Welcome to the Energy Blog

  • The Energy Blog is where all topics relating to The Energy Revolution are presented. Increasingly, expensive oil, coal and global warming are causing an energy revolution by requiring fossil fuels to be supplemented by alternative energy sources and by requiring changes in lifestyle. Please contact me with your comments and questions. Further Information about me can be found HERE.



After Gutenberg

Clean Break

The Oil Drum


Blog powered by Typepad

« First Solar Posts Record Sales, Receives Substantial Contracts and Announces New Manufacturing Capacity | Main | First Commercial Algae Facility Announced »

November 11, 2007



When I read press releases like this one, I sigh. So much money squandered on cobbled-together technologies with obscene costs, modest results, and no chance of surviving as “the long term answer”.

I have been following a similar story for more than a year. A comparable technology is being used to make school buses, which are being tested in a few local government jurisdictions. If you want some insight regarding this madness, read the minutes of the monthly meetings held by the people who are actually trying to evaluate these buses in real-world conditions. Manatee County, Florida, was the first. Meeting minutes from August, 2006 through September, 2007 are online.


One of the manufacturer’s claims for these buses was that fuel mileage would be improved by 70 to 100 percent. So far, actual numbers are less than half that. And, in the end, these are still diesel buses that pollute in the way diesels do. A bit less than the diesel-only model, yes. But the improvement is minor.

In the meantime, there are tens of thousands of compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks and buses in service all over the world. Why? (1) They work. (2) They are available NOW. (3) They pollute far less than their gasoline-powered competitors. (4) The fuel they use is produced in America, eliminating the oil availability issues. (5) They are relatively simple to operate and maintain. (6) Fuel cost savings are substantial. (7) And here is the big one: They are affordable!

On a recent trip to New York, my cabbie informed me that the Crown Vic we were riding in was CNG-powered. He said he was saving about 40% on fuel costs, compared to gasoline powered Crown Vics.

If your local school board decides to demonstrate their environmental concerns by signing on to the diesel-hybrid bus program, vote in some new board members. Let the private sector experiment with these money-down-the-rat-hole technologies; local governments should be looking for better and cheaper ways to serve their citizens.

Harvey D


What could you expect from CNG/LNG Hybrid delivery trucks and buses? Would using both technologies be more positive. Would the savings be worthwhile, considering pollution and GHG reductions?


One thing we have to recognize about NG, its production is well past peak on the N American continent. Since it is not very transportable (LNG is inefficient, and has a terrible time getting approval of terminals), the situation on the continent not worldwide is appropriate. We will be consuming a decreasing amount of NG as time goes by. Any plans for infrastructure that depends upon NG should consider that fact.


I am not suggesting a change in infrastructure to accommodate the mass consumption of CNG in vehicles. But I am suggesting that virtually every fleet operator in America (that would include ALL government jurisdictions)could make that switch virtually overnight. T. Boone Pickens knows that, and the success of his recent startup company, CleanEnergy, demonstrates it. No LNG from foreign sources is needed.

I AM suggesting that bolting an electric motor behind the transmission of a diesel truck or bus and adding a complex computer to attempt to make the two engines find some sort of harmony under all conditions is an idea that will gain no traction. The complexity and expense of that technology will doom it.


If indeed the modifications are as crude as "bolting an electric motor..." you are probably correct about the outcome of this experiment. Significant participation by a major truck manufacurer is required. Overall I think it is the right way to go, but it requires some serious engineering to make it successful. LNG/CNG may be a local stopgap measure. In markets with good longterm NG supplies it may also be a good longterm solution as well. It is of course possible that long term methane from biological sources might be a better solution than ethanol, and that would change the picture should it occur. I'm a big supporter of PHEV, which should include trucks/buses as well as cars. Amazingly the rail sector has been largely hybrid diesel/electric powered for over a half a century.


bigTom said:
Amazingly the rail sector has been largely hybrid diesel/electric powered for over a half a century.

Diesel-electric locomotives are not really hybrids like hybrid cars. They use electric motors at the wheels, powered by the generator, which in turn is powered by the diesel engine. The motor and generator act as continuously variable transmission between the diesel engine and the wheels. Other than a starter battery for the diesel engine and compressed air for the brakes, there is no energy storage. The wheel motors can be made to act as generators to aid braking, but the power goes into large resistors and is simply lost as heat.

On the other hand, adding a large energy storage battery and appropriate electronics could indeed make a hybrid locomotive. The rest of the hardware is already there.


Thanks for the very clear response.


The US has the highest natural gas prices in the world already. There are countless industrial processes which can only be done with NG. We don't need to use this source of energy on cars or trucks.

We will always need some form of liquid fuel. Biodiesel has to be pursued with more interest by the US. We spend around $900,000,000 every day on oil imports. The DOE budget for the year on renewable energy of all types is only slightly more than that.


There are companies out there that already have a true hybrid diesel switching locomotive.


As best I can tell, they don't use any form of regenerative braking.

Harvey D

Danzig: NG Hybrid city buses, taxis, delivery + garbage trucks could reduce air pollution, noise and GHG in our large cities while reducing oil consumption.

Who would be against that?


Harvey D: "DM", a recent poster to this thread, is apparently against that. But, the list, I suspect, is quite short. Your idea for hybrid CNG trucks takes the process one step further than the existing NG-only vehicles. I don't know of anyone who is contemplating NG/Hybrid vehicles at this time, but as you suggest it would be a cleaner option than Diesel/Hybrid. Ultimately (15-20 years, perhaps) I think pure EV's will win the battle. Battery/capacitor technology is likely to advance far beyond anything we can imagine in our puny little 2007 minds.


The potential benefits from hybrid in-city pickup and delivery vehicles is tremendous. Keep in mind the amount of time these vehicles spend idling, just adding auto-start/stop technology brings in a huge emissions benefit. As a first foray this truck looks pretty good to me.

As another post pointed out Diesel/Electric trains have no battery storage and hence aren't really what most here would call hybrids. Battery storage doesn't really make sense in a locomotive application because the energy needs is so constant. Pure electric would be more practical. I suppose you could do some kind of super-capacitor type storage to help get the train up to operating speed but I doubt that'd be very beneficial.


this truck how many km cover after full charging a battery?

Truck Bed Covers

I've never heard of a hybrid commercial truck until I read this blog. I think this is a move in the right direction to develop new technologies which will conserve energy.

run your car on water

this would save all the trucking companies alot of money.

debt reduction

it would save them a lot


Very informative and fresh. I always like to learn how to deal with my heavy equipment as well. Good job!

truck rental

It maybe complicated and expensive, but certainly this is an important cause.
Slowly but carefully, it is a must have issue to promote the all transport means to environmental-friendly methods. We just need the will!
Of course, Trucks to begin with is very nice, well done.

tractor rentals

We will be consuming a decreasing amount of NG as time goes by. Any plans for infrastructure that depends upon NG should consider that fact.

James Ferris

bucket trucks

this truck sounds great. its great that they are trying to save the environment.

bucket trucks

I think that all trucking companies are going to have to turn to hybrid vehicles if they want to survive in the industry anymore. We need to more more conscience of the earth

phoenix self storage

It's a good investment actually. Hybrid are overwhelming.

CGS Motorsports

The cost of this research was still useful as it was atleast improved a bit, rather than nothing at all. You can't expect to achieve 100% perfection in a research as it also has limits. A certain improvement can lead to another one. It's nice that it was innovated and was put to good use.

The comments to this entry are closed.

. .

Batteries/Hybrid Vehicles