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Features Harvesting Transportation
Hybrid-trailer trucks: A breakthrough towards electrification of heavy trucks


September 16, 2021
By FPInnovations

Topics
Render of a hybrid tractor-trailer. Photo courtesy FPInnovations.

It is no secret that electrification is the future. Over just a few years, electrification moved from being a concept to being a reality. And we’re not talking about cars anymore, we’re talking heavy-duty trucks used in the energy, mining, and forestry sectors.

Since technology for full electrification of these heavy trucks isn’t yet ready to meet contemporary operational requirements — partly due to their weight and the long distances they need to travel — FPInnovations is taking a big step in that direction to make this happen.

Drive axle powered by an electric motor hybrid trailer-truck

FPInnovations is working on a cutting-edge project to develop a hybrid tractor-trailer for use in forestry operations. The objective is to replace one of the conventional axles on forestry trailers with a drive axle powered by an electric motor. The system would be combined with a conventional tractor to create a parallel hybrid configuration.

The approximately $2.5-million hybrid tractor-trailer project falls under the umbrella of Natural Resources Canada $155 million Clean Growth Program (CGP) that invests in clean technology and R&D in the energy, mining, and forestry sectors. FPInnovations also gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

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The benefits are many

The hybrid system, with regenerative braking that recharges the batteries, will be compatible with log trailers and biomass trailers. There could also be major benefits for the mining sector as well as for non-Canadian markets.

Potential benefits include:

  • Peak fuel savings of up to 15 per cent (lower on average), depending on application and drive cycle
  • GHG reductions up to 40 tonnes per truck per year, depending on duty cycle and utilization rate
  • Extra driven axle can provide almost 50 per cent more traction on slippery terrain
  • Regenerative braking power can reduce brake fade and increase safety in mountainous terrain
  • Significant cost savings from reduced fuel consumption, reduced haul assists, as well as from time savings due to increased operational efficiency.

The design and integration of the system is underway, trials start this fall and a report is expected by next year.

Proven collaborators and suppliers

The system is being developed in partnership with two of Canada’s leading trailer manufacturers: Deloupe and TYCROP Trailers. LTS Marine, a leading hybrid and electric powertrain supplier, is supplying the electric propulsion system and is also supporting its development and testing. The electric system’s thermal management will be optimized by components supplied by Grayson Thermal Systems. Promark Electronics will play a key role in developing and providing a prototype harness for the system. The powertrain is composed of a Meritor axle with differential lock and an electric motor from Dana TM4. For superior performance, the trailers are fitted entirely with tires provided by Michelin and chosen with their support. Hendrickson is providing a truck suspension and is also supporting its unique integration onto a forestry trailer, alongside Hendrickson trailer suspensions. Moreover, the technology’s directed end-users will also be contributing to the development and testing; these include Arrow Transportation Systems, Boisaco, and Star Express. For testing in Quebec, Mack Ste-Foy will be providing bespoke trucks specifically configured for logging operations. Before in-field testing, PMG Technologies will be supporting controlled testing at the Motor Vehicle Test Center in Blainville, Que.

For more information, you can contact Dave Waknin, senior researcher, transportation – advanced vehicle systems, at dave.waknin@fpinnovations.ca.