The Dept. of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity has found that thanks to a demonstration led by Schneider National Inc., trucks using an auxiliary cab heater in cold weather averaged 2.0% better fuel economy than trucks without.
In the demonstration, idle time was reduced from 22%, to 9%. Schneider National is equipping all of its new trucks and model year 2003 trucks with auxiliary cab heaters because of these findings, DOE said.
The testing was conducted with 100 trucks operating out of various Schneider National facilities from November 2003 to April 2004 using Webasto’s Airtop 2000 cab heater. The unit is a self-contained diesel fueled air heater installed in the existing truck ductwork that can be adjusted via thermostat. The units were retrofitted to existing Freightliner trucks in the company’s fleet without any additional modification to the truck cab or the sleeper bunk, DOE said.
Auxiliary cab coolers demonstrated more disappointing results, however. In hot weather conditions, there was no significant change in fuel economy as a result of a smaller reduction in idle time—from 19% for unequipped trucks to 15%. DOE said it will test another cooling technology as an extension of this project.
Another project being led by Caterpillar Inc. will demonstrate the company’s MorElectric technology, which activates electrically-powered accessories for cab comfort during engine-off stops and for reducing fuel consumption during on-highway operations. The project will extend for another two years to study the durability and the effects of reduced idling on engines.
Espar Heating Systems is demonstrating a combined cab heating and cooling system. Additionally, the company is installing engine pre-heaters to reduce idle time during cold-starts.