the Development of the Next Generation of Advanced Technology Vehicles,” Brian Choe, program supervisor in the Technology Advancement Office at the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), reviewed the region’s progress in meeting air quality standards.

SCAQMD monitors air quality for 44% of the state. According to Choe, pollution persists in Southern California, but is distributed unevenly by weather patterns and topography. It is necessary to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions, the precursor for ozone, by 44% by 2020—and over 88% of NOX comes from mobile sources. To lower transportation-related emissions around the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, SCAQMD is investing in multiple technologies including fuel cell, battery, natural gas, as well as more efficient gas and diesel engines for heavy duty vehicles. “Diesel engines will not go away any time soon,” Choe cautions.

In the session, “Drivers and Trends in Clean Fleets,” Michael Terreri, project manager of the Center for Sustainable Energy; Rick Teebay, program manager of the Office of Sustainability at the County of LA Internal Services Department; Rick Sikes, co-founder of CarbonBLU; and Andrew Quinn, senior environmental specialist at LA Metro, discussed incentive programs for building more efficient fleets that have reduced emissions.

Terreri’s office focuses on assisting fleet managers to apply for purchase incentives for more energy-efficient light-duty vehicles. “We are expecting funding to wrap up at the end of this year so we encourage fleet managers to apply in advance for this funding;” Terreri said. While trucks and buses only comprise about five percent of the region’s traffic, according to Terreri, their fuel consumption and emissions output is disproportionally large. A Prius driving 10,000 miles a year will use 200 gallons of fuel annually, compared to the 8,000 to 10,000 annual fuel burn of a refuse truck or bus. As much as 40% of the goods in the US come through the two ports of LA and Long Beach so SCAQMD is scrutinizing the trucks that service the ports. In 2040, every manufacturer that sells more than 20,000 vehicles in California will have to achieve a zero emission overall fleet target. According to Teebay, 14 other states, comprising over 60% of the new car market, have adopted California’s standards for lower emissions in vehicles.

According to Sikes, while it is clear that we must move away from oil, the most cost-effective or beneficial path forward is still not obvious. “At CarbonBLU our mission is to help fleets accelerate the adoption of alternative fuels and advanced technologies,” Sikes says. “And we help collect and analyze the data that helps fleet managers make informed decisions.” He advises any organization wanting to adopt alternative fuels to develop a written policy and roadmap. The LA Metro has started to track the usage and performance data of a trial fleet of Chevy Volts over several years. According to Quinn, any program should include electric vehicle driver training to overcome range anxiety.

In the session: “DC / Fast Charging Trends, Use Cases and Challenges,” Claire Dooley, director of market development & product strategy at EVgo; Paul Glenney, responsible for deployment of EV Charging Infrastructure North America at Faraday Future; and Randal Kaufman, western regional sales manager, EV Charging Infrastructure at ABB Inc., discussed incorporating user data into EV charging network operations.

EVgo builds electric vehicle charging networks and operates over 950 fast chargers in the US. According to Dooley, the company is monitoring charging station data to determine how use affects pricing. “We are talking public access sharing,” Dooley says. “We are making electricity available to everyone even if they don’t have a home charger.” Competing with gas stations on price remains a key challenge. “The fuel costs are not apples to apples,” Dooley says.

For example, as cars in EVgo’s maven program increased usage, the cost of charging in the San Diego station halved in a year from $2/kWh to 1$/kWh. The charging networks can also provide supplemental revenue streams. “These are very exciting times for us in high powered vehicle charging,” Dooley says. “EVgo is in its first deployment in California. People are talking about high power but there is still a place for a DC fast charging solution.”

An average car at $3.00 a gallon of gas will cost 26 cents a mile to operate, while equivalent EVgo charging averages 36 cents for the same unit of fuel. EVgo wants to build an open charging plaza that supports chargers from multiple manufacturers, including Nissan Leafs and BMWs, as well as move to smart demand and energy storage. According to Dooley, some utilities are now willing to offer EV rates that do not include demand charge, but they will phase them in over a 10-year period.

“When we start looking at next generation charging at 150 kWh, which is being demoed now, we can charge a car in 38 minutes,” Glenney says. Faraday Future is building an all-electric car, the FF91. According to Glenney, the current range for electric vehicles is 375 miles with a battery pack that can last 130 hours. Faraday is planning to roll out a bigger model, at 200 kWh, with a charging time of 26 minutes. “This is about user experience,” Glenney says. “About saving time.” Faraday Future believes that by developing a network that is “open, shared, and smart”, the company can roll out a car that will charge a car in less time than a Nissan Leaf. Meanwhile, Faraday Future is talking with vendors about adopting wireless charging. “I think the best opportunity for user experience is just in your home where you can pull up, walk away, and charge in off-hours,” Glenney says.

“To me this represents a generation of jobs and improvement in society,” Kaufman says. “New cars are coming to market. There are more choices in transportation.” ABB, Inc. is a global company developing electric vehicle charging connection infrastructure standards as well as a network to enable transactions and monitor infrastructure. In the US, ABB is developing DC fast charging at large scale. According to Kaufman, for electric vehicles to be viable, it is necessary to achieve certain goals for power, fuels, AC, and DC fast charging as high-power batteries need high-powered charging. Charging networks can use software to lower power costs, handle credit cards, RFID and pin codes, and conduct remote maintenance on charging units.

In the next session titled: “RNG: Zero Equivalent,” Ken Chawkins, business/policy manager at Southern California Gas Co; Nick Lumpkin, Global Environmental Products, BP; Tyler Henn, VP general manager at Clean Energy Renewable Fuels; and Clarke Pauley, VP Organics & Biogas Division at CR&R Environmental Services, discussed producing fuel from renewable natural gas.

“Certainly on the heavy duty side natural gas plays a role,” Lumpkin says. BP is currently producing 250 million gasoline gallon equivalent units of natural gas from renewable sources and anticipates producing 450 million next year, but since natural gas is cheap, BP relies on government incentive programs to promote lowering greenhouse gases. Demand is another piece that remains a challenge in this low oil price environment as well as infrastructure. But these barriers can be overcome. “We can move an 18-wheeler today on natural gas,” Lumpkin says.

CR&R Environmental Services runs an anaerobic digestion facility for regional organics recycling and gas production in Perris, California. “It’s the other Paris,” Pauley jokes. CR&R Environmental Services has 900 trucks, over 50 CNG vehicles, 3 million customers, and 12 processing contracts to turn organic waste into fuel and fertilizer. Pauley showed a flow chart of anaerobic digestion. “This is the world’s largest cow’s stomach” Pauley says. CR&R is taking the last 30% of waste that would ordinarily go into a landfill and turning it into a resource.

“There is a growing pressure to replace diesel because it is a dirty fuel,” Henn says. Clean Energy sells a branded renewable natural gas [RedeemTM) that is 100% renewable, can be compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquid natural gas (LNG), and provides a 70% reduction to greenhouse gas. “The grid is not low emissions,” Henn says. “If you think of the full cycle, natural gas is low emissions.” Redeem is used by transit agency fleets including that of LA and Santa Monica. Companies like UPS, Kroger, Fedex and Republic Services are signing up.

According to Chawkins, the SCQAMD has a draft of a clean air action plan for the port of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which will move 10,000 heavy duty trucks away from diesel.

In the session: “Connected and Automated Vehicle Status and Developments,” Aravind Kalais, principal technology planner at Volvo Group N.A.; Kurt Brotcke, director of strategic planning at OCTA; Sam Morrissey, AVP of Transportation Systems, Iteris; Steve Ritchie, professor of civil engineering and director at the Institute of Transportation Studies, UCI; and Dean Deeter, president of Athey Creek Consulting, discussed the status of autonomous vehicles and implementation issues for investment, including deploying transportation controllers, laying conduit and fiber, and maintain transportation standards, signage and striping.

Iteris is working with the University of Texas and Virginia Tech as well as different government agencies to bring new transportation technologies to cities. According to Morrissey, there is half a trillion dollars in backlog in infrastructure investments nationally. “LA has 28,000 miles of painted stripes and just 10 people to maintain them,” Morrissey says. Los Angeles is investing 1.5% of its annual budget in maintaining infrastructure for autonomous vehicles.

According to Richie, public incentives and standards, and digitization of transportation information are spurring new vehicle technologies, including connected vehicles, autonomous vehicles with no connectedness, and connected autonomous vehicles. Current ITS initiatives include policy and establishing a new Irvine campus center for transportation sciences and leadership council; a new traffic management center, infrastructure, and a new testbed have been proposed.

In the session, “What’s up with Hyperloop?,” UCI students Chanceleir Schilling and Calvin Borchers of UCI HyperXcite described a pod leaving LA every 2 minutes carrying 28 people at a projected cost of $6 billion and operating costs of estimated $20 per passenger, compared to California high speed rail’s proposed cost of $68 billion. “The future is supersonic travel at sea level that is cheap, more efficient, and solar powered,” Schilling says.