alternative fuel

Here Comes the Sun: Does solar have a role as an alternative fuel?

TORONTO, Ont. -- In some corners of North America, the idea of adding solar power to a truck or trailer is a no-brainer. You'd be forgiven for thinking that none of those corners are in Canada. That's mostly true, but it doesn't necessarily mean that solar has no place here. Just that you must be careful in assessing manufacturer claims about what their solar gizmo can actually do. Almost all of Canada gets an average of 4.2 hours of solar sunlight a day. Two areas -- a small stretch of the southern prairies and a little ribbon of central B.C. -- crank that number up to 4.5 hours. Compare that to as many six hours in Arizona, New Mexico, and a patch of southeast California. Doesn't sound like much of a difference, but it's a big deal. A 300-watt solar setup that can help to run a tractor's electric APU in that part of the U.S. would probably have to be a 600- or 800-watt setup for a rig running, say, a Toronto-Montreal-Halifax route. It also means that manufacturer claims can be rather idealistic if calculations were based on experience in warm and sunny parts of our world. There's no subterfuge involved here, but “your mileage may vary,” as they say.

Path to electrification not straight to linehaul: Mack

OAKLAND, CA - Mack Trucks continues to see a healthy future for diesel engines, even as alternatives like electrification begin to emerge. "Diesel today, it's performing extremely well. It's cleaner than it's ever been, it's robust, it's versatile," said Roy Horton, director - product strategy, during a briefing in Oakland, California. As for talk about electric trucks? "It's almost a little bit of an uphill battle there." Electrification is "on the bubble, and it's something everyone is looking at," he said, admitting that the recent unveiling of Elon Musk's Tesla Semi attracted attention. "It's definitely going to be part of our future." Just not for longhaul. Not right away. Mack believes the earliest adopters of electrification will be operations with the chance to charge at a home base and not depend on general infrastructure for fuel. That includes refuse, local delivery, and public transportation fleets.