Hybrid Heavyweights Will Get Closer Look

We are becoming more and more accustomed to seeing hybrid vehicles nearly everywhere – on the highway, in the city and at the mall. But one place where hybrids are just beginning to make their presence felt is somewhere many of us would never have thought to look: the construction site.

Now, researchers at the University of California, Riverside, Center for Environmental Research and Technology have received a $2 million contract for a first-of-its-kind study of hybrid construction vehicles. The project, which is being funded by the California Air Resources Board, has two years to evaluate the emission reduction benefits of two commercially available hybrid construction vehicles: a Caterpillar bulldozer and a Komatsu hydraulic excavator.

excavator

image via Komatsu

These construction site brutes are well known for their rumbling, earth-moving power, but little is known about the potential benefits of hybrid technologies for construction equipment because of the machines’ unique and diverse uses and duty cycles. Manufacturers are saying the hybrid vehicles reduce fuel needs by 20 percent and cut emissions by 30 percent.

The $2 million will be divided two ways, according to Kent Johnson, an assistant research engineer at the Center for Environmental Research and Technology and the principal investigator on the project. Half of it will be used for incentive vouchers to get 20 to 30 hybrid construction vehicles in use. The other half will fund testing in six vehicles, which will be scattered throughout California.

“Hybrid construction vehicles are just now becoming available,” Johnson said in a statement. “We have been asked to use our emissions testing experience to quantify what their benefit is.”

Steve Duda lives in West Seattle, WA with three dogs and a lot of outdoor gear. A part-time fly fishing fishing guide and full-time writer, Steve’s work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Seattle Weekly, American Angler, Fly Fish Journal, The Drake, Democracy Now! and many others.