Volvo's five for the future

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  • Plant & Equipment

Volvo Construction Equipment highlights the five machine innovations promising to cut fuel emissions

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Engine design regulations are leading to cleaner, more efficient engines.

With the rise of fossil fuel prices and the pressure to lower carbon footprints, many consumers and companies are demanding more fuel-efficient vehicles. Volvo Construction Equipment says that there are five big advancements in the industry, ranging from engine design to the small adjustments of your wing mirrors, which are plugging the drain on fossil fuels.

The first is swapping side mirrors for cameras. In 2016 Japan made it legal for car manufacturers to eliminate side mirrors and replace them with cameras. However, road users are used to mirrors and, although a simple idea, they are highly reliable. It is also very easy for law enforcement to notice a damaged side mirror, but it is near to impossible to quickly detect broken side view cameras. However, there is also an argument that cameras could actually make driving safer as it could eliminate blind spots that occur with conventional side mirrors. But Japan’s decision is an important one as eliminating side mirrors is estimated to improve fuel efficiency by as much as 5 per cent.

The second is regulation of engine design. In 2019 the EU Stage V emissions standards for off-road machinery will be implemented. In response to this, Volvo Penta has created a Stage V off-road engine range, which is matched with an optimized exhaust after treatment system (EATS) to filter exhaust fumes.

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Bad habits such as hard acceleration account for 25 per cent of overall fuel consumption.

Biofuels could also have a larger role in transport. It takes energy to grow biofuels and it takes fertilizers, tractors, transportation and energy to convert the plant to liquid fuel. But, by selecting the right non-commercial clean crops that do not need a lot of fertilizer, water or other resources, a fuel can be created that is significantly cleaner than petrol.

Two final technical innovations are vibrating foot pedals and auto engine shutdown. Bad driving habits, like hard acceleration, have been shown to be responsible for 25 per cent of overall fuel consumption. There have been recent developments in intelligent haptic gas pedals that provide feedback to drivers, in the form of vibrations and resistance. This can encourage smoother driving and help drivers reduce fuel consumption by up to 7 per cent, says Volvo Construction Equipment. Likewise, construction machines can often be idling for as much as 40–60 per cent of their operating time. Automatic engine shut-down is an option that Volvo Construction Equipment has added, which automatically cuts the engine off when it’s been idling for more than four minutes in a stationary position. The system is said to help boost fuel efficiency by up to 10 per cent.

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