GOTTA LOVE THE EFFICIENCY

Rolf Lockwood

December 17, 2009 Vol. 5, No. 25

More than a few times I’ve joked about fitting some sort of aftertreatment device on the back ends of the world’s cows. Farticulate filters perhaps. It’s not such a bad idea, really, because they emit an ungodly amount of nasty gases like methane that do more harm to the atmosphere than diesel-engined trucks could ever do. It’s not just cows, of course.

In fact another great source of methane gas is a landfill site, and in this case the vile stuff can be captured and used. Now there’s a very big facility in California that will produce millions of gallons of clean, renewable biofuel for garbage trucks from the stuff they collect. It’s very neat, and a perfect example of the creative solutions we need if we’re eventually going to wean ourselves off oil.

Waste Management (www.wm.com) and Linde North America (www.lindeus.com) formed a joint venture company that has just begun producing clean, renewable vehicle fuel at a landfill site near Livermore, California. It’s not the only example of such a facility, but it is the world’s largest plant converting landfill gas (LFG) to liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Linde built the plant and operates it, processing LFG that emanates from the natural decomposition of organic waste. The plant produces as much as 13,000 gal of LNG a day, which is enough to fuel 300 of Waste Management’s 485 LNG waste and recycling collection vehicles in 20 California communities. Since the commissioning process began in September, the plant has already produced a whopping 200,000 gallons of LNG.

Landfill-gas-derived LNG is a super-ultra-low-carbon fuel, as designated by the state’s Air Resources Board, and this project is expected to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by nearly 30,000 tons a year. It’s not expensive, costing a relatively modest US$15.5 million, and Waste Management says LFG-to-LNG is a promising technology that can be implemented at other landfills across North America.

I like this one a lot.

STICKING WITH FOSSIL-FUEL REPLACEMENT, the Coca-Cola Bottling Company is expanding its fleet of hybrid-electric delivery trucks across Canada. It’s adding 15 hybrid single-axle tractors to its existing hybrid fleet of 20 side-bay trucks and 2 straight trucks in Canada. Of these 15, five have been deployed in Montreal, others going to Vancouver, London, Toronto, and Ottawa.

The trucks use about 30% less diesel fuel and produce about 30% fewer emissions than standard diesel tractors. Coca-Cola at large has deployed a total of 327 hybrid delivery vehicles across North America, almost all of them Kenworth T370s manufactured in Sainte-Therese, Quebec. The soft-drink giant aims to reduce its overall carbon footprint by 15% by the year 2020.

Two of these hybrids are presently participating in the Olympic torch relay across Canada.

AND IT DOESN’T STOP THERE. Michigan’s Azure Dynamics has just announced that our very own Purolator Courier has ordered an additional 200 ‘Balance’ hybrid-electric delivery trucks. It’s Azure’s largest revenue order to date and also the biggest Balance order since the product launched in the summer of 2008. The new trucks, to be delivered next year, join 205 other Azure trucks already working in the Purolator fleet.

These Azure Balance trucks are integrated on a Ford E450 chassis. The hybrid electric drivetrain features engine-off at idle and below 20 mph while electronically managing key functions like power steering and braking. Using a Ford 5.4L gas engine, it’s claimed to improve fuel economy by up to 40%, while reducing carbon emissions by up to 30% in city conditions. See www.azuredynamics.com and www.purolator.com.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE NEWS. Navistar International has formally signed a joint-venture agreement with England’s Modec to create the Navistar-Modec EV Alliance, LLC. As I noted a few weeks ago when the deal seemed likely to go ahead, it’s going to build class 2-3 all-electric commercial trucks for sale in North, Central and South America.

Rolf Lockwood

Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to Trucknews.com.

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