Wal-Mart Tests Diesel-Hybrid Trucks, Alternative Fuels

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc announced plans to test two different hybrid Class-8 trucks and three different types of alternative fuels in an effort to double their fleet's fuel-efficiency.

Between 2005 and 2008, Wal-Mart achieved a 25-percent increase in efficiency with its private fleet. It hopes to double that by 2015. While that sounds pretty nifty, that's only from its 2005 baseline.

Class-8 trucks are quite a beast: they weigh 33,000 pounds, have three axles, and 10 tires. Wal-Mart currently uses these trucks for product distribution. They're testing hybrid systems from ArvinMeritor and one from Eaton and Peterbilt.

The ArvinMeritor system could increase the fleets efficiency by 25-percent, whereas the Peterbilt/Eaton has an expected increase of 7-percent. Sounds like we already have a winner!

Wal-Mart plans to test this diesel-electric hybrid system around Detroit. This dual-mode diesel hybrid is believed to be the first of it's kind. It has both a mechanical and electrical propulsion system (that's the Dual-Mode part).

The electric motor is used mostly for low speeds with high demands, like accelerating after stopping. Once moving, the mechanical propulsion begins working with the electric motor until reaching highway-like speeds. Of course, like any good hybrid the brake-energy is captured.

This hybrid system features idle-reduction, an automated transmission with a parallel-type hybrid that incorporates an electric-motor/generator between the automated clutch and the input to the transmission. Here, the electric-motor also kicks in when say accelerating from a stop, or going up hill.

The system will be tested in Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Southern California and the DC region.

Fifteen of Wal-Marts current fleet will be retrofitted by Environmental Development Group to run on reclaimed grease fuel: the grease will come from Wal-Mart and Sam's Club locations. That's kinda cool and gross at the same time!

Trucks in Arizona will operate on a 80/20 blend of biodiesel made from cooking oil waste. Five trucks will be tested on liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Wal-Mart Speaks!
"In order to meet our goal of doubling our fleet efficiency, we are taking an active role in the development of these technologies," said Chris Sultemeier, senior vice president of transportation for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. "We look forward to determining if these technologies will help reduce our environmental footprint, are viable for our business and provide a return on investment."

Wal-Mart will test these new technologies throughout 2009.

Source: GreenCarCongress.com