Green-powered revolution needs to step on the gas
In the latest of LAWE's series of Tracking Trends Supplements, freelancing specialist writer; Mike Gerber, who was formaly editor of Waste Transport and Deputy Editor of the Waste Manager, reviews developments in the marketplace and runs the rule over equipment in this sector on show at this year's IWM Torbay event.
Fleet managers in the waste sector, as elsewhere, are coming under mounting pressure to switch to greener fuels, and also where possible to shift loads off the roads, on to railways and inland waterways.
Only two exhibitors showed intermodal equipment. Translift Nederland NV presented
the IES integrated system. This is a neat system for swiftly transferring large
transportable waste containers from truck to train. A turntable fitted to rail
wagon is the centrepiece of the system, which has been at IWM before when Zoeller
promoted the system in the UK. Now OMB has taken over this role.
Haller was the only other company exhibiting a demountable refuse collection
system, known as Lotus, for intermodal applications. The Lotus system was shown
in the UK for the first time at IWM 2000. Haller’s Maureen Hatley said that,
though there had been no orders yet, visitor interest was even keener this year.
That, along with Translift’s perseverance, were the only glints of hope on
the intermodal front. Railfreight operator EWS, the main transporter of train-borne
waste in the UK, did not book a stand this year.
Moreover, an IWM workshop in the Ratcliffe Hotel on intermodal transport attracted
only a handful of delegates. Alex Cordiner, Operations Director of Shanks waste
management group, who addressed that workshop, told LAWE: “Only half a
dozen people came, though 80 companies booked. The amount of feedback was nil.”
The workshop was held on Thursday afternoon on the last day of the exhibition,
so people had had enough anyway, Mr Cordiner said.
At least British Waterways had a stand, pushing the case for transporting waste
Mr Cordiner also remarked on the relative dearth of gas-powered trucks on display.
The government publicises gas as a clean, green and cheap vehicle fuel, and
awards grants for fleet conversions, so why the apparent lack of enthusiasm
“There’s a dawning realisation that gas is not the way forward,”
said Mr Cordiner. “It’s seen as an interim step. We’re all waiting to see
where the hydrogen fuel cell is going.” There was also a gas supply distribution
problem, and companies were risking as much as £30 million to switch.
“Shanks conducted split engine tests throughout Europe and could see no
benefit to Shanks in changing yet unless requested to do by a customer such
as a local authority,” he said. “Better technologies will be available
in the next 10 years.”
Dual-fuel diesel system
Chassis-maker Isuzi had brochures pushing a promising Canadian diesel/gas dual-fuel
system called DDF marketed in the UK by Clean Exhaust Emissions Ltd. Dual-fuel
systems tend to be petrol/gas and therefore only suitable for vehicles of up
to three-and-a-half tonnes. What is interesting about DDF is that it enables
diesel engines to operate on a mix of diesel fuel and compressed natural gas
(CNG), which means it is geared to larger vehicles such as RCVs and buses.
The system utilises computer and high-speed solenoid technology, with multipoint
port injection, to continuously vary the proportion of diesel and CNG depending
on operating conditions. Typically, the replacement of diesel by CNG, which
is much cheaper and, we are told, less polluting, is “in the order of 70%t
to 80%”, says its promoter.
Isuzi spokesman Keith Child said its truck fitted with DDF was “out on
demo somewhere with a potential user”.
Making its UK debut on the Isuzu stand, fitted to that company’s chassis, were
scaled-down rear-loader RCV bodies from Coleshill Municipal, including the 7.5
ton Super Series billed as “the smallest of the small”. The bodies
– the other is the slightly larger Royal GT – are curved for strength, says
Unlike last year, none of ERF’s chassis this time round featured gas-power.
Spokesman Trevor Longcroft said; “It’s because we were pushing the new
ECU cab.” This cab is low-floor for easier entry, has a single piece windscreen
for improved visibility, and, says ERF, “offers the best in driver ergonomics”.
Scania too had brought along its Lowline Crew Cab, a conventionally fuelled
18-32 tonner, but it also had a factory-prepared gas vehicle at the show. The
Lowline was shown in prototype form last year, but is now for up for sale. The
P114 N2 260 gas vehicle, with a CNG engine, is also now available.
Exciting news over at the Iveco stand was the company’s development of a concept
vehicle, the EuroTran, which could be out within four years. Half truck, half
van, it is being specially designed for multi-stop delivery applications such
as e-shopping, and its engine will be able to run not only on diesel, but on
CNG (compressed natural gas) and LPG (liquefied petroleum gas). If required,
says Iveco, it could even use hybrid electric power or a fuel cell.
The Iveco’s Cargo Tector chassis made it first IWM appearance. Cargo Tector’s
diesel engine, says Iveco, combines improved drivability with significantly
reduced gaseous and noise emissions.
Iveco showcased an array of engines, including a CNG model, adapted to comply
with the latest Euro 3 emission standards, which will be applicable to vehicles
over three-and-a-half tonnes registered after 1 October later this year. Seddon
Atkinson’s Euro 3 Pacer range was also shown on the Iveco stand.
Over at the DAF Trucks stand, where the recently launched, conventionally fuelled
LF and DF ranges were exhibited, Sales Manager Mike Pickett maintained that
the latest Euro 3 compliant diesel engines, fitted with devices such as catalytic
converters, were a match for gas on emissions, “and there’s Euro 4 and
Euro 5 to come”.
Steve Currey on the British Gas stand took issue with that view, stating: “The
market’s now moving to LPG.” Conceding that LPG was slightly less green
than CNG, Mr Currey said it was far better because it used similar tanks to
diesel, gave double the range compared with CNG on a full tank, and there was
increasing refuelling infrastructure. “That’s why people are moving to
it. And the government made a long term commitment to maintain the price differential
favouring LPG against diesel.”
Perhaps there was an increased presence of electric-powered vehicles this year,
but, if so, it was incremental.
SEV, which specialises in electricity-propelled kit for the municipal market,
unveiled its new ST150. Because it weighs 7.5 tonnes and takes a 3.5 tonne payload,
SEV is using it with a new braking system. “A council is road-testing it
in an urban area,” said Sales Manager Michael Weatherill. “It’s being
tested to go to 30mph. We’re still working on it. If we can get the speed, all
Two electric vehicles made their debuts on the Textron stand, amid the Ipswich
firm’s customary Ransome street sweepers. Textron showed off the Diabline utility
vehicle, the first all-electric vehicle with an aluminium monocoque chassis
and integrated hydro-pneumatic suspension developed from racetrack technology.
The upshot is an exceptionally light but strong road-going vehicle capable of
carrying half tonne payloads at close to 30mph, said Product Manager Richard
Comely. The Diabline has a range of around 40 miles, but this can be extended
to 140 miles with a bi-energy version combining electrics with petrol or LPG.
The other electric unit from Textron was the XI-875 multi-purpose utility vehicle
with a top speed of 12mph. Both these vehicles are available with a litter cage
Ford caused a stir with its electric-powered Th nk car and bike. The car comes
outfitted in a recyclable polyethylene body, and can zip around town at 50mph.
The official launch of both items, LAWE understands, is 12 months away. A Ford
LPG-powered minibus goes into production this month (July), LAWE learned.
Tucked away on the South Green was Reliant Cars, the company which brought
the world the famous three-wheel van beloved of Del Boy. Reliant has an import
agreement with the Italian manufacturer Piaggio whose Ape 50 is a three-wheeler.
Ape 50 is available with a mini urban body with lockable storage bin, removable
collection trolley and bag holder for refuse collection purposes.
New was Piaggio’s Porter Refuse 106 – a four-wheeler this time. Designed as
an urban shuttle refuse vehicle, it features a 90° twin ram, hydraulic operated
aluminium or steel hopper for unloading into compactors or central collection
skips. An electric-engine option is available.
To Reliant goes the LAWE accolade for
the dinkiest vehicles at the show. Or as Del Boy would probably put it, “Cushty,
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