Walmart truck to test new diesel engine

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A truck from Walmart Inc.’s private fleet will test a cleaner, more efficient combustion diesel engine starting this summer.

The 10.6-liter three-cylinder engine will be placed in one of Walmart’s Peterbilt 579 trucks to transport goods to Southern California.

Although the engine has been lab tested, using it in the Walmart truck will be its first road test, said Karen Caesar, chief information officer for the Southern California office of the California Air Resources Board.

The truck will be in service from July and will run for at least three months, said Larry Fromm, executive vice president of business development, Purchases Power Inc.

“Transportation, of course, is essential to human health and prosperity, but it has harmful side effects,” Fromm said. “Walmart has been a leader in investing in reducing the harmful effects of transportation. This project is another example.

A Walmart spokesperson said the retailer was not directly involved in the development and piloting of the engine. Fromm said Achates works directly with truck maker Peterbilt, but Walmart and Peterbilt have worked together on other transportation projects.

Achates developed the device – an opposed piston engine – as part of a heavy-duty vehicle project supported by the California Air Resources Board and other entities.

The late John Walton, younger son of Walmart founder Sam Walton, co-founded Achates in 2004. The company is based in San Diego.

Investors in Achates include Madrone Capital Partners, the Menlo Park, Calif., Private equity firm co-founded by another descendant of Sam Walton, Rob Walton. According to Crunchbase, Madrone is run by Rob Walton’s son-in-law, Greg Penner.

Achates describes itself on its website as a company that “develops automotive engines that reduce CO2 emissions in a cost-effective manner”.

Walmart is part of a consortium of companies participating in the project called Opposed Piston Engine Class 8 Heavy-Duty On-Road Demonstration. The California Air Resources Board lists both Bentonville-based Walmart and Springdale-based Tyson Foods Inc. as partners in the project.

A spokesperson for Tyson said some members of his transport team worked with Achates early in development on the project. But Tyson is not involved in testing the new engine, he said.

Other partners include Aramco Services Co., Peterbilt and the chemical company BASF.

The project was funded by a $ 16.7 million grant from CALSTART, a non-profit network that provides businesses and governments with resources and funding to develop efficient, low-emission transportation technology.

Caesar said CALSTART also chose the companies that make up the consortium.

Laboratory performance test results released by Achates in December showed that the engine significantly reduced nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide emissions. It also meets the emission standards that the Environmental Protection Agency and California have set for 2027.

“These results show that the opposing piston technology is able to meet our sustainable transportation goals, reducing key pollutants while emitting less carbon dioxide,” Purchases CEO David Crompton said in the report. .

“At a time when the industry is considering many technological options for approaching clean energy, it’s important to have pragmatic solutions in the conversation that can have a more immediate impact,” said Crompton. “Meeting or exceeding the strictest regulations with less cost and complexity and without relying on an enabling infrastructure is compelling. “

Walmart has set its own sustainability goals since at least 2005. In September, CEO Doug McMillon announced the company’s latest goals, one of which is to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions on its own. operations for 2040.

Achieving that goal will require a transition to all-electric long-haul trucks over the next 20 years, McMillon said.

Fromm said diesel engines are used in most long-haul transport “and by almost all forecasts they will continue to be used for some time.”

“So if we want to make our transport infrastructure more sustainable, we need to reduce the harmful impacts of diesel engines,” Fromm said.

“With this program, we are demonstrating that we can almost eliminate nitrogen oxides and particulates from internal combustion engines while significantly reducing carbon dioxide emissions,” Fromm said.

“This enables a viable third way – with battery-powered vehicles and fuel cell vehicles – to achieve truly sustainable transport,” he said. “In my opinion, we should keep all avenues open until a dominant solution has been proven.”

Information for this article was provided by Nathan Owens of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.


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