Electric Truck Pump Could Save Dairy Farmers Millions in Fuel Costs, Reduce Emissions

A major milk transporter plans to retrofit the pumps to all its trucks and predicts it alone will save 1.25 million gallons of diesel per year.

6.12.2018 Semcon produserer elmotor til melkebil. Kenneth demonstrerer ved kilnes gård på Stjørdal. Foto: Øyvind Nordahl Næss
Næss, Øyvind Nordahl—Øyvind Nordahl Næss

Technology company Semcon has developed an electric pump for milk tankers that it touts as a solution for the problems of diesel-powered pumps in widespread use today.

Semcon analyzed the use of diesel-powered pumps on tanker trucks used by milk transporter fleets and found that each truck operates its engine for an extra 1,000 hours per year just to power the accessory. This increases diesel consumption by around 5,000 liters (1,321 gallons) per year, costing around $4,000 extra in fuel alone, never mind the costs associated with extra running hours on the engines, or the unnecessary CO2 and noise emissions.

Its solution was to design a quieter, electrically-driven pump, whose power source would be a 7.4 kilowatt-hour battery charged off the engine during normal operation or overnight on a charger. The pump can be retrofitted to existing tankers, eliminating the need for new trucks, but also slashing the above costs associated with diesel-driven pumps. Norway's larger milk carrier, Tine, bought Semcon pumps with which it will equip all 250 of its trucks, and it expects the electric pumps to pay for themselves within 18 to 24 months of fleet-wide installation.

"We will reduce our diesel consumption by 1.25 million liters per year when all our milk pumps in Norway run on electricity," said Frode Eggan, speaking for Tine. "This means that CO2 emissions will be reduced by 3,200 tons a year. This investment in our climate will pay off financially as well. Our costs will be reduced by several million kroner [or several hundred thousand dollars]."

"Milk tankers call here at the farm every two days," added dairy farmer Ove Nättorp. "Any solution that reduces both noise and emissions would be highly significant for the work environment, but it would also ensure a more eco-friendly product overall."

Semcon projects a reduction in diesel consumption by 120 million liters (31.7 million gallons) if all dairies across Europe were to replace their diesel pumps with electric. That goal may not be as farfetched as it sounds; a Semcon spokesperson confirmed to The Drive that dairies from both Sweden and the United Kingdom have reached out to the company to express interest in the electric pumps. Use of the pumps isn't limited to milk, either: Semcon projects further savings if other industries adopt the technology.

"We have focused on milk here, but really the technology could be applied to anything that is pumped into tankers—grain or pellets, liquids like beer. Incredible amounts of diesel could be saved," said Semcon's Hans Peter Havdal.

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The Drive