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Energotest fuel efficiency trials back on track

BLAINVILLE, Que. - Now in this, the fifth year and seventh set of Energotest track trials of technologies designed to cut fuel consumption, refined versions of familiar products were back for testing in late May. Four new client companies also...

BLAINVILLE, Que. – Now in this, the fifth year and seventh set of Energotest track trials of technologies designed to cut fuel consumption, refined versions of familiar products were back for testing in late May. Four new client companies also submitted their innovations to scientific scrutiny.

Project Innovation Transport (PIT) divided this year’s Energotest on Transport Canada’s test track in Blainville, Quebec, into two parts. The spring session ran from May 30 to June 3; the fall session will run from September 19-23. The spring test schedule included products from nine companies, plus two in-house tests: these are projects prepared by PIT at the request of its members to address “what if?” questions, or tests of equipment developed by one of its members.

Mura Technologies flew in from Hungary with a system for injecting ozone into a truck’s air intake. Luxembourg-based VIP Products brought a product that self-repairs punctured tires and which it also claims reduced fuel consumption. Mississagua, Ont.-based NitroChem Lubricants and Saint-Felicien, Que.-based EcoNitro joined forces to have PIT test an additive designed to treat engine components and reduce fuel consumption. Calgary-based Rockyford Distributors brought a fuel additive for testing that is supposed to reduce fuel consumption.

Since last year, PIT has gained four new member carriers from Quebec: Group TYT, Groupe Boutin, C.A.T. and Transport YN-Gonthier. CN also joined PIT and sent its new container chassis to Blainville for testing. It is 1,500 lbs lighter than a standard chassis and was outfitted with side skirts and wide-base tires. CN reports fuel savings of up to 11%.

PIT also brought in a powerful piece of hardware that it just recently added to its arsenal: a very accurate and sophisticated portable emissions measuring system (PEMS) made by Horiba Ltd, in Kyoto, Japan.

“Governments and suppliers are more and more interested in emissions generated while in service, not just during roadside snap tests. With the PEMS we can, for example, measure emissions at steady speeds, under large loads or on hills. It is like a lab you can attach to a truck,” explains PIT director Yves Provencher.

Since last fall’s Energotest, PIT has been fine-tuning the services it provides to its members, working to become more national in scope and exploring ways to develop a recognized energy efficiency certification for fleets.

“We took a break from recruiting to revisit the PIT program to make sure we give more value to our members,” Provencher says. “We are helping more members implement the technologies and then measure the results for them. We want to do more of that. We are also giving our members more direct service, such as helping them become SmartWay Transport partners and providing driver training that reduces fuel consumption.”

PIT has also been opening up more to the municipal sector, Provencher says.

“Their fleets are huge and they want to be green as well. We are working with public services as well as utilities; for example, Hydro Quebec has hired us to help them improve the efficiency of their vehicles.”

By the end of the summer, PIT will have an office in Toronto. After a disappointing response from Ontario carriers as the US-caused global meltdown took hold in the fall of 2008, PIT is finally getting more attention in Ontario.

“In the first two Energotest years we only had SLH Transport from Ontario. Now we are getting more traction. Even the Ontario Ministry of Transport is considering working with PIT. Having an office in Ontario will help. The hiring will be done in the next couple of months. If anyone wants to submit their resume, please do,” Provencher says. He also notes, “Fleets in the US are also inquiring about PIT.”

Since last fall, PIT has been talking with SmartWay and the Montreal-based Commission for Environmental Cooperation. Provencher hopes that the talks will eventually lead to a verified certification of carriers that correctly reflects fleets’ improvements in energy efficiency; this would be fairer to competing fleets than the self-reporting, with all that that implies, that goes on now.

By the time the fall trials take place, PIT will have made public the results of last year’s Energotest. That would be dizzying enough, but stay tuned: PIT has some sizzling hot plans on the barbecue, including a comparison of broken-in EPA2010 engines with pre-2010 engines.

“We will look for differences in fuel consumption. Our partners want this information,” says PIT operations leader Bernard Ouellet. “The fall is going to be very big.”

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