The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the only U.S. federal laboratory dedicated to renewable energy and energy-efficiency research, development and commercialization, says it has installed Lightning Hybrids’ fuel-efficient, hydraulic hybrid system on a passenger shuttle bus for the lab’s 632-acre campus in Golden, Colo.
Colorado-based Lightning Hybrids designs and manufactures the hydraulic hybrid Energy Recovery System (ERS) for medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses, enhancing fuel efficiency by regenerating braking energy, providing safer braking and more power for acceleration, and decreasing greenhouse-gas emissions.
According to NREL, this is the second laboratory campus shuttle bus in Golden to be fitted with the ERS system. The first Lightning Hybrids bus has been in service on NREL’s campus for more than a year, and the second bus went into service last month.
The buses, both Ford E-450s, are run by MV Transportation, NREL’s service provider for its shuttle service, which transports more than 500 NREL employees and visitors around the campus.
“We are very proud of the fact that NREL, which represents the best of the best in federal research into sustainable vehicle technologies, has selected the Lightning Hybrids system,” says Tim Reeser, president and CEO of Lightning Hybrids. “The team at NREL tests vehicle technologies, and they have very high standards. To have NREL use our Lightning Hybrids product to serve their campus and their team is an endorsement of the quality and engineering of our hydraulic hybrid system.”
“NREL has been happy to utilize its campus shuttles to help Lightning validate the performance of their technology – working with a local company to help them grow their business while, at the same time, advancing our mission of sustainable transportation development has made this project very rewarding for the lab,” says NREL’s Matt Ringer, commercialization program manager.
NREL states it is employing advanced technology in its campus fleet to lead the charge following an executive order issued by the White House in March 2015 (Executive Order 13693, titled “Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade”), which calls for tougher goals for renewable energy in federal buildings and fleets.
Lightning Hybrids says its ERS is a patented, parallel hydraulic hybrid system that has no electric batteries but, instead, applies a hydraulic system to the driveline of a vehicle to regenerate braking energy. Hydraulic pumps and a lightweight accumulator slow the vehicle, store the braking energy and then use that stored energy to provide power to the wheels – in doing so, fuel is saved and harmful emissions are cut.
Last fall, Lightning Hybrids received the top honor at the Industry Growth Forum hosted by NREL in Denver. The event brought 30 emerging cleantech industry company finalists from a field of 115 to present their technologies and business models to a panel of investor judges. Lightning Hybrids says each company was graded on factors such as the quality of the product, market, business model and team.
“This was the sixth year that we have applied to present at the forum and the first year to be a finalist and have a chance to present,” Reeser says.
The Lightning Hybrids’ presentation, delivered by Reeser, demonstrated how the company’s hydraulic hybrid system for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles has strong global market opportunities and provides benefits to a large and diverse group of stakeholders by providing fleets with a way to run cleaner and more efficient vehicles.
NREL works with public and private organizations to research and develop innovative vehicle and sustainable technologies to reduce dependence on fossil fuels to improve U.S. energy security and air quality, and it intends to further build out its alternative fuel fleet.