Energy Tech Talk

Let's Talk Energy with... Simon Poulin, Effenco

When you think about hybrid vehicles, a garbage truck probably isn’t the first thing to pop into your mind—but Montreal’s Effenco wants to change that. Sales Director Simon Poulin talked to us about the company’s hybrid system that can cut one truck’s fuel consumption alone by 25 percent and save as much as $15,000 per year.

Can you briefly describe your technology for us?
: We’ve developed a state-of-the-art Stop-Start hybrid system. Basically, it’s a system designed to cut fuel consumption in heavy-duty vehicles that spend a lot of time stopped and that are equipped with power-consuming hydraulic auxiliary systems, like garbage trucks. 

How does the system work?
: Every time a truck brakes, it losses kinetic energy, generating heat in the brakes, but not with our system. Instead, hydraulic pumps are used to slow down the vehicle and capture the kinetic braking energy in the form of a pressurized fluid. Once the vehicle gets to a complete stop, the hybrid system turns off the engine. The energy stored during braking is then used to power auxiliary systems like compactors and automated arms that would normally be powered by the truck’s engine. In doing so, the system virtually eliminates the use of the engine at idle, resulting in significant fuel savings and the reduction of harmful emissions.

 The four main components installed on a truck’s chassis.

Is it difficult to install?
: No. It’s completely modular, so it can be installed on new trucks or retrofitted to older fleets. And the hybrid truck operates exactly like a standard truck. Because our Stop-Start hybrid system is totally integrated within the vehicle, drivers don’t feel any difference.

What makes this important for Canadians?
: Garbage trucks use a lot of fuel. Our technology cuts fuel consumption by 15 to 25 percent and eliminates up to 27 tonnes of GHG emissions per truck per year. That’s equal to about six less cars on the road. By improving the energy efficiency of heavy trucks and reducing their emissions, our system offers a great way for municipalities to implement green plans and get a solid return on investment.

What sort of return are we talking about?
: Our technology can pay for itself in just three to five years. Given that the lifespan of a garbage truck is about 10 years on average, for those last five years you can achieve up to $15,000 in savings per truck each year. Additionally to the reduction in fuel consumption, part of these savings are due engine and brakes maintenance costs as they are less used and therefore wear much slower.

What’s the coolest thing about your technology?
: Every time the truck stops, the engine shuts down. It’s unusual to see a truck that size just shut down. This gives the technology a real “wow” factor.

The system can be installed on a range of truck configurations, including rear- and side-loading refuse trucks.

Any challenges you had to overcome along the way?
SP: There weren’t many statistics on the waste industry’s vehicle operations, so we had to do our own original research. If we’d had that data from the very beginning we could have rolled out our technology sooner—but because we had to do the work, we’re now pretty advanced compared to other companies when it comes to the understanding of garbage truck behaviour.

Looking ahead

Poulin points out that the waste industry is not the only segment of the economy that could use Effenco’s technology.

“Terminal tractors, transit buses, concrete mixers, forklifts and military vehicles could all use this system,” he explains. “Right now we’ve focused on refuse trucks, but soon we’ll adapt it to other platforms. The system we’ve developed is that flexible.”

In 2012, Effenco was named to Corporate Knights’ Next 10 list of Canada's most promising cleantech companies. The Effenco Stop-Start hybrid system is now being deployed across North America—and Poulin says that’s just the beginning.

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