Amid the poster-board displays and smiling, hand-shaking entrepreneurs at the Cleantech Open National Conference in San Jose last week, a trend emerged. A number of the 100 semifinalists vying for the 18 regional finalist spots in the competition have developed technologies that will juice up the miles per gallon that fleets of vehicles (trucks, vans, busses, etc) can achieve.
At least two of the startups—an outfit called Aperia and one called Pressure Sentinel—have devised a hands-off means of ensuring that truck tires maintain adequate pressure. Both systems use a very similar approach (in fact, I couldn’t figure out the difference) wherein a sensor is mounted around wheel rim. Both exploit kinetic energy to power the sensor and both automatically inflate the tire when the pressure drops below a set parameter (and, of course, stops inflating once a desired pressure is reached).
Aquapulser has developed an ignition system add-on for distributor-based, spark ignited engines (4, 6 or 8 cylinders) more efficient. The technology makes the engine more fuel-efficient, reduces emissions, lowers an engine’s temperature and prevents build-up on spark plug heads.
Transpower has developed an electric power system designed for fuel-based vehicles, such as 18-wheelers, garbage/recycling trucks, busses and the like. The system uses lithium batteries. This company is honing in on a great opportunity: testing its rigs in the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach, where major emissions-reduction mandates are being enforced.
And lastly (or, I should say lastly among the startups I noticed among the event’s exhibits—if I missed some, please chime in with a comment) there’s Direct Drive Energy, which harvests energy from trucks in motion and converts it to DC energy that is stored in batteries and then used to power refrigeration compressors, which are generally powered by diesel compressors. It can be used to retrofit existing refrigerated trailers, too.