Hybrid trailer?

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Two European technology startups, Skeleton Technologies and Adgero, claim to have developed the world’s first Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) for road freight vehicles. Using ultracapacitors and an intelligent management system, the hybrid system is reckoned to reduce fuel consumption and associated emissions by up to 25 per cent.



The system consists of a bank of high-power ultracapacitors working alongside an electrically-driven axle, on the trailer. The technology is controlled by an intelligent management system tracking driver input in order to automatically control the regenerative braking and acceleration boost.


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According to the manufacturers, the technology is projected to reduce fuel consumption and associated CO2 emissions by 15-25 per cent, depending on terrain and traffic profile. It is claimed it could pay for itself in as little as three years through reduced fuel consumption alone. The product has also been designed to exceed the typical 10 year lifetime of the trailer itself.


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“Road haulage accounts for over a fifth of the EU’s total CO2 emissions, so fuel efficient solutions are crucial,” said Mack Murray, CEO of Adgero SARL. “We are beginning to see regenerative braking systems in automotive applications but the market clearly needs a similar solution for articulated trucks.



“By partnering with Skeleton Technologies, we are putting the world’s most advanced ultracapacitors at the heart of our system. This will give us a powerful competitive edge in a demanding industry where energy density is a key metric.”


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Skeleton Technologies is an ultracapacitor manufacturer using graphene for better conductivity and higher surface area. This material has allowed the company to achieve breakthroughs in product performance, delivering twice the energy density and five times the power density of earlier products.



The system uses an 800 volt ultracapacitor power module like the one used in the motor sport industry, consisting of five 160 volt units made up of cylindrical cells. With monitoring for each individual cell, the module is able to actively self-balance.



“At Skeleton Technologies we pride ourselves on being a vertically integrated ultracapacitor manufacturer, from materials technology through to the system level,” said Volker Dudek, Skeleton Chief Technology Officer. “To enable this solution for Adgero, we developed intelligent power modules with a proprietary management system that allows for smart monitoring and control of the energy/power profile according to customer requirements.”



Any truck equipped with an Adgero monitor becomes a parallel electric hybrid when paired with an equipped trailer. If a truck without a monitor picks up a retrofitted trailer, the hybrid system will simply stay in standby mode.


In recent months the system has been through testing procedures including vibration, shock and immersion testing. Road testing will begin in 2016 with Altrans, a French logistics company with 11,000 vehicles across Europe.