How Garbage Trucks Can Drive a Green Future

Aug 19, 2016

By Robert B. Catell and Joanna B. Underwood

The administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York has set clear, aggressive goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that would make the city a national leader in mitigating climate change. But other decisions now in the works could prevent the city from meeting them.

In the wake of last year’s Paris climate agreement, the mayor announced plans to cut emissions from activities controlled by the city government by 80 percent by 2050. Mr. de Blasio’s pledge included cutting emissions from the city’s vehicle fleets by 50 percent by 2025, and by 80 percent by 2035.

Halving emissions in less than a decade requires immediate, concerted action. But the Department of Sanitation — the city agency with the highest vehicle fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions — plans to buy 340 new refuse trucks this year, with at least 300 powered by diesel engines. That would lock in high diesel emissions for the seven-year service life of these trucks — and put the 2025 emissions goal out of reach.

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2 comments on “How Garbage Trucks Can Drive a Green Future

  • @OP link – New York could move in this direction, too. New Yorkers generate nearly two million tons of organic waste a year (about 30 percent of the city’s waste stream). This source alone could produce more than enough renewable natural gas to fuel the city’s entire heavy-duty fleet — while also helping it meet its “zero waste” goals by diverting organic waste from landfills.

    Local production of the gas using anaerobic digesters is ramping up. Digesters are being developed at the Newtown Creek wastewater plant in Brooklyn and at the American Organic Energy facility on Long Island. New York has enough natural gas refueling stations today to supply hundreds of trucks with the renewable fuel, and there are plenty of companies eager to invest in building more.

    One of the things of which I became aware, when I visited New York, was the sheer volume of waste piled up on the streets awaiting collection by garbage trucks.

    Using this waste to generate bio-fuel rather than adding it to the stuff dumped at sea, would be good progress.

    Another feature which I noticed, – perhaps illustrating US commercial culture, was the absence of side safety side-bars on many trucks making smaller vehicles and pedestrians more vulnerable to crushing under the rear wheels.

    This picture shows a truck with the safety bars fitted.

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  • @OP – The administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York has set clear, aggressive goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that would make the city a national leader in mitigating climate change.

    A some years ago, an experimental tidal turbine project was set up on the East River. There is now also a wave power project, so some New York electricity can be locally generated from waves, river flow, and tides.

    Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy Project, New York, United States of America
    The RITE project will include Verdant’s free flow kinetic hydropower system (KHPS), consisting of horizontal-axis turbines with three rotors.

    The system converts kinetic energy of the river currents into electricity. It is completely installed underwater and runs along with the natural flow of the water.

    The turbine blades move at a constant speed of 40rpm, being boosted by a speed accelerator. An induction generator enclosed in a waterproof nacelle is connected to the accelerator. The nacelle is mounted on a pylon and also contains the gearbox. The entire turbine and other systems are made of stainless steel and reinforced plastic, with high performance anti-corrosion coatings.

    The system operates silently and is invisible from the shore, reducing any visual impact. It is modular and does not require the construction of any dams or other infrastructure which makes it cost effective.

    KHPS is also scalable for installation of projects of any size in villages, cities or deep sea areas. It can be directly installed in populated areas and eliminates the need for transmission lines. The system can be integrated into water purification systems to reduce operational cost and increase energy efficiency.

    It could also be used to power electric vehicles!

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