The Edge: Electric drive trailer from FPInnovations an important step towards electrification of heavy-haul forestry trucks

by | Mar 1, 2023 | 2023, Logging & Sawmilling Journal, March/April, The Edge

Electric Truck

Electric drive trailer from FPInnovations an important step towards electrification of heavy-haul forestry trucks

FPInnovations, along with key partners Deloupe (a leading trailer manufacturer) and LTS Marine (a leading hybrid and electric powertrain supplier), has developed and tested an innovative electric drive trailer for use in forestry operations.

This innovative solution is an important step in the forest sector’s electrification of heavy- and long-haul transportation.

Electric vehicle tractors are emerging, but driving range remains a major concern in heavy- and long-haul applications. While battery technology is constantly improving, there is still a noticeable performance gap between electric trucks and their diesel counterparts.

FPInnovations’ electric drive trailer can help close this gap. With its integrated electric motor and high-voltage batteries, the trailer has the potential to serve as a range extender and power booster when coupled to a battery-electric tractor in the future. The trailer can therefore be complementary to all tractors, regardless of fuel type.

The electric trailer is equipped with a 255-kW motor and two battery packs, providing a total battery capacity of 42 kWh. The propulsion system is incorporated into the trailer by replacing one of the trailer’s conventional axles with a drive axle powered by an electric motor. The trailer is then coupled to a conventional diesel tractor, creating a parallel hybrid configuration. A communication link between the tractor and the trailer ensures a safe and synchronized system.

The trailer is designed to assist the tractor by:

  • Reducing fuel consumption by up to 15 percent as compared to a conventional diesel tractor, depending on the drive cycle;
  • Reducing GHG emissions by approximately 40 tonnes per truck per year;
  • Improving traction and mobility when driving on a slippery surface or uphill, with an extra drive axle on the trailer featuring a driver-selectable differential lock; and
  • Reducing fade and wear on service friction brakes by the regenerative braking from the system.

The first prototype, a log trailer built with Deloupe, was tested on public roads in Québec. The results showed very promising fuel savings. Driver feedback throughout the testing was very positive. The system’s added power was readily apparent when accelerating from a stop and for maintaining hill-climbing speed.

On the test roads, the prototype’s hill-climbing speeds increased significantly versus the diesel truck baseline when fully loaded. Powerful regenerative braking was also very noticeable on descents and decelerations, and test drivers reported rarely using the service brakes, even when the log trailer was fully loaded. Moreover, because the system is smooth and quiet, it can be used anywhere, unlike an engine brake.

Initial testing of the current prototype focused on demonstrating and evaluating the system’s benefits. The next phase of the project—an in-service operational evaluation—will involve testing the system’s long-term reliability in a rugged forestry environment. At the same time, FPInnovations is working on further refinements to be implemented on future prototypes. These refinements include weight reductions in order to maximize payload, and a potential hybrid plug-in option, which would make the system better suited to flat terrain where regenerative braking opportunities are diminished.

For more information on this project, please contact Steve Mercier, Senior Researcher in FPInnovations’ Transportation and Infrastructure group (steve.mercier@fpinnovations.ca).


Developing forest practices—the trail network of mixedwood sites along the Alberta Calling Lake Loop

BY TONY KRYZANOWSKI

The Canadian Wood Fibre Centre (CWFC) of the Canadian Forest Service (CFS) encourages forest practitioners to consider participating in a tour of its easily-accessible network of novel mixedwood research and development sites in north central Alberta, which it calls the ‘Calling Lake Loop’.

With several of these legacy sites having been established 20 to 50 years ago— demonstrating technical developments and advances related to mixedwood management of primarily the dominant Boreal Plains species of white spruce and deciduous with white spruce mix—participants can now witness the succession, biodiversity, sustainability, and growth and yield outcomes that have occurred. Demonstrated outcomes also provide industry with species and product options should they choose to implement one or more of these management practices.

The Calling Lake Loop sites were established in partnership with Vanderwell Contractors (1971) Ltd, Alberta Pacific Forest Industries (Al-Pac) and other stakeholders in an effort to address various needs expressed by industry, government and third party stakeholders.

As part of its knowledge transfer mandate, CWFC and the Canadian Forest Service (CFS) have hosted many tours featuring sites in this Loop, with support from its industry partners and colleagues, and in particular from the Forest Resource Improvement Association of Alberta (FRIAA). These tours have been held for groups such as the Canadian Institute of Forestry and the Society of American Foresters during a 2004 conference, a four-bus tour that included 124 participants in 1994 as part of the annual activities of the Prairie CFS Reforestation Technical Committee whose interest was in regeneration systems, and the 2012 Boreal Mixedwood post-conference tour.

Initially, tour participants were presented with 8 to 20 year results. Today, visitors to these sites will witness 22 to 50 year results, most of which demonstrate the great opportunities that local mixedwoods deliver under moderate to intensive management applications.

“These legacy sites have not lost their relevance and they are still important as it relates to influencing management practices,” says Derek Sidders, Program Manager, Technology Development and Transfer at CWFC. “They are some of the first examples of the potential of first entries into managed stands in this Boreal Plains mixedwood region. And they are very good examples of the implications of a changing climate on forests located in central Alberta.”

The following are examples of what visitors will encounter at some of these legacy sites, including an explanation of their establishment history. For more information about these sites, contact Derek Sidders at derek.sidders@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca or Tim Keddy at tim.keddy
@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca.

Alberta Calling Lake Loop(Left) Established in 1997, this partial harvest demonstration features a two-pass understorey protection harvesting treatment. The overstorey deciduous (aspen and balsam poplar) component was harvested while protecting the slower-establishing and high-value white spruce understorey, with the intent of maximizing both hardwood and softwood species values on the site while maintaining a sustainable and healthy forest which maintains both species. This two-pass system was designed so that the maximum amount of deciduous could be removed and the maximum amount of release opportunity of the white spruce from overstorey competition would occur, with the goal of increasing and accelerating its growth. A total of 50 per cent of the area had the overstorey maintained on site to protect the white spruce from blowdown and to maintain/maximize water and wind management on the site. The second pass of this two-pass system is intended to take place approximately 25 to 30 years after the initial treatment to remove the remaining deciduous and a portion of the protected and released white spruce, which are in designated north-south parallel strips as seen in the photo.

Alberta Calling Lake Loop(Right) This historic location depicts white spruce planted in 1972-73 and features bladed strip sites. The white spruce was logged and deciduous left intact. Narrow straight blading of approximately 3.2 metres in width was implemented to remove the surface organic layer, leaving the lower decomposing organic layer intact. Then, white spruce seedlings of different stock types were planted on this site. This location was a focused research study established by CFS. The photo shows white spruce 40 years after treatment. The residual strips of deciduous are evident adjacent to the white spruce strips. The white spruce was planted in high densities (2,000 to 3,500 stems/ha), which resulted in a variety of different growth response implications, but the primary objective was to establish white spruce on this land base

Electric Truck(Left) This location was planted in 1983 with 40 cc 1-0 container white spruce on a Marttini Plow site. This tracked-dozer mounted, V-plowed site is comprised of continuous elevated beds running parallel to each other, allowing the forest manager to select the most appropriate place for the seedling to be planted to maximize access to moisture, vegetation control, sunlight, space for rooting and tree production. This photo shows an example of this Marttini Plow site and trees that are 30 years old.

Alberta Calling Lake Loop(Right) This photo depicts a partial harvest system deployed on a site that originated from a very extreme wildfire that burned the successional mixedwoods—primarily the white spruce. It was burned to the point that even the organic layer was removed. There were enough seed trees to re-establish a pure white spruce stand, taking as many as 30 to 35 years to achieve 1.3 metres in height. At year 76 above a measurement of 1.3 metres, the site had 1,100 to 1,350 stems per hectare and volumes from 380 to 510 cubic metres per hectare. Commercial thinning was applied in 2002 using a 30, 50, and 70 per cent removal prescription and a design that incorporated 50 per cent volume removal of the larger trees and 50 per cent volume removal of the smaller trees. This resulted in a relatively even distribution of stems and density on the site, which maximized the use of resources from sunlight, moisture, soil heating, etc. This also created a variety of production results. The 30 per cent removal had the least growth response, the 50 per cent removal had the highest growth response, and the 70 per cent removal had a moderate individual tree response, but the highest wind throw response. The 30 per cent removal had the lowest wind throw response. The 50 per cent removal had the best overall production scenario and resulted in the healthiest commercial stand.

Alberta Calling Lake Loop(Left) A variety of ‘Maintain Our Forest’ (MOF) sites were established by the Alberta Forest Service in the early 1980s to enhance the white spruce component in the mixedwood land base. These sites historically had the white spruce removed and now were productive deciduous sites. These sites were disturbed during the preparation treatment to a variety of degrees from complete removal to partial removal to removal with follow-up vegetation management control. They were bladed and site-prepared with small Bracke elevated patches. Approximately 2,000 micro-sites were established per site. The trees were planted with a variety of seedling types that were being developed in Alberta’s greenhouse industry at the time. This was very advanced for Canada, and based on the results of these plantings, they became the industry standard, becoming the protocols that were deployed at the greenhouses in developing this stock. This photo shows an example 30 years after planting of an area that had the maximum site preparation and most intensive vegetation control applied, which was complete removal of the hardwood content.

Alberta Calling Lake Loop(Right) This location was established in 1995. It is a pure, mature to over-mature aspen site of approximately 272 cubic metres per hectare. The objective was to establish selective strip patches in the understorey that would be the micro-sites for white spruce to be planted prior to harvesting the mature aspen. A 2.1 m wide Meri-Crusher, high-speed, horizontal bed mixer, mounted on a skid steer loader, was used to selectively site prepare in the understorey. The white spruce was planted in a pattern to allow feller bunchers to harvest the mature aspen and minimize the damage to the establishing white spruce in the understorey. At this point, the result at 16 years, as shown, is 4.7 metre height white spruce in the understorey with the overstorey being prescribed for harvest in the next harvest cycle along the primary road system.

Tony Kryzanowski

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