Print 69 comment(s) - last by christojojo.. on May 29 at 11:29 AM

What can brown do for you?

The hybrid news continues to flood in this week. On Tuesday, we learned of Wal-Mart's new hybrid addition to its trucking fleet, then New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the city's decision to make all yellow cabs hybrid by 2012. Today, UPS announced that it is adding 50 hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) to its delivery fleet in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and Phoenix.

The stop and go nature of deliveries to commercial and residential addresses make hybrid technology a perfect fit for UPS trucks. Hybrid vehicles are most efficient in stop-and-go city traffic where the electric motor can be called upon to handle a majority of the propulsion duties.

"We're excited to be among the first to deploy the latest in HEV technology because it promises a 45% increase in fuel economy in addition to a dramatic decrease in vehicle emissions," said Robert Hall, Director of UPS Ground Fleet Engineering.

UPS says that the 50 new HEVs improve fuel efficiency by 45 percent, will save the company 44,000 gallons of fuel per year and reduce carbon emissions by 457 metric tons per year.

The HEV trucks feature a smaller capacity diesel engine, lithium-ion battery pack and an electric motor/generator. Regenerative braking is also used to capture energy normally lost with conventional brakes and converts it to charge the onboard battery pack. The hybrid system being used is from Eaton Corporation -- the same company that provides hybrid power for Wal-Mart's new Peterbilt Model 386 Hybrid.

UPS' new HEV trucks look nearly identical to the existing "brownies" that can be seen scurrying through city streets. What will tip you off to their hybrid functionality are "Low Emission, Hybrid Electric Vehicle" scripting on the side of the truck and an overall quieter demeanor.

UPS currently operates over 20,000 low-emission and alternative-fuel vehicles in the United States.

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What does this mean?
By retrospooty on 5/24/2007 9:53:56 AM , Rating: 3
Is green the new brown, or is brown the new green?

Either way its at least a small good thing.

RE: What does this mean?
By BMFPitt on 5/24/2007 10:19:33 AM , Rating: 5
Green is the new green. This will save them a ton of money, and there's nothing wrong with that. Clean technology that is also cheaper to operate is the only way to any real progress in this area.

RE: What does this mean?
By retrospooty on 5/24/2007 10:23:03 AM , Rating: 2
"Green is the new green."

LOL... good point.

RE: What does this mean?
By creathir on 5/24/2007 11:09:31 AM , Rating: 1
I'm not sure I would say this, quite yet.
Hopefully, eventually, this will happen, but as it stands now, the buy in cost of the technology is higher than the savings. As gas prices go up, and the cost of the technology decreases, this statement will be true. As of right now though, it is not the case.

- Creathir

RE: What does this mean?
By BMFPitt on 5/24/2007 11:52:38 AM , Rating: 4
For you and me, it's not worth it (aside from tax breaks and other peripheral considerations.) For trucks that get pitiful gas mileage, run all day, and stop all the time, I'm sure this is going to save them money.

RE: What does this mean?
By Samus on 5/24/2007 1:08:22 PM , Rating: 3
Creathir, they wouldn't do it unless it were to save them money. I won't make the big corporations like Walmart and UPS look evil, because they, like any responsible corporation, do care about the environment. But, adding 50 vehicles is a bold move that would only happen if it were to cut their bottom line.

Walmart on the other hand adding just one to their fleet is kind of a stop-gap solution to the backlash they get from excessing waste-causing and poor recycling programs throughout their stores.

I understand, as said in the Walmart article, they aren't expected to mothball their fleet, but they didn't even announce intention to continue to use the technology if their pilot vehicle succeeds in reliability and sounds like they just want the free press that screams "Look, we can be green too!"

RE: What does this mean?
By Oregonian2 on 5/24/2007 2:02:00 PM , Rating: 2
Creathir, they wouldn't do it unless it were to save them money. I won't make the big corporations like Walmart and UPS look evil, because they, like any responsible corporation, do care about the environment. But, adding 50 vehicles is a bold move that would only happen if it were to cut their bottom line.

I like how you say you're not going to evil'ize them then go ahead and do so in the next few paragraphs. :-)

In any case I don't think the big bucks spent for the hybrids was purely so that they could do a press release about it, as suggested. That'd be a very spendy press release, they probably could have spent the money on something else more effective.

They're doing these things to save money, but on a trial basis (would be stupid to do otherwise). That it's got PR ability built-in is only a bonus.

As to Walmart doing "just one", that one was something like 0.5% of their fleet as I recall, and that's probably a LOT bigger percentage than these UPS trucks are in UPS's total fleet. With UPS it'd make no sense to just trial one unit because it'd be too expensive. UPS trucks are unique custom vehicles so having just one made would be very very expensive on a per-truck basis.

Spendy gas probably is making the hybrid making business one where they can sell all they can make.

Companies like to save money (evil) just like people do in their own shopping (not evil somehow). People also like to show off how they bought a hybrid (even though they really did it to save money, just like the evil corporations).

RE: What does this mean?
By amdsupport on 5/24/2007 2:56:49 PM , Rating: 2
As to Walmart doing "just one", that one was something like 0.5% of their fleet as I recall, and that's probably a LOT bigger percentage than these UPS trucks are in UPS's total fleet. With UPS it'd make no sense to just trial one unit because it'd be too expensive. UPS trucks are unique custom vehicles so having just one made would be very very expensive on a per-truck basis.

The vast majority of the large logistics companies receive vehicles like this at little or no cost from the manufacturers for trial there probably was not an initial cost to either UPS or Wal-Mart for the hybrids. The manufacturers of the vehicles usually cut the logistics companies deals on future orders of the vehicles if they are pleased with the performance. This is the same thing the railroad companies do all the time. These are nothing but free-press moves by the logistics companies in my opinion...which isn't a bad thing.

GE gave Union Pacific and BNSF a hybrid locomotive to use in their freight runs as a test at no cost to Union Pacific or BNSF,

and there is quite a long history of GM handing out "demonstrators" to other rail companies.

Most of the time companies do not get press for receiving test vehicles, but since all this "green" crap is going around they are obviously going to capitalize on it.

RE: What does this mean?
By djc208 on 5/24/2007 3:22:13 PM , Rating: 2
GE gave Union Pacific and BNSF a hybrid locomotive to use in their freight runs as a test at no cost to Union Pacific or BNSF,

Which is kind of a funny statement since technically all locomotives are hybrids (series hybrids like the Chevy Volt, as opposed to parallel as in most other hybrid cars). It's kind of sad it's taken them this long to develop this on a train, they're a natural for adding batteries since the propulsion system is already electric.

RE: What does this mean?
By amdsupport on 5/24/2007 4:04:55 PM , Rating: 2
Which is kind of a funny statement since technically all locomotives are hybrids

I thought it was silly too when I first saw the locomotive since they already are diesel/electric hybrids like you said...but adding batteries and slapping on the "hybrid" moniker seems to be what the railroads want now days...I really question how much those hybrid road locos will save on fuel cost and if any savings could offset potentially higher maint cost. Hybrid powered locos seem ideal for yard switching though.

RE: What does this mean?
By BlindNut on 5/24/2007 4:57:46 PM , Rating: 2
There is no way that walmarts fleet consists of 200 trucks... I worked in a store and on average we received 4 trucks loads every day and that was only one store... A quick number I got from cleantechblog was

"Wal-Mart operates 3,300 trucks that in 2005 drove 455 million miles to make 900,000 deliveries to its 6,500 stores."

RE: What does this mean?
By Oregonian2 on 5/25/2007 2:10:45 PM , Rating: 2
The article said they had a couple hundred. I assumed it was the number for this particular size or type. They may have different sized trucks for inter-warehouse as opposed to ones for store delivery (which I don't think the article's one was intended for). Always possible some aren't company owned as well.

RE: What does this mean?
By Hoser McMoose on 5/25/2007 2:34:26 PM , Rating: 2
I think the big addition is not so much just adding batteries (which, as you state, is a no brainer) but rather adding in regenerative braking to charge those batteries. I'm guessing that is a bit non-trivial to add in and make reliable enough to get it working on a locomotive.

I would guess that they were probably waiting on some battery advancements too here. We're talking about thousands of kilowatts going in and out of these batteries which gives you both some technical/reliability type challenges and also issues with plain old weight.

RE: What does this mean?
By bkm32 on 5/24/2007 12:22:06 PM , Rating: 2
This technology is not necessarily cheaper to use. There are still lots of moving parts, but now there's added electrical parts. This may even out, but these vehicles are more expensive up front and operators begin to see savings between 5-10 years down the road assuming recapitalization occurs after that.

That's the cost of adoption.

I'm not sure UPS is really interested in saving money on this project now, if it's a PR stunt, or if they're getting their foot in the door with this tech to ween themselves of "Big Oil" dependence (the real American Public Enemy #1).

Overall, I think its a good call no matter how you look at it. It's better as far as reducing emissions, but not when you look at the damage done by nickel ore mining, production, and refining (which uses lots of petrol, btw), but overall reduces greenhouse gas production.

My two cents.

RE: What does this mean?
By giantpandaman2 on 5/24/2007 12:55:50 PM , Rating: 2
Article Says:
The HEV trucks feature a smaller capacity diesel engine, lithium-ion battery pack and an electric motor/generator.

You say:
but not when you look at the damage done by nickel ore mining, production, and refining

I say:

Nice to see diesel & hybrid together
By jak3676 on 5/24/2007 9:57:06 AM , Rating: 5
It's nice to see there is a good commercial venture pairing diesel with hybrid technology. Now if we can just get them to run on bio-diesel the package will be complete. Fortunately there won't be modification to the existing diesel engine and fuel system so they should be able to add that into the mix easy enough when it becomes more available.

Now lets start ramping production of bio-diesel please.

RE: Nice to see diesel & hybrid together
By christojojo on 5/24/2007 11:48:50 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not flaming you nor am I pro or anti - biodiesel. I just want to know why you are so much for biodiesel.

I have just read some little reports here and there and my uneducated jumping the gun conclusion that biodiesel would best fit the car diesel area. You know the people that like to tinker and get used oil from restaurants. I have a hard time thinking with a growing population that there will be room for biodiesel and food.

I admit I need to look into this more, so please don't tell me to research into it without a few helpful links. My students are getting ready for exams and I have less time than I need already.

RE: Nice to see diesel & hybrid together
By TomZ on 5/24/07, Rating: -1
RE: Nice to see diesel & hybrid together
By BMFPitt on 5/24/2007 1:31:56 PM , Rating: 2
Biodiesel is great so far as it recycles waste materials (i.e. cooking grease, etc.) When we start trying to grow crops to mass produce it, that kills most of the benefit. Where we really need to go with it is find a good way to have sources of reusable material be able to easily and efficiently sell back their waste to biodiesel producers.

RE: Nice to see diesel & hybrid together
By Oregonian2 on 5/24/2007 2:06:23 PM , Rating: 2
Or maybe open more fast food places and go to a pattern where basically all food is deep fried? :-) :-)

"Would you like a nice glass of deep fried milk, honey?"

I do know that here in the northwest, new processing plants for bio-diesel fuel are being planned and built all over the place along with farmer-contracts for the material to feed them (not the kind of oil popular with food oils though I think, something more efficient for bio-fuel).

By Hoser McMoose on 5/25/2007 4:10:20 PM , Rating: 2
The most common crop for biodiesel at the moment is soy, which IS used for food oil (among many other things). However I think that is being phased out in favor of rapeseed or mustard seed oil as well as some animal oils (leftover grease from restaurants as well as some waste fats and oils from the meat packing industry). There are also some experiments going on to produce biodiesel from VERY high energy-content crops such as Palm oil and tallow, as well as algae.

Most news biodiesel production plants being built these days are designed to handle multiple types of feedstock. This allows them to adjust their mix of feedstock according to price, which should limit the effects it would have on the food industry through standard principles of supply and demand.

By teldar on 5/24/2007 1:49:22 PM , Rating: 2
There are many benefits to biodiesel, it's just that we don't have a great way to mass manufacture it as of yet though. Not all biodiesel comes from palm trees. There is talk about making it from algae which grows in a pond and being able to harvest 1000 gallons per year from a pond when they can get 60 gallons per year from an acre of soybeans.


RE: Nice to see diesel & hybrid together
By TomZ on 5/24/07, Rating: -1
RE: Nice to see diesel & hybrid together
By jak3676 on 5/24/2007 11:20:07 PM , Rating: 2
No actually you were not factually correct. Bio-diesel has greatly decreased CO2 emissions (check wikipedia for sources if you don't believe me). It’s produced from atmospheric carbon dioxide via photosynthesis in plants – i.e. taking CO2 out of the air.

The risk of deforestation is real and needs to be managed. But that’s just like every other energy source in the world. It’s a relatively new technology that is being exploited by some at the expense of others, but that doesn’t mean that as a technology it is inherently flawed.

Hydrogen fuel is still a long way away. If you have some new way of producing hydrogen cheaply let us all know. (if you are talking about hydrogen fuel-cells, then that’s nothing more than a new battery technology – you still need to produce the energy somehow)

By the way I’ve never been accused of being politically correct at the expense of critical thinking before. If anything, most people consider me a “capitalist pig, baby killer”. I’ll take that as a compliment, thx

RE: Nice to see diesel & hybrid together
By christojojo on 5/24/2007 11:36:52 PM , Rating: 2
Hey Capitalist pig!
I heard of a concept trying to go proof of concept of an idea...

Well anyway I read somewhere (maybe that some business is trying to take wind turbine out to see and using the electricity to free up hydrogen. Here's a long Quote and a link...

The WindHunter is the concept of an offshore, floating system of wind turbines that make electricity, electrolyze sea water, and make hydrogen. The architects of the idea envision four two-megawatt wind turbines mounted on a moveable framework connected to the deck of a ship. The electricity produced from the turbines is sent to four electrolyzers in the hulls or inside the deck, and then the collected hydrogen is compressed and stored in tube tank trailers until transported to shore. From the website:

“This continuously manned, safe and stable system will be easily maintained on-board while relocating to the best wind conditions for the wind turbines…. These large ships or platforms will operate out of sight of land either moored or anchored while facing into the wind and the oncoming waves. Millions of them can operate on the world's oceans with minimal environmental impact and human resistance.”

By christojojo on 5/24/2007 11:39:43 PM , Rating: 2
Oops I should have said that this is from a quick search and not to the original article.

Also my wife refers to me as just pig, sometimes as "good pig" but we wont get into that. ;)

RE: Nice to see diesel & hybrid together
By Hoser McMoose on 5/25/2007 5:36:57 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, talk about a TERRIBLE idea!

Lets see, the idea is to take ~3,200kW worth of actual wind power (wind turbines average about 40% efficiency when off shore, somewhat better than the 30-35% of land-based wind turbines), convert that at about 65% efficiency to hydrogen and then (presumably) compress that hydrogen down, taking another 10% efficiency hit. So we end up with a production rate of hydrogen energy of around 1,800-1,900W.

Now consider that a small electric vehicle will need around 50kWh worth of hydrogen for every hour of driving (assuming about a ~100kW/134hp motor), and most people drive average maybe 15 hours of driving per week? So adding this up each of these ships is providing roughly 400 compact cars worth of hydrogen energy.

Note that these aren't going to be small ships, we're talking about a LARGE barge if they want to hold 4 2MW turbines! I don't know if you're seen a 2MW turbine, but this is no small windmill. Enercom makes a 2MW turbine with a blade diameter of 82m (270') and a total height of about 100m (330').

Of course, my calculations above ignore the huge amount of diesel fuel that will be used to move that giant barge around. The energy content of the diesel fuel would probably be roughly equivalent to the energy content of the hydrogen fuel it's producing, so the net effect will be zero reduction in oil use.

RE: Nice to see diesel & hybrid together
By Hoser McMoose on 5/25/2007 6:15:17 PM , Rating: 2
Oops, minor correction to the above. I forgot to include the efficiency of the hydrogen fuel cell into the numbers (ie I assumed it was 100% efficient). In reality it's only about 50-70% efficient. If we take the 70% number that actually reduces the number of compact cars this barge could power down to about 280.

I'm also not including the loses in the system involved with the storage and transport of the hydrogen, which could potentially be non-trivial (compressed hydrogen is rather tough to store and transport).

Also figure that the way that hydrogen em brittles steel means that you're maintenance costs of the barge are going to be rather high and it's useful lifespan probably fairly low (30 years tops). All of this this translates to very expensive solution. Exact estimates of cost is somewhat beyond my knowledge, but I strongly suspect that it would be over $100/gallon-equivalent.

By christojojo on 5/29/2007 11:29:09 AM , Rating: 2
Personally, I think it is a cool concept. I'm not saying feasible as of yet or ever. It is nice to read an idea that just doesn't go back to the same ideas in the same ways over and over again. I don't know about you but I have worked with alot of nay-sayers and it's always fun to disprove them. Please don't get me wrong, I am not flaming you. I think predicting and calulating the pluses and miunuses is essential to any valid experiment.

As far as the oceans are concern and the size of these ships 70 of the world is water so the turbines can be 70% bigger (you get the idea.)

When costs are quoted I am almost always drawn to the memory of my father's high tech purchase of a standard claculator from TI in the late 1970's for 100 dollars (now a dollar store staple). The cost was high but my mother didn't hate doing taxes as much that year.

RE: Nice to see diesel & hybrid together
By jak3676 on 5/24/2007 11:06:29 PM , Rating: 3
There are many pro’s and con’s for bio-diesel and in the end it isn’t just as simple as trying to figure out if the pro’s outweigh the con’s. I’m pro bio-diesel in some circumstances, but not others. I think most educated people will tell you that it has a place in the global energy market (along with many other technologies), but it is definitely not the silver bullet answer that some claim it to be. Overall I think we need to move toward much more renewable energy production and improved efficiency. In the U.S. bio-diesel is underutilized.

More than just being labeled “pro bio-diesel” though, I am in favor of more U.S. consumer use of diesel, and more development in plug-in hybrid cars. I think producing diesel is a better use of crude oil than producing gasoline. Diesel is simpler to refine and results in more BTU’s per gallon of fuel. When you combine the higher BTU rating with ~35% greater efficiency in a modern diesel engine (compared to gasoline) you get a much better MPG rating and more mileage per barrel of crude oil. Diesel does have some different environmental concerns than gasoline. (For example diesels produce much less total particulate matter and CO2, but more NOx) Overall, I feel using a higher percentage of diesel cars in the U.S. would lower our dependence on foreign oil and benefit the country.

For some time now, combining hybrid technology with a diesel engine has proven difficult within a small car design. Diesel engines are already more fuel efficient than gasoline engines so there isn’t as much incentive I suppose. Diesel’s don’t adapt to being cycled off and on as much as gas engines. Most of the benefit from a hybrid diesel will come from the regenerative breaking and being able to cut out the engine when coasting or at a standstill. This should give a hybrid diesel exceptional highway and city mileage.

But you didn’t just ask me about standard diesel or hybrids you wanted to know why I’m in favor of bio-diesel. Biodiesel is a renewable fuel that can be manufactured from algae, vegetable oils, animal fats or recycled restaurant greases; it can be produced locally in most countries without extensive refining. It’s good for your car, provides additional markets for U.S. agriculture and its good for improved air quality. There area a variety of ways to produce bio-diesel. Some are “better” than others, but there really is no single “best” answer. You could easily do several doctoral theses on the various parts of the arguments for and against bio-diesel. is a very pro site that has some good information, but they make no attempt to present the “con” side of debate. Biofuelwatch says they are for a sustainable biofuel market, but they only really present the anti bio-diesel argument. Wikipedia does a pretty good job of presenting both sides of the debate. I’ll try to summarize the arguments for and against without over simplifying the issue. Everything below is not directly from me, but quoted off one of the following sites or one of their links/sources.

Biodiesel refers to a diesel-equivalent, processed fuel derived from biological sources (such as vegetable oils), which can be used in unmodified diesel-engine vehicles. Biodiesel refers to alkyl esters made from the transesterification of vegetable oils or animal fats.


Biodiesel is a renewable energy source (produced from atmospheric carbon dioxide via photosynthesis in plants) that can be used within the existing distribution systems on existing diesel vehicles without requiring modification.

B20 (20% bio-diesel, 80% petro-diesel) showed similar fuel consumption, horsepower, torque, and haulage rates as conventional diesel fuel. Biodiesel has superior lubricity and can contribute to longer fuel injector life and lower engine wear.

Biodiesel has a positive energy balance, the best of any transportation fuel. For every unit of energy needed to produce a gallon of biodiesel, 3.24 units of energy are gained. In the comparison petroleum diesel fuel is found to have a 0.843 energy yield, along with 0.805 for petroleum gasoline, and 1.34 for bioethanol.

Biodiesel has the highest BTU content of any alternative fuel. Due to this higher energy density of biodiesel, combined with the higher efficiency of the diesel engine, a gallon of biodiesel produces the effective energy of 2.25 gallons of ethanol.

Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel to have fully completed the health effects testing requirements of the Clean Air Act. The use of biodiesel in a conventional diesel engine results in substantial reduction of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter compared to emissions from diesel fuel. The use of B100 results in substantial reductions in life cycle emissions of total particulate matter, carbon monoxide and sulfur oxides (32%, 35% and 8% reductions, respectively, relative to petroleum diesel’s life cycle). Tailpipe emissions of particulates less than 10 microns in size are 68% lower on biodiesel (compared to petroleum diesel). In addition, tailpipe emissions of carbon monoxide are 46% lower for biodiesel and hydrocarbons at the tailpipe are 37% lower (compared to petroleum diesel). Biodiesel completely eliminates emissions of sulfur oxides at the tailpipe and typically produces about 60% less net carbon dioxide emissions than petroleum-based diesel.

Biodiesel is biodegradable and non-toxic - the U.S. Department of Energy confirms that biodiesel is less toxic than table salt and biodegrades as quickly as sugar.


The locations where oil-producing plants are grown is of increasing concern. One of the prime worries being that countries are clear cutting large areas of tropical forest in order to grow such lucrative crops, in particular, oil palm and the resulting over-fertilization, pesticide use, and land use conversion damage the local ecosystem. This has already occurred in the Philippines and Indonesia; both countries plan to increase their biodiesel production levels significantly, which will lead to the deforestation of tens of millions of acres if these plans materialize. Loss of habitat on such a scale could endanger numerous species of plants and animals. A particular concern which has received considerable attention is the threat to the already-shrinking populations of orangutans on the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra, which face possible extinction.

The temperature at which pure (B100) biodiesel starts to gel varies significantly and depends upon the mix of esters and therefore the feedstock oil used to produce the biodiesel, but it is often higher than petro-diesel.

B20 exhibits a 2.67% increase in life cycle emissions of NOx compared to petrodiesel. This can be greater than 20 times the NOx emissions of a comparable gasoline vehicle. As biodiesel contains no nitrogen, the increase in NOx emissions may be due to the higher cetane rating of biodiesel and higher oxygen content, which allows it to convert nitrogen from the atmosphere into NOx more rapidly.

The estimated transportation fuel and home heating oil used in the United States is about 230 billion US gallons (0.87 km³) (Briggs, 2004). Waste vegetable oil and animal fats would not be enough to meet this demand. In the United States, estimated production of vegetable oil for all uses is about 24 billion pounds (11 million tons) or 3 billion US gallons (0.011 km³), and estimated production of animal fat is 12 billion pounds (5.3 million tons) or 1.5 billion US gallons (0.005 km³). (Van Gerpen, 2004)

The National Biodiesel Board has released the following sales volume estimates for the US:
2005 -- 75 million gallons
2004 -- 25 million gallons
2003 -- 20 million gallons
2002 -- 15 million gallons
2001 -- 5 million gallons
2000 -- 2 million gallons
1999 -- 500,000 gallons
(personal commentary here again)
Biodiesel (and ethanol) was once heralded as the magic answer for the world’s energy problem. It was supposed to bring prosperity to underprivileged third world countries as rich western nations paid them for their agriculture. In reality these third world countries lack the infrastructure and government controls to prevent this from being much more than a new form of exploitation. In the poorer nations vegetable oil competes directly with food production sometimes further stressing the local population.

The success of biodiesel home brewing, and micro-economy-of-scale operations, continues to shatter the conventional business myth that large economy-of-scale operations are the most efficient and profitable. It is becoming increasingly apparent that small-scale, localized, low-impact energy keeps more resources and revenue within communities, reduces damage to the environment, and requires less waste management. Biodiesel can provide an important avenue to decrease foreign oil consumption and improve the environment when implemented and managed properly.

By christojojo on 5/25/2007 9:51:10 AM , Rating: 2
I found this post a mostly non-biased (There is almost some form of bias in every paper.) and nicely composed well researched paper. You actually out write many teachers. (If you ever had the misfortune of sitting in a teachers lounge you'd understand why I visit tech sites.)

I would give this post a worth reading, if I was able to vote after posting myself.

By Hoser McMoose on 5/25/2007 3:34:16 PM , Rating: 2
One of the really nice things with biodiesel is that some of the best places to get it from are non-food products. The best known sources are certain types of algae. There are a few experiments on-going with getting biodiesel out of algae crops being grown in areas that are TOTALLY unsuitable for food production, such as in the Nevada desert.

One of the most interesting biodiesel experiments I've seen is going on in New Zealand, where they are actually growing their algae in a sewage treatment facility.

The downside though is that it's going to be tough to supply even 1% of the worlds diesel needs with biodiesel in the near future. Most of these are looking at a producing no more than a few thousand barrels worth per day.

How big is their total fleet?
By Spivonious on 5/24/2007 10:10:04 AM , Rating: 3
I want to be impressed but 50 trucks out of tens of thousands is just a PR move.

RE: How big is their total fleet?
By Mitch101 on 5/24/2007 10:33:14 AM , Rating: 3
Probably best to trial it first then see if its truely reliable and worth it to move forward with more.

RE: How big is their total fleet?
By therealnickdanger on 5/24/2007 10:42:11 AM , Rating: 4
50 trucks out of tens of thousands is just a PR move

No, it's called a test run. I'm suprised they are buying so many! With such a well-oiled machine like UPS, they can't afford to just replace their whole fleet with a truly untested new vehicle. By tested, I mean spending a year or two out in the field doing the same operations of standard vehicles - not lab-controlled tests. If the initial cost and maintenance of these hybrids proves to better in the long-haul, then you'll see them expand the hybrid fleet.

Any company that relies as heavily on transportation efficiency as UPS does is always looking for ways to cut costs. With all the hype surrounding hybrids, they can't help but look into them. I hope it works out well for them and they improve their profit margins.

RE: How big is their total fleet?
By Oregonian2 on 5/24/2007 2:07:13 PM , Rating: 2
UPS trucks are unique specialized things in the way they are built. Probably not cost effective to have a single custom truck made.

RE: How big is their total fleet?
By TheGreek on 5/24/2007 4:59:07 PM , Rating: 2
And they spend a lot of time in Manhattan standing perfectly still.

Funny, nobody mentioned how much better air quality will get in a tunnel with bumper to bumper traffic. Those who've been stuck in the Lincoln Tunnel know what I'm talking about.

RE: How big is their total fleet?
By vortmax on 5/24/2007 1:11:40 PM , Rating: 2
I'd say the Walmart thing sounds much more of a PR move than this. 50 trucks is quite the investement and appears to be much more of a real test case.

RE: How big is their total fleet?
By Oregonian2 on 5/24/2007 2:10:42 PM , Rating: 2
Those 50 trucks undoubtedly are a much smaller percentage of their fleet than Walmart's one truck (where they have only two hundred some). Walmart's truck also probably is close to a standard configuration truck while UPS's are specialized unique trucks (transparent roof to light the innards for 'free', etc), so only one would be cost prohibitive (although still cheaper than the BIG Walmart truck).

RE: How big is their total fleet?
By vortmax on 5/25/2007 11:32:07 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, but having 50 test cases will give you much more accurate results than just 1...regardless of the overall percentage.

For example, what if the truck Walmart purchased turns out to be a lemon? Or maybe it experiences a lot of problems. They don't have 49 other trucks to compare it to, therefore, scewing the results.

By Oregonian2 on 5/25/2007 2:12:48 PM , Rating: 2
I suspect that Walmart truck may have costed the same as the 50 UPS ones. A little bigger truck (and investment) I think.

RE: How big is their total fleet?
By TheGreek on 5/24/2007 4:56:42 PM , Rating: 2
I want to be impressed but 50 trucks out of tens of thousands is just a PR move.

Wouldn't it be really crazy to convert all of them now without having enough evidence that it's really saving them money?

What's UPS is actually saying is they aren't taking anyone's word one way or the other, they'll find out for themselves.

Sounds smart to me. And if anyone can find a cheaper way to do something it's Brown.

The beggining of the end
By Screwballl on 5/24/2007 11:07:24 AM , Rating: 2
This is the best way to transition the market from fossil fuels to a non-polluting vehicle. We will see how far this goes because once the oil industry sees that people really do want this, they will do what they did to GM in the 90s and pull all EV1 cars off the road in order to force more oil to be used once again.
Giving the public a leash. Let them out for a bit and just when they are happy with getting away from it, snatched back into oil dependency. This has happened at least 3 or 4 times in the past. I remember the natural gas/propane conversions in the mid 80s, all electric in the early 90s...
Honda and Toyota don't have such a large stake in the oil industry so they will be more likely to release hybrids and then all electric/hydrogen/whatever vehicles.

RE: The beggining of the end
By Andrwken on 5/24/2007 11:28:54 AM , Rating: 2
Honda and Toyota don't have such a large stake in the oil industry so they will be more likely to release hybrids and then all electric/hydrogen/whatever vehicles.

Your absolutely right, The domestic automakers are definitely the only oil lapdogs and are making a killing right now on the high oil prices. Get a clue. Honda and Toyota both lobbied against higher mileage standards right along with the domestic automakers. Throw in some of the poor mileage ratings Toyota sees in its new full size trucks(gm is actually better) and its time do dispense with the notions that only japanese automakers care about your mileage and emmissions. Now if you wanted to make the arguement that Honda and Toyota are in a better position due to the kind of vehicles they excel at and sell the most of, then you have a point.

RE: The beggining of the end
By Oregonian2 on 5/24/2007 2:13:14 PM , Rating: 2
Your absolutely right, The domestic automakers are definitely the only oil lapdogs and are making a killing right now on the high oil prices.

Going bankrupt is "making a killing"? I don't think so!

RE: The beggining of the end
By TomZ on 5/24/2007 2:22:30 PM , Rating: 2
It was a sarcastic statement.

RE: The beggining of the end
By Andrwken on 5/24/2007 5:13:12 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for clearing that up for me!!

There are other alternatives
By borowki on 5/24/2007 11:37:31 AM , Rating: 2
It's very important that we don't let the hype surrounding hybrid turn it into the only environmentally friendly solution. Hybrids might be more fuel efficient, but they still burn fossil fuel and the saving isn't really that dramatic. We need to explore other options.

Personally, I'm a big believer in the potential of homing pigeons. It's a time-tested solution. Through genetic engineering I believe we can significantly boost their lifting capacity.

RE: There are other alternatives
By zsouthboy on 5/24/2007 12:09:35 PM , Rating: 2
The african swallow is able to lift much as well.

RE: There are other alternatives
By B on 5/24/2007 12:15:31 PM , Rating: 4
But they lack low end torque.

stop and go is not best for hybrids
By saechaka on 5/24/2007 11:52:03 AM , Rating: 2
i had a 2004 civic hybrid and now i have a 2005 toyota prius. i don't why the media or people in general keep saying stop and go driving is the most efficient driving for hybrids. from what i've noticed w/my own hybrid driving experience, it's being able to cruise from 40-50mph (usually nets close to 60mpg) or 50-65mph (usually nets low 50's mpg) this is on my prius, so it's being able to maintain a nice leisurely cruising pace which helps FE. by the way, my civic averaged 42mpg and prius avg 52mpg in summer and 48mpg in winter and 47mpg on the freeway cruising between 70-75mph. i'm the black prius that passes everyone in the morning here in seattle.

RE: stop and go is not best for hybrids
By hubajube on 5/24/2007 12:34:06 PM , Rating: 2
Most cars get their worst mileage in stop and go and that's where hybrids shine over gas only cars. That's why people say that's where they are most efficient. A gas engine can attain those mpg ratings while driving so there's not that much advantage. What do you get in stop and go driving?

By saechaka on 5/25/2007 12:29:08 AM , Rating: 2
if i did all stop and go driving in my prius, i would have to guess that i would get high 40's mpg. i see the point you guys are making but i just don't think it's correct to say that's where hybrids are most efficient because it will confuse the buyer. people ask me all the time what i get in the city and i always have to educate them that it's more about being able to cruise at a certain speed that garners the epa 60mpg rating, which is possible.

By HotFoot on 5/24/2007 12:38:28 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe stop and go doesn't get you the best mileage in your hybrid vehicle, but the point is that stop and go traffic is where hybrid technology makes the biggest difference over standard ICE-only vehicles. At constant cruising speed, hybrid technology only benefits you in that you can use a smaller engine - higher loading on the engine tends to get higher efficiency. However, this is countered by extra weight, esp. due to the batteries.

The point is that hybrid technology, while not definitely the right choice for the average personal vehicle, makes a lot of sense for things like taxis and delivery trucks. An estimate by a former leader of the Green party in Canada was that the $6000 premium in a hybrid taxi over a standard one would be paid off in terms of fuel savings in around 6 months. UPS is expecting almost 1000 gallons fuel savings per year, and that converts to $$$. I believe the economics will be in their favour so long as maintenance and reliability hold up. Time will tell and that's what these 50 first trucks are all about.

I gotta laugh
By BPB on 5/24/2007 3:47:17 PM , Rating: 1
Two things:

First, UPS adding 50 trucks of any pursuasion to it's fleet is like Mr. Steinbrenner adding $50 to his wallet. Big woop! This is PR pure and simple. No doubt they've done other green friendly testing in the past, if had the potential to save them money. But for some reason this time around they make a big deal of it. They're doing it to make money, not be green!

Secondly, all you folks, especially the young-ins, who are chanting "green, GREEN, GREEN!", just wait a few years. You'll be chanting something similar when people complain about the cost in replacement $$$ and landfill space from all the old batteries. There's always a cost to energy, a cost that goes beyond the pump, and sooner or later it has to be paid. I suspect once the battery "crisis" hits the new generation will be calling for laws banning personal use of cars and forced mass transportation. Time will tell.

I'm all for better mileage and a cleaner environment, but folks, wake up and smell the coffee. UPS is in business to make money, and they will NOT switch/change their colors from brown to green if there's no money in it. Hybrid vehicles of the type UPS is testing are not the long term solution. It's hard to believe, but there are folks who will actually chose UPS over others now just because UPS had 50 new trucks built. Think a few PR guys aren't laughing their way to the bank right now?

RE: I gotta laugh
By Treckin on 5/24/2007 4:15:27 PM , Rating: 2
Ahhhh. That was my daily dose if idiocy.

That being said, it moronically obvious that UPS is in it for the bankroll. That would be that American Dream thing... $$$

The positive side is that its finally more cost efficient to go green than to stay with fossil fuels. That is why the lefty tree huggers are so excited. In the socio-economic environment the US fosters, the (as one of the first posters pointed out) it finally pays green to go green. The technology wasn't a viable alternative to standard diesel before. This is good all around... UPS gets rich, green lovers get happy. This will be a telling next 10 years for hybrid technology; is it really that much more efficient as to justify upgrading?

The most interesting post in this thread, IMO, was the guy that pointed out the disposal of the new batteries, and what that effect will be. It is quite possible that this will be more toxic in the long run than any carbon pollution currently discharged from the millions of vehicles on the roadways, and the thousands of factories across the nation. I would point out, however, that there are strict disposal regulations regarding said batteries; the same sort that govern the disposal of used motor oil, or mercury laden water left over from microprocessor production (the #1 pollutant in the SF Bay, due to 1960's and 1970's IBM dumping, for which they have paid millions).

RE: I gotta laugh
By Treckin on 5/24/2007 4:17:19 PM , Rating: 2
IBM and Xerox, sorry.

I heard on NPR...
By Souka on 5/24/2007 4:46:11 PM , Rating: 2
I heard on NPR this morning that NY Cab fleets are to be hybrid by like 2015....13,000+ cabs...

Good Idea
By oopyseohs on 5/24/2007 10:02:07 PM , Rating: 2
This is clearly a good idea, however....

Over my years of purchasing computer hardware, home electronics, and just about anything else over the internet there has been one thing that I have come to accept as standard: UPS truck noise. There is nothing quite like hearing the UPS truck pull up outside to deliver your package. Like a kid to the ice-cream truck I run to the front door to greet the delivery man who has my goods.

It seems as though this noise will be reduced/eliminated in the near future. I know I am not the only one with sentimental feelings toward this issue... and although the world will undoubtedly be a better place as a result of these low-emission vehicles, ordering from the internet might never be the same.

RE: Good Idea
By Treckin on 5/24/2007 11:09:53 PM , Rating: 2
great point. Maybe UPS could just go and put speakers emitting 150db truck sounds under of their trucks!

By Treckin on 5/24/2007 11:29:38 AM , Rating: 3
Im glad that more and more people are picking up on the green movement. Its finally become a reality that it is more cost effective to not pollute the environment that to trash it. I would say your entirely wrong about the oil dependency. If the hype builds up more and more around the technology, we will see the big 3 moving more and more into that market, following the demand. Bob Lutz announced 2 days ago that we should expect the Chevy Volt by model year 2010.
What you were saying about Americans being led around by our oil hungry noses is wrong; this technology wasn't viable in the early 90's. Their were no hybrid cars, old electric. hybrid is the solution the the shortcomings of that era; now they can go on the freeway, travel more than 75 miles, and don't have to be charged in your garage overnight.
Also, in the 80's, the demand wasn't there (not to mention battery technology was in the proverbial toilet). The 80's saw a rebound of the gas hog; people were tired of the gas crises in the 70's.

In essence: History does repeat itself, if the conditions are the same. That is not the case here. The evolution of the technology has produced a product that solves all of the flaws of previous generations. An early 90's electric car could not travel as far as a Prius, had to be charged overnight (which may have cost you more to PG&E than to the oil companies). Technology is rapidly developing.

And for the record, this is not a new thing. Silicon Valley (where I live), is experiencing a mini-boom, based on Green technology. As nano-tech develops, we will see solar panels 250% more efficient than current revisions, nano-composite batteries, who charge 80% in 1 minute, etc.

By Myrandex on 5/24/2007 9:50:43 AM , Rating: 2
converts it to chard the onboard battery pack should probably use the word Charge somewhere in there :)

Break even?
By Jeff7181 on 5/24/2007 4:28:04 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder how long it'll take for the fuel savings to offset the cost of these hybrid trucks.

UPS has always been proactive in fuel conservation
By Beenthere on 5/24/07, Rating: -1
By BMFPitt on 5/24/2007 12:44:09 PM , Rating: 3
Everyone in this thread is now dumber from having read that.

By Oregonian2 on 5/24/2007 2:16:02 PM , Rating: 2
Made me laugh quite a bit at first, then after sobering up made me cry that someone could think of something so..., well..., dumb. The corporate suicide bomber technique, taking all of their employees out with them.


By HotFoot on 5/24/2007 12:46:21 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is how inelastic fuel demand seems to be with relation to price. Fuel costs have gone up 50% over the last three or four years, yet I know very few people who are driving any less because of it. Some people are now considering fuel economy a lot more when buying a new vehicle (my girlfriend drives a Yaris), but overall fuel demand continues to rise, esp. with progress in India and China.

This is the basis of the free-market economy, and I can't say that I think it's a broken system. Some analysists are saying that the price of oil is likely to hit $300/barrel in the next 10 years. If that's true, then:

A) The economy is going to take a beating, at least in the short term.

B) The economic case for alternative energy sources, like biodiesel, ethanol, or whatever will be much stronger. This will help people move to new technologies, which are hopefully better for the environment... so there's a silver lining to this grey cloud after all.

By isaacmacdonald on 5/24/2007 6:05:41 PM , Rating: 2
Latency is the issue with fuel demand. It takes a long time to respond to price signals because most consumption is not really discretionary. So the demand reaction is felt when consumers opt for my fuel efficient vehicles (as you noted), or factor in extra commute costs when choosing a job or house.

If there were the political will to do it, I think we could easily solve our oil dependence/emissions issues by simply scrapping CAFE standards (economically inefficient, wasteful legislation) and announcing gradually increasing federal taxes on gasoline (something like +$.08/gallon every quarter for the next 8 years).

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

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