February 2013 Catalyst

February 2013
In the United States, buses making left turns in intersections are four times more likely to collide with pedestrians than those passing straight through. According to researchers from the HumanFIRST Program at the Intelligent Transportation Systems Institute, left turns are more dangerous because of the increased mental workload experienced by bus drivers during the turning maneuver. By conducting an in-depth analysis of driver tasks, the research team aims to identify countermeasures to reduce the frequency of bus–pedestrian collisions.
In Minnesota, the most common measure for winter snow management performance is “time to bare pavement,” or the time it takes to completely clear a roadway after a snow event ends. Currently, the Minnesota Department of Transportation relies on visual inspections to estimate this pavement recovery time, but a new process from researchers at the University of Minnesota Duluth aims to help MnDOT more accurately and reliably estimate the performance of its snow management activities.
The rise of new energy sources is having a seismic impact on Upper Midwest transportation networks and goods movement, according to speakers at the 16th Annual Freight and Logistics Symposium in December. The advent of fracking techniques has transformed shale deposits such as the Bakken area in North Dakota from marginal sources of hydrocarbon fuel to global game changers, with big impacts on rail shipping. And with increased availability, natural gas is gaining ground as a freight transportation fuel.
David Kittelson, a mechanical engineering professor, is working with international partners to turn wood waste from Minnesota paper mills into biodiesel fuel. Kittelson’s research team is developing an efficient, clean, potentially carbon-neutral substitute for diesel fuel known as DME, short for dimethyl ether. DME produces about 10 times the energy it takes to make. Already the project has launched several patent applications for new-generation fuel systems.
Publication Credits 

Publisher/DirectorLaurie McGinnis

Managing EditorPamela Snopl

EditorsChristine Anderson, Amy Friebe, Michael McCarthy

DesignerCadie Adhikary

Student InternsKristin Havercamp, Nicola Losik