The heavy-duty transport sector has much to consider when it comes to future transportation energy and powertrains including range, energy density, total cost of ownership and regional availability of a given energy source. Here’s a look at some of the latest developments facing the trucking industry with regard to this topic.
There are signs that renewable diesel is losing some momentum. Exxon has canceled a deal to purchase fuel from Global Clean Energy Holdings, which is behind schedule and over-budget converting a plant for renewable diesel production. Additionally, agricultural giant Cargill suspended development of a Missouri soybean processing plant.
Ethanol and Fuel-Agnostic Powertrains
Ethanol is in fact showing potential as a diesel replacement. ClearFlame has developed technology that enables diesel engines to become “fuel agnostic.” This capability makes E98 attractive because it is widely available, has a lower price point and significantly lowers truck emissions.
Hyliion unveiled an electric range extender powertrain that can be refueled with hydrogen and natural gas. The company is reported to be pursuing a next-generation model that will be able to operate on more than 20 different fuels.
In Shell’s latest demonstration for decarbonizing the Class 8 truck sector, the company updated its Shell Starship 3.0 to be powered by a Cummins X15N engine, which runs on Shell Renewable Natural Gas (RNG). Werner is also testing the X15N in its fleet. RNG is interchangeable with Compressed Natural Gas and Liquid Natural Gas.
Commercial autonomous transportation took a step forward with the opening of a Volvo Autonomous Solutions (V.A.S.) office in Fort Worth, Texas. V.A.S. is setting up autonomous freight corridors that will run from Dallas/Fort Worth to El Paso, Texas, and from Dallas to Houston. As part of this hub-to-hub model, autonomous trucks take on the highway portion of the driving, operating all hours of the day and night between transfer hubs. Human drivers complete local operations.