Drive a Clean, Green Garbage Truck

peterbilt hydraulic hybrid garbage truck photo

Peterbilt Hydraulic Hybrid Gargage Truck.
Image credit:AutoBlogGreen

Can you figure out the common denominator between a Prius and a Waste Management garbage truck? The answer may surprise you: both can benefit from hybrid power.

Yes, the same garbage truck that stops in your neighborhood each week, with new advancements in engine technology, could eventually run on the clean technology that powers other better-known hybrid vehicles. This is especially important to the waste industry due to the many cycles of braking and acceleration a collection truck encounters along a given route. However, while the wheels are in motion, this technology will take some time to perfect. While hybrid technology has already been successfully implemented in automobiles and light trucks, Class 8 vehicles, a category that includes waste trucks, pose additional challenges to hybrid engine design. Among the largest vehicles on the road, Class 8’s require a robust drive train to handle heavy loads. They also have multiple systems for compaction and lifting that draw a great deal of power from the engine. This, in turn, complicates hybrid design.

Therefore, until the hybrid engine for Class 8’s are perfected, Waste Management continues to look for ways to improve its fleet of garbage trucks so that they produce fewer emissions and operate more efficiently. In 2007 alone, effective fleet management and route optimization allowed us to improve efficiency and reduce driver time by more than 2 million hours. This included several truck and route modifications:

• Programming the engines of newer trucks to shut down automatically after idling for five minutes
• Standardizing route optimization planning
• Installing more than 1,000 after-treatment devices
• Converting to the use of ultra low sulfur diesel (pdf file)
• Limiting top engine speeds
• Increasing the use of biodiesel to 2,218 trucks using approximately over 1.6 million gallons of biodiesel ranging from B5 to B20
• Using liquefied and compressed natural gases (LNG and CNG) in nearly 1,000 trucks

While these improvements are valuable in the short run, it’s important to remain focused on the end goal: implementing hybrid technology in waste truck fleets as soon as possible. In fact, last year Waste Management began field-testing the industry’s first parallel hydraulic hybrid truck. Four of these trucks were added to the company’s Fort Worth fleet in November 2008, in partnership with Peterbilt and Eaton. (As pictured.)

The parallel hydraulic hybrid employs a pressurized hydraulic system to capture and store energy every time the brakes are applied. This energy is then transferred to accelerate the vehicle to the next pickup location. Ultimately, this should reduce wear on the brake pads, extend engine life, reduce emissions and increase fuel efficiency on such vehicles that constantly start and stop.

A June 2009 study also shows that such early technological developments help to support the long-term organic growth of hybrid powertrain systems in the market. Financial incentives also provide opportunities for others in this industry to expand their hybrid truck technologies.

As the operator of one of the country’s largest commercial fleet of vehicles, we are in a unique position to provide incentives to spur the development of efficient hybrid systems for the waste collection vehicles. . Over the next decade, Waste Management will spend up to $500 million per year in capital on our fleet and heavy equipment. We expect to direct this capital spending on equipment to help increase the fuel efficiency of our fleet by 15 percent and reduce our fleet emissions by 15 percent – all by 2020.

A 15 percent reduction in the fuel used by our trucks would total about 350 million gallons of fuel saved and a reduction of about 3.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Some of these savings and efficiencies will come from currently available technology; others are now in the development stage. We hope this financial incentive will be a catalyst for a breakthrough technology to make this goal a reality.

With rapidly increasing developments in hydraulic hybrid technology, this reality may be closer than we think. Just think: in the near future, you could see that Prius and garbage truck side-by-side and know that they’re both running on engine technologies that reduce emissions and help the environment.

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Drive a Clean, Green Garbage Truck
Can you figure out the common denominator between a Prius and a Waste Management garbage truck? The answer may surprise you: both can benefit from hybrid power.

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