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April 19, 2021 4:30 PM, EDT

EPA Provides Updates on Emissions Standards, SmartWay Activities

EPA jimfeng/Getty Images

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expects to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking later this year aimed at establishing new emissions standards for oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and other pollutants for highway heavy-duty engines, an EPA official told the S.11 study group of the Technology & Maintenance Council of American Trucking Associations during TMC’s virtual spring meeting.

EPA announced an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on the subject Jan. 6, 2020, as part of its Cleaner Truck Initiative.

“The hope had been to get a NPRM out earlier this year. It appears the current timeline is later this year,” said Dennis Johnson, director of EPA’s Technology Assessment Center within its Transportation and Climate Division, during an April 15 session. “But we are planning on moving forward with that.”

A lot of the focus of the rulemaking is to not just lower the standards for NOx but also consider other things that need to be done, he said.

For instance, there’s changing the engine and tractor certification process. Another example is how engines need to be tested and how the technologies need to perform under different types of operations, such as stop and go compared with longhaul, where the temperature profiles are different.

California is talking about additional standards for heavy-duty trucks, too, Johnson said, and “EPA is doing this in collaboration with the California Air Resources Board.”

S.11’s meeting also included an update on EPA’s SmartWay activities including with tires, alternative fuels, trailer refrigeration units and modeling with computational fluid dynamics.

SmartWay is looking at fuel cells used in ports and potentially drayage trucks and longhaul trucking. A related white paper “is coming in the next couple of months,” that explains, among other information, the different types of fuel cells out there and the availability of hydrogen to power these fuel cells, Johnson said. “I would encourage you to take a look at it.”

Johnson said he was looking to TMC to provide some fleet feedback on heavy-duty electrification. “And we are trying to understand how our program may help move the industry forward,” perhaps by including electrification in SmartWay’s dedicated tractor program or even considering electrification across all types of trucks.

SmartWay has a designated tractor and day cab program to promote the most fuel-efficient trucks and is now looking to understand “what we might do differently for alternative fuels. That’s the interesting evolution here,” Johnson said.

SmartWay logo

Johnson said test methods for electric vehicles are a possible opportunity for SmartWay. “We certainly don’t want to do something that is not going to be of value for the trucking industry,” he said.

Johnson mentioned that SmartWay also is looking at the industry procedures for testing tire rolling resistance and making sure the procedures are repeatable enough, “and to the extent they are not repeatable we understand and can help characterize the differences between those test methods,” he said.

He also noted that SmartWay has begun testing a range of different treads on different casings as it adjusts its protocols for testing retreads and the rolling resistance performance values.

“Our intention is to circulate to the retread industry, the tire industry, these updated protocols, probably within a month,” Johnson said. “So over the next six months, we will be trying to finalize them.”

He added the plan was not to remove currently verified treads or tires, but rather to use the new protocols moving forward.

Low rolling resistance tires are a key element of the SmartWay program.

In addition, SmartWay is developing a modeling tool with computational fluid dynamics to investigate aerodynamic performance of a truck.

It is also looking at trailer refrigeration units and how they are used as a fuel saving opportunity and emissions reduction tool — including plug-in TRUs.

EPA said the SmartWay brand is well known as a symbol of sustainable freight transportation, and, according to industry surveys, SmartWay and its partners are widely recognized for their leadership in moving goods using less fuel, more efficiently and with a reduced carbon footprint.

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