May 23, 2007 Vol. 3, No. 10
Sometimes I get jealous when I hear about the work going on in the United States and Europe to explore new
technologies, new fuels, new ways of trucking smarter. There are demonstration projects all over the place,
some linking user groups with manufacturers and governments, accessing public money set aside to help bring efficiencies to our business while also, in most cases, promoting highway safety or environmental progress or some such. In the U.S., there are more than a few funded not by government grants at all but by monster
companies like Wal-Mart and United Parcel Service, outfits with bottom lines that easily outpace most third-world countries and rival bigger ones.
UPS is a rolling test lab all on its own, the fleet holding some 20,000 low-emission and alternative-fuel vehicles.
Among them are vans and trucks powered by compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, propane and
electricity. The courier company has also been testing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and hydraulic hybrid
technology in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency and others. Just since 2000, the
alternative-fuel fleet has traveled more than 126 million miles.
These projects and partnerships and forward-looking associations seem to happen rarely in Canada, for a few
obvious reasons – less money rolling around, smaller fleets, a general lack of critical mass. And maybe
governments with limited imaginations? Or is it the Balkanized nature of the place, where communication from
one province to another – let alone federal government to anyone else – is, to be kind, hard to see?
All of which, I suppose, is the reason that I tend to look further afield when trying to understand what’s possible
in highway transportation, where we’re headed. I really have no choice.
There are exceptions, naturally, one of the best being the Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada (FERIC), which does a great deal of interesting work to improve the forestry game, including the hauling side of things. It’s a true partnership of end users and manufacturers and to some extent governments, and to my eye it’s a big success.
But as Canadians struggle to find a workable approach to pressing environmental issues, what I see there is an awful paucity of government activity at every level, and certainly no financial commitment. This, in a land where public money and public leadership are utterly essential. There just aren’t any Wal-Mart or UPS enterprises with the pocket depth required to lead the way. We need governments to lead. And if public servants don’t have the resources, or maybe the wit, to lead us ahead, we’re doomed to continue watching what happens south of the border and
CASE IN POINT, THE NEW YORK STATE Energy Research and Development Authority has recently awarded a cost-shared contract to Shurepower to fund a second demonstration project of Carrier Transicold’s hybrid diesel-electric trailer refrigeration technology. Able to operate in all duty cycles on shorepower electricity, Carrier’s Deltek hybrid diesel-electric technology offers what seems to be a useful alternative to the conventional diesel-powered reefer unit.
Shurepower’s electrified truck parking system is a low-cost alternative to idling that gives drivers grid based
electricity, cable television and high-speed Internet connections.
With co-funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program, the project will include the
implementation and development of docking safety systems and advanced wiring connections for diesel tractors and refrigerated trailers. As well as Carrier, other partners include Great Dane Trailers and Ryder Systems. The project is based at the Willow Run Foods distribution facility in Kirkwood, NY.
Look for more on this very interesting demonstration project in a coming issue of Today’s Trucking.
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