How Electric Deicers Contribute to Ground Handling Sustainability

Sept. 6, 2023
Vestergaard’s Elephant e-Mini MY Lite offers fully electric aircraft deicing at regional airports.

The smallest electric aircraft deicer from Vestergaard Company aims to help small to medium-sized airports reach big net-zero emissions goals. It also fits with the company’s goal to deliver carbon-neutral ground handling by 2030.

The latest version of the Elephant e-Mini MY Lite, introduced in 2022, is fully electric and uses electricity to heat the deicing fluid. The unit comes with an on-board charger for the chassis and plug-in for the heater. The original Elephant e-Mini MY Lite deicer, introduced in 2021, uses a diesel heater/burner for faster heating of deicing fluid. Both versions feature Vestergaard’s electric 12 t chassis and both versions are available to customers today.

“The idea was to make a smaller version of the MY Lite, which has been a huge success,” says Lars Barsøe, vice president of sales and marketing at Vestergaard. “The Mini MY Lite also replaced the Elephant SIGMA that we had in our program for many years.”

The MY Lite is a 7,600-liter version with two tanks designed for operations using both premix Type I deicing fluid and pure Type II/IV anti-icing fluid.

The e-Mini MY Lite is a 4,000-liter version with two tanks (3,000-liter pre-mix Type I, 1,000-liter Type II/IV) and can supplement existing operations or serve as the primary deicer for airport operations servicing aircraft up to and including the Boeing 757/767.

Major advantages of the e-Mini MY Lite touted by Vestergaard officials include sustainability, ease of operation and access for the operator, practically no noise, low maintenance, off-the-shelf availability and lower costs. Barsøe also points out the truck cabin is all glass, so the driver has an excellent view of the surroundings, which makes the unit much safer around aircraft and other service vehicles on the apron.

Given the interest that e-Mini MY Lite has received, Barsøe says Vestergaard no longer offers a Mini My Lite diesel-powered vehicle, which debuted in 2020.

Today several airports in Türkiye and the United States are using the fully electric unit. The first airport to have the fully electric e-Mini MY Lite was Clermont-Ferrand Auvergne Airport in France, managed by the VINCI Airports group. The eGSE delivered in November 2022 fits Auvergne’s sustainability strategy of reducing carbon emissions to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

With a 40 kwh lithium-ion battery, the vehicle can handle 8-12 deicings – depending on rate of contamination/fluid needs – and can drive 40-75 km on a single charge.

If a 40 kwh battery isn’t enough for a ground service provider, a 62 kwh unit is also available.

“We estimate that you can deice 10-15 aircraft, but it depends on the kind of weather and also whether you have enough fluid in the tank for so many aircraft,” Barsøe says. “With a 62 kwh battery, you should be able to travel 50-65 km while the heat is on, etc.”

The Vestergaard e-chassis is based on standard industrial, electronic components. Charging is available through a 6.6 kwh onboard charger. To charge a 40 kwh battery from 10 to 80 percent takes about 5-6 hours. The 62 kwh battery takes about 7-8 hours.

The e-Mini MY Lite is a premix deicer, which means it uses premixed deicing fluid and neat anti-icing fluid. Two people are needed to operate the unit.

Options available for the e-Mini MY Lite include a ground gun (with a maximum hose length of 15 meters), access to tanks via manhole covers and steps/ladder, spare wheel, basket side cover to protect the operator from harsh weather, an amber flashing beacon, reverse camera, flow sensor, basket sensor, side level and more.

Vestergaard announced previously that by 2025, 75 percent of its vehicles will be fully electric or hybrid electric.

Later in 2023 the company will launch its new fully electric MY Lite – on a Vestergaard 20 t electrical chassis, according to Barsøe. The first initial units will run a full operational test during the 2023-24 winter season before becoming available to the market.

“Very shortly thereafter the fully electric MY Lite, we will bring our fully electric e-BETA on a 28 t Vestergaard electrical chassis,” he says, noting presently, all functions except the fluid heating are run electrically.

The Elephant BETA can deice aircraft up to the size of the Airbus 380. It holds a total of 8,000 liters and is a full-proportional mixing truck that can be operated by one person. A fully charged battery allows deicing of 10-15 aircraft (equivalent to 2-3 hours of operation) without running the truck’s chassis engine.

About the Author

Rebecca Kanable | Assistant Editor

Rebecca Kanable, a veteran journalist, joined Endeavor Business Media's aviation group in 2021. She has worked for various publications, including trade magazines and newspapers.

Contact: Rebecca (Becky) Kanable

Assistant Editor of Airport Business, AMT, Ground Support Worldwide 

[email protected]