UPDATED: Wal-Mart Tests Diesel-Hybrid Trucks, Alternative Fuels

Wal-Mart Testing Diesel-Hybrid Commercial Fleet, Powered By Reclaimed Grease Fuel From Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club Stores.

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Wal-Mart Stores, Inc announced plans to test two different hybrid Class-8 trucks and three different types of alternative fuels in an effort to double their fleet’s fuel-efficiency.

Between 2005 and 2008, Wal-Mart achieved a 25-percent increase in efficiency with its private fleet. It hopes to double that by 2015. While that sounds pretty nifty, that’s only from its 2005 baseline.

Class-8 trucks are quite a beast: they weigh 33,000 pounds, have three axles, and 10 tires. Wal-Mart currently uses these trucks for product distribution. They’re testing hybrid systems from ArvinMeritor and one from Eaton and Peterbilt.

The ArvinMeritor system could increase the fleets efficiency by 25-percent, whereas the Peterbilt/Eaton has an expected increase of 7-percent. Sounds like we already have a winner!

The ArvinMeritor Dual-Mode Hybrid Propulsion

Wal-Mart plans to test this diesel-electric hybrid system around Detroit. This dual-mode diesel hybrid is believed to be the first of it’s kind. It has both a mechanical and electrical propulsion system (that’s the Dual-Mode part).

The electric motor is used mostly for low speeds with high demands, like accelerating after stopping. Once moving, the mechanical propulsion begins working with the electric motor until reaching highway-like speeds. Of course, like any good hybrid the brake-energy is captured.

The Peterbilt/Eaton Hybrid Assit

This hybrid system features idle-reduction, an automated transmission with a parallel-type hybrid that incorporates an electric-motor/generator between the automated clutch and the input to the transmission. Here, the electric-motor also kicks in when say accelerating from a stop, or going up hill.

The system will be tested in Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Southern California and the DC region.

Alternative Fuels (Reclaimed Grease Fuel, B20 biodiesel, and LNG)

Fifteen of Wal-Marts current fleet will be retrofitted by Environmental Development Group to run on reclaimed grease fuel: the grease will come from Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club locations. That’s kinda cool and gross at the same time!

Trucks in Arizona will operate on a 80/20 blend of biodiesel made from cooking oil waste. Five trucks will be tested on liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Wal-Mart Speaks!

“In order to meet our goal of doubling our fleet efficiency, we are taking an active role in the development of these technologies,” said Chris Sultemeier, senior vice president of transportation for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. “We look forward to determining if these technologies will help reduce our environmental footprint, are viable for our business and provide a return on investment.”

Wal-Mart will test these new technologies throughout 2009.

[UPDATE]

Today I had the chance to speak with Wal-Mart’s Senior VP of Transportation, Chris Sultemeier, in regards to these efforts. Most of the conversation was just a reiteration of what’s above, but there was definitely a few newsworthy tidbits.

While Wal-Mart is only running these tests in the United States, if successful, they hope to extend what they’ve learned to their UK fleet – Wal-Mart’s only foreign private fleet. They also hope to influence other fleet operators with what they learn.

I think businesses will want to take notice. Last year, with all of their efficiency efforts, they drove 90 million less miles. They also saved 10 million gallons of fuel, and over $50 million! In this economic climate, it seems going green is one of the best things a business can do.

Sultemeier also said that Wal-Mart’s ties to the EPA will help expand these efforts beyond just Wal-Mart. I hope so too.

I suggested they approach the tests with some transparency, maybe setup a website, where consumers and businesses could track their progress and their hurdles. Obviously, with the size of Wal-Mart, this effort will have a huge impact on other businesses. That said, what works for them might not work for others. Having a single hub of information can help smaller businesses make the right choices from the start. Think Recovery.gov!

Please tell Wal-Mart you’d like to see this information public. Contact them here.

Source: GreenCarCongress.com | Photo: Wal-Mart

 

Jerry James Stone

is a web developer, part-time blogger, and a full-time environmentalist. His crusade for all things eco started twenty years ago when he ditched his meat-and-potatoes upbringing for something more vegetarian-shaped. His passions include cooking, green tech, eco politics, and smart green design. And while he doesn't own a car anymore, he loves to write about those too. Jerry studied at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA. During his time there he was a DJ at the campus station KCPR and he also wrote for the campus paper. Jerry currently resides in San Francisco, CA with his cat Lola. You can stalk him on Twitter @jerryjamesstone.