Oshkosh Developing ProPulse Technology To Reduce Emissions and Boost Fuel Economy

Oshkosh Truck Corporation (NASDAQ:OTRKB - news) unveiled its new diesel-electronic propulsion technology at the Association of the United States Army's annual exhibition in Washington, DC, October 16 - 18. Known as ProPulse(TM) technology, this system can improve fuel economy by up to 40 percent, significantly reduce emissions, and enhance vehicle reliability. It is designed specifically for the performance demands of heavy truck applications.

"Even before we became a founding member of the 21st Century Truck Initiative earlier this year, we were working on providing our customers with an economically viable alternative propulsion system," said Robert G. Bohn, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Oshkosh Truck. "We wanted our customers, including the U.S. military, to have the opportunity for a propulsion system that improved vehicle performance, reduced dependency on petroleum-based fuels, and kept our air cleaner. ProPulse is the type of technology that will revolutionize the way heavy trucks perform. And this will have a major influence on the transportation industry."

Oshkosh plans to integrate this new truck propulsion technology into specialty trucks for defense and commercial customers. Oshkosh is responsible for all phases of ProPulse technology development, from design and testing to integration and production. The company intends to make ProPulse technology available in its line of aircraft rescue and fire fighting vehicles within two years. Oshkosh has been working on hybrid electric-drive technology for several years, in cooperation with Rockwell Automation and other industrial partners.

Electric Drive System Simplifies Drive Train to Deliver More Power

The ProPulse system design uses a unique, modular series-hybrid arrangement to simplify the transmission of power to the wheels. The diesel engine powers a large electric generator, which provides direct power to the wheels, eliminating the torque converter, automatic transmission, transfer case, and drive shafts. Each differential is driven independently by a dedicated motor, controlled from its own power converter.

"This is break-through technology in the world of heavy trucks. It's one thing to develop alternative drive technology. It's another thing entirely to develop affordable, electric drive technology that can be integrated into some of the most high-performance trucks in the world," said Bohn.

ProPulse technology can increase fuel economy by up to 40 percent over conventional power trains. The diesel engine is optimized for operation at a constant revolutions-per-minute (rpm) between 1500 and 1800. This eliminates the inefficiency associated with changing rpm levels during acceleration and deceleration, and reduces emissions significantly as well. The final design will meet or exceed guidelines of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Aviation Association and the National Fire Protection Association.

Other advantages of the system include:

  • Increased readiness. The control system generates historic and real-time diagnostic data for preventive system adjustments. This allows operators to schedule maintenance in advance, which will maintain peak performance.
  • Direct wheel torque control. Each wheel can be individually controlled within .01 percent increments. This maximizes power regardless of field conditions.
  • Increased on-board power. When traction drives are disconnected, the alternator is free to generate up to 500 Kw of electricity, enough to supply peak power for 25 homes.

    Oshkosh is a founding partner in the 21st Century Truck Initiative, a new research partnership sponsored by federal government. This cooperative program between government and industry focuses on improving fuel economy, reducing air pollution and reducing dependence on petroleum-based fuels through development of new propulsion technologies, fuel cells and vehicle design.

    Oshkosh Truck Corporation (NASDAQ:OTRKB - news) is a leading manufacturer of specialty trucks and truck bodies for the defense, fire and emergency, concrete placement and refuse hauling markets. Oshkosh Truck is a Fortune 1000 company with products marketed under the Oshkosh, Pierce and McNeilus brand names. The company is headquartered in Oshkosh, Wis., and has annual sales of $1.165 billion.