Natural Gas and Electricity Model Wins Future of Transportation Student Competition

Fuels Institute Press Release | April 29, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO – A proposed natural gas and electricity model by students at the University of California at Berkeley has been chosen as the winner of the Fuels Institute’s 2016 Future of Transportation Case Competition at the Institute’s Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

The Fuels Institute’s Case Competition, sponsored by Gilbarco Veeder Root North America, asked each team to create an ideal future transportation (mass transit and consumer vehicles) sector looking 30 years in the future. Teams were asked to explain how consumers would travel from point A to point B within an urban, suburban and rural setting, describe which sustainable fueling options would be used in each area, as well as describe how their vision would affect vehicle ownership, vehicle use and fuel demand.

“Our vision is motivated by long-term social and economic goals, especially the mitigation of climate change,” Negah Nafisi, Alana Siegner and Mercedes Taylor, the University of California at Berkeley students, noted in their proposal. “Although the most severe consequences of America’s energy issues will occur outside the 30-year time frame of this challenge, adverse climate-driven impacts are already being felt in the U.S. and elsewhere.”

To move the transportation sector towards their vision in the next 30 years, the winning proposal aims to convert heavy-duty vehicles from predominantly diesel to adsorbed natural gas (ANG), as well as transition the passenger vehicle sector to electric power.

“This competition showcases the ideas and possibilities for enhancing our transportation and fueling resources for a more efficient and viable future,” said Fuels Institute Executive Director John Eichberger.

The three finalists, Duke University, Morgan State University and the University of California, Berkeley, were chose from 20 teams of three or more students from 11 schools that registered for the competition. The finalists were flown out to San Francisco to present their cases and field Q&A from more than 80 professionals in the fuels and vehicle industries, who then selected a winner. The University of California at Berkeley won $5,000; the second place team, Duke University, won $2,500; and the third place team, Morgan State University, won $1,000. The finalists and three honorable mention submissions will be published by the Fuels Institute.

"All three of the universities did a tremendous job,” Eichberger said. “I was incredibly impressed by the poise of these student teams."

In addition to the student competition, the Fuels Institute, founded by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) in 2013, commissions and publishes comprehensive, fact-based research projects that address the issues identified by the affected stakeholders. These projects will help to inform both business owners considering long-term investment decisions and policymakers considering legislation and regulations affecting the market.

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The Fuels Institute, founded by NACS in 2013, is a non-profit research-oriented think tank dedicated to evaluating market issues related to vehicles and the fuels that power them. Led by a Board of Directors and driven by a Board of Advisors, the Fuels Institute incorporates the perspective of interested stakeholders affected by this market, including fuel retailers, fuel producers and refiners, alternative and renewable fuel producers, automobile manufacturers, environmental advocates, consumer organizations, academics, government entities and other stakeholders with expertise in the fuels and automotive industries.

Founded in 1961 as the National Association of Convenience Stores, NACS is the international association for convenience and fuel retailing. The U.S. convenience store industry, with more than 154,000 stores across the country, posted $696 billion in total sales in 2014, of which $483 billion were motor fuels sales. NACS has 2,100 retail and 1,700 supplier member companies, which do business in nearly 50 countries.