Vancouver-based Loop Energy now has some additional fuel in the tank it can use to accelerate towards the commercialization finish line. The company scored $7.5 million in funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) earlier this month, money that will be used to bring its zero emission transport truck powertain to market and start testing on a second.
Speaking with Canadian Green Tech earlier this month, Loop Energy president Ben Nyland noted that in addition to the “dramatic amount of money” the company can now access, receiving it in the first place is a major win for its technology.
“SDTC is one of the more respected government funding programs in the world from our perspective, so to put us through their technology due diligence and come out the other side and get this award is really a validation of our move to zero emission heavy duty powertrains,” he said. “It's also a validation of our view that there's an economic benefit to be had here and so it's really a win on both fronts.”
The benefits of SDTC funding are really three-fold for the firm. First, Loop Energy can now leverage other investor’s funds and build the company quicker than it perhaps could have without the government money. Secondly, it accelerates the full commercialization of its fuel cell battery hybrid powertrain for the yard truck application (a vehicle that’s limited to distribution centres and ports). Lastly, the money also gives Loop Energy the ability to enter the heavy duty tractor trailer, or Class 8 truck market.
On this latter aspect, the company is working with Peterbilt Motors, one of North America’s leading transport truck makers. Before the powertrain can be installed in a big transport truck, it needs to undergo further engineering and testing.
Nyland explained that because a yard truck has limited speed, the stress on the powertrain isn’t so demanding, but in a large transport truck traveling at highway speeds, the stress will be much higher. So part of the SDTC funding will be used to put the powertrain back into the engineering cycle “to make sure we're satisfying the requirements of an over-the-road vehicle that has a maximum speed of 55 miles per hour,” he said.
The first commercial yard truck is expected to hit the market this August as part of demonstration project. Next year is when Loop Energy expects yard trucks with its zero emissions powertrain to gain traction.
“We look at 2017 as the year that the yard trucks will start coming to market in a commercial way,” said Nyland. As for a big convoy of zero emission transport trucks traveling across North America, well that will be a little while longer because of additional engineering requirements.