Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Revolutionary Green Technology Bus Has DOE Roots

Insight from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, commitment from two Michigan companies and funding from the Department of Energy have led to the commercialization of a lightweight urban transit bus with double the fuel efficiency of conventional hybrid buses.

This new green technology 40-foot bus features a high-strength stainless steel body and chassis and a hybrid power system that drives the bus primarily with stored electrical energy. This approach reverses the paradigm of conventional parallel hybrid designs that use electric energy only to supplement the acceleration and torque requirements of a diesel engine.

At the heart of the bus is a chassis made of Nitronic 30, a nitrogen-strengthened stainless steel that is stronger and stiffer than conventional steel. These attributes translate into less material required for a chassis, resulting in reduced weight.

“Nitronic stainless steel is incredibly durable and enables our chassis designs to have significantly longer service life vs. ordinary steel vehicles,” said Bruce Emmons, president of Autokinetics ( of Rochester, Mich., which developed the bus. “The fact that stainless is also 100 percent recyclable and more environmentally friendly to produce than aluminum makes this an ideal green raw material for vehicle structures.”

Additional advantages of Nitronic 30 include excellent mechanical properties at sub-zero and elevated temperatures along with low-temperature impact resistance and superb resistance to high-temperature oxidation. While this material is more costly than conventional steel, Emmons noted that the additional cost is offset by design innovation, parts consolidation and streamlined manufacturing processes.

“The benefits of improved strength-to-weight performance quickly compound to all other vehicles systems such as smaller tires, lighter brakes, batteries, motors and so on,” Emmons said. “By optimizing the total vehicle we have been able to cut the weight almost in half, which has led to performance improvements, most notably fuel economy gains.”

In addition to its reduced weight and hybrid power system, the bus will incorporate a number of advanced design features and advantages, said Gregory Fisher, chief executive officer of Fisher Coachworks (, which licensed the technology, has produced a prototype and plans full commercialization. The bus made its debut today and deliveries of the bus are expected to begin in 2009.

Some of the advantages are improved vehicle safety for passengers, lower cost, reduced noise and improved ride dynamics. The major advantage, though, will be in cost to operate, according to Fisher.

Specific contributions from ORNL included computer crash studies and infrared thermal imaging to evaluate the quality of some of the initial laser welds in the structure. Early tests showed some problems with the laser welding technique, so Autokinetics chose to use resistance spot welding in most places and tungsten inert gas welding for the remainder of the joining needs.

But even before its technical contributions, Emmons said ORNL had a huge impact.

“ORNL was the first to suggest the possibility of applying Autokinetics’ light-weighting ideas and technologies to the bus field,” Emmons said. “Without that insight, this program would never have happened.”

Phil Sklad of ORNL’s Materials Science and Technology Division served as the program manager and technical monitor and noted that DOE’s $2.5 million investment in this project is being rewarded with a revolutionary bus.

“This is a perfect example of how the Department of Energy, a national laboratory and the private sector can collaborate to produce something that is potentially of great value to society,” Sklad said.

Fisher Coachworks, located in Troy, Mich., is planning to use this patented technology for transit buses and other commercial vehicle market segments that would benefit from vastly improved fuel economy in urban stop and start applications. Fisher Coachworks was formed in 2007 to focus on production of advanced hybrids using an ultra-lightweight stainless steel unibody construction.

Funding for this project was provided by DOE’s Office of FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies Program. UT-Battelle manages Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the Department of Energy.

Ron Walli | Newswise Science News
Further information:

More articles from Transportation and Logistics:

nachricht Study sets new distance record for medical drone transport
13.09.2017 | Johns Hopkins Medicine

nachricht Researchers 'count cars' -- literally -- to find a better way to control heavy traffic
10.08.2017 | Florida Atlantic University

All articles from Transportation and Logistics >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>