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Wal-Mart Testing Two Different Hybrid Systems and Three Alt Fuels on Class 8 Trucks

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. will test two hybrid systems—one developed by ArvinMeritor and one developed by Eaton and Peterbilt—in Class 8 trucks. The company also will test three different alternative fuels—Reclaimed Grease Fuel; B20 biodiesel; and liquefied natural gas—in its heavy-duty trucks.

Class 8 trucks have a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 33,001 pounds or more, three axles and 10 tires. Vehicles that fall under this rating include tractor-trailers (50'), moving trucks, freight trucks, concrete trucks, gravel trucks and articulated buses. Wal-Mart uses Class 8 trucks to haul its trailers and deliver product to its stores.

ArvinMeritor Dual-Mode Hybrid Propulsion. Wal-Mart will test this diesel-electric hybrid in the Detroit area. The ArvinMeritor hybrid has both mechanical and electrical propulsion systems (dual mode), which use the electric motor drive primarily for periods of high demand under low-speed, high-load operating conditions, such as accelerating from a stop. (Earlier post.)

Once moving, the mechanical propulsion system begins to blend its power with the electric motor until it reaches highway speeds, where the drive phases to completely mechanical. The electrical system can provide additional power during hill climbing, even at highway speeds.

In addition to its work at highway speeds, the engine also charges an onboard energy storage system, which provides power to the electric motor when demand is high. Energy that is generated during braking is captured and stored using regenerative braking.

This technology could help Wal-Mart increase its fleet efficiency by up to 25%.

Peterbilt/Eaton Hybrid Assist. The Eaton heavy-duty hybrid system with idle reduction features an automated manual transmission with a parallel-type direct hybrid system, incorporating a 44 kW electric motor/generator located between the output of an automated clutch and the input to Eaton’s Fuller UltraShift transmission. (Earlier post.)

The Peterbilt/Eaton hybrid provides electric power to assist the engine and also serves as the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), delivering a significant reduction in engine idling. The electric motor kicks in when the truck needs extra power, such as accelerating from a stop or when going uphill.

The five Peterbilt Model 386 heavy duty diesel-electric hybrids are being tested in Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Southern California and the Baltimore/Washington DC region. This technology could help Wal-Mart increase its fleet efficiency by up to seven percent.

Reclaimed Grease Fuel and Biodiesel. Wal-Mart will test 15 Class 8 trucks retrofitted by Environmental Development Group to run on Reclaimed Grease Fuel made of waste brown cooking grease from Wal-Mart stores. This partnership provides Wal-Mart the opportunity to develop a closed loop solution for the waste cooking grease it generates in its stores and Sam’s Club locations. This technology could help Wal-Mart increase its fleet efficiency by up to two percent. In addition, the remaining trucks located in the Buckeye, Ariz. distribution center will operate on an 80/20 blend of biodiesel made of waste yellow cooking oil.

LNG. In partnership with Mojave Air Quality Management District, Wal-Mart will test five trucks (four Class 8 and one yard truck) equipped with Westport Innovations’s HPDI LNG system and Cummins ISX engines operating on liquefied natural gas (LNG). (Earlier post.)

Wal-Mart achieved more than a 25% increase in efficiency within its private fleet between 2005 and 2008, surpassing one of the company’s stated sustainability goals. This goal was reached by using a combination of new, innovative technologies, better delivery routes and by loading its trailers more efficiently. Now, the company is working toward its goal of doubling its fleet efficiency by 2015, from its 2005 baseline. Part of this pilot program is to determine if alternatively fueled trucks can help move Wal-Mart toward that goal in addition to reducing environmental impacts.

Wal-Mart will test these new technologies throughout 2009.


Dave R

Anyone know of more details on how Wal-Mart improved fleet efficiency by 25% over the past 3 years? That's quite an accomplishment!

Alex Kovnat

I think a little discussion is in order concerning natural gas fuel (CNG; LNG). A contributor to an earlier thread criticized natural gas on grounds that it is a fossil fuel and is non-renewable.

I still like the idea of using NG as motor fuel for this reason: I would much rather see natural gas from faraway oil fields liquified and shipped to America or Europe than wastefully flared, as has been done in the past.

I agree though that one nice thing about NG is that when you have a system of pipelines in place, you can take methane from landfills, animal wastes, sewage, etc, purify it, and then press it into the nearest convenient gas pipeline.

So while NG is just one option (along with cellulosic ethanol, BioDiesel and electric vehicles), I anticipate that its use will grow.

andrew kosturick

walmart is so concerned about things. it will be so much better having all those trucks going to the docks and picking up low grade products from china and not burning middle east diesel. on top of that we can burn natural gas from canada in canadian natural gas engines we are so clever arnt we ? hope they can save money and add it to thier profits. ross perot said youll here a loud sucking noise .

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