Energotest rolls on as PIT eyes US expansion

by Carroll McCormick

BLAINVILLE, Que. — In yet another installment of its Energotest fuel-savings trials, Project Innovation Transport (PIT) of FPInnovations Group, spent nearly a week this September at the Transport Canada Motor Vehicle Test Centre in Blainville, Que. Tests ranged from aerodynamic add-ons for tankers to synthetic fuels.

“We did not test a lot of technology but there are a lot of items we tested together and separately,” explains Bernard Ouellet, operations leader, PIT. For example, PIT compared synthetic and regular versions of Shell USA’s 10W-30 and 15W-30 lubricants. “We did fuel economy tests, plus long-term oil change intervals. You are going to see more synthetic oils,” Ouellet says.

The use of 10W-30 oils is on the rise as a way to improve fuel economy. As well, within a couple of years new oils will be licensed that meet the new Proposed Category 11 requirements, which address fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions, among other things, of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

PIT tested one fuel additive, from San Diego, Calif.-based Xp Lab Inc. The company manufacturers Xp3, a fuel additive that it guarantees will save 5% on fuel costs.

Aerodynamic tests figured large in PIT’s testing program. For example, it did aerodynamic tests on tankers (one of PIT’s member companies is Praxair).

“They included include gap reducers and side skirts. We have done some prototypes. The gap reducers and skirts look different,” Ouellet says. PIT also tested a trailer tail designed for tankers.

PIT also tested a new trailer tail made by Montreal-based Transtex. “The goal is to get 12-13% fuel savings,” Ouellet says. Transtex brought in an aerodynamic kit with a boat tail, skirt and gap reducer. “It took five days to test it,” Ouellet says.

PIT tested aerodynamic bumpers made for International trucks by the US company Hendrickson. The company is a repeat visitor to the Motor Vehicle Test Centre. In 2012 it hired PIT to compare its aluminum and stainless steel Aero Clad bumper with factory-installed plastic bumpers, on Volvo VNL and Freightliner Cascadia tractors. Although this year’s results have not been released, Hendrickson reports that its Aero Clad bumpers used in the 2012 spring and fall trials had no adverse effect on fuel consumption.

That PIT continues to test aerodynamic add-ons is partially explained by new developments. As well, despite years of testing, Ouellet notes, “There is a lot of controversy out there in aerodynamics.”

PIT used its Tow Dyno to do two days of evaluations of Freightliner and Volvo direct drive versus overdrive transmissions. This rare piece of equipment simulates on a flat surface the effect of climbing various grades with weight.

Unlike previous years, where PIT has run two Energotest sessions a year, spring and fall, it will do an additional Energotest this October in Blainville.

“We had more customers that came after the campaign closed for September. There are also some tests with Shell that will be concluded in October after the accumulation of a lot of kilometres. It is for a specific fuel that Shell is developing,” explains Yves Provencher, director, PIT.

Next February PIT will conduct its first Energotest outside Canada, at the Continental Proving Grounds in Uvalde, Texas. The Proving Grounds include an 8.5-mile main track, a wet grip testing facility and vehicle dynamics facility. Provencher discusses PIT’s rationale for an accelerated schedule.

“We had people come to us and asked ‘when is the next test?’ I told them it would be next June and their jaws dropped. Now we really have a case where people want to test at higher frequencies. We often do tests where we do baselines in June and do the final tests in September. But we can’t run tests (in September) and accumulate kilometres until the following June. This (the Texas testing) will give us more freedom and let us offer better service to our customers. Our goal is to have a testing campaign every four months.”

Earlier this year PIT announced a new certification program called PIT Power. Products tested at the Energotest trials that reduce fuel consumption by at least 2% will be able to declare their PIT Power. Shell, for example, now has PIT Power 2 for its diesel extra fuel.

Whatever percentage reduction in fuel consumption a product achieves will be declared by its PIT Power; ie., PIT Power 5 for 5%, PIT Power 8 for 8%, and so on. There is no upper limit to PIT Power.

According to PIT’s announcement, “Fleets need to be able to quickly and accurately identify the value of a technology. PIT Power will provide them with the exact number they need to calculate their economy. Technology suppliers want to differentiate themselves and get a non-disputable rating of their technologies. PIT power will provide them with the credibility they are looking for.”

Achieving a PIT Power is one of the goals of the Transtex trials this September, Ouellet says. “To have a PIT Power you need to have one test with us, and one outside test, with a rigorous protocol.”

More products, with their PIT Powers, will be announced at the Ontario Trucking Association convention this fall. “It is a very comprehensive program, at the request of the fleets,” Provencher notes.

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