Alternative drives: The new Natural Gas Technology Econic.
Berlin’s City Cleaning Department turns waste into biogas – and uses it to operate a fleet of 150 Natural Gas Technology Econics. The latest generation of the gas-powered vehicle sets standards in terms of environment friendliness, safety and ergonomics.
“The gas engine in the Econic is jam-packed with sophisticated technology."
The newcomer in the hood is the quiet type. Plenty of power on tap, but ready to serve the community without making a big noise about it. Econic 2630 Natural Gas Technology is the name. The green specialist for waste disposal and distribution transport, fitted with the new gas engine M 936 G, has been rolling off the assembly line at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Wörth since March 2015. Two of the first units of the environmentally friendly engine, which is particularly quiet thanks to its low rpm range, are currently on trial operation in refuse collection vehicles for Berlin’s City Cleaning Department BSR.
The municipal waste management company with its currently more than 5 100 employees is Germany’s biggest Econic customer. Its fleet includes 150 gas-powered units from various generations. Forthe coming year, BSR plans investments totalling just under twelve million euros to replace the older diesel-powered vehicles. In the long term, 50% of the fleet will switch to natural gas. And the new Econic 2630 Natural Gas Technology is a frontrunner on the wish list of the fleet managers and drivers.
“The gas engine in the Econic is jam-packed with sophisticated technology,” says Hüseyin Yilmaz. “It’s not only reliable and environmentally friendly, but also extremely quiet.” The man from Berlin is a workshop foreman at BSR’s depot at Forckenbeckstrasse in the district of Wilmersdorf. Yilmaz has been taking care of the technology of BSR’s vehicle fleet for about 30 years now. At this location, his mechanicsmaintain and repair over 70 waste disposal vehicles. BSR acquired the first Econics with gas technology directly after the market launch in 2002. Since then, Hüseyin Yilmaz has been an expert in the environmentally friendly drive option.
The new gas engine M 936 G with a displacement of 7.7 litres is based on the turbodiesel engine OM 936. The in-line six-cylinder engine is powered by compressed natural gas and has an output of 222 kW (299 hp) and a maximum torque of 1200 Nm. With its vigorous development of power the single-stage charged engine is on a par with its diesel-powered counterpart.
Tech info: gas engine M 936 G.
Function: Environment-friendly engine with a displacement of 7.7 litres for operation using compressed natural gas. A power output of up to 222 kW and a maximum torque of 1200 Nm.
Specification: Newly developed charging, charge-air ducting, ignition and mixture formation including exhaust gas recirculation with the same dimensions as the diesel engine OM 936.
Impact: Outstanding generation of power in a wide rpm range, a low noise level and up to 20% fewer CO₂ emissions than the Driving home relaxed comparable turbodiesel.
Excellent environmental balance.
The CO₂ emissions of the new gas power units are up to 20% lower than those of the diesel engine. And by adding organically produced gas, the carbon footprint can be made even smaller. Since 2013, Berlin’s City Cleaning Department has been producing biogas at its own plant in Ruhleben and feeds it into the city network. Hüseyin Yilmaz explains:“Our Econics pick up their fuel during their trips right on our doorstep here in Berlin. This way, we save about 2.5 million litres of diesel. That’s brilliant!”
Guido Prokop is one of the drivers who picks up the “fuel” on the streets. BSR empties a total of more than 21 million refuse bins of residual and organic waste per year. Prokop started driving the two new Natural Gas Technology Econics through the streets of Berlin a good six weeks ago. Today, he and his team are working in the district of Marzahn. “When things get tight between the houses, because of cars often double-parking, the Econic is unbeatable thanks to its compact dimensions, short wheelbase and electrohydraulically steered trailing axle,” says Prokop.“Additionally,the big panoramic windscreen and the clever system of mirrors enable great all-round visibility and make manoeuvring child’s play.”
Together with his two refuse collecting colleagues, he also finds it easy to cope with frequent getting in and out of the vehicle during day-to-day rounds. Prokop explains: “You used to have to hop out of the vehicle and then climb back into the cab, which was really tough on the joints in the long run. Thanks to the Econic with its low-entry concept, that’s a thing of the past.” Both the co-driver and the driver can enter and exit the cab on the safe, kerb side through the inward-opening folding door. The concept increases work safety and helps to keep the team fit
The big panoramic windscreen make manoeuvring child’s play.
Guido Prokop, cleansing-department of Berlin
Best working conditions.
The ergonomic design of the Econic’s cab, with the new multifunction steering wheel and the individually positionable function buttons on the control panel offer the driver the best working conditions. Operating the Allison six-speed automatic transmission at steering wheel level makes driving even more comfortable and safer. “Thanks to the new and quieter Econic with natural gas technology, our trips have become much more relaxed,” says Prokop. “And when we drive back to the depot in the late afternoon, I’ve often not used more than 48 kilograms of gas. That’s about seven kilos less than in the predecessor model, which was itself pretty economical.” Vehicle refuelling in the depot at Forckenbeckstrasse takes no more than a few minutes.“In addition to the economical engine it is also the resolute lightweight construction of the fuel tanks that makes the difference in the new Econic,” says Yilmaz. With a wheelbase of 3 900 millimetres, the payload increase enabled by this weight optimised design is up to 400 kilograms compared to the predecessor.
Up until the late evening, foreman Yilmaz is busy updating the operating data sheets of his vehicles. Next morning, when Berlin is still fast asleep, Guido Prokop, his colleagues and the Econic 2630 Natural Gas Technology are again on their way collecting the valuable waste of the Berliners. Very quietly.
Text: Christian Schmidt
Phos: Kristian Barthen/Daimler
Source: Mercedes-Benz Transport 1/2016