Cleaner diesels take a bow

Several diesel-hybrid and clean diesel trucks developed as part of the 21st Century Truck Partnership, a program sponsored by the Dept. of Energy and the commercial truck industry, were on display last month at an SAE event in Washington, DC. The equipment was designed to spur development of environmentally friendly yet fuel-efficient propulsion systems for commercial vehicles. As many of you know,

Several diesel-hybrid and clean diesel trucks developed as part of the 21st Century Truck Partnership, a program sponsored by the Dept. of Energy and the commercial truck industry, were on display last month at an SAE event in Washington, DC. The equipment was designed to spur development of environmentally friendly yet fuel-efficient propulsion systems for commercial vehicles.

“As many of you know, U.S. highway transportation is over 97% dependent on petroleum for its energy, with about one-quarter consumed by heavy-duty vehicles,” said Energy Secretary Sam Bodman. “[DOE] is forecasting that heavy truck petroleum use will increase by 40% by 2020, and will double by 2050 relative to today.”

Bodman pointed out that the vehicles on display not only help reduce the trucking industry's petroleum consumption, but also reduce exhaust pollution. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Caterpillar

    MorElectric truck system, a separate HVAC unit installed on an International 9200i tractor equipped with a 410-hp. C-13 engine that helps improve fuel economy by reducing parasitic loads.

  • Cummins

    The 2007 version of its 15L inline, 6-cyl. ISX engine, powering an International 9900ix 72-in. high-rise sleeper tractor. The vehicle was equipped with Cummins' experimental ComfortGuard diesel-powered APU, a factory-installed generator that can power the truck's air conditioning, heating, and other onboard systems without the need to idle.

  • Ford Motor Co.

    An F-550 diesel-hybrid chassis designed to serve as a UPS delivery truck, offering 60% to 70% fuel economy improvements for in-city driving. The OEM also demonstrated diesel-electric hybrid version of its super-size SUV, the Excursion, which cuts fuel use by 85% compared with a gasoline engine.

  • International Truck & Engine

    A 4200 medium-duty diesel-hybrid truck equipped with a dry van freight body for P&D operations. The Class 6 vehicle uses a 175-hp. 3L liter inline, 4-cyl. paired with a parallel hybrid drivetrain developed by Eaton, instead of the standard 375-hp. VT 365 6L V8 diesel, giving it 40% to 60% better fuel economy.

  • Oshkosh Truck

    A 66,000-lb. heavy diesel-electric hybrid chassis designed for refuse applications that is powered by a 300-hp. Cummins ISB engine connected to the company's ProPulse electric drivetrain. The unit offers 40% better fuel economy than a similar chassis powered by a diesel-only engine.

  • Volvo Truck

    North America showed off its VN 780 Tech Truck, which offers a separate HVAC system that can use shore power to operate, thus eliminating idling while cooling or heating the cab. The potential fuel savings is 2,200 gal./yr.



“The action is really in diesel power now in terms of fuel economy and emission benefits,” Allen Schaeffer, executive director of The Diesel Forum, told FLEET OWNER. “Look at GM's new diesel-hybrid bus. Not only does it save fuel, but it has better durability. A typical diesel-only city bus averages a road call every 1,700 to 2,000 miles of operation. With these diesel-hybrids, the average jumps to 7,000 miles.”

DOE is continuing to fund a range of clean diesel and diesel-hybrid initiatives through $175 million in grants awarded in February for 12 projects.

“We seek safe, secure and environmentally friendly trucks and buses that use sustainable, self-sufficient energy sources,” said Sec. Bodman.“If the technologies currently being researched can reach commercial maturity and market acceptance, we believe we can increase the fuel economy of the best new longhaul trucks by more than 50% in the next 15 years.”

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