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  September 22nd, 2016 | Written by

UPS Pursues Sustainability Research

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  • Developing a new charger for electric trucks.
  • Solving electric vehicle charging issues.
  • Reducing costs of cleaning up diesel emissions.

A pair of Department of Energy grants awarded to UPS will enable the company and a team of engineers to conduct research aimed at reducing emissions and revolutionizing the charging process for electric trucks.

The grants are part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s efforts to spur innovation and promote more efficient cars and trucks.

The first grant, worth $1 million with a possible expansion to $10 million if the technology proves successful, will fund a joint project between UPS, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Workhorse, CALSTART, and Cisco. Researchers will attempt to develop a charger for electric trucks that’s embedded in the ground—flush with a UPS facility floor, for example.

With this new technology, electric trucks could recharge simply by positioning over the charger, so the charger induces a current in the vehicle to charge its batteries, much as an electric toothbrush does, with no metal to metal contact. If the UPS facility lost power for whatever reason, the power can also flow in the reverse direction from the charged batteries in the vehicles to the electric grid for the facility.

“This is a potential game-changer for our electric vehicles,” said UPS Automotive Director Mike Britt. “If successful, this technology would solve many electric vehicle charging issues and also expand operational efficiencies in the yard.”

The second grant, worth up to $3 million, will seek to develop an exhaust system that could simplify and reduce the cost of cleaning up diesel emissions. Working with Atlanta-based NG-1, UPS will focus on solutions for Class 7 and Class 8 heavy-duty vehicles. These trucks, which typically substitute 50 percent to 95 percent of diesel fuel with natural gas and have improved emission profiles, have historically been burdened by full diesel emission after-treatment systems and high operating costs. The proposed research could improve torque and horsepower, reduce costs, improve fuel efficiency and reduce noise levels.

“As industry and policy makers look to identify sustainable solutions, grants such as the Department of Energy’s are an important building block for the next generation of technological advances,” Britt said. “They fuel the future of what’s possible—and stand to positively impact every community that UPS serves.”