Electric trucks in the future may not just deliver freight, but surplus electricity to customers, reports Today’s Trucking.
That’s the thesis behind a theoretical study by the University of Windsor. Environmental engineering professor Rupp Carriveau says it’s conceivable that semi-truck batteries will have surplus energy after doing their runs and will be able to boost operator profits by selling off those extra “electrons.”
The professor has hooked up with South Essex Fabricating and Nature Fresh Farms, a Leamington, Ont., company specializing in “all things greenhouses” – from fabricating and selling, to owning large scale greenhouse properties in southern Ontario, Ohio and Mexico.
The affiliated firms will supply trucking information from their myriad North American routes as data for the study.
Carriveau, director of the Environmental Energy Institute, and Professor Hanna Maoh with the Joyce Entrepreneurial Innovation Centre of University of Windsor’s Cross-Border Institute, are conducting the $160,000 study to both map the most common haul routes and where commercial charging stations could eventually be placed, as well as looking at the potential to offload excess battery energy as a secondary operator revenue stream.
“We’re not trying to make any predictions,” Carriveau said. “What we’re trying to do is generate scenarios based on the knowledge that we have today of what these trucks may be capable of.”
Using the Tesla Semi as a benchmark and the data gleaned from his private sector partner’s hauling operations, Carriveau’s team will come up with scenarios for the kind of energy required to complete routes and the possibility of generating surplus energy available for offloading or “back feeds.”
“It may be another source of commerce for the trucking agent,” he said.
The study’s first phase is to determine where a “sufficiently represented population of trucks go across Ontario,” the professor said. This will probably be boiled down to about seven routes. “It’s pretty clear Hwy. 401 is going to be a major one, the 403, etc.”
The second phase concerns what’s known as the “internet of things” where physical objects are connected through sensors and software to exchange data.
“People in warehouses or transportation hubs may be able to see where these trucks are going and see what their state of charge is,” he said. That warehouse or factory, for example, may have a last-minute production run and need a short boost of energy. “The trucks should be rolling all the time and they should be loaded all the time,” Carriveau said. “But they’re not always loaded and again it’s this new marketplace for electrons.”
Full story here.