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Waterloo researchers look to reduce idling food delivery trucks


WATERLOO, Ont. – Researchers at the University of Waterloo say they’ve developed a way for refrigerated delivery trucks to reduce emissions while idling and to save fuel costs.

In a study published in Energy, Waterloo engineers said they found a way to capture waste energy from service vehicles – including refrigerated food delivery trucks – as they slow down. They also discovered how to use that energy to replace fossil fuels needed to operate a secondary system to cool product when the vehicles are stopped and idling.

“An idling vehicle essentially operates at 5% efficiency, meaning the vast majority of the fuel a bus or delivery truck uses when it is stopped is being wasted,” said Amir Khajepour, a professor of mechanical and mechatronics engineering at Waterloo and the study’s lead author. “By harnessing the energy a vehicle wastes as it is slowing down and redirecting it to a secondary battery system, these vehicles can be turned off without shutting off systems such as refrigeration and air conditioning units.”

As part of the study, researchers examined the various driving, braking and idling patterns of service vehicles. Using computer models and engines hooked up to secondary battery systems in their lab, they then simulated the routes service vehicles followed to determine how best to collect and use waste energy.

“Given that most companies or governments cannot afford to transition their entire fleets over to cleaner vehicles all at once, this system could represent a cost-effective way to make current vehicles more fuel efficient in the short term,” said Khajepour.

The money saved from fuel savings has the potential to pay for the new secondary power system in one-to-two years, he said.