Keep On Trucking: Planning And Hydrogen Lighten Costs And Carbon
At events and trade shows like International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), exhibitors often have to bring in booth materials that require giant moving trucks. The cost to transport demo materials -- sometimes across thousands of miles at a time -- isn't cheap, and fuel costs are one area where modern automotive technology can help, while also leaving a smaller carbon footprint.
As an example, Intel uses three hydrogen fuel-injected trucks to ship trade show materials around North America, such as CES and the Intel Developer Forum (IDF). The trucks travel thousands of miles a year between conference centers, trade shows and Intel facilities, going coast-to-coast spanning from Portland, Oregon to Miami, Florida, and even across borders into Canada, packed full of booth parts, displays, furniture, electronics, demo kiosks, graphics and other critical show materials.
Non-hydrogen injected semi-trucks average between 5 to 6 mpg, whereas the Intel-branded hydrogen trucks average around 6.3 mpg. During a recent trip through California, an Intel hydrogen truck averaged 7.2 mpg representing a significant carbon footprint reduction.
The hydrogen-injected trucks are outfitted with an aftermarket supplemental hydrogen on-demand fuel system produced by Hydrogen Injection Technology, Inc. (HIT). Using a process of electrolysis, the generators produce hydrogen on-demand. Once the hydrogen is made, the hydrogen gas is sent through a dryer that extracts moisture before the hydrogen injector sends the proper amount of hydrogen gas into the air-intake of the engine.
Hydrogen injection has been in development since the 1970s and works by injecting hydrogen into a traditional combustion engine, which allows the engine to burn cleaner with more power and lower emissions. Hydrogen is injected into the air prior to entering the combustion chamber. Hydrogen burns 10 times as fast as diesel and, when mixed with the diesel in the combustion chamber, accelerates the rate at which the diesel burns.
HIT's system differs from fuel cell vehicles recently demonstrated by carmakers such as Chevrolet, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota, which use hydrogen to power an electric motor to drive the car. Instead, the system used in the Intel-branded hydrogen trucks supplements the diesel combustion engine, enhancing fuel efficiency.
Using calculations provided by HIT, a truck that drives 120,000 miles annually can cost over $80,000 in fuel alone, given an average semi-truck fuel economy of 6 miles to the gallon and the current price of diesel in California of $4.08 per gallon. According to HIT, depending on the product, companies can save between $10,000 and $16,000 per year in fuel costs. A typical HIT product costs $15,000, not including installation charges.
In 2013, Intel saved over 77,000 gallons of diesel through the consolidation of freight onto the fewest trucks possible. Over 600 gallons of diesel were conserved by using the hydrogen-injected trucks for four North American trade shows in 2013.
However, as part of a complex corporate sustainability initiative, simply having a hydrogen-injected or "green" truck would not be sufficient, said Lou Cozzo, manager, executive keynote group and sustainable events program at Intel.
"Most of the avoidance comes from shipment consolidation, rather than the 'green' technology, which is relatively small in terms of impact, but still very important," said Cozzo.
According to Cozzo, Intel's inbound and outbound event shipments are planned for efficiency where the highest number of packages are placed on the fewest number of trucks.
"When you consider different departments, staff and agencies are sending all kinds of materials to and from an event from and to various locales, this takes extra effort to coordinate and make sure everyone's items are ready and on time to go together on the same truck, as opposed to just letting people ship everything willy-nilly," Cozzo explained.
"It's important to contextualize this data as the estimated benefit of smart, sustainable planning processes," said Cozzo on the impact to the carbon footprint. "It compares two alternative scenarios -- separate shipments if no one took the time to thoughtfully schedule and plan flow-of-freight with using fewer trucks in mind, and the scenarios where improved consolidation is able to happen. The carbon avoided is the difference between the two scenarios."
In fact, S&M Moving Systems, the company that manages the hydrogen-injected semis and shipping in general for Intel events, reported a 917 metric ton CO2 emission reduction for 2013 by using the combination of shipment consolidation and hydrogen-injected trucks.
Intel has used the hydrogen-injected trucks since 2010.