The U.S. EPA’s Clean Diesel Campaign isn’t about to let a little garbage get in the way of a good thing. The agency has just put a new fuel efficiency system for heavy duty diesel trucks on its Emerging Technologies list, based on successful field testing in fleets of garbage trucks in several Florida communities. Apparently it’s a big deal because the system, Parker Hannafin Corporation’s RunWise, is the first drive train system to make the list. So far the system has achieved up to 45 percent fuel and emissions savings in the field, with the potential for getting up to 50 percent depending on the density of the route and other operating factors.
Garbage Trucks and Hybrid Technology
With their intense stop-and-go travel pattern, garbage trucks are ideal for new technologies such as Parker’s RunWise system. It captures energy when a vehicle brakes, then recycles it to help run the vehicle. Aside from saving fuel and reducing carbon emissions while a truck is on its route, the system reduces the energy and emissions involved in making extra trips to fuel up. The system also extends the lifecycle of heavy duty truck brakes from a few months to up to three years. Aside from the test runs on garbage trucks, UPS and FedEx are planning to introduce a version of the technology in their delivery trucks this year.
Pesky Meddling EPA and Cleaner Truck Fleets
Some legislators are eager to gut the EPA, but that seems more than a little counterproductive in terms of economic growth and job creation, given that the agency has become a valuable marketing and PR partner for innovative companies like Parker. EPA’s Clean Diesel Campaign is creating similar opportunities for truck fleet owners, which can pursue EPA funding to expand the testing of systems that are on the Emerging Technologies list. For example, UPS and FedEx could use the opportunity to promote their green cred, which is no small matter for companies that run truck fleets in neighborhoods and communities where people value healthy air (in other words, everywhere).
A Long Good-Bye for Diesel
It will take a long time to transition out of petroleum fuels and into biodiesel and other forms of sustainable energy. In the meantime, federal initiatives like the Clean Diesel Campaign are promoting hybrid technologies and other means of lowering diesel emissions through improved fuel efficiency in all kinds of motorized transport. Some examples are new diesel-electric hybrid “trailer jockeys” for shipping container yards, hybrid tugboats and hydrogen-hybrid ferry boats, dual-engine locomotives, and even flywheel-based technologies for harvesting energy from heavy duty cranes.
Image: Garbage truck by Mr. Thomas on flickr.com.
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+.