Cooling Systems & Emission Controls
By Marek Krasuski
With summer on the horizon thoughts turn to keeping cool during the sweltering months that lay ahead. Thinking also migrates to the various cooling systems for trucks on the market, their costs and efficiencies. Of note to many is the ongoing debate over preference between battery powered air conditioning systems and auxiliary power units (APUs). Battery powered systems are quiet and relatively maintenance free compared to APUs that require constant maintenance – oil changes, filters, etc. around every 500 hours. The maintenance issue is a problem for fleets because of the cost related to upkeep of APUs. Fuel used to operate an APU is less than running the truck to be sure, but is in excess of a battery operated system. Noise in APUs is a factor as well. The advantage of an APU, however, is that if an operator has to be somewhere for 2 or 3 days then an APU makes sense as they run for longer periods. Still, as battery technology improves running times are extended. And more recently companies are improving on battery life as well with the use of solar panels mounted on truck hoods, that will power A/C unit when the truck is down for the night, thereby eliminating the need for an onboard power generator.Whatever the choice, there is no shortage of options with well respected providers on the market. Webasto, with its branded BlueCool Truck bunk cooler system is a case in point. Thermal storage technology harnesses cold energy to provide comfort, fuel savings and rapid ROI. The BlueCool uses no fuel, has zero emissions, runs up to 10 hours with one charge without idling the engine, and requires no additional batteries. It features adjustable air flow and the ability to maintain comfort during outside temperatures exceeding 90 degrees F. Webasto says BlueCool is virtually maintenance free and operates independently from the truck’s air conditioning.
Indel B is another mobile refrigeration company supplying air conditioning systems to North American truck builders. It offers several product lines in air conditioning units as well as truck fridges. Among the A/C selection is Indel B’s electric parking cooler with an evaporating unit mounted high on the inside rear sleeper wall. The system is battery powered and unobtrusive as the condensation unit is located under the spoiler. Of note for truckers with large cabins is the battery powered Sleeping Well Arctic Plus with optional positions for the condensing unit. It can be installed under the ceiling, on the inside wall, or positioned under the bed. The company advises the use of an APU for extended running times. For a full viewing of units, visit www.indelb.com.
A major world supplier of air conditioning systems for trucks, AUTOCLIMA, has partnered with Wajax Power Systems to be its Canadian representative serving the OE and aftermarket from 123 branches across Canada. AUTOCLIMA sports a wide selection of parking coolers. The Fresco 3000 RT-24 has a cooling capacity of 3250 BTU and fits easily on the roof hatch of most trucks. Their full range of air conditioning units is available at www.autoclima.com.
Hammond Air Conditioning has been an A/C supplier for the trucking, marine, farm, mining and construction sectors for more than thirty years, and has outfitted more than 700 vehicle types. Its answer to rising diesel costs and no idle regulations is the emissions free Arctic Breeze Truck AC. The Arctic Breeze is powered by 12 volt DC batteries and provides 2000 BTUs of cooling power. Hammond lists the following features of the Arctic Breeze: no engine noise, no diesel emissions, no APU or genset, no problems in no idle zones, and no costly diesel bills. More information is available at www.arcticbreeze-truckac.com.
Bergstrom is another builder of A/C systems for heavy duty trucks, growing since its inception in 1949 to a world leading manufacturer of A/C and climate control solutions for the commercial vehicle industry. A major supplier of climate control systems, Bergstrom highlights the battery powered NITE (No Idle Thermal Environment) system for class 8 trucks, the first of its kind, the company says, to addressing the problems of increasing legislation and the high cost of running vehicles during no service periods. Bergstrom says its featured NITE Phoenix model has the highest and longest cooling capacity of any battery powered no idle system on the market. For more information, visit www.us.bergstrominc.com.
Anti-idling features, common in today’s air conditioning systems, is a measured response to the proliferation of anti-idling legislation across North America – just one more step in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Significant gains have mounted in the reduction of emissions. Truck manufacturers have adopted one of two technologies to attain these reductions – Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) or Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR). EGR technology cools diesel exhaust which it circulates back into the engine where emissions are eliminated in-cylinder. The advantages of Advanced EGR are no additional costs associated with the purchase of liquid Urea required with the Selective Catalytic Recirculation method, increased payload capacity, and improved efficiency.
Popular among most manufacturers is the Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) method which is distinguished by the treatment of N0x outside the engine as opposed to the in-cylinder treatment in the EGR system. SCR requires add-ons. Four major components comprise the SCR system: a diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) tank, a DEF doser, a SCR catalyst and an ammonia or oxidation catalyst, all of which are integrated into the exhaust system. SCR works by injecting a small amount of urea, or diesel exhaust fluid, into the exhaust system of a diesel engine. The urea solution combines with nitrous oxide to produce environmentally friendly by-products which are discharged through the tailpipe.
Today’s trucks equipped with the latest in emission controls have yielded significant gains. Current outputs based on EPA regulations are 0.2 grams of nitrous oxide (NOx) and 0.01 grams of particulate matter. These engines equipped with the latest environmental control devices are a fraction of previous engines with outputs of 2.5 grams of NOx and 0.1 grams of particulate matter per brake horsepower hour, meaning that EPA10 engines are more than 12 times cleaner in the emission of NOx and 10 times cleaner in particulate matter emissions.
More recently, new standards were brought in at the end of Barak Obama’s presidential tenure to improve fuel efficiency and cut carbon pollution even further over the next decade. The final phase of the program is intended to promote a new generation of cleaner, more fuel-efficient trucks by encouraging the wider application of currently available technologies and the development of new and advanced cost-effective technologies through to the model year 2027. This, in an effort to further reduce carbon emissions by over 1 billion tonnes.
To date, our American cousins have been assiduous in their efforts to penalize violators who circumvent the new regulations. In some cases the EPA has levied fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to suppliers of services and devices that delete environmental controls. Yet, attempts to override emission technologies are met with some sympathy amid complaints that new devices on trucks contribute to frequent breakdowns and volatile engine performance. In a statement to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development in Canada, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) pointed out that “many fleets add up to 20 percent to their fleet than was required, just to cover the vehicles put out of service.”
But in Canada enforcement practices have been sorely absent. The CTA has petitioned the government to give teeth to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) by penalizing suppliers and installers of aftermarket devices that override emission controls. CTA’s Stephen Laskowski summarized the dual problem of enforcement and equipment performance: “Governments need to play a stronger role in not only cracking down on the tampering market, but also reducing demand for that market by correcting the reliability factor and offering carriers some recourse when new equipment doesn’t work properly.”
In the last few years new engine diesel builds have greatly contributed to reductions in emissions, particularly diesel exhaust which is now a known carcinogen and a major contributor to smog and climate change. Yet efforts are stymied both by the prevalence of older engines which will remain in service for the next several years, and by the persistent troubles of compromised engine performance brought on by emission control devices. But as obstacles are worked out with these relatively new technologies, and older engines are retired, greater compliance and efficiencies should be the order of the day.☚