Trailer manufacturer SDC has developed a Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) Curtainsider semitrailer designed to maximise operational efficiency.SDC’s unusual 13.6m KERS Curtainsider will feature Eddie Stobart livery and will be trialled by the UK-based operator following the commercial vehicle exhibition at the NEC, Birmingham, UK, later this month.
The ‘pioneering’ KERS uses a hybrid system, consisting of a bank of high-power ultra-capacitors, working alongside an electrically-driven axle to capture energy otherwise wasted during braking, and use this energy to supplement engine power during acceleration.
During braking, the electric motor becomes a generator, recovering kinetic energy that would otherwise be lost as heat and storing it in the ultra-capacitors.
The technology is controlled by an intelligent management system that tracks driver input, in order to control the boost and regenerative braking provided by the trailer.
SDC Trailers claims the KERS can reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25 per cent. This figure is based on information supplied by Skeleton Technologies and Adgero SARL which last August announced the public arrival of their jointly-developed technology with Skeleton being responsible for the 'ultr-capacitors'.
SDC’s KERS Curtainsider therefore potentially offers significant operator cost savings and a lower environmental footprint.
In addition to this, the regenerative braking system significantly reduces brake wear and associated maintenance costs.
Head of engineering at SDC, Jimmy Dorrian, said: "Operator efficiency was the driving force behind the Kinetic Energy Recovery trailer innovation. Our customers are always looking for ways to reduce their fuel consumption and overall carbon footprint, especially in demanding applications such as heavy terrain or continuous urban transport. Road haulage accounts for over a fifth of the EU’s total CO2emissions, so a trailer solution that can reduce this amount by up to 25 per cent will have significant benefits to both the operator and environment.”
No indication of semi-trailer on-cost of this F1-style technology has been given at this time.
Founded in 1978, SDC employs over 900 staff across four modern UK manufacturing plants: three in Northern Ireland (including a new facility opened in Antrim opened earlier this year) and one in Nottinghamshire.
The latest facility raised SDC’s growing production level to 40 trailers a day. Cutting edge technology, including a new state-of-the-art fibre-based laser cutter and three new press-brakes for folding steel components have been installed at the plant to facilitate the manufacturers’ broad range of trailer designs, most of which are custom built to specific operator requirements.
According to SDC managing director, Mark Cuskeran, SDC is market leader.
At the time of the Antrim plant opening, Cuskeran said: “Following the implementation of new technology and processes across our existing facilities, the decision was made to build a new plant that would enable us to fulfil increasing order numbers without compromising on quality and lead-time.”
The KERS-on-a-trailer development raises further questions on the practicability of officially measuring and legislating for truck and bus greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and, by direct association, fuel consumption.
The European Commission (EC) is adopting what it claims to be a realistic and accurate approach, using a computer program dubbed VECTO – standing for Vehicle Energy Consumption Calculation Tool – developed on the commission’s behalf by Austria’s Graz University of Technology.
It is claimed to be capable of precisely simulating CO2 emissions of virtually any type of truck, bus or coach, taking account of all energy-demanding specification features.
VECTO would, says the EC, be used initially to encourage commercial vehicle buyers to specify the most fuel-efficient models able to meet their operating requirements. More profoundly, the commission has indicated that VECTO would, in due course, form the basis of hard legislation, making it mandatory for CO2 emissions from new trucks and buses to be ‘certified, reported and monitored’, as effectively an extension of today’s type approval requirements.
But by no means is everyone content about the practicalities. An immediate question arises in respect of tractor-trailer combinations, where a tractor, over the course of weeks or months, might be hauling a variety of trailer types, whose aerodynamics, tyre rolling resistance and other features differ markedly. And Adgero’s KERS-equipped semi-trailer perhaps encapsulates better than anything the impracticability of the VECTO proposals.
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