Regular, Premium... Low Carbon?

Options at the fuel pump may soon increase. With funding from the Energy Foundation and the Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment, University of Minnesota researchers are looking at the economic and environmental impacts of a low-carbon fuel standard for Minnesota. “An LCFS would assign a carbon intensity score to each gallon of fuel produced in the state,” explains project lead and U of M economist Steve Taff. “This score will then impact the ability to sell the fuel in markets around the country that adopt similar policies.”

A People's History of the Big River

Far beyond Mark Twain or William Faulkner, a lot of folks have a lot to say about the Mississippi River. Trying to gather their stories into one place—well, that’s another story. Lucky for us, Telling River Stories is doing just that. A multidisciplinary project led by the Institute on the Environment’s River Life program, the Telling River Stories Web site uses maps, photos, videos, podcasts and text to convey what the Mighty Miss means to its surrounding communities. “We cross the Mississippi all the time and we don’t think about it, but it’s a big deal,” says the project’s director, Pat Nunnally. “It’s critically important in American history.” Right now, Nunnally and his team are collecting stories from 10 priority sites each in the Twin Cities, St. Louis and New Orleans. In the coming months, the team will share that collection online and in a series of installations constructed along the river itself.

Super Bus to the Rescue

Super BusThe current Metro Transit hybrids use less fuel and emit less exhaust than those old-school gas-guzzlers. But the power they use for lights, fans, doors, heating, cooling and other auxiliaries is not produced efficiently, especially when idling at intersections.

No need to fear: Super Bus is (almost) here! Experts at the University of Minnesota are monitoring a hybrid bus to find out how much extra energy savings are possible. By January, the team will be ready to specify an onboard, auxiliary power unit to supply all power except for vehicle propulsion. This APU, which runs on a small, highly efficient diesel engine, would allow the main diesel engine to shut down at traffic stops without sacrificing passenger comforts.

The next step will be to transition to an APU powered by a solid oxide fuel cell, which could operate on a range of petroleum diesel and biodiesel blends, ethanol or methanol.