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FPInnovations, Deloupe making headway in hybrid-electric prototype trailer

July 5, 2023  By FPInnovations

FPInnovations, a non-profit specializing in creating solutions that support the global competitiveness of the Canadian forest sector, today announced that it has achieved very promising results in terms of fuel economy and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) during the field testing of an innovative electric drive trailer for use in forest operations.

The prototype trailer, developed in collaboration with Deloupe, features an electric drive axle implemented by FPInnovations with support of Voltari Power, a subsidiary of Voltari Marine Electric, and shows the possibilities for the forest transportation sector to fight climate change.

“We are very excited with these amazing results, which not only meet our goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel consumption, but also demonstrate the potential of FPInnovations and its partners to develop promising greener technologies for the forest transportation sector,” said Stéphane Renou, president and CEO, FPInnovations

The project was made possible thanks to an investment totalling more than $1.8 million provided through Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Growth Program and its Forest Innovation Program, Québec government’s Innov-R program through the research and development consortiums (InnovÉÉ), and British Columbia’s Ministry of Forests.


“To reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and help fight climate change, we need to develop and deploy non-emitting solutions in every sector of the economy. The promising work done by FPInnovations shows that Canadian innovators can implement these solutions to help drive sustainable economic growth,” said Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson.

If electric trucks are emerging, major challenges remain for heavy and long-haul applications; including transport range, the lack of infrastructure solutions such as recharging stations, or other low-carbon fuel supply infrastructure on resource roads (which are typically remote). FPInnovations is leading the way by implementing innovative projects that will have a real impact on the forest transportation sector. The tests performed on hybrid electric tractor semi-trailer achieved average fuel savings of 12% and showed potential annual GHG emission reductions of 23 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2 eq) per vehicle.

“We are proud to collaborate on this project in partnership with FPInnovations. The entire Deloupe team was committed in the production of the prototypes used for the tests. The results obtained confirm that this project will bring cost-efficiency to users while helping to reduce the environmental impact of transport. Deloupe is proud to contribute to the discovery of alternative solutions to enable the transportation sector to be in symbiosis with environment challenges,” said Pierre-Luc Lavallée, general manager, Deloupe.

Compelling results

This first series of road tests used a semi-trailer where one of the conventional axles is replaced with a drive axle powered by an electric motor and high voltage components. The trailer also includes a safety system consisting of load cells that monitored push-pull interactions between the trailer and the truck. At the end of its useful life, the entire electric system can be reused when the trailer is being replaced. These tests also aimed at developing a proof of concept for a second phase, which involves the development of a biomass electric trailer as well as a more robust prototype for testing on forest roads.

The tests, conducted in February and March of 2023 according to the internationally recognized TMC Fuel Consumption Test Procedure – Type II RP 1102A (TMC, 2014), took place on a 105-km long paved road with an 89-km mountainous section and a maximum elevation difference of 355 m. In addition to showing superior dynamic behavior and shorter time cycles, results obtained demonstrate average fuel savings between 10.5% and 14.1% per test run, with results of 17.5% for the uphill section and 9.4% for the downhill section. These very promising results could even increase with the improvement of the prototype.

In terms of GHG emissions, the tests demonstrated an average reduction of 23.3 kg CO2 eq/100 km when the electric drive axle was activated on the hybrid electric tractor-trailer test vehicle. Based on an average annual driving distance of 100,000 km, the hybrid electric tractor-trailer prototype would show a potential annual GHG emission reduction of approximately 23 tonnes CO2 eq per vehicle, a value that could allow Canada to remove 7500 tonnes CO2 eq/year from its carbon balance.

The safety aspect was also considered during the tests. According to the drivers, the electric trailer system proved to be a good asset with the assistance of the electric axle; the drivers appreciated the power reserve and energy recovery on steep grades and stop-starts in rush hour congestion.

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