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Energy Efficiency

Fuel Saving Garbage Trucks Are on a Roll

Eaton and Peterbilt team up to produce energy efficient garbage trucksTwo heavy-duty manufacturing powerhouses, Peterbilt and Eaton Corporation, have teamed up to give garbage trucks a fuel saving green twist.  This spring, Peterbilt announced its new Model 320 Hybrid which uses Eaton’s new hydraulic hybrid system to achieve up to 30% in fuel conservation, along with a consequent reduction in emissions and greatly reduced maintenance costs, too.  Now four of the sustainable behemoths are set for their first run in Michigan, in the green-minded city of Anne Arbor.

If garbage trucks seem unlikely candidates for a green makeover, consider that Caterpillar recently launched a fuel-saving diesel electric hybrid tractor, and the U.S. Army is developing fuel cells to reduce the use of petroleum fuel in its Abrams tanks. Just goes to show that significant opportunities to cut down on fossil fuels – and money – can pop up just about anywhere, and we’ve only just begun to tap the potential.

Eaton and Energy Efficient Hydraulic Hybrids

Eaton’s proprietary system is called Hydraulic Launch Assist. It was designed to save fuel for heavy duty vehicles that make frequent stops, which means that garbage trucks are perfect candidates for the technology. The system captures up to 75% of the kinetic energy that normally lost through braking.  The energy is stored in the form of pressurized hydraulic fluid, which is then recycled to give the truck an extra push when it accelerates.  In addition to saving more than $9,000 yearly in fuel costs, Ann Arbor officials estimate that maintenance costs will go down by more than $3,000 yearly, primarily because the new system involves far less wear and tear on the brakes.  The new trucks cost about $40,000 more than conventional equipment but the annual savings plus a federal Recovery Act grant shortened the payback period to just three years.

Eaton and Sustainability

The ubiquitous garbage truck is just one area in which Eaton is pushing high tech energy saving equipment into public view.  Last month, the company announced that The Greenbrier resort selected it to boost the facility’s energy efficiency with a combination of new electrical systems and hybrid vehicles. The move was timed to connect with the Greenbrier Classic golf tournament, which in turn is tied into a nationally coordinated sustainability effort by the sport of golf. As energy conservation and alternative energy grow into the civic landscape (hey, even NASCAR is going solar), public support and acceptance will grow, too.

Image: Garbage truck by mcbarnicle on

H/T: Technology Review

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Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.


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