A greener garbage truck

Changing the way we move garbage in an innovative way

October 13, 2011— Montréal, Quebec

Développment Effenco Inc.

Finding another vehicle that covers as little ground yet uses as much energy as a garbage truck is a difficult task. One third of the fuel it consumes is essentially used to operate its mechanical arm and to compact the waste in the hopper. In 2007, a group of young entrepreneurs began to wonder if a system could be designed to recover a portion of the energy used in braking and redirect it to operate the truck’s auxiliary systems.

David Arsenault, Dany Fouquet and Benoit Lacroix, recent engineering graduates from the École de technologie supérieure in Montreal, and businessman Simon Poulin, believed it was possible. Their goal was to develop a simple and efficient system – compatible with North America garbage trucks – that could reduce fuel consumption by 20% by recovering the energy generated by braking. Together, they founded Effenco (Efficacité Énergétique Compagnie) and consulted the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) for help in achieving their goal.

From left to right: company founders Simon Poulin, Benoit Lacroix and David Arsenault, investor Bryan Wallis and Félix Ménard, an Effenco employee.

From left to right: Company founders Simon Poulin, Benoit Lacroix and David Arsenault, investor Bryan Wallis and Félix Ménard, an Effenco employee.

An attractive and feasible concept

“The concept combined energy savings and sustainable development, and showed promise,” explains René Fugère, NRC-IRAP Industrial Technology Advisor (ITA). “We decided to assist the creators of the concept, who were very strong technically, with the development of an initial regulated-pressure hybrid hydraulic system. In addition to financial support, we provided access to specialized resources, particularly with respect to technology monitoring and commercialization strategies, in order to effectively support their early development.”

The NRC-IRAP assessment team consisting of René Fugère, Raymond Guay and Denis Lacroix also enabled the young entrepreneurs to measure themselves against other businesses in the same industry, and validate their particular vision.

NRC-IRAP provided financial assistance to Effenco for an initial R&D project designed to test the feasibility of their concept. The results were conclusive.

“Real-world testing showed us where and how to modify our design to improve its performance and make it more attractive to the industry," explains Simon Poulin, Vice-President of Effenco, Business Development. "The support from NRC-IRAP also enhanced our credibility with other partners, such as Economic Development Canada (EDC)."

On the basis of the initial results, Effenco proceeded to improve the system’s gearbox, in particular by reducing its size and weight. It thus developed the second generation of the company’s regenerative braking system known as Head™, which is now in operation in Drummondville, Sherbrooke, Victoriaville and Halifax. Tests indicate the results are in line with expectations for fuel savings, brake wear and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Technical and marketing advice

"The NRC-IRAP team provided us with food for thought at the technical level, and helped us develop a strong commercialization strategy," says David Arsenault, President of Effenco. "When innovating, the amount of information to disclose and how to approach potential clients were areas we were less familiar with. Our NRC-IRAP ITAs shared their expertise in these fields. We are now targeting a very specific clientele, which makes our business decisions much easier."

Thanks to the support from NRC-IRAP:

  • Effenco hired 5 employees, increasing total staff to 13, 8 of whom are science professionals.
  • The firm obtained financial support from other sources, including EDC, Quebec’s Ministère du Développement économique, de l’Innovation et de l’Exportation and the provincial Agence de l’efficacité énergétique.
  • Effenco is now intensively pursuing the pre-commercialization phase, expecting to triple its turnover by 2012, and hoping to secure 15 to 25% of the market for heavy duty hybrid garbage trucks. Its goal is to sell approximately one hundred Head™ systems in 2012.

"We are still following the company’s progress," adds René Fugère. "If it needs our help to develop new generations of the Head™ system, we shall examine its proposals with interest."

Enquiries: Media relations
613-991-1431
media@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca

NRC-IRAP
1-877-994-4727
publicinquiries.irap-pari@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca

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