German ultracapacitor expert Skeleton Technologies and French company Adgero have developed what is said to be the world’s first Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) for road freight vehicles.
The unique hybrid system consists of a bank of high-power ultracapacitors working alongside an electrically-driven axle mounted under the trailer.
The technology is controlled by an intelligent management system that tracks driver input in order to automatically control the regenerative braking and acceleration boost.
According to Adgero CEO, Mack Murray, the technology is projected to reduce fuel consumption and associated CO2 emissions by 15 to 25 per cent, depending on terrain and traffic profile.
It is said to pay for itself in “as little as three years” through reduced consumption alone.
The product has also been designed to exceed the typical 10-year lifetime of the trailer itself.
“Road haulage accounts for over a fifth of the EU’s total CO2 emissions, so fuel efficient solutions are crucial. We are beginning to see regenerative braking systems in automotive applications but the market clearly needs a similar solution for articulated lorries,” commented Murray.
“By partnering with Skeleton Technologies, we are putting the world’s most advanced ultracapacitors at the heart of our system. This will give us a powerful competitive edge in a demanding industry where energy density is a key metric.”
Reportedly, Germany’s Skeleton Technologies is the only ultracapacitor manufacturer to use a patented graphene material that allows for better conductivity and higher surface area.
This material has allowed the young company to quickly achieve breakthroughs in product performance, delivering twice the energy density and five times the power density of competitors’ products.
Over the last year, Skeleton Technologies has worked with Adgero to adapt an 800V ultracapacitor power module that is proving successful in the motorsport industry to meet the needs of road freight vehicles.
The module consists of five 160V units made up of Skeleton Technologies' cylindrical cells, backed by a proprietary management system that allows for smart monitoring and control of the energy/power profile according to customer requirements. With monitoring for each individual cell, the module is also able to actively self-balance.
“Any truck equipped with an Adgero monitor becomes a parallel electric hybrid when paired with an equipped trailer. If a truck without a monitor picks up a retrofitted trailer, the hybrid system will simply stay in standby mode,” said Murray.
The new truck KERS system is said to be fully compatible with existing infrastructure and staff training programmes, and has been optimised for intermodal solutions.
In recent months, it has been through rigorous testing procedures including vibration, shock and immersion testing.
Real life road testing will begin in 2016 with Altrans, a French logistics company that is part of a trade organisation that represents 11,000 vehicles across Europe.
Adgero and Skeleton Technologies then plan to ramp up production, with the objective of producing 8000–10,000 units annually by 2020.