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Mack will lead two DOE grant projects

February 19, 2005|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Mack Trucks Inc. north of Hagerstown will be the team leader of two Department of Energy grant projects aimed at improving fuel efficiency in heavy-duty commercial trucks, according to federal and Mack officials. The two projects, totaling $7 million in investment, could mean more jobs in the future at the local Mack facility if the projects are successful and the technologies are commercially feasible, Mack spokesman Bob Martin said Friday. The four-year, research-and-development projects would include other private companies, Martin said. Industry and federal officials soon will begin negotiations concerning funding and intellectual property rights issues for the projects, said Gurpreet Singh, team leader for engine and emission control technologies in the office of FreedomCAR (Cooperative Automotive Research) and Vehicle Technologies with the energy department. One of the projects is to develop and demonstrate an air-power-assist engine to improve fuel efficiency by 15 percent with emissions meeting 2010 regulations, according to a Department of Energy (DOE) news release. Martin described the engine as a hybrid in which energy is captured from the braking process and stored as compressed air in a specially-designed pressure vessel. The air is injected into the engine's cylinders to help acceleration, he said. DOE will contribute $1,807,674 that will be matched by private industry, officials said. The other project integrates a turbocharger and compounded turbine into a system that includes a continuously variable transmission to optimize performance, according to a DOE news release. The idea is to burn less fuel to get the same amount of power, Martin said. DOE will contribute $1,700,466 that will be matched by private industry, officials said. Martin did not know Mack's share of the industry cost for either project. An engine development laboratory is being built at the local Mack campus, but isn't expected to be completed this year, Martin said. Work on the research and development projects probably will start before the lab is done, he said. The two projects were among 12 that Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman announced this week that will increase the energy efficiency of passenger and commercial vehicles while maintaining low emissions, according to a DOE news release. The projects' total value is $175 million, which is split between the federal government and private industry, the news release states.

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