Joplin’s Modine Manufacturing Co. plant is positioned to help drive the trucking industry to the next level, company officials say.
It’s a level where semis would get nearly 11 miles per gallon rolling down the highway, but greenhouse gas emissions would be cut by nearly half.
The Wisconsin-based company is a participant in the ongoing U.S. Department of Energy program titled SuperTruck, which could develop and road test a concept vehicle that is cleaner and more fuel-efficient.
The SuperTruck contains a number of modifications to achieve those targets, including what are essentially two miniaturized steam power plants — being developed by Modine. But these aren’t like your great-grandfather’s steam engines, said Lawrence Gabbey, an engineering section manager in Racine, Wis., who heads up Modine research and is the program manager for Modine’s role with the SuperTruck.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has long pushed trucking companies to develop cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles. As part of that effort, Modine began building in Joplin what are known as exhaust gas recirculation coolers, or EGRCs.
These cooling systems recirculate part of the exhaust from the diesel engine back into the combustion process. That allows the engine to burn the exhaust gas, resulting in lower nitrogen oxide emissions into the atmosphere.
Modine’s entire plant at 3300 W. Seventh St. was retooled nearly a decade ago in a $25 million project to accommodate the new product line, and its EGRCs eventually helped large-truck manufacturers meet EPA standards for vehicle emissions beginning in 2010. Ford, Navistar, Volvo and John Deere are just some of the customers of the Joplin plant.
Other steps were taken to reduce particulate matter emitted by diesel trucks.
“That tightening on NOx (nitrogen oxide) and particulate matter is virtually over,” Gabbey said. “These trucks are really, really clean now.”
The next battle, he said, is reducing emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.
“Really, the only way to reduce that emission is to get better fuel economy, and burn less fuel in general,” he said.