New demonstration electric hybrid bucket truck operates in Hawaii

(Via Ho’okele News)

Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Hawaii utilities personnel use the new hybrid bucket truck in the field for the first time. Power lines between multiple poles on the command's main compound were replaced at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Story and photo by Denise Emsley

Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii Public Affairs

Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Hawaii Utilities Maintenance Division personnel recently took their new hybrid bucket truck into the field for the first time at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH).

The heavy hybrid electric bucket truck is part of a one-year demonstration project with NAVFAC Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (EXWC), Port Hueneme, Calif.

The hybrid truck will be dispatched on routine field service calls, and its electric plug-in system is expected to increase fuel economy over and above the non-plug-in bucket truck to which it will be compared.

“NAVFAC’s directed energy program is sponsoring the project on behalf of the organization’s base support vehicle and equipment (BSVE) product line,” said David Cook, NAVFAC EXWC alternative fuel vehicle team lead.

“This program conducts field validation testing for emerging energy efficient technologies. If the results are favorable, NAVFAC BSVE will integrate plug-in heavy hybrid utility trucks into their long-term vehicle buy plan. The non-plug-in technology has already accomplished performance objectives in a program completed in 2012,” Cook said.

Electric plug-in heavy hybrid trucks have been found to be more efficient and produce lower tail pipe emissions than conventional diesel trucks. Hybrid trucks also permit clean and quiet work operations that would otherwise require continuous idling of the vehicle.

The electric plug-in hybrid bucket truck will demonstrate alongside a comparable diesel powered bucket truck at JBPHH. Both trucks will operate on similar duty cycles. Fuel economy is the critical performance parameter, considered successful if achieving a 40 percent increase in miles per gallon over the baseline truck.

Additionally, the project will evaluate noise, brake wear, unscheduled maintenance, reliability and drivability relative to the conventional truck.

“The NAVFAC project team ordered the hybrid bucket truck with special instrumentation for hands-free monitoring,” said Cook.

“The automated system will collect data on the truck’s usage in both the driving mode and the engine-off working mode (use in the aerial lift and hydraulic tools). The system will also monitor the truck condition and diagnostic codes.

“The on-board telematics system will transmit data to a website several times per day, so the latest data will be available for the team’s review and analysis. The data will help compare efficiency of the hybrid with the baseline truck in both operating modes, and any other operating factors that may affect fuel efficiency,” Cook said.

Heavy duty plug-in hybrid electric trucks are in an early commercial production phase and have not previously been validated by the Department of Defense.

“We are pleased to be part of this pilot project and working on the next possible evolution of electric hybrid truck equipment,” said Michael Lyman, line crew work leader.

“The training we have received on the new vehicle has been very important to make sure everything operates correctly prior to taking it into the field. And of course we really appreciate receiving new equipment that we get to retain after the pilot is completed. It’s a win-win situation for both commands and our customers here in Hawaii,” he said.

NAVFAC EXWC completed testing on a non-plug-in utility truck in 2012. The unpublished results indicated fuel economy benefits in excess of 25 percent. The non-plug-in hybrid conserves fuel by operating in a battery-only mode for aerial lift operations, though limited to short durations.

The plug-in hybrid trucks have capability for direct grid recharging operations as well as up to 15 times the capacity for the electric-only work mode. The larger battery pack also enables enhanced efficiency gains for driving operations.

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