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September 12, 2021 1:00 PM, EDT

ConMet Readying Zero-Emission Trailer

ConMet's Marc TrahandConMet eMobility's Marc Trahand discusses the need for more zero-emission options in transportation. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

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CLEVELAND — ConMet eMobility debuted a trailer refrigeration system powered by electric wheel hubs to create what the company calls a “zero-emission trailer.”

The company’s Preset Plus Electric Hub is an in-wheel electric motor engineered to capture wasted braking energy and repurpose it as electricity, Marc Trahand, the company’s vice president and general manager, said Sept. 12 at American Trucking Associations’ 2021 Technology & Maintenance Council Fall Meeting and Transportation Technology Exhibition.

The wheel hubs are designed to provide electricity for TRUs as an alternative to diesel fuel. In the system, electricity is stored in a high-capacity, lightweight battery that sits beneath the trailer, powering the electric reefer to keep a fully loaded trailer cool, Trahand said.

He expressed the need for more zero-emission options in transportation as federal and state regulators push for more control of emissions in the coming years — in particular, a regulation specific to TRUs that the California Air Resources Board is set to adopt in 2025.

Trahand explained that he is encouraged by what he is seeing at industry trade shows to address this challenge.

“I’m amazed over the years how many more innovations are coming to the show floor,” he said.

Slide from ConMet presentation

ConMet eMobility slide outlining benefits of its electric wheel hubs. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

ConMet eMobility is a separate division of ConMet, a global supplier of wheel hubs, aluminum castings and structural plastics to original equipment manufacturers and aftermarket channels in the commercial vehicle industry.

“It was really important to us to have that full entity to be able to spur more innovation,” Trahand said of the division’s founding a few years ago.

In the weeks ahead, Trahand said the company is planning announcements about partners it will be working with to bring its trailer refrigeration system to the market.

“We need to be able to bring this product to market and scale it up to use,” he said.

In terms of the system’s weight, Trahand said that battery size can be scaled to the application. He noted that the wheel ends themselves are comparative in terms of weight to a standard hub, and said the removal of a diesel unit’s fuel tank required to power a TRU in a standard reefer setup effectively accounts for the weight of the battery and electronics.

“It’s about a net zero when you take all of that into account,” Trahand said.

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