In the transportation industry, it’s more than just ethical to move toward sustainable energy options — it is economical. With the price of fuel a constant question mark ― and an expensive question mark, at that ― most trucking companies are eager to find green alternatives that are more stable in price and availability. Fortunately, technological innovation continues to shape the transportation industry, and soon companies will have a varied selection of clean, green commercial trucks.
While they may not look any different on the outside, commercial vehicles are beginning to transform into green machines. In fact, within a few years, many big rigs might have the exact same sustainable technologies as most new passenger vehicles, and some might be even more futuristic.
The concept of a fuel-free electric vehicle has entranced manufacturers and drivers for ages ― more than a century, in fact ― and finally, electric cars are on the road. However, the same technology is still being developed for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. The problem today is one of range; even the highest-end electric vehicles drive only 100 miles on a charge, compared to the nearly 2,000 miles today’s semis can travel between fill stations.
Yet, experts believe that policies encouraging companies to buy electric fleets ― like New York state’s $60,000 vouchers for Class 3 to 8 electric vehicles ― will drive more innovation. Indeed, a few companies have promising projects in the works. Volvo, for one, is planning a substantial electrification roll-out in 2019, which drivers of all vehicles can look forward to.
Additionally, hydrogen fuel cells are major possibilities for the trucks of tomorrow. Because it does not produce greenhouse gases when consumed, hydrogen could reduce the transportation industry’s emissions to zero. Already, companies are applying this technology to big rigs with excellent results. Several fuel cell systems are currently available in hybrid commercial trucks, but 100 percent–hydrogen engines could provide even better fuel economy in the future. The first hydrogen fueling stations are expected in the Northeast in early 2017, and hydrogen-based fleets shouldn’t be far behind.
Future technology is exciting, but for most trucking companies, the most thrilling opportunities to build a sustainable fleet already exist. Already, commercial trucks are some of the most efficient vehicles on the road when considering weight and distance traveled. Estimates suggest that the average passenger vehicle would need to achieve 160 miles per gallon to match the efficiency of the average diesel big rig.
As gas prices rise, alternative fuels are looking increasingly promising to many trucking companies looking to reduce emissions and be more economical. While most proposed fuel alternatives remain promising ideas (even if they are outlandish, like algae-based fuel), some fuels, like biodiesel, are in use today. Biodiesel, which is created from animal and vegetable oils, produces 75 percent less emissions than petroleum. Trucking companies can take advantage of biodiesel without investing in new trucks, and several hundred biodiesel stations exist around the United States.
Moreover, hybrid engines that rely on both traditional diesel and an alternative energy source, usually electricity or hydrogen, are widely available and inarguably superior to their gas-guzzling forebears. For example, Volvo’s hybrid truck holds the industry record for the standing kilometer, reaching more than 95 miles per hour. Volvo’s VNL series has become especially desirable to transportation companies looking to build their fleet with fuel efficient trucks. Plus, most hybrids boast at least 7 miles per gallon ― 2 miles per gallon better than the diesel average ― which means this tech saves companies money fast.
Yet, enhanced technology isn’t the only way trucking companies can decrease carbon emissions and boast a cleaner, greener fleet. Driver behavior has a significant influence on the efficiency of truck engines, so mandating certain conduct behind the wheel is one way to cut fuel consumption ― and increase safety.
For example, turning back speed governors by five miles per hour, from 70 to 65, can save several tens of thousands of tons of carbon emissions and improve mileage by up to 5 percent. An additional 5 to 10 percent bump to fuel economy can come from progressive shifting and avoiding hard stops and fast starts. While technology might provide even greater rewards, every driver has the power to make his or her truck cleaner and greener.
A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon
Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.
There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.
1. The Rise Of Smart Windows
When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.
If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.
2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs
If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.
Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.
3. Low-E Windows Taking Over
It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.
They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.
4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges
Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.
The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.
5. Improving Our Current LEDs
Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.
That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.
Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too
Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.
ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244
IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”
IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.
Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.
Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.
Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:
“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.
We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.
There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.
We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”