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Spotlight on Latest Innovations in EVs, Hydrogen, and Sustainability

Spotlight on Latest Innovations in EVs, Hydrogen, and Sustainability

Sustainable development has encompassed a vast range of industries, tools, research, and technological advancement. As we all collectively invest in our renewable future, new and exciting research and solutions continue to make headlines.

In this post, we’ve collected a few of the latest sustainability innovations making their way to market today.

US-Based Nikola Providing Battery-Electric Vehicles (BEV) for Drayage Transport Firm IMC

Nikola, a sustainable transport company providing heavy-duty fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) and battery-electric vehicles (BEV), has announced a partnership with marine drayage giant IMC.

Nikola will provide IMC with 50 of its hydrogen FCEVs to be in full use by the end of 2024. This comes in line with new regulations in California requiring zero-emissions in all new drayage trucks registered in the state.

The hydrogen-based fuel cells used in these fleets offer the following features:

  • Maximum range of 500 miles
  • Rapid charging at only 20 minutes for full charge
  • Zero carbon emissions from tailpipe
  • Maximum vehicle speed of 70 MPH
  • 773 of immediate power upon acceleration and 536 HP of continuous power while driving

Drayage, which refers to the transport of shipping containers between ports and warehouses for distribution, plays a huge role in global commerce. By decarbonizing their fleets, companies like IMC can begin chipping away at the significant carbon output within the shipping and freight industry.

Charlotte, NC Chosen as a Bloomberg Sustainable City

Charlotte, North Carolina, US has gained a valuable ally in its quest to secure federal funds to advance sustainability initiatives. As a recent press release announced, the city was named among 25 American cities to be part of the Bloomberg American Sustainable Cities project.

A three-year collaboration, the project aims to bolster local administrations in implementing sustainable energy, infrastructure, and transportation initiatives. The objective is to provide technical expertise and support personnel to realistically adopt these new policies and procedures.

Despite being proactive in establishing policies that foster climate-conscious development, Charlotte still has a considerable journey towards meeting its environmental objectives. As Charlotte news outlet WFAE noted in a December report, only a fraction of the city's vehicles have transitioned to electric power thus far.

The American Sustainable Cities initiative is the brainchild of Bloomberg Philanthropies, a non-profit organization founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The mission is to help local governments tap into already available federal funding—such as the $400 billion dedicated for local administrations in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act.

These funds cater for a range of projects:

  • Sustainable buildings
  • Green transportation
  • Energy-efficient infrastructure
  • Improving the city’s resilience against natural hazards
  • Minimizing energy consumption in city operations
  • Improving carbon emissions in vehicle fleets and other areas

City officials are optimistic that the additional resources will prove instrumental in the city's efforts to reduce climate pollution. In particular, much of the initiative will work to improve historically disadvantaged communities overwhelmed by pollution.

New Catalyst Aims to Extract Clean Hydrogen from Municipal Waste

A groundbreaking research effort from Professor Kangwoo Cho and PhD student Jiseon Kim of South Korea’s Pohang University of Science and Technology's Division of Environmental Science & Engineering has yielded a pioneering hydrogen extraction method.

The project was developed in tandem with the Korea Institute of Science and Technology. Using a newly designed catalyst, the process improves the efficiency of reactions that convert polluted municipal sewage into hydrogen, a cleaner source of energy.

The shifting prioritization of alternative energy sourcing has led to an emphasis on water electrolysis technology, a sustainable method that uses the earth's water supply to generate hydrogen. However, this process has a critical drawback: a slow corresponding oxygen evolution reaction that results in low energy conversion efficiency.

The scientific community has been addressing this challenge by incorporating the urea oxidation reaction into the hydrogen production process. Urea, a pollutant found in urine, releases considerable energy when oxidized. Harnessing that energy could yield a potential pathway to improve both hydrogen production efficiency and the treatment of wastewater.

The team's main focus was improving the urea oxidation reaction's efficiency. They developed a catalyst called nickel-iron-oxalate (O-NFF) that merges iron and oxalate on nickel metal.

Testing showed the O-NFF catalyst successfully maintained a high reaction rate in a mixed solution of potassium hydroxide and urea. Further validation tests confirmed the catalyst's capacity to enhance the urea oxidation reaction.

According to Professor Kangwoo Cho, the benefits of these findings are twofold:

  1. Vastly improved wastewater treatment with a much better method to purify municipal sewage before release into the water system.
  2. More efficient method to produce hydrogen from this renewable source, a significant win in sustainable development.

The research project received financial support from the National Research Foundation of Korea's Mid-Career Researcher Program, the Hydrogen Source Technology Development Program, and the National Supercomputing Center.

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