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dealing with the idle threat

By enelson
Tuesday, June 5th, 2007 at 5:41 pm in Environment, trucks.

clean-truck-idling.jpgFor those of us who care about clean air and the rest of us who enjoy breathing when we’re near diesel trucks and other vehicles, the news from Kenworth is good indeed.

They’re hawking a new battery and energy-saving power system that will, they say, allow truckers to turn off their engines and still sleep in air conditioned comfort for 10 hours.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I get angry when I’m around these purring behemoths at a freeway stop or near a loading dock. I also have fond memories of pedaling my bike up a steep hill next to an idling city bus at the beginning of its run.

It seems that demand for energy efficiency and cleaner air have finally spurred the trucking industry to put technology to use that, in theory, at least, change this wasteful behavior.

The beauty of it is that it’s much more than sparing passing Prius drivers from choking on particulates, according to KW’s press release:

Truckers typically idle their truck’s engine when parked overnight to cool or heat the cab and sleeper as needed. It is estimated that every hour of idling burns one gallon of diesel fuel. The typical truck idles 1,800 hours annually, resulting in an additional cost of $5,400 at diesel prices of $3 per gallon at the pump. In addition to the cost to the trucker or truck fleet, engine idling also produces an environmental impact in terms of both engine emissions and noise. Kenworth Clean Power may enhance fuel economy by as much as 8 percent for trucks with current high idling times.

The Kirtland, Wash.,- based truck maker was in Oakland today to show off its “Green” Truck No-Idle System at the Bay Area Kenworth dealership, 425 Market St.

I was additionally amazed by the company’s claim that its system could actually air condition a cab for something longer than a power nap:

The system uses dedicated, advanced deep-cycle batteries that power a thermal storage cooler with 21,000 BTUs of cooling capacity. Once the truck is shut off, a thermostat regulates the desired temperature and a variable speed fan circulates chilled air through a duct located near the bunk. Extensive testing has shown that when the outside temperature is as high as 95 degrees, Kenworth Clean Power is able to keep the sleeper cool and provide accessory power for up to 10 hours.*

The asterisk refers to environmental conditions and use of other accessories that might lower that battery time. For my money, if the thing can keep the trucks from idling for half that time, it’ll be a breakthrough.

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One Response to “dealing with the idle threat”

  1. Whatever Says:

    retrofitting older trucks in numerical numbers of several thousand will only make a difference? A few hundred new trucks spread around the nation will make only a few people feel good, and do nothing for the poor guy working for someone else who does not have to sleep every night sandwiched between two 500HP engines spewing smoke all night?

    Notice how people that write about truckers barely mention their comfort, but mainly talk about the money? And what good is 10 hrs if you have to take a 34 hr break because you have to “recharge” your batteries, and are “not safe to drive”? If people only knew? Blame Congress for idling trucks?

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