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Canadians snap up pioneering UK hydraulic technology

01 September, 2002

A Canadian investor has acquired a Manx business which is developing a hydraulic-based technology for recovering the energy that is usually lost when vehicles brake. Vancouver-based Inside Holdings is acquiring Ifield Technology`s SHEP (Stored Hydraulic Energy Propulsion) business in a deal under which is effectively a reverse takeover of Inside.

SHEP has operations in the Isle of Man, Taunton and the US, where it has two subsidiaries. Over the past 18 months, one of the world`s largest car makers has been testing the SHEP technology and is said to have achieved significant energy savings as well as reduced wear and tear on the engines and brakes.

The energy recovered during braking is stored hydraulically, and released to augment acceleration during the normally inefficient low-speed acceleration phase. The technology could be applied to vehicles of all sizes and types, but it is ideally suited to vehicles such as buses, taxis and trucks, operating in high-density urban traffic where they have to start and stop frequently.

Inside has changed its name to SHEP Technologies Inc, with Malcolm Burke acting as interim president and chief executive. Ray Evans, who in 1989 acquired the worldwide rights to the Ifield regenerative braking system and founded Ifield Technology, has been appointed a director, as has Peter Humphrey, who has been managing director of Marshalsea Hydraulics since 1996.

The company hopes to licence the SHEP technology to automotive companies and their suppliers.

But it faces competition from an Australian company with a similar technology. Permo-Drive Technologies claims that its system will cut fuel consumption by up to 40% for both new and used vehicles. The company is aiming its Permo-Drive Regenerative Energy Management System (PDREMS) technology at commercial vehicles, with fleet testing due to start in North America next year, beforei the system goes on sale in 2004.

Permo-Drive says that independent tests have demonstrated a 37% reduction in fuel consumption is simulated urban driving cycles. For vehicles such as refuse trucks, with frequent stop-go operation, the savings could amount to 43%.

The company also claims that for a vehicle is accelerating from 0-100 km/h, its system will cut the time taken by 15%, the fuel used by 20% and the distance covered by 17%. Other benefits are said to include extended engine lives, lower emission levels, fewer gear changes, and reduced wear in brakes, clutches and gearboxes.

The US Army, which operates a fleet of 246,000 vehicles, has signed an agreement with Permo-Drive to develop and test PDREMS. It has recently flown a 15.7-tonne material-handling vehicle to Australia to be fitted with a prototype of the hydraulic system.

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