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June 2, 2010 Vol. 6, No. 11

As I searched my tiny head for a sentence that would lead this Product Watch issue compellingly, I decided on this one: Will it ever stop? And then I answered my own question within a millisecond by saying this: Of course not! Dumb question, Lockwood.

I refer to the seemingly endless array of new technologies being developed these days, almost all of them aiming to replace fossil fuel in our working lives or at least diminish our dependence on it. Funny what a big need will do to the creative process. That motivation varies from a wish to save the planet from environmental catastrophe, maybe to establish energy independence, simply to save money, or sometimes a combination of the three.

Whatever, the onslaught of innovation is astonishing.

It’s not the first time I’ve had that thought, which is hardly original, but as I wondered about what I might write here and looked over the various bits and pieces of information I’ve picked up in recent weeks, I came to the conclusion that the innovation race is heating up rapidly. The pace of development is actually a furious one and I could easily do nothing else with my time but explore the countless results of that collective effort. Here and in Europe for the most part, but everywhere really. And I have to conclude that it’s a great time to be an engineer or a chemist or an industrial designer or what have you.

And make no mistake, these are creative people in much the same way that writers and artists and musicians are creative. Their professional urges and impulses are probably more externalized — and they probably get paid better than the average conventional ‘artist’ — but the basic creativity isn’t really much different.

OK, my homage done, what’s caught my eye lately?

Well, the absolute latest is a fuel treatment that’s claimed to reduce particulate and NOx emissions by as much as 97% while also delivering fuel-efficiency gains ranging from 18 to 30%. I had an e-mail about that one today, claiming all manner of legitimate tests and patents to prove the case, and I suppose there’s a certain creativity in that mix too. Just a little.

But on to serious stuff.

HOW ABOUT A REFRIGERATION FIRST? Kentucky’s Hercules Manufacturing has unveiled a uniquely green hybrid vehicle with a zero-carbon-footprint ‘Hybrid Cold Plate Refrigeration System’.

Hercules, which has been custom-building truck bodies since 1902, says this is a proof-of-concept vehicle that’s “set to revolutionize the refrigeration transport industry by preserving the environment.”

I’ve been waiting for this one. It’s such a neat solution.

It starts with an International DuraStar chassis using Eaton’s hybrid diesel/electric powertrain, and mates that with a reefer van that features a coldplate refrigeration system running electrically via power generated onboard.

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

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