Hybrids Help Cut Mobile Machinery Fuel Use

Researchers from Aalto University in Finland are testing the benefits of hybrid technology that could be applied to a variety of non-road mobile machinery, such as mining equipment, agricultural tools, and material handling machines.

Unlike regenerative braking that many hybrids employ, the researchers are looking for ways to capture excess energy when machines are working as well, such as lowering a load or during deceleration. The temporarily stored energy can then be used during peak performance when power demand is high.

image via Aalto University

As seen in the photo above, teams are incorporating electric motors into heavy duty machines, some of which will be able to be plugged in to outlets, which, if the utility is using clean sources like solar or wind, can reduce the total output of greenhouse gas emissions in additional to reducing fuel use.

The projects at Aalto University are part of a program called HybLab, which has a long-term goal of reducing energy consumption by half of today’s levels. Although there has been a good deal of interest in electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids for personal transportation, it’s refreshing to see a university focus on the huge industry of goods and services.

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Aaron Colter is a freelance writer and marketing consultant in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Purdue University, he has worked for the NCAA, Dark Horse Comics, Willamette Week, AOL, The Huffington Post, Top Shelf Productions, DigitalTrends, theMIX agency, SuicideGirls, EarthTechling, d'Errico Studios and others. He is also the co-founder of BananaStandMedia.com, a free record label, recording studio, and distribution service for independent musicians.