Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Hy-Drive Technologies Closes Deal for Sales of On-Board Hydrogen Units

Green Car Congress reports that Hy-Drive Technologies has closed its first sales order from Mining Technologies International (MTI) for a version of the Hydrogen Generation System (HGS) designed for mining equipment. The Hy-Drive HGS injects small amounts of hydrogen gas into the combustion chamber of a regular internal combustion engine, creating an enriched air mixture and a more complete and faster burn of the fuel. This results in reduced emissions, improved fuel efficiency and more engine torque. The hydrogen is generated from distilled water by an on-board electrolyzer that pulls power from the engine’s standard electrical charging circuit.

Company testing indicates an increase in horsepower of up to 6%; an up to 80% reduction of particulate matter; an up to 46% reduction of NOx emissions; and a reduction of up to 98% of carbon monoxide emissions.

The HGS is easy to install and works with any internal combustion engine, all types of fuel and in almost any climate making a versatile solution for any truck fleet. The G2 product measures 11 3/4"w x 13"d x 19 5/8"h.


The C$444,000 (US$393,000) sales order is the first under the exclusive North American marketing and distribution agreement between MTI and Hy-Drive [see earlier GCC post].

Earlier this year MTI purchased 36 HGS units. Testing of those systems on mining equipment showed fuel savings of 27%, in addition to a 99% and 95% reduction in toxic carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions respectively.

Robert Lipic, MTI President and CEO, seemed quite pleased with the Hy-Drive system, saying:

With the increasing demands and emphasis for health and safety among the various mining unions, this product is the key to the improved air quality that our customers have been seeking. The fuel savings are just icing on the cake.
The purchase order represents the first utilizing Hy-Drive’s Clean Burn Technology adapted specifically for the mining industry. The unit design will feature a sleeker profile for simplified installation on underground vehicles which are limited by the confined space in a mine. In addition, the mining product will include a steel re-enforced casing which protects the unit from damage caused by falling ore.

In September, Hy-Drive announced that two trucking firms were installing HGS systems on their vehicles. Langford, Inc., a St. Cloud, Minnesota-based trucking firm, is installing the HGS systems throughout its entire fleet. Pollywog Transport of Palmetto, Florida is installing the system on 36 refrigerated trucks within its fleet.

The Pollywog trucks use the Detroit Diesel Series 60 engine with 430-470 hp ratings. In side-by-side operations, HGS-equipped units have achieved up to a minimum of 0.81 mpg improvement and the average has gone from 5.35 mpg to 6.7 mpg—a 25% improvement—which translates into $300 per week per unit.

I imagine it will only be a matter of time before the long-haul trucking industry is all over this technology. Hy-drive seems to have developed an excellent piece of technology here.

And a 25% fuel economy boost for the entire trucking fleet is huge! That would translate into considerable savings.

According to the Transportation Energy Databook, heavy trucks (single unit and combination trucks) consumed just over 36,750 million gallons of diesel in 2002 (a number which has surely grown since then). A 25% increase in fuel economy across the heavy truck fleet would thus translate to almost 9.2 billion gallons of diesel saved, or the energy equivalent of over 220 million barrels of oil (603,340 barrels per day), 3% of total U.S. petroleum consumption in 2002.

That's nothing to scoff at, and represents the potential benefit of just one available technology offering incremental fuel economy benefits. In contrast, the recently proposed nationwide renewable fuels standard is designed to cut petroleum use by just 1-1.6% (about 3.9 billion gallons) by 2012. A fuel savings of 603,000 barrels per day is also almost as much as the the estimated peak production that could be achieved if we were to drill in ANWR (870,000 barrels per day).

And again, this is just
one technology offering incremental fuel economy improvements to one sector of U.S. transportation energy consumption. Hy-Drive has a smaller unit in development for use in light vehicles, and a German company is developing one as well, both of which would make great sense for anyone driving many miles (i.e. taxi drivers, delivery vehicles, police cars, ambulances, buses, people with long commutes, etc.. And simply scan the headlines at Green Car Congress any day of the week and you'll likely see yet another technology that offers an incremental fuel economy improvement highlighted in one or more of their posts.

I think that we too often focus on the supply side of the issue - folks variously propose that we'll meet our energy needs in the future by drilling for more oil, ramping up ethanol production, switching to hydrogen, etc. etc. - and neglect the demand side of the equation, which is where our attention should focus first. Let's not forget the incredible potential of fuel economy improvements, which should be the first issue on the table if our country is really going to get serious about domestic energy security and combatting global climate change.

In the transition to a sustainable energy future, we've got to do four things:

  • 1) conserve;

  • 2) conserve;

  • 3) conserve; and

  • 4) switch remaining energy consumption to clean, renewable energy sources.

  • 6 comments:

    jcwinnie said...

    Jesse, please excuse me, I am unable to resist quibbling with the illustration, which makes it appear that hydrogen and oxygen from electrolysis are part of the Hy Drive system.

    You do state in the text that it is a Direct Hydrogen Injection system, but if other readers are like me and read the Classic Comics version, they may come away with the wrong idea.

    While the price is steep, payback is relatively quick for long-distance haulers because of the very low mileage that semi-tractors achieve.

    Lastly, while the Hy Drive system is relatively new, research into how the system improves combustion was quite sophisticated.

    WattHead said...

    JC, the hydrogen and oxygen do come from a small on-board electrolysis unit which is part of the Hy Drive system.

    As I mentioned in the post, "The hydrogen is generated from distilled water by an on-board electrolyzer that pulls power from the engine’s standard electrical charging circuit." According to Green Car Congress, the system consumes two litres of distilled water for every 80 hours of operation.

    So the Hy Drive system is more than just a hydrogen direct injection system, but also produces its own hydrogen on-board from distilled water.

    And yes, the payback period for the Hy Drive system is excellent, despite the up front costs. Leasing the system can also do away with the up-front costs of purchasing (and Hy-Drive is leasing units to truckers, I believe). Again, according to GCC, "The commercial truck unit sells for C$11,600, and with current fuel prices, Hy-Drive calculates a payback period of less than one year"

    BTW, another Canadian company, Canadian Hydrogen Energy Corporation, is also commercializing a hydrogen direct injection system using hydrogen produced by an on-board electrolyzer, also for use in heavy trucks (as seen on the Energy Blog). CHEC is also apparently selling a system for light vehicles as well, which they say is applicable to use in "Ambulances, Police Vehicles, Emergency Vehicles, School Buses, Taxis, Limo's, SUV's, Light to Medium Pick Ups and Passenger Cars, etc...."

    And there's a German company (in partnership with MIT) working on a system for light vehicles too, which would provide a 20-30% boost in fuel economy (as seen at Green Car Congress).

    Anonymous said...

    Too bad it does not work. The problem with the on-board electrolysis system is that it does not use enough hydrogen to be useful. It is not a magical fuel - you need quite a bit of it to have a small impact on performance. Note - MIT uses 2 orders of magnitude more hydrogen in their system to get results. Too bad - it would be nice if it did work.

    WattHead said...

    I'm not sure what you mean by saying 'it doesn't work'. According to the article, "Earlier this year MTI purchased 36 HGS units. Testing of those systems on mining equipment showed fuel savings of 27%, in addition to a 99% and 95% reduction in toxic carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions respectively."

    Maybe you've got some inside information or have tested one of these systems and know that it doesn't work, but it sure seems like if MTI tested 36 units and is willing to close a $400,000 deal with Hy-Drive for their HGS, it probably works pretty well!

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