Clean Transport fuel efficient system for garbage trucks cuts diesel emissions

Published on March 22nd, 2011 | by Tina Casey


High Tech Garbage Truck Cuts Diesel Fuel and Emissions by 50%

March 22nd, 2011 by  

fuel efficient system for garbage trucks cuts diesel emissionsThe 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

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About the Author

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. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

  • Bob Schildgen

    It would be helpful if you’d tell us how much fuel garbage trucks burn in the first place. The 50% reduction by itself doesn’t tell us very much. If, for example, the truck is only getting 2 miles per gallon in the first place, touting this gee-whiz technology distracts from the simple fact that we’re generating way too much garbage in the first place! (Around 245 million tons a year.)

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  • Bob Wallace

    Electricity should be a great fuel for garbage trucks. Lots of torque to get those big loads moving.

    Once we start installing rapid recharge stations for buses garbage trucks could take advantage of the stations. Like buses their routes are fixed so they need not carry a lot of batteries for long range driving as long as they can stop for a few minutes to top up.

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