Category Archives: Environment

What is the difference between renewable diesel and traditional biodiesel – if any?

From Nestle News via California Rail News

Lower emissions, cleaner, and more efficiently burning than traditional biodiesel, with better cold and storage properties. Many motorists are not aware of the differences between Neste’s renewable diesel and traditional biodiesel, even though they should be.

High-quality renewable diesel (also known as Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil or HVO) and traditional biodiesel (also known as Fatty Acid Methyl Ester or FAME) are often confused. They are, however, different products, even though both are made from organic biomasses. The differences can be found, for example, in their production process, cleanliness, and quality.

Premium-quality, HVO-type Neste Renewable Diesel is made primarily from waste and residues. In the production process, impurities are removed from the raw materials which are then hydrotreated at a high temperature. The outcome is a colorless and odorless fuel of an even quality that has an identical chemical composition with fossil diesel. It is also often called an “advanced biofuel” or “second-generation biofuel”.

Traditional, first-generation FAME-type biodiesel, on the other hand, is produced by esterifying vegetable oils or fats. The esterification process restricts the use of poor quality or impure raw materials, such as waste and residues. The quality of traditional biodiesel varies also in other respects according to the raw materials used.

Only renewable diesel can be used as such

Even though both bio-based fuels help in replacing fossil fuels with renewables and thereby reduce global climate emissions, only renewable diesel can be used in high concentrations and even as a standalone product in all diesel engines. The use of renewable diesel in high concentrations and as such became recently even easier in Europe thanks to a new EN 15940 standard. In the U.S., the product has already been used in high concentrations as the diesel fuel quality requirements there differ from the European ones.

From the perspective of chemical composition, conventional fossil diesel and renewable diesel are both hydrocarbons. Traditional biodiesel is an esther, which may cause problems in some motor engines. This is why the use of traditional biodiesel is still limited to a maximum concentration of 7% in Europe (based on EN 590 diesel standard), and up to 20% in other parts of the world, varying from country to country and state to state. Any higher concentrations can cause problems, such as damage to the rubber and plastics parts in the fuels system or carbon build-up in the engine. Traditional biodiesel can also absorb water, which may result in microbial growth in the fuel tank during storage.

It may also contain impurities due to the raw materials used or the production process. Modern automotive technology and advanced engines have considerably higher requirements for the quality of the fuel, after all.

No special requirements for the vehicle, stands cold and storage

The user of Neste Renewable Diesel does not need to fear microbial growth caused by impurities, which could clog the fuel filters of the car. Its use does not increase the frequency of the periodic maintenance of the car or need for oil changes, either, which is something that might happen with some traditional biodiesels. Its use does not require any modifications to the fuel systems of the vehicle, regardless of the age or make of the car. In other words, renewable diesel can be taken into use right away.

Neste Renewable Diesel is made for cold, even arctic conditions. Its properties are identical to the highest-quality fossil diesels. The motorist does not have to fear that the car breaking down on the road even in the coldest winter temperatures.

The high cetane number, 75-95, means that the fuel burns cleanly and the car engine gets more power. It also makes starting the car engine easier in cold temperatures and decreases fuel consumption, especially when driving in an urban environment.

The cetane number of traditional biofuels is usually 50-60, and their cold resistance and shelf life of are considerably weaker. With them, problems related to cold temperatures have been observed even at mild temperatures of +5 °C (41 °F).

Cleaner air both locally and globally

The greenhouse gas emissions of renewable diesel and traditional biodiesel are both smaller than those from fossil diesel, but renewable diesel is better option also in this respect.

When renewable diesel is used in 100% concentration, the carbon emissions from traffic are most effectively reduced and reaching of global climate targets best supported. For example, the renewable diesel produced by Neste in 2015 reduced greenhouse gas emissions causing global warming by 6.4 million metric tons. This corresponds to permanent removal of 2.3 million passenger cars from the roads.

The use of Neste Renewable Diesel also reduces particle, hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide emissions. These tailpipe emissions affect the quality of local air in particular. Renewable diesel is, thus, an excellent choice also in urban conditions, such as for buses, waste transport, emergency response vehicles, and corresponding applications.

All in all, the renewable diesel and traditional biodiesel differ quite a lot; in fact, they are two completely different products. Because renewable diesel is a cleaner, higher quality product that stands cold and storage much better than traditional biodiesel, the benefits that renewable diesel offers to the vehicle, the motorist, and ultimately the climate are the greatest when 100% renewable diesel is used.

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Cities Embrace “Transit Hubs” To Boost Business, Jobs

Curbed Feb 27, 2017

Are transit hubs the new malls? Several major nerve centers of U.S. transportation—like Union Station in Washington, D.C., and Penn Station in New York City—are planning major overhauls that would transform them from pass-through structures into glittering corridors of restaurants, retail, and event spaces. Meanwhile, expanding local rail systems around the country are also sparking the development of new transit hubs, trying to take advantage of built-in foot traffic to boost business and job markets.

“[Transit hubs are] a way to [achieve] balance and attract people during off hours and use the structures that exist, which are an attraction in themselves,” real estate attorney B.A. Spignardo of Shapiro Lifschitz & Schram in Washington, DC tells Construction Dive.
The Santiago Calatrava-designed Oculus hub in lower Manhattan is a prime example of this next-gen transit center trend. The striking architecture just might entice travelers to stick around and peruse its 75,000 square feet of retail—unlike the cramped, underground labyrinth of Penn Station. But Penn Station has its own ambitious renovation in the works, including the integration of the more architecturally impressive Farley Post Office along with 112,000 square feet of retail.

A Risky Proposition: The ‘Regulatory Hole You Could Drive a Train Through’

A long-overlooked loophole allows railroad infrastructure to be built with virtually no local permit requirements at all

 

n early 2012, residents of this sleepy town began to notice an unusual amount of activity around the Grafton & Upton rail yard at the north end of town. An old barn that had stood for over a century was knocked down. Bulldozers came out, clearing the land.

The tiny 16.5-mile railroad had been nearly defunct, but was purchased in 2008 by Jon Delli Priscoli, a major local developer with a penchant for railroads; he also owns a Thomas the Tank Engine theme park 70 miles away.

At least one town official who visited the site to ask about the construction said he was told that the railroad’s activities weren’t subject to review by the town.

In December 2012, Delli Priscoli finally unveiled his plans to more than 100 residents at a meeting in the municipal gym. The railroad yard, he announced, was to become a propane transfer or “transloading” facility, meaning that propane would be brought there by rail and unloaded onto tanker trucks to be distributed. With four 120-foot long, 80,000-gallon storage tanks to be filled by up to 2,000 train tank cars a year, it would be the biggest rail propane facility in Massachusetts.

Residents were dumbfounded: The location was in the middle of a residential neighborhood, less than 2,000 feet from an elementary school and atop the town’s water supply. But, aside from an application to the state’s fire marshal (still unapproved by publication date), the railroad’s owner had not requested nor obtained, town officials say, any local permits, environmental assessments, zoning variances — or permission.

And as residents would learn, it was the railroad’s position that it didn’t have to: Being a railroad, the Grafton & Upton was exempt from any state or local law that interfered with its business, a legal doctrine known as pre-emption.

As one resident put it, “You mean we have no rights?”

Around the country, in towns as small as Grafton and as large as Philadelphia and Chicago, communities are beginning to ask the same question as the domestic energy boom makes the expansion of railway infrastructure — to host trains carrying crude oil, propane and ethanol — a profitable venture indeed.

After more than a dozen serious explosions, fires and spills around the country, those trains have become notorious. But an investigation by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting and Al Jazeera America suggests a critical part of the energy-by-rail picture has largely escaped national attention: the rail industry is exploiting historic exemptions from state and local laws to build often-massive transfer and processing stations free from virtually any permit requirements and without regard for basic laws protecting the communities in which they are based.

Railroads are exploiting a large, surprising loophole in federal regulatory law, critics say, and they are doing so with the backing of an obscure federal agency, the Surface Transportation Board, which has been quietly creating what some call a “regulation-free zone” and asserting a jurisdiction over railroads that trumps health and safety laws.

The result is a “regulatory hole you could drive a train through,” says Ginny Sinkel Kremer, an attorney who represents the town of Grafton in its legal battles against the transloading facility and the STB.

Read More of this article by By Isaiah Thompson, Al Jazeera America

New York City getting easier to get around

Navigating the crowded streets of New York may be getting easier for millions of business travelers as the city sees the biggest boost in public transportation in recent memory.

On Sept. 13, the city opened the first new subway station in 26 years, ushering conference goers to the doorstep of the once isolated Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. A citywide ferry system will extend service to the city’s outer boroughs over the next three years. The city’s bike share program is rapidly expanding, expected to double by 2017. And an app, created by the company that provides payment technology to over 60% of New York City cabs, has become the latest to allow riders to hail a taxi with the tap of a button.

So many options, says Chris Heywood, spokesman for the city’s destination marketing organization NYC & Company, “just makes the city more appealing and is a huge selling point for us as we try to draw more business travelers, more convention delegates and more leisure visitation.’’

Last year, a record 56.4 million people visited New York City, 12.2 million of them here on business, NYC & Company says.

Now, the 6.3 million people expected to attend meetings and conferences here this year no longer have to trek blocks or hunt for a cab to get to the city’s convention center, which lies a stone’s throw from the Hudson River. Last week, the 7 subway line began stopping at 34th Street and 11th Ave., the only subway stop south of 59th Street on the far West Side.

“The extension of the 7 line to the far West Side is a game changer in many ways, especially from a business  travel perspective,’’ Heywood said of the $2.42 billion project.

The city’s subway system will gain an even more significant addition next year, when the first phase of a new Second Avenue line is expected to be finished in December. It will mark the first major expansion of the city’s subway network in over half a century.

“The number 7 and opening of the Second Avenue subway … reflect a serious recognition we have to invest in our infrastructure,’’ says Mitchell  Moss, director of NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation. The numerous other  transportation initiatives taking place are significant as well. “We’ve spent a lot on fixing, repairing and investing in the maintenance of the system. But it’s also clear we can’t just maintain it. We need to expand it. That’s the real change.’’

Citi Bike, New York’s bike share program, will increase from 6,000 to 12,000 bikes in the next two years. Bicycles became available in Queens for the first time last month, and new stations will soon be popping up on Manhattan’s Upper East and West side, and deeper into the borough of Brooklyn.

There are also plans to expand the city’s ferry service by 2018 to the Lower East Side, Astoria, Queens and other neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.

For those visitors who prefer cabs to ferries and trains, there is now another app allowing a cab to be summoned via a tap on a smartphone.

Way2ride’s hailing function launched in July. The app is from Verifone, which provides in-cab technologies to nearly 14,000 of the city’s 20,000 yellow and green cabs. It is joining over 70 apps for taxis and hired car services, including Uber and Lyft, that are in New York City according to the NYU’s Rudin Center.

“What the last few years have shown is there is a demand among consumers for the ability to hail a cab with a phone … and we’re in a unique position to be able to provide the scale that consumers would expect of a taxi-hailing app,’’ says Jason Gross, vice president of strategy and innovation for Verifone, adding that would-be riders who’ve downloaded the Way2ride app can send requests to a taxi’s existing equipment.  The app, which previously just facilitated the payment of the driver, will roll out the e-hail function in several other cities, including Miami, Las Vegas, and Washington, D.C., in October.

Heywood says that it’s not just the accessibility of New York’s public transit that makes it appealing to visitors, but the affordability as well.

“We’re not a city that requires you to rent a car,’’ said Heywood who noted that unlike some other cities where the price of a subway ride increases based on geographic zones, a business trekker or tourist can travel from Manhattan to Coney Island for $2.75. “Take the Citi Bike … pick up a ferry, then take a subway. There’s so many different ways you can mix and match all of our public transportation options and really have fun with it as well.’’

Hurricanes and Rain East Coast US

Steady rain drenched much of the East Coast on Wednesday, flooding roads, closing schools and forcing some people from their homes. And forecasters say the worst is yet to come.

The rainstorms may soon be joined by Hurricane Joaquin in a powerful weather system that could linger for days and dump as much as 10 inches through early next week in some places. The deluge has the potential to saturate the ground so heavily that trees topple onto power lines even without heavy winds.

“The bottom line is: We are expecting very heavy rains all the way from the Carolinas up into new England,” said Bruce Terry, lead forecaster for the government’s Weather Prediction Center.

Before the hurricane draws close to the U.S., an area of low pressure in the Southeast and a front stalled over the East Coast will pull moisture from the Atlantic Ocean that falls as rain over the next few days, Terry said.

The heaviest rain is expected in wide swaths of North Carolina and Virginia, along with parts of Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey, according to a National Weather Service forecast map.

Trenton Falls combines scenic vistas with historic lineage

PenneyVanderbilt

Image

t was a place where John Quincy Adams, Ulysses S. Grant, Charles Dickens and other notables kicked off their boots to relax among high society. Now it’s a place where families and friends can come and enjoy nature and the view. For three weekends all year, the Trails of Trenton Falls will open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Read More About Trenton Falls Openings

Picture of Trenton Falls courtesy of Harvard University

Came across a story written in 1925 by J. Lyman Gollegty, Utica Gas and Electric Co.

The western entrance to the Mohawk Valley is a center of great industrial activity. Its past has been crowned with great achievements. So great an authority as Roger Babson has predicted that this section of New York State is bound to become the manufacturing center of the United States. Naturally enough one wonders just why this is…

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Why have 2,500 New York subway cars been dumped in the sea?

Ancien Hippie

At first sight it looks like a waste of money, a major act of pollution and a criminal act – but these New York subway cars being dumped into the sea are actually helping the environment. These truly remarkable photos detail just a small number of over 2,500 old subway cars from the Big Apple that have been used to create artificial underwater reefs on America’s Atlantic coast. Photographer Stephen Mallon of the Front Room Gallery snapped the images over a period of three years, and the photos are now are being shown in an exhibition in New York.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) of New York has been running this project for over 10 years, and ensures that on being decommissioned, the cars are cleaned, and every part which can be removed (seats, straps, windows, doors, wheels) are either recycled or sold. They are then loaded onto barges and…

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