Ripon firm Econ looking at green fuel to power winter gritters

As climate change conference COP26 concluded in Glasgow last week, Econ Engineering in Ripon announced it is looking at alternative fuels to power its gritters.

Monday, 15th November 2021, 4:53 pm
Greener Alternative (l to r): Jonathan Lupton, Econ Engineering Operations Director; David Price, DAF Trucks' Municipal and Electric Vehicle Sales Manager; and Ann Mary Myers from PACCAR.

The company, which makes 85 per cent of the UK’s winter road-maintenance vehicles, is considering two alternatives to diesel: hydrogen and Hydro-treated Vegetable Oil (HVO), which is currently being trialled by truck manufacturer, DAF.

But it said that at this stage the company, and the rest of the commercial vehicle sector, doesn’t see electric power as an option, as in severe weather gritters need to be working almost 24 hours a day, with just short periods off the road for re-fuelling and re-loading their grit hoppers.

Whilst the use of hydrogen in heavy goods vehicles are still in the experimental stage, HVO is already in use by a small number of DAF truck fleet operators. It can be used in any diesel engine, either on its own or mixed with red or white diesel, and is 90 per cent cleaner than its red and white counterparts.

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It is particularly popular by fleet operators in colder climates as it has a lower freezing point than oil-derived diesel.

However, it has two barriers to widescale use in the UK. The first is it’s more expensive than traditional diesel. The second is it’s refined in continental Europe and then shipped to Tilbury where it is stored and then shipped via road tankers to operators with fuel storage bunkers.

Jonathan Lupton, Econ’s operations director, said: “As a business we are very mindful of our carbon footprint and work hard to reduce wherever possible.

“As a business we are very mindful of our carbon footprint and work hard to reduce wherever possible.

“We are examining a number of ways in which our winter maintenance vehicles can move away from traditional fossil fuels.”

He added: “A number of contracts that we are looking at are asking for zero emissions which is simply unrealistic for our sector.

“What they should be asking for instead is vehicles that have lowered their emissions. And with hydrogen-powered engines on the horizon and HVO already here, we know we can achieve this.”