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Eco-Glider Hybrid Fleet Improves Air Quality in Belfast

Cummins has brought its Euro VI clean diesel technology to Belfast, Northern Ireland, with a 30-strong fleet of Eco-hybrid Glider buses helping to improve air quality in the city while delivering far higher levels of uptime and reliability than the bus operator, Translink, has experienced before.

The 60-foot long, tram-like buses provide a rapid transit, east to west, cross-city service, with each bus offering the potential to take 87 cars off the road. More than 45,000 additional passenger journeys a week have been made since the Glider launched at the end of 2018.

Manufactured by Van Hool of Belgium, the articulated 2-door Glider is designated an eco-hybrid due to exceptionally low emission levels and around 33% lower fuel consumption compared to the buses they replaced. Cummins B6.7 hybrid-adapted engine provides an ideal power match with the vehicle weight and duty-cycle thresholds as well as its ability to operate reliably for around 16 hours per day. The Glider takes the total number of hybrid buses equipped with Cummins power in Europe to over 2,000 installations.

The Glider is lowering greenhouse gas emissions in the city by an average 2.5 metric tons per vehicle each month in operation and was made successful by the fully integrated diesel-electric driveline that enables seamless transitions between the ‘engine on’ and ‘engine off’ modes. During a typical Glider route cycle, the ‘engine off’ mode automatically applies for an average of 15 minutes in every hour, resulting in zero roadside emissions and zero noise for 25% of the bus operating time.

During normal operation, the ‘engine-off’ mode activates when the battery pack energy level reaches a sufficient state of charge. The additional energy stored by the battery is delivered to the driveline as a power-assist function for the engine, enabling the smaller, more efficient 6.7-litre displacement engine with 280 hp to be used without compromising on performance.

Ashley Watton, Cummins Director – On-Highway Business Europe, said: “Cummins technology is helping cities like Belfast address air quality issues on major road corridors into and through the city centre. Our hybrid engines are optimized to be used within all hybrid drivelines, providing operators with a range of options for alternatives to conventional clean diesel drivelines, full-electric solutions and renewable natural gas power.”

Cummins worked closely with the Van Hool technical team to optimize the B6.7 to deliver power and torque at specific points on the fuel map, aligned to a load-demand following mode, as well as configuring the system to determine the most energy efficient time to recharge the battery. The engine position sensor ensures instant readiness for a soft restart in just half a second following the ‘engine-off’ mode.

The hybrid engine was streamlined by eliminating power-take-off accessories used to drive steering pumps, fan drives, air compressors and air-conditioning, which can be run directly from the battery’s electrical supply.

The popularity of the buses has already created demand for additional Gliders, which will shortly be in operation, as well as for a new North-South route to be introduced. 

View the video here.

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