Monday, August 27, 2007

10-4 on the carbon footprint, good buddy...

Ahh Seattle, why must you always be so hip?

I read an article a while back about the possible implementation of hybrid technology into big-rig, 18 wheel behemoths. What I assumed was another case of greenwashing, is in fact a reality.

Dunn Lumber of Seattle, Washington is officially the first company to test out Kenworth's new Paccar PX-6 240 hp engine. The class 7 hybrid can carry and 8 ton payload (!) and features a transmission mounted generator, with a 340-volt frame-mounted battery.

From the article:

Above 30 mph, the Kenworth hybrid operates like a standard diesel vehicle with all power coming from the engine during steady driving conditions. Below 30 mph, it uses a combination of diesel and electricity with the system automatically switching between the two modes of operation. Electricity generated through regenerative braking is stored and used for acceleration, assisting the diesel engine.

Alas, Kenworth is only giving up these green beauties in limited quantities to local municipal companies and fleets...until 2008, that is.

And if Smokey, Bandit, and the rest of the guys are going green, maybe it's time for me to start that organic chewing tobacco company I've always dreamed about.

Speaking of "tomacco," Otto will get a buzz out of knowing that California's also making their mark with this new treat: the first plug-in hybrid bus.
Bus manufacturer extraordinaire I-C Corp. is charging around $200k per bus, with most school districts off-setting the majority of the cost with grants.

From their flash-saturated website (with some damn cool pictures):

Depending on the route, fuel mpg improvement is from 20% to 50% better for Charge Sustaining and up to 70% better for Charge Depleting systems. Emission improvements vary with the pollutant being measured and has shown up to a 90% improvement at times on Particulate Matter, again, this is load and operating condition dependent.

But wouldn't ya know it...just as we start solving some problem areas, new ones fill the pores.

My search for hybrid construction equipment resulted in a surprising combination of words: Hybrid Backhoes.

But don't let the name fool you. The only thing that makes them a "hybrid" is the fact that they can perform construction detail AND do a street-legal 65 mph on the freeway.

So now that we've developed the technology to transport heavy items using clean(er) hybrid technology, said items now transport a high rate of speed.

From the story:

In June, the HMEE (High Mobility Engineer Excavator) was officially introduced in a formal unveiling ceremony. The highly specialized equipment features a 6.7-liter diesel engine, antilock brakes, four-wheel drive, six forward speeds and two reverse speeds.

It can lift more than two tons and dig to a depth of 13 feet...

Granted, the backhoes are solely intended for military use (with armor plating...about time!), I don't doubt that the possibility that I might on day find a 2 meter dump scoop in my rear-view mirror.

I will happily merge from my lane and let that machine pass.