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Hybrid Construction Vehicles in Development Cut Fuel Use

Hybrid earth mover (Aalto University)

(Aalto University)

Engineers at Aalto University in Finland are developing hybrid combustion/electric versions of heavy off-road work vehicles that can cut the amount of fuel they consume by half. This new technology, says the university, captures energy, which up to now has been lost by the machinery when working, and uses it instead of fuel.

The engineering team is adding electric power transmission systems to the vehicles, which makes them into hybrids with both combustion and electric engines. This technology creates a process for short-term energy storage, making it possible to retrieve the energy for later use during peak power demand.

While similar technology has already been developed for personal cars, hybrid cars only capture energy from wheels during deceleration. Work vehicles, on the other hand, create most of their extra energy during work tasks, which until now has not been captured.

Researchers at Aalto’s HybLab research project are analyzing the work cycles of different types of machinery to find out which work tasks allow energy to be captured. Deceleration and lowering a load are likely candidates.

The goal is to reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, as well as lower operating costs. With electric power transmission, the machines can even be connected to normal wall sockets. The electric transmission generates other benefits such as better control, greater operator comfort, and more freedom in designing the machine’s structure.

“These heavy duty machines are operated for long periods of time, so by the end of the day emissions and fuel consumption have added up,” says Jussi Suomela, who leads the project at Aalto. “Electricity from the power grid is very cost-efficient and creates no local emissions,” Suomela adds. “If the machine can be plugged in, that is usually the best option.”

Read more: Fuel Cell Powered Forklifts Built for Demo Project

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