CleanTechnica Goes For a Trip At Hyliion Investor Day

Disclaimer 1: Hyliion wished me to cowl their 2023 Investor Day badly sufficient that they flew me all the way down to Cedar Park exterior of Austin, put me up in a pleasant lodge, and fed me as many pastries (and a few good Texas BBQ) as I might push into my face.

Disclaimer 2: I felt awkward asking questions throughout their Investor Day as a result of I wasn’t an investor. I purchased one (1) share at about $1.65 about midway by way of a cheese danish, then a second one at about $1.67 so I might ask questions on “my shares.”

“Are you able to fly to Austin on the twenty seventh?” requested the textual content from Hyliion’s comms director, Ryann Malone. “We’re having an investor occasion and we’d like to have you ever.”

I’ve sufficient associates in Austin on two and 4 wheels that it’s turn into nearly a second house in recent times, and one other excuse to go to the Historic Scoot Inn is all the time welcome. I agreed instantly, even padding the journey with an additional day in Austin.

The flight out of Chicago’s O’Hare Worldwide airport was uneventful (which is strictly why you pay additional to fly United), and I arrived in Austin simply in time to satisfy up with my good good friend, Tim Hayden, who launched me to Torchy’s Tacos and their wonderful inexperienced chile queso.

I pounced upon the spicy cheese dip savagely as we waited for the remainder of our order.

“Who’re these guys you’re right here to see, once more?” Tim requested, principally hiding a glance that stated, “these had been imagined to be for the desk.”

“Hyliion,” I stated, as I pushed the chips in the direction of the middle of the desk. “Hyliion takes vehicles, like over-the-road semi-type vehicles, and converts them to hybrids – however not like, Prius hybrids. Extra like Chevy Volt hybrids.”

“So it has an electrical motor, however it has a fuel motor that’s like a generator,” he stated.

“Yeah, precisely …,” I started. “However – not precisely.”

Tim gave me a sarcastic look, however didn’t communicate.

“The brief model is that, sure, it has an inside combustion engine that it makes use of as a generator – however there’s no connection between the engine and the wheels. It’s only a generator. On the Volt, the engine did have a bodily connection to the wheels, should you mapped out all of the gears and clutches. Right here, there’s none of that.”

“And that’s extra environment friendly,” he supplied, settling for a smallish third of the chips.

“Proper,” I supplied. “You retain the engine at its most effective RPM, and it generates constant electrical energy. Even with little or no juice within the batteries, it’s sufficient to energy the truck alongside, so that you want fewer batteries, can carry extra freight, use much less gas, yadda yadda yadda–”

“So it’s a hybrid truck,” Tim says.

“Yeah, however it’s not,” I stated once more. “They make the hybrid system, from the generator to the battery packs and the management software program and so they put it within the truck. That’s nice, however it’s not information. Nobody cares. The slick half is that the generator doesn’t have to be a giant diesel truck engine. It may be something. It may be a fuel engine, a pure fuel engine, a hydrogen gas cell, even a turbine.”

Hyliion | Generator Agnostic

Hyliion Hypertruck

Hyliion Hypertruck is generator agnostic; picture by the creator.

The speak turned to Chrysler’s turbine-powered idea vehicles and the distinctive ways in which turbine engines — and Wankel rotaries, for that matter — might be successfully put to make use of as mills of range-extended EVs. We made all of it the way in which to the nice Parnelli Jones and his epic, turbine-powered tilt on the 1967 Indianapolis 500, the place his Wallis-penned STP-Paxton Turbocar led practically the complete race, earlier than retiring with transmission issues simply 4 laps from the end line.

“It was a complete conspiracy!” I stated, on a rant now. “They couldn’t simply let Granatelli blow the doorways off of Ford and Chevy and Offenhauser like that – the UAW would have buried Rufus subsequent to Jimmy Hoffa, and USAC would have loaned them the shovels!”

Tim’s been by way of sufficient of those rants to know when to tune me out, however nodded alongside politely, anyway.

“Investor days are unusual,” stated Tim, bringing us again to Hyliion and the explanation for my journey. “It’s all theater.”

I considered this, and admitted that he was proper. I by no means go to those issues, and solely actually made this journey for 2 causes. The primary was Austin, itself, and the possibility to eat an unique model of Tex-Mex that in some way eluded Chicago’s meals scene. The second was KARNO.

The Carnot Cycle

KARNO generator on Hyliion Hypertruck KARNO; picture by the creator.

First proposed by French physicist Sadi Carnot in 1824, the “Carnot Cycle” is described as a great thermal engine – a theoretical, thermodynamic warmth engine that may run on any gas and that’s described as probably the most environment friendly warmth engine potential. And, for the final 2 hundred years, it’s remained simply that: theoretical.

That’s, till GE purchased a bunch of additive laser printers and employed some good engineers and began pumping untold tens of millions into chasing Carnot’s dream of a virtually excellent exterior combustion engine earlier than convincing themselves it was too bizarre to reside, and promoting it (beneath the title, “KARNO”) for $37 million and a $22 million stake in Hyliion … however Hyliion CEO Tom Healey is a believer, and his workforce have put GE’s child to work as a generator of their “generator agnostic” hybrid vehicles.

And, as I stated once I first noticed a 3D-printed slice of the KARNO piston engine at ACT earlier this 12 months, it’s the nuts.

“The KARNO generator makes use of warmth produced in its reactor to develop the working fluid in a sealed cavity,” reads the official copy. That warmth expands the working fluid (on this case, helium), pushing a piston and the magnets connected by way of it by way of a magnetic discipline, creating electrical present.

Not simply any electrical present. Crucially, the KARNO gives sufficient electrical present to ship the 200 kW wanted to make Hyliion’s hybrid-electric tractors do their factor – with considerably decrease emissions than a traditional diesel engine, even working on diesel!

KARNO Does Diesel Higher

Hyliion Karno generator - low emissions on any fuel

Hyliion KARNO emissions in comparison with diesel; picture by the creator.

At investor day, Healey introduced that not solely was KARNO absolutely operational, they’d taken the period of time to supply key elements down as a lot as 90% by doubling up on the variety of lasers used. Much more spectacular, Healey was positioning KARNO to be a brand new type of Tesla-killer. However he’s not going after Tesla vehicles – and even Tesla Semi. As an alternative, he’s going after the Tesla Powerwall.


KARNO stationary generator (semi for scale); picture courtesy Hyliion.

The KARNO generator takes up much less house than a motorbike shed in your garden. And, even utilizing higher-than-average estimates for the prices of diesel or pure fuel (simply two of the twenty fuels that KARNO has been rated on), it will possibly produce electrical energy at about $0.09 per kWh. That compares fairly favorably to the nationwide common of $0.23 per kWh – and practically $0.43 per kWh in Hawaii, which nonetheless will get most of its electrical energy from diesel … all of which appears to beg the query: should you can produce power at lower than half the price of industrial energy, why not simply construct a bunch of KARNO mills and promote the power again into the grid?

Healey is into it. “We’re speaking to some hospital, municipalities – individuals who can’t lose energy,” he stated, after the presentation that these footage are from. “We predict it might be actually interesting to microgrids, off grid farmers – ”

“Waste oil,” I interrupted. “Completely. It is advisable speak to the Xendee folks. Dianne Martinez, too. Anybody who’s concerned within the grid house. Why don’t they’ve these on submarines? Why don’t they’ve these on house ships!?”

KARNO Runs on Something

A number of the fuels the KARNO can run on; picture by the creator.

Healey stays calm. “We’re speaking to a variety of completely different gamers,” he says. “It’s nonetheless early days. We simply began constructing our first ‘Founders’ Sequence’ manufacturing Hyliion Peterbilt in the present day.”

He did. I noticed it, myself. It’s certainly one of thirty such vehicles that might be constructed and shipped to prospects by the tip of 2023.


The staging was excellent; picture by the creator.

It’s at this level that I really feel I’ve to touch upon the theater and “showbiz” side of Hyliion’s investor day. All investor occasions are theater, in fact. They exist to indicate off progress, give folks a glance into the corporate they’re funding and all that – however Hyliion’s advertising workforce has raised the apply to an artwork kind, constructing the lore of the massive Hypertruck KARNO idea truck the way in which theme parks construct you as much as trip a dragon-themed coaster.

For those who advised me Hyliion had employed its advertising workforce straight out of the Disney Imagineering corps., I’d imagine you – simply have a look at the position of these inexperienced brackets (above). All the pieces simply so, with labels above the workstations like “Machine Store” and “Battery Meeting” that do nothing to tell the employees who’re there day by day, however give an actual sense of Issues which can be Occurring. Issues that value Cash.

That’s to not say Hyliion is all act and no motion. Removed from it. They’ve a legit product that delivers actual advantages with out sacrificing the vary benefits of diesel. Actually, on the identical run, they’ll burn much less diesel than a diesel-only rig (assume “Prius” vs. “Corolla” and also you’re there). They’ll additionally enable a driver to “lodge” in his cab for the required 34 hours – with full AC, electrical energy, and extra – all with out idling the diesel engine.

That could be a critically large deal.

As for the Hypertruck KARNO, I obtained to trip in it. It was quiet, easy, and (for a semi) decently fast. Granted, it’s been over a decade since I final rode in an R+L cab and longer, nonetheless, since I drove a medium-duty Worldwide throughout a lot of the Southern states – however the Hyliion was unquestionably smoother, quieter, and sooner than these. Actually, it felt not in contrast to the Nikola Tre BEV I took across the parking zone in Lengthy Seaside final 12 months … if a bit extra “regular” than the Euro-spec Tre.

And that, pricey associates, is perhaps probably the most theatrical and dramatic factor about Hyliion’s Hypertruck: how completely regular it appears from behind the wheel.

It is a truck for truckers, in different phrases. For those who like your Peterbilt, you’ll find it irresistible as soon as Hyliion’s achieved with it – and that is perhaps a better tablet for fleets to swallow than a “pure” BEV.

Authentic content material from CleanTechnica.


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