New York City to test methanol-fueled buses

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    New York City to test methanol-fueled buses The use of methanol as a motor fuel got a boost last week with announcement of a plan to test methanol-fueled buses in New York City.

    In settlement of a suit involving General Motors, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Center for Auto Safety, the city will receive six methanol-fueled buses as part of an R&D program at GM to improve methanol bus engine technology. GM also will provide an additional 26 buses at the price of equivalent diesel buses.

    Before the buses can be delivered, however, GM will conduct an R&D phase to improve the components and modify the engine so that it can use methanol fuel. Robert C. Stempel, executive vice president of General Motors, says that "by its very nature, methanol is a cleaner burning fuel, but it's also more difficult to ignite than diesel fuel or gasoline. Cold starting is still a challenge. So is the development of longer-lasting sealing materials and lubricants." And, Stempel says, an improved emissions-control system will be needed.

    Celanese will supply the methanol fuel for the buses at about the

    The four top chemistry students who will represent the U.S. this year in the In terna t ional Chemistry Olympiad have been chosen, and two of them, it turns out, previously have won awards in that competition.

    This will be the third year of U.S. participation in the competition, to be held July 6-15 in Leiden, the Netherlands. Last year in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, the U.S. team won two silver and two bronze medals (C&EN, July 29,1985, page 23).

    The olympiad centers on a series of written and laboratory exams that seek to identify the best high school chemistry students from all over the world.

    The two medalists from last year's U.S. team who will compete again this year are David Maymudes, who just finished his studies at Univer-

    same price as diesel fuel and will provide for the construction of a methanol storage and dispensing facility for the program.

    The settlement arises from a 1980 order to recall 700,000 1979 model GM vehicles for exceeding the Clean Air Act nitrogen oxide tail pipe emission standard of 1.0 g per mile. After discussions, EPA provided a plan under which GM could offset the excess nitrogen oxide emissions from the 1979 models by producing 2.3 million 1982 and later model vehicles that emitted no more than 0.9 g of such oxides per mile. NRDC and the Center for Auto Safety successfully challenged the offset plan.

    Adrian W. De Wind, chairman of the board of trustees of NRDC, says of the settlement: "First, it is one of the first concrete steps away from conventional diesel fuelthe dirtiest and most dangerous pollution source on wheelstoward a cleaner technology for buses and trucks. Second, as a favorable settlement of a major Clean Air Act enforcement case, the program reinforces the vehicle makers' incentives to build cars, trucks, and buses that actually meet pollution standards throughout their lives as required by law." D

    sity High School in Los Angeles, and Keith Rickert, who just graduated from the Latin School of Chicago. Rickert, who was the highest-scoring American in last year's competition, also won a medal in the olympiad two years ago. The two new members of the U.S. team are Hedy Edmonds, who will be a senior at Greenwich High School in Greenwich, Conn., and Howard Lee, who just graduated from Lowell High School in San Francisco. Edmonds is the first female to compete on the U.S. team.

    The four students were among 20 finalists who recently completed a two-week training camp at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. The 20 finalists were selected from about 600 high school students who took a national chemistry exam sponsored by the Ameri

    can Chemical Society. Coaches accompanying the U.S. team will be Mary Beth Key of St. Albans School for Boys in Washington, D.C., and Major Walter Avila of the Air Force Academy. Funding for the team's participation is provided in part by a grant from the General Electric Foundation.

    Uniroyal retirees sue to block sale of unit Four retirees sued Uniroyal last week to block the impending sale of the company's chemical unit until Uniroyal sets aside enough money to cover the retirees' lifetime medical and life insurance retirement benefits. The suit, filed in Federal District Court in Connecticut, seeks class-action status for some 6500 Uniroyal retirees.

    Uniroyal, which was sold in a leveraged buyout last year to Clayton & Dubilier, plans to sell its chemical unit to Avery Inc., a holding company with a coal subsidiary, for $760 million by June 30 (C&EN, May 19, page 14). The suit estimates that the present actuarial value of the cost of providing the retirement insurance coverage to the plaintiff class "substantially exceeds $100 million."

    The suit charges Uniroyal with several violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, including breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty, and asserts that Uniroyal's divestiture of its basic assets will leave it "an assetless shell or, at best, a corporate entity of vastly reduced scale" that will be unable to meet its retirement benefit obligations.

    "Once the leveraged buyout process, including the key sale of the chemical subsidiary, is completed, Uniroyal's obligation to the plaintiffs for lifetime retirement insurance coverage will be effectively rendered unenforceable by the transfer of monies and assets to persons other than the plaintiffs," the complaint charges. A Uniroyal spokesman says the company has informed employees and retirees in the past that all pension and benefit obligations will be met. D

    Contestants chosen for chemistry olympiad

    6 June 30, 1986 C&EN

    New York City to test methanol-fueled buses