Hybrid Recycling Truck
|Region(s)||Richmond, British-Colombia, Canada|
|In domains||Conservation of Source Materials, Construction / Engineering / Building Materials, Energy Conservation, Energy Sector, Reduction of Greenhouse Gases, Waste Reduction, Worker Friendly|
Energy efficient and… “quiet at the curb”.
Urban Impact, a family run SME, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, is seriously committed to environmental conservation. Its business is recycling. In itself, this should be enough for some green credentials but the corporate culture instigated by founder Nicole Stefenelli and co-owner Rod Nicolls is one that fosters innovation and self-initiative. “We are always looking for ways to improve our practices in a truly sustainable direction says Nicolls - no greenwashing”.
Urban Impact began in 1989 as a university project for Nicole Stefenelli. It was the first multi-material recycling company in the region. It now has 85 employees. Among the company’s 28 recycling collection vehicles, one is very special since it operates on hybrid technology. Launched in August 2009, the hybrid truck was the first of its kind in the country. Urban Impact uses it for paper recycling.
Mise en place
Since Urban Impact is a partner of the Fraser Basin Council (FBC) program, which supports a range of sustainability projects of interest to the area’s communities, the company became very interested in FBC's 2007 Green Fleets initiative. Green Fleets is funded by British Columbia’s Ministry of the Environment and is meant to support a variety of plans by fleet operators to achieve reductions in GHG emissions. At the time, Urban Impact was thinking of modifying some of its trucks for biodiesel but concerns for biodiversity and equitable food supply proved too great and the idea was dropped.
At this point, Rod Nicolls was researching an alternative to the conventional truck. He started attending specialised conferences and was especially interested in a presentation on the ability for hybrid trucks to stop idling. For trucks designed to make countless short stops this seemed ideal.
The usual components of a hybrid truck’s mechanics are the conventional diesel engine, a battery box (and related electronics), a hybrid drive unit, a motor inverter controller, a cooling system and a converter for the electric power take-off (ePTO). Here, only the charged battery provides the energy for the hydraulic system behind the functioning of the electrically operated hydraulic pump that allows loading.
It took 8 weeks to build and between 8 to 10 months before Urban Impact received the truck. For Nicolls, this is a “long delivery cycle when compared to the 3 to 4 months usually accepted in the industry”. A lot of components are usually added to a basic vehicle structure for it to become a recycling truck and since these components are heavy, Urban Impact had to come up with a creative way of getting rid of the weight. This was a precondition to allow the coupling of these components with the hybrid technology.
The new equipment came with higher capital costs than what is usually expected when purchasing a truck. On top of the cost of the vehicle, the battery system that operates the ePTO costs approximately $40,000. Urban Impact received a significant grant from the FBC and also has support from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to move forward.
The outcomes of the investment are positive. Client satisfaction is tangible in regards to the noise emitted by the truck and employees find the engine easy to operate and drivers consider it is a privilege to operate the machinery. Fuel economy data are regularly being compiled and have proven to be advantageous to Urban Impact’s bottom-line.
Another use of the technology is intended for bucket trucks. Just like Urban Impact’s hydraulic compactor, these devices are operated on electricity alone. Many delivery companies are using similar technology. They also recognise its virtues for top-and-go driving. In Canada, Canadian Springs and Coca-Cola use hybrids in their delivery business.
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