Image courtesy of UPS.

Image courtesy of UPS.

UPS has been awarded two Department of Energy grants that will enable the company to conduct research aimed at reducing emissions and revolutionizing the charging process for electric trucks, according to the company. The grants are part of the Department of Energy’s efforts to spur innovation and promote more efficient cars and trucks.

The first grant, worth $1 million with a possible expansion to $10 million if the technology proves successful, will fund a joint project between UPS, Oak Ridge DOE National Lab, Workhorse, CALSTART, and Cisco. Researchers will attempt to develop a charger for electric trucks that’s embedded in the ground—flush with a UPS facility floor, for example.

With this new technology, electric trucks could recharge simply by positioning over the charger, so the charger induces a current in the vehicle to charge its batteries, much as an electric toothbrush does, with no metal to metal contact. If the UPS facility lost power for whatever reason, the power can also flow in the reverse direction from the charged batteries in the vehicles to the electric grid for the facility. 

The second grant, worth up to $3 million, will seek to develop an exhaust system that could simplify and reduce the cost of cleaning up diesel emissions. Working with Atlanta-based NG-1, UPS will focus on solutions for Class 7 and Class 8 heavy-duty vehicles.

These trucks, which typically substitute 50-95% of diesel fuel with natural gas and have improved emission profiles, have historically been burdened by full diesel emission after-treatment systems and high operating costs. The proposed research could improve torque and horsepower, reduce costs, improve fuel efficiency, and reduce noise levels.