Last week we took a look at the automotive industry and how much fuel could be saved if more passenger cars would be equipped with start-stop systems. Today we'll continue our foray into different industries and how ultracapacitors can provide significant financial and environmental benefits by investigating the trucking and transportation industries.

Transporting 18 billion tons of goods per year, trucks deliver 75% of all goods in Europe. These trucks come in various shapes and sizes to fulfil a wide range of practical functions. One characteristic they all share is they consume copious amounts of diesel fuel – consumption that can be substantially reduced with the use of new technology.

One such technology is the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) jointly developed by Skeleton Technologies and Adgero SAS, and presented at the meeting of the National Professional Technical Commission of the French National Federation of Road Haulers in November 2015. Similar to hybrid systems in automobiles, but optimized for heavy-duty road freight vehicles, KERS uses high power ultracapacitors and an electrically driven axle mounted under the trailer to maximize fuel economy. Energy is captured and stored in ultracapacitors during braking, and is then available later to boost the truck’s acceleration.

Depending upon the size of the truck and driving conditions, diesel fuel consumption for heavy trucks is estimated at an average of 34.5 liters per 100 km. A truck travelling 100,000 km per year consumes 34,500 liters. Skeleton Technologies and Adgero expect KERS will reduce fuel usage up to 32%, which translates to 11,040 liters per year in fuel savings.

Approximately 600,000 heavy trucks were manufactured in Europe each year for the past four years, most of which are good candidates for KERS. If every truck were equipped with KERS, this represents a possible fuel savings of 6,624,000,000 liters. Given that newer trucks tend to travel more kilometers, the fuel savings could be even larger and provide the driver with a shorter payback period.

Beyond fuel savings, KERS will reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions into the environment. Currently, road transport vehicles produce about 25% of the CO2 emissions in the EU – a greater share than international aviation or shipping. Despite improvements, CO2 emissions rose by 36% between 1990 and 2010, and from 2010 to 2030 emissions are expected to increase from 200,000 tons to 240,000 tons.

The European Commission has introduced a limit by 2021 for cars and vans. When truck emissions are eventually regulated – as they surely will – KERS will be ready. Skeleton Technologies and Adgero expect KERS to reduce CO2 emissions by 30%. If every truck were KERS-equipped, then the forecasted 40,000 tons of additional CO2 by 2030 would be more than offset by the 60,000 tons reduction possible with KERS.

Next time we will delve into how ultracapacitors can be used in power grids and renewable energy applications, but until then, check out our infographic on trucking and transportation below.