Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Apr 30

Remote Hybrid Helper For Semi Trucks

Posted in Battery Technology | Energy Inventions | Hybrid Cars | Transportation

Hybrid Helper A new hybrid vehicle prototype could make cargo transportation a lot more energy efficient. The add-on system uses a special trailer that provides a power assist on hills and uses regenerative braking technology to recharge the onboard battery system. The system works similar to a hybrid car; the motor generators produce electricity via regenerative braking instead of normal friction brakes, and a bank of batteries can be mounted under the trailer chassis to store this energy. When the truck/trailer combo needs to accelerate or go uphill, electric power flows from the batteries to the motors to provide some or all the power needed to propel the truck. It is one of several potential systems that aim to increase fuel economy and reduce the carbon emissions from heavily polluting tractor trailers.

Remote Hybrid Helper
Hybrid Helper 01 Hybrid Helper 02 Hybrid Helper 03 Hybrid Helper 05

  • horsedrawncart

    I’d be interested to know how much it would cost. What would the ROI be? I like to see an 18 month ROI goal, ideally, as technology can change in 18 month periods.

    IF not 18 months, then ROI greater than the life of the vehicle will not be practical.

  • Bob Wallace

    Wonder if it would make sense to ‘rent’ these for trips over big humps such as the ‘Grapevine’ between the CA Central Valley and LA? Over the Sierras or Rockies?

    They might not be needed/pay for themselves over long flat stretches.

  • chasd60

    That is the same idea I want to try on my car. I drive 47 miles per day to work and 42 miles of it is open highway. I am a firm believer that I can get a lot better fuel economy with just a little assist at highway speeds. I can gain up to 30% with a tail wind.

  • Edward Provencher

    I really think that this idea is really cool. I think that they should be helping all Hybrid trucks around the country.

  • nevjersey

    This is a good idea. Soon enough, it will be possible to run all electric for routine trucking – let each trailer carry its batteries and motors. The booster is just needed for steep hills. The Cab mostly just manages the train. Sound familiar? (like Diesel-electric trains).

    Power for a Triple tandem? No problem, each trailer has its batteries…

  • Wayne Checker

    This idea I believe is worth pursuing, but why not build the trailer components into each trailer. The advantage I see from this is lower mass, no problems with statutory vehicle dimensions and the energy gain for multi trailers combinations would be more consistent with that of its single trailer combination brother.

    The add on trailer has the the following problems that need to be overcome:
    * higher increased mass which translates to lower payload
    * increased overall length of the combination making them non-conforming with statutory limitations.
    * preventing connection of multiple trailers.
    * drivers using the extra power to increase road speed.

  • Mike

    Check out my E-Pusher Trailer for I.C.E. Vehicles at:

  • Uncle B

    Imagine exchangeable battery packs, charged off-peak, at truck stops! Do it for light trucks too! Why not for electric cars! A couple of windmills here and their, and our fuel bill goes down, CO2 emissions drop, and America gets rich, not having to pay the OPEC, Saudi “military services for oil” bill, and the extortionist prices they decide to charge for oil! I like this idea! No more parasite nations charging us for their fantastic lifestyles, gold plated Corvettes and all, while we work hard for bread and butter! Now, get Obama to stop giving billions in handouts to New York’s shylocks and shysters, and get down to it and put plans like this into motion!

  • Stacey Wheeler

    As a truck driver I like the fuel cost and emission befits to this concept. But as a truck driver I also see a some challenges that will need to be addressed before the system can work on a national scale.

    The manufacturers will need to factor in that they are adding one more step to the process of connecting and disconnecting a trailer. This takes extra time and time is money. The cost and benefit need to be at least equal. Another concern is what is known as the ‘bridge law’ which (throughout the US) regulates the length of a load. This will also be a problem on many state highways, which max out at 53′ trailers. If a company has to choose between carrying money-making freight or towing an extra trailer -money usually wins. Another BIG issue is weight. Traditional max loads are 80,000 lbs. This battery weight will add a lot of weight, which will take away from the amount of ‘payload’ a truck can carry. This again becomes all about economics. I foresee a need for change in legislation (state to state, as well as federal) for this to work.

    There is also a small issue with training/licensing driver to tow “doubles,” which is what this would likely be considered b state agencies. This is a more-minor issue though. Most drivers will get whatever endorsements are needed to make money.

    All-in-all, it’s a step in the right direction. Now it’s just a matter of finding a way to make it work.

    Good luck with the project.

  • David C Schupbach

    Interesting concept, but I see way too many complications with this one…

    Over the last 24 years I have been driving, there have been a multitude of interesting concepts that never made the transition into real world usage. Getting better fuel economy while retaining power and speed has always been the holy grail of trucking, as it is a concept that translates directly into the bottom line when achieved.

    On the other hand, I have recently completed 40,000 miles of testing on a Hydrogen on Demand system, and the results, while promising, (7.42 – 8.98 mpg, class 8) still rely in large part on the driver himself.

    I am sure the future holds man innovations, and it will be interesting to see what they are.

  • nicholous

    I wonder…whats the harm in the I’m guessing giant battery to the environment. Overall the idea is great because the biggest carbon emission is from the industry.

  • Gary

    How much extra energy does it take to haul the extra weight?

  • Dan Reynolds

    I was wondering if there are any semi-trucks who actually have solar panels mounted on their considerable outer surface area as a way to provide hybrid assist to their engines. Is this even possible, physically and economically.


  • Kelly

    Why stop there? Why not make cars that link? That way a group of 10 or more vehicles, trucks, cars, and buses etc. can assist each other.

  • Christie

    Railways are more efficient per ton-mile at hauling loads. Plus they have had Electric Hybrid Locomotives for decades.

    Long haul trucking needs to convert to railway for interstate transportation. Semi-trucks are more efficient than automobiles so automobiles need to become like Semi’s or like trains. I agree that linking vehicles could help produce “economies of scale” that would stretch our energy dollars but there needs to be maximization of loads to do it. No more transatlantic flights with only 5 passengers! No shipping light computer systems via Semi because it has to be there overnight and can’t wait for train.

  • hgvlgvtraining

    An interesting concept. Look forward to further development.

  • Michael Blumenstock

    I think this is not a good idea, at least not in near future… if there have to be trucks anyway (railway would be better), then make them more drag-efficient (e.g. Colani), couple several trucks together and use vegetable oil as fuel.
    A diesel-engine on highway is way to efficient (especially the mentioned up-&downhill), to use electrical propulsion. Electrical power is too valuable by now (not enough renewable Energy) using it for long and straight journeys a diesel-engine is made for, so CO2 emission would be even higher.

    Another contra: a pushed union like a truck and a trailer can become unstable even while straight running.

  • Zeeshan K. Mughal

    i am working on something similar. the idea works better when , instead of attaching a helper at the back of trailer, the trailer could be designed in a way that its rear axles work as alternate power generation source. as the wheels turn , the power is generated. Other addition to this is the use of wind mills. Trucks on highway produce constant wind energy. This can also be used to power the axles of the Trailer.

    the addition of tires with the helper means cost of tires increases.

  • Bmecher2000

    You could actually build a business around this. The grapevine, baker grades in California. Grants pass in Oregon. the I80 grade in Wyoming……. You have these give a boost on the uphill-side, then brake assist on the downhill side. The just rotate over to a “rent-a-boost” stop on either side of the grade where the trucks stop to hook up their “little buddy”.

  • Bmecher2000

    You could actually build a business around this. The grapevine, baker grades in California. Grants pass in Oregon. the I80 grade in Wyoming……. You have these give a boost on the uphill-side, then brake assist on the downhill side. The just rotate over to a “rent-a-boost” stop on either side of the grade where the trucks stop to hook up their “little buddy”.

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