It seems fuel economy is on everyone's minds these days.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, with its large bus fleet, is no exception.
For several years, the transit authority, known as Metro, has been adding diesel-electric hybrid buses to its fleet in an effort to curb the transportation system's fuels costs.
Exactly how much fuel Metro is saving with its hybrids is the question the University of Houston has been asked to answer.
Next month, UH's Texas Diesel Testing & Research Center will begin testing hybrid and regular Metro buses for fuel efficiency.
"Metro's bus vendors have outlined the projected fuel costs savings of their buses, but the transportation system wanted an independent verification of those figures," said Rachel Muncrief, the project's lead investigator and a UH research assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. "This two-year project is essentially about fuel economy."
The UH center is a comprehensive research facility for the development and testing of advanced powertrain and emissions after-treatment technologies for local, state and federal governments as well as the fuels, engine and after-treatment industries.
Staffed by researchers from chemical and biomolecular engineering and mechanical engineering, the center's focus is on cleaner emissions, renewable fuels and increased fuel economy for heavy duty diesel vehicles.
A diesel-electric hybrid bus is distinguishable by a large, heavy battery attached on top of the vehicle.
There are different types of hybrid buses and the newer models come equipped with technology designed to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.
Hybrid buses generally are more expensive to purchase and they each weigh about 2,000 pounds more. Still, the long-term fuel savings makes them a good investment.
Hybrids also use regenerative brake systems, which transfer some ene
|Contact: Laura Tolley|
University of Houston