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NREL adds second Lightning Hybrids hydraulic hybrid shuttle bus

THE US Department of Energy (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has installed its second fuel-efficient, hydraulic hybrid system on a vehicle for the lab’s 632-acre campus in Golden, Colo. The hydraulic hybrid system is made by Colorado-based Lightning Hybrids.

The first Lightning Hybrids bus has been in service on NREL’s campus for more than a year, and the second bus went into service last month. The Ford E-450 buses are run by MV Transportation, NREL’s service provider for their shuttle service. MV transports more than 500 NREL employees and visitors around the campus.

NREL has been happy to utilize its campus shuttles to help Lightning validate the performance of their technology. Working with a local company to help them grow their business while at the same time advancing our mission of sustainable transportation development has made this project very rewarding for the Lab.

—NREL’s Matt Ringer, a Commercialization Program Manager

The system from Lightning Hybrids is a patented, parallel hydraulic hybrid system that has no electric batteries. Instead, it applies a hydraulic system to the driveline of a vehicle to regenerate braking energy. Hydraulic pumps and a lightweight accumulator brake the vehicle, store the braking energy, and then use that stored energy to provide power to the wheels. In doing so fuel is saved and harmful emissions are cut.

Last fall, Lightning Hybrids received the top honor at the Industry Growth Forum hosted by NREL in Denver. The event brought 30 emerging cleantech industry company finalists from a field of 115 to present their technologies and business models to a panel of investor judges. Each company was graded on factors including the quality of the product, market, business model and team.

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