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November 26, 2012

Hybrid trucks could ease air pollution fueled by shipping

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – While shopping online might contribute to air pollution due to increased trucking, perfecting hybrid trucks could help control emissions and cut fuel consumption in half.

Buses and trucks, particularly vehicles used to transport goods, represent a huge percentage of global fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions, said Gregory Shaver, a Purdue University associate professor of mechanical engineering. Growth in e-commerce is one phenomenon leading to significant increases in the number of trucks needed to transport goods.

In the United States, annual e-commerce spending grew dramatically in 2010, adding to increasing fuel consumption for commercial vehicles, he said.

"It turns out that, considering fuel consumption for conventional heavy- and medium-duty trucks, the increase in e-commerce translates into an increase in emissions," said Shaver, principal investigator of a center aimed at reducing fuel consumption for commercial vehicles by perfecting hybrid technologies for the world's burgeoning bus and truck fleets.

The Hoosier Heavy Hybrid Center of Excellence (H3CoE) is funded with a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Graduate Automotive Technology Education initiative. Shaver co-directs the center with Maryam Saeedifard, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering.

The United States is the world's largest oil user, consuming nearly 20.7 million barrels per day. U.S. consumption is expected to grow moderately, but consumption in developing countries is expected to skyrocket in coming years. China consumes about 7.6 million barrels per day, and the rate is expected to grow at 9 percent annually.

The trend in China is due in large part to the increased use of commercial vehicles, Shaver said.

Writer: Emil Venere, 765-494-4709, venere@purdue.edu

Source: Gregory M. Shaver, 765-494-9342, gshaver@ecn.purdue.edu

Maryam Saeedifard, 765-49-44272, maryam@ecn.purdue.edu