September 19, 2015

YOUR NEXT BIG RIG WILL BE A VOLT:

Wal-Mart test truck aims to slash fuel consumption on big rigs (RONALD D. WHITE, 9/19/15, LA Times)

Wal-Mart estimates that its WAVE concept truck will reduce fuel consumption by 55% over long routes and by 241% over shorter routes, when its microturbine and electric motor can be put to best use.

Microturbines can be thought of as miniature windmills in the way that they operate and generate power. The blades, the only moving parts of these machines, spin at 96,000 revolutions per minute. The turbine sucks in air and heats it to temperatures in excess of 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. The heated air rapidly expands, spinning the turbine's blades. Some of that mechanical energy is used to power the turbine itself; the rest can be used to run a generator.

Capstone's technology, which is protected by 112 patents, presents several advantages. First, it can be run on many kinds of fuel, including diesel, natural gas and propane. Second, the technology uses so-called air bearings, eliminating the need for metal ball bearings, which require lubrication and replacement. The microturbines are also air-cooled, eliminating the need for a large radiator and antifreeze.

The truck's cab is more aerodynamic, Peterbilt's Hankins said, "in part because there was no need for a large radiator. The driver's position has been moved to the center of the cabin, rather than on the left side, to help make it more streamlined."

Capstone's Jamison said it operates "like a Chevy Volt," which uses battery power exclusively for about 30 miles until the charge runs out. That's when the microturbine kicks in to recharge the battery and extend the truck's range.

Posted by at September 19, 2015 7:31 AM
  

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