It’s a one-two green punch for the trucking industry: today the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced a program with the U.S. EPA to help get rid of older trucks with dirty emissions, and just yesterday the company New Energy Technologies announced another step forward for device that can harvest sustainable kinetic energy from trucks as they, well, keep truckin’ on.
If you ever grew up on an urban truck route (which I did), the idea of green trucks might seem like an oxymoron but hey if the trucking industry can get their sustainability act together then by golly you betcha just about any major commercial sector can (except for maybe this one).
Trucks, Ports, and Coastal Pollution
The truck replacement program is part of a broader EPA push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in coastal communities along with other forms of pollution, specifically airborne particulates from diesel exhaust. The focus is on seaports and shipping hubs such as the New York-New Jersey marine terminals. About 3 million truck-trips are made in and out of the metro area’s terminals every year, and keeping those emissions trending down is an urgent need given that global shipping is expected to increase. The $28 million truck program includes $7 million from President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). It is expected to replace about 600 trucks from the model year 1993 or older with trucks from 2004 and up, which are up to 98% cleaner. The Port Authority will cover about 25% of the cost to truckers. Further steps to get older trucks off the road are also in the works.
Cleaner Trucks and Harvested Energy
Meanwhile, some day soon those cleaner trucks might also be generating sustainable electricity in the form of harvested kinetic energy, simply by rolling down the road. New Energy is one of several companies that have developed ways to generate electricity by harvesting the energy from movement (or in this case, from the cessation of movement). The company’s MotionPower (TM) – Heavy device builds on successful test-runs of a similar device that captures energy from cars and light trucks. The “Heavy” version harvests kinetic energy from the braking action of large trucks when they come to a stop. The company foresees use of the device at toll plazas, rest areas, and other travel points where energy is normally lost in the form of braking. Another company, Vycon, has developed a similar, flywheel based concept that harvests energy from cranes at ports and rail yards as they brake while lowering heavy shipping containers.
Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.