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Low-carbon innovations identified for heavy vehicles

Six groups have been named as winners of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership's HGV Technology Challenge - a competition to identify and promote novel ways to cut the carbon emissions associated with trucks.

The winning entries offer ways to improve fuel economy and cut CO2 emissions from trucks by 8 to 25 per cent. Most of the solutions can be fitted to existing vehicles and some could be applied in combination, offering even greater savings.

The solutions include products to: use dual fuel (gas-diesel); improve trailer designs to increase carriage capacity and also to reduce drag; optimise driving efficiency; adopt a hybrid-hydraulic power-train and a separate hybrid systems based on high-speed flywheels.

The winning entrants were selected by an independent expert panel and will present their developments to a specialist group of executives from vehicle manufacturers and major fleet operators at a seminar later this year.

The winners are:
  • Hardstaff Group
  • SOMI Trailers Ltd
  • MIRA Ltd
  • Zeta Automotive
  • RDS Europe Ltd
  • Flybrid Systems and The Flybus Consortium (joint winners).

The LowCVP Low Carbon HGV Technology Challenge follows the LowCVP's successful 2009 'Challenge' which sought to bring forward innovative technical solutions for cutting carbon from cars and light commercial vehicles and stimulated several new business partnerships.

LowCVP managing director Greg Archer said: "The HGV Technology Challenge shows the high capacity of UK engineers to develop innovative and effective solutions to help us tackle climate change. The Challenge brings these great ideas to the attention of potential partners and customers providing both new market opportunities for some outstanding UK businesses and hastening the introduction of low carbon innovations in the HGV market that also reduce fuel costs."

The LowCVP's Technology Challenge complements work by the UK's Automotive Council to develop a roadmap for low carbon truck technologies and strengthen the UK automotive supply chain. This year's Technology Challenge also attracted support from CENEX and the Freight Transport Association.

Pauline Dawes of SOMI Trailers, one of the Challenge winners said "We've spent several years developing and fine-tuning our product, working with fleets and trailer manufacturers, looking at technical and operational viability. We've had independent trials carried out and know our idea has potential. However, we also recognise that end-users can be inundated with ideas. Winning the Technology Challenge will provide the opportunity for us to distinguish ourselves from the noise and, hopefully, attract new customers."

The Flybus consortium, led by traction drive specialist Torotrak, is developing a flywheel hybrid system which it has been testing in a converted bus. Torotrak chief executive Dick Elsy said: "Commercial vehicles operating in urban conditions would enjoy similar benefits to buses, where deliveries are closely spaced or congestion leads to a stop-start driving style. On UK roads alone, there are estimated to be over 100,000 buses and coaches and over 600,000 medium and heavy commercial vehicles. A high proportion of those have the potential to be converted, making a significant contribution to CO2 reduction."

About the winners:

> The Hardstaff Group has shown, through daily dual-fuel operation of 60 of its own vehicles, that substitution of up to 70 per cent of diesel fuel by natural gas is practicable, reducing CO2 emissions by up to around 18 per cent.

> SOMI Trailers Ltd's 'Same Outside, More Inside' conversions are said to have huge potential in the Europe and US markets. By increasing capacity in4m-high trailers, it becomes possible to replace four truck journeys with three.

> MIRA has a long history of optimising aerodynamics in the haulage industry. Following an earlier project with Lawrence David Ltd in which drag reductions of 17 per cent were achieved, MIRA focussed on improving the performance of a standard 4.5m box trailer, and succeeded in reducing drag by nearly 30 per cent, potentially resulting in fuel, and hence CO2, savings of between 15 and 20 per cent.

> Zeta Automotive's EconoSpeed, initially created for use with light vans and now developed for heavy trucks, can be fitted to any vehicle with an electronic throttle, and sits between the accelerator pedal and the engine's ECU computer. By electronically limiting a vehicle's maximum rate of acceleration to simulate that of a fully or partially laden vehicle, and forcing earlier gear changes by limiting the RPM, together with limiting the top speed to suit the typical routes that the vehicle follows, the unit can mimic the behaviour of a careful, economical driver. Installation takes less than an hour.

> RDS Europe has developed a hydraulically actuated parallel hybrid technology, specifically tailored for the needs of the +5 tonne GVW segment. Tests have demonstrated up to 25 per cent fuel savings for stop/start urban duty cycles. Exhaust emissions such as CO2, NOx and particulates are similarly reduced.

> Flybrid Systems initially developed its high-speed flywheel-based hybrid system in 2007 for Formula One application, but today the majority of customers are road-car OEMs. The first cars incorporating the technology are expected to go on sale to the public in 2013. Flybrid is now developing a heavy-duty version of the system for commercial vehicle and off-highway markets.

The Flybus consortium comprises variable drive specialist Torotrak, bus-maker Optare and engineering consultancy Ricardo, supported by automatic transmission supplier Allison Transmission. Part-funded by the Technology Strategy Board, the collaboration is developing a flywheel-based mechanical hybrid system for commercial vehicles, particularly suited to vehicles that are subjected to extensive stop-start activity.

 

www.lowcvp.org.uk/technologychallenge

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