Modine Introduces New Green Technology to Help Truckers Cut Emissions and Save Money

July 27, 2006 by Jeff Shepard

Modine Manufacturing Co. unveiled a new fuel cell product that is intended to reduce emissions, help the environment, and cut costs for over-the-road truck drivers. This new advanced idle reduction system (idle-off) incorporates high efficiency, zero emissions fuel cells, and uses carbon dioxide (CO2), an environmentally-friendly refrigerant, in the cooling. This new idle-off system can be used for both cooling and heating the sleeper cabin in a heavy-duty truck, creating multiple benefits for truck drivers and fleets.

More than half a million heavy-duty diesel trucks are on the road in the United States today. To comply with "hours of service laws," long haul truck drivers must have an off duty period of 10 hours after driving 14 hours. If the driver desires to heat or cool the sleeping compartment during that time, the truck must be idled to provide a comfortable environment within the sleeper cab. The Department of Energy estimates that currently more than one billion gallons of fuel are consumed each year while trucks idle in these conditions.

"This is going to get worse, as the new laws take effect," said Dr. Tony De Vuono, Modine's Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. "More truck drivers will be pulling over and taking a rest, requiring them to idle. This is setting up a conflict as 22 states have pending legislation that limits idling in some form. Our new technology offers a solution, helps to eliminate those emissions, and reduces energy consumption, while still providing a comfortable air conditioned or heated sleeper cab for truck drivers."

The new CO2 air-conditioning and heating system was designed internally by Modine at its research and development facility in Racine, Wisconsin. CO2 is an environmentally friendly refrigerant with zero Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) and zero net Global Warming Potential (GWP) as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Kyoto Protocol, which is an amendment assigning mandatory targets for nations around the world for the reduction of greenhouse gases. The unique properties of CO2 make it advantageous for both cooling and heating a vehicle. Using a CO2 heat pump to heat the cabin in cold weather conditions is more energy efficient than using other conventional heating products.

Modine sourced the fuel cell power pack from General Hydrogen Corp.. The fuel cell power pack uses hydrogen gas as the fuel with the only byproduct being water. It was specifically designed for a truck auxiliary power unit application to produce electrical energy continuously for more than 10 hours. The thermal management system was designed and built by Modine's fuel cell products group.

"Our engineers are working on cutting-edge technologies in various areas, including fuel cells, CO2, and HVAC. This product gives us an opportunity to combine these technologies in one package. It's something that no one has done before. We're showing our customers, fleet operators, and the trucking industry that Modine stands for innovation and finding solutions that are both environmentally friendly and make good economic sense," said Dr. Jonathan Wattelet, Modine Director of Research and Development.