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Friday, December 4, 2009

Hybrid garbage trucks for NYC

NYC is currently testing hybrid garbage trucks that use a 120-kilowatt electric motor and a 500-pound lithium ion battery to supplement a six-cylinder diesel engine. The application is perfect if you think about it.

Two years ago, the NYC Sanitation Department issued a challenge to the industry: develop a hybrid garbage truck.

“No one, until we asked, had entertained the thought of putting together a hybrid heavy-duty garbage collection truck,” said Vito A. Turso, a department spokesman.

The vehicles — one from Mack Trucks and two from the Crane Carrier Company — use 30 percent less fuel than the current trucks. Four more trucks from Crane are also on order, for a total of seven.

The trucks use two distinct types of technology. The Mack truck uses hybrid electric technology akin to the system in the Toyota Prius, in which the energy from braking is stored in batteries. The two from the Crane Carrier Corporation use hybrid hydraulic technology, which stores energy in a cylinder of compressed gas instead of in a battery.

Hybrids generally have high city MPG ratings because the electric motor is there to assist in acceleration and regenerates when the brakes are used. The daily life of a garbage truck is stopping to pick up trash and then racing to the next grouping of trash cans 100 feet down the road. All they do is accelerate and stop.

Plus, these trucks are already built on platforms large enough to support the extra weight of the battery and electric motor. Designers do not need to worry about aesthetics or design either.

But the hybrid garbage truck that is being tested in NYC, doesn’t look any different. There are apparently only a few extra lights on the dash although drivers have said that it drives much better with quicker acceleration.

The city’s 2,200 large garbage trucks haul more than 11,000 tons a day. “The problem, of course, is heavy-duty vehicles use a lot of gas,” Mr. Turso said. The department thought there was “an enormous opportunity to convert what is usually considered emissions-heavy collection trucks into something like these hybrids which reduce emissions dramatically.”

Other cities are watching New York City’s hybrid garbage trucks. “If these things go into mass production, the price becomes a lot less,” Mr. Turso said.

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