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Canada: Westjet reveal new eco-friendly technology on Earth Day (with video)

WestJet today unveiled new technology on Earth Day that will allow it to switch to electricity from gasoline on tractors that tow baggage on runways thanks to a Richmond firm.

Corvus Energy has created a conversion kit that allows the gasoline-powered motors to be swapped for a power unit driven by a rechargeable lithium polymer battery.

The lithium battery-powered baggage tractor has been tested at Calgary airport since October and successfully performed in frigid temperatures.

“Implementing this new technology is a key part of our ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability,” WestJet executive vice-president of operations Cam Kenyon said in a statement.

WestJet will be delivering two electric baggage tractors, called tugs in the industry, to Whitehorse, Yukon.

Corvus Energy is known more commonly for supplying large, heavy-duty batteries to the marine sector.

Corvus president and CEO Brent Perry said he’s been pleasantly surprised by the success of this project. The conversion kits will be able to convert other gasoline-fueled runway equipment to electricity including the machines that move planes and baggage loaders.

He noted the payback – from cutting fuel costs – for the baggage-handling tug is estimated at two years.

That means the project already makes financial sense before you consider the environmental benefits, including the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if the power originally comes from a clean source, noted Perry.

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