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Diesel-Electronic Propulsion Technology Can Improve Fuel Economy Up to 40%

Oshkosh Truck Corp has unveiled its new diesel-electronic propulsion technology at the Association of the United States Army's annual exhibition in Washington DC recently. Known as ProPulse technology, this system can improve fuel economy by up to 40%, reduce emissions, and enhance vehicle reliability. It is designed specifically for the performance demands of heavy- truck applications.

Oshkosh plans to integrate this new truck propulsion technology into specialty trucks for defense and commercial customers. The firm is responsible for all phases of ProPulse technology development, from design and testing to integration and production. It intends to make ProPulse technology available in its line of aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicles within two years. Oshkosh has been working on hybrid electric-drive technology for several years, in cooperation with Rockwell Automation and other industrial partners.

The ProPulse system design uses a modular series-hybrid arrangement to simplify transmission of power to wheels. The diesel engine powers a large electric generator, which provides direct power to the wheels, eliminating the torque converter, automatic transmission, transfer case, and drive shafts. Each differential is driven independently by a dedicated motor, controlled from its own power converter.

ProPulse technology can increase fuel economy by up to 40% over conventional power trains. The diesel engine is optimized for operation at a constant revolutions-per-minute (rpm) between 1500 and 1800. This eliminates inefficiency associated with changing rpm levels during acceleration and deceleration, and reduces emissions as well. The final design will meet or exceed guidelines of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Aviation Association, and the National Fire Protection Association. Other advantages of the system include:

- Increased readiness. The control system generates historic and real-time diagnostic data for preventive system adjustments. This lets operators schedule maintenance in advance.

- Direct wheel torque control. Each wheel can be individually controlled within .01% increments. This maximizes power regardless of field conditions.

- Increased on-board power. When traction drives are disconnected, the alternator is free to generate up to 500 kilowatts of electricity, enough to supply peak power for 25 homes.

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