Volvo FL Electric waste truck Photo: Aaron Marsh/Fleet Owner
The Volvo FL Electric refuse truck tops up its charge.

Smart people are working on cool things in trucking

For five of the last six years I have been an official reviewer for the Department Of Energy’s Annual Merit Review for Vehicle Technologies projects. I have had the chance, along with other industry participants, to review lots of very interesting projects. If you are interested in seeing the types of projects that have been explored over the last 10 years check out these presentations.

You may be familiar with this program because of SuperTrucks, but as you can see it encompasses much more. Presentations cover a wide rang of subjects includes: advanced combustion systems, batteries, electric drive systems, electrification, energy-efficient mobility systems, fuels and lubricants, hydrogen and fuel cells, lightweighting, technology integration, vehicle systems and more.

Here are my key takeaways from the event:

  • There are a lot of very smart people working on our biggest problems. One track reviewed about 100 battery projects. All I can say to that is, “Wow.”
  • DOE is serious about research and commercialization. In fact, budgets are actually up a bit for transportation.
  • Now more than ever collaboration seems stronger than before. The collaboration is across a wide range of entities — DOE labs to component manufactures to truck builders to end users and includes NGOs.
  • Major improvements in efficiency are still achievable, but now require significantly different designs than we have today. Think things like BEVs, hybrids, major changes to diesel powertrains, and even drones, lockers, etc.

A couple other things that struck me:

  • It is nice to see projects that are building, testing and comparing multiple solutions on similar routes. This helps everyone in the industry think and communicate the best technology for differing duty cycles. And that is always a key to successful deployment of technical solutions.
  • If we can’t explain a technology in a way that users can understand it, they will not buy it. In short, we need to avoid engineer- and tech-speak.

Being an official reviewer for the Department Of Energy’s Annual Merit Review for Vehicle Technologies projects makes me feel like I have a front seat to the future.

TAGS: Trucks
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