Electric motors are being used to return end-of-life bin lorries back to active duty in a trial taking place in a London borough.
It is hoped that ‘repowering’ will greatly extend the working life of high-value commercial and local authority vehicles, and cut air and noise pollution in residential areas.
The Greenwich trials will test the viability of the technology and make the economic case for repowering heavy commercial vehicles. The prototype will be tested alongside the existing refuse fleet, managed by the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
Refuse lorries operate in largely residential areas, with their diesel engines in constant use 14 hours per day, achieving only 2.5-4.5 miles per gallon and spewing out emissions including nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and particulate matter.
By replacing the diesel engine with an electric motor, the vehicle produces zero emissions in operation. It also greatly reduces noise pollution – a significant issue for urban residents.
Other trials of this type have been carried out before. In 2016 Fife retrofitted its bin lorries with a hydrogen propulsion system in similar bid to cut localised air pollution.
It is estimated that the repowering modification for the Greenwich vehicle will double its operational life, extending it to 14 years, and generate a lifetime cost saving of up to £300,000 compared to a Euro 5 or older diesel-powered model.