Transport and RCVs opt for sustainable solutions

Government policy, at both European and UK levels, is stimulating local government in particular to develop environmentally sustainable solutions across the transport and waste management sectors. LAWE reports on the latest policies and technology in this month's Tracking Trends feature

The cause of sustainable transport has been given added impetus by recent moves in the UK, whilst Sweden has continued to blaze the trail towards environmentally acceptable vehicle power.

Transport Minister, Kim Howells, recently announced that seven towns in England are in the running to receive funding through the Department for Transport's Sustainable Transport Town initiative.

The DfT has set aside £7.5 million to help develop plans for sustainable transportation in two towns in England. These towns will incorporate all aspects of best practice to encourage walking, cycling and other public transport use and act as showcases for other towns wishing to promote greater travel choice.

The shortlisted towns are: Halifax, Darlington, Peterborough, Worcester, Hereford, Wolverhampton and Weston-Super-Mare. Each is submitting fully worked up plans to deliver a sustainable transport scheme through reduced car dependency, tackling traffic congestion and helping the provision of a wider diversity of modes of transport for the public.

The town on the shortlist were chosen from 50 outline schemes. Participating local authorities are expected to make a "significant contribution" to the costs of the project.

Landmark interchange

In another Government move, Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett has visited Manchester Airport to open "The Station", the UK's first transport interchange. The Station brings together bus, coach and rail services to make public transport a convenient option for all passengers. In addition, it also provides a new easy-to-use passenger information system that will guide travellers through their journey and make available tourist information to passengers on their arrival. Mrs Beckett praised the new initiative saying, "The Station provides an attractive public transport alternative to the convenience of the car through more public transport connections, accessible and co-ordinated services and better information to the travelling public on routes, timetables and fares."

The DEFRA Secretary added, "The Station will help cut the number of car journeys made to and from the airport by encouraging more people to use public transport. This interchange makes it easier for people to choose the better, more sustainable option."

Swedes run hybrid power RCVs

On the waste industry front Sweden continues to make the running in the use of environmental acceptable vehicles. Renova, a waste and recycling company based in Gothenburg, has developed an RCV that employs gas-electric hybrid technology, developed in co-operation with Volvo Trucks, Geesink Norba and ETP. The new type of vehicle is equipped with a combination of a gas engine with a highly efficient catalyctic converter and electric powered waste compactor, which greatly reduces environmental impact allied to lower fuel consumption, reduced emissions and quieter operation.

When the vehicle stops for refuse collection, the natural gas powered engine stops automatically. Loading and compacting is then powered by the electric motor. Renova quotes measurements that show that this type of rear loading refuse vehicle normally idles for 60-70% of its shift.

"Our new refuse collection vehicles are quieter and more environment-friendly than any previous solution," says Renova's CEO, Christian Baarlid, adding, "The new vehicle meets the requirements in the anticipated Euro 4 standard. I'm convinced that electric hybrid technology will become the model for other heavy vehicles working in our densely populated urban areas in other industries as well."

EU LIFE funding

Renova AB has received EUR 1.3 million from the EU's environment fund, LIFE, to develop, evaluate and perform full-scale testing of 10 electric hybrid RCVs in densely populated residential areas in central Gothenburg. The aim of the project is to measure the environmental impact of the vehicle in relation to petrol-powered RCVs, The project is being run in close co-operation with the City of Gothenburg. In total, Renova has purchased 14 gas-electric hybrid RCVs , which are being delivered successively between November 2003 and June 2004. Volvo Trucks will deliver 10 of the vehicles and Mercedes Benz the other four. Geesink Norba is supplying the refuse collection and compaction unit for all 14 vehicles. All the vehicles run on natural gas - CNG and biogas.

All hydraulics for the Norba RL 200A refuse compactor are operated by a 72V electric motor. The unit raises the container and compacts the wastes. The motor is load-sensing - only the amount of electricity needed for the load is used. A hydraulic backpressure plate in its front wall provides the compaction inside the container. ETB AB developed the solutions for energy storage and motor control. Geesink Norba says that the hydraulic pump is powered by two large battery packs, which are charged during the night and at times when the vehicle is being driven. These packs provide the Norba RCVs with an effective operation time of ten hours.

This is only possible, the RCV manufacture states, because the refuse body is equipped with a new electronic energy saving system that senses automatically how much pressure the system needs to lift and pack. The Smart-Pak system is standard on all Norba refuse bodies. The company adds, that, regardless of the 1,300kg of extra weight introduced by the battery packs, the rear loaders maintain the capacity to compact approximately 5.5 tons of waste in its 10.4m3 refuse body.



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