Would a diesel generator powering a small battery bank be a better solution than an all-electric semi?

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I’m all for an electrified future, but until battery weight-to-energy density improves, I believe we need efficient, blended solutions that get us to the future in practical steps. As I understand it, diesel generators run rather efficiently at a consistent RPM. Would a diesel generator powering a small battery bank be a better solution than all-electric on semi trucks?

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4 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

No, not really better than all electric, but yes better than all diesel. Hybrid semi-trucks exist, but because long haul towing will drain your tank as well as your battery, it doesn’t make it much more efficient because you’ll still need to haul the entirety of a diesel generator. You’re carrying less weight in batteries, but you’re replacing it with an entire internal combustion engine.

As well, any dependence on fossil fuels should be unacceptable as soon as possible, and transitionary solutions like hybrid semis doesn’t make that cut.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Running the engine using green energy sourced hydrogen would be a logical way to manage some hard to abate transport issues. I’m thinking specifically about trains and ocean freight. I think the battery solutions that either exist now or will exist very shortly will overcome the semi truck hauled freight issue. Particularly battery swap ideas such as https://www.januselectric.com.au/ .
(There’s many others doing similar and arguably better versions of this too)

Anonymous 0 Comments

What you just described is a [Diesel-Electric Transmission](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diesel%E2%80%93electric_transmission).
It has a number of advantages, including a lot of torque, but efficiency isn’t a selling point of the system.

Anonymous 0 Comments

A lot of the emissions from a diesel are related to the engine accelerating and slowing down. Using a diesel at a constant RPM will provide a significant improvement in emissions. For short hauls, it could run as a pure electric, and on longer runs, of course, the engine would have to be started.

What you are describing is a series hybrid, and I think they are a valuable addition to the options that are available.

https://www.electricbike.com/15-plug-in-hybrid-cars-and-why-i-like-them/