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Clean Energy Funding Targets Idling Engines

Researchers charged with reducing pollution from idling service vehicles, long-haul trucks

By Justina Reichel
Epoch Times Staff
Created: February 27, 2013 Last Updated: February 28, 2013
Related articles: Canada » National
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A truck driver delivers fuel to a gas station. A Simon Fraser University research team is developing technology that will reduce fuel consumption and emissions in service vehicles and long-haul trucks. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A truck driver delivers fuel to a gas station. A Simon Fraser University research team is developing technology that will reduce fuel consumption and emissions in service vehicles and long-haul trucks. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A B.C. research team has received $4.5 million in funding from government and industry players to develop technology that will reduce fuel consumption and emissions in service vehicles and long-haul trucks.

Simon Fraser University researcher and engineering professor Majid Bahrami will use his expertise in cooling and heating systems to develop green technology that will enable vehicles to maintain air conditioning and refrigeration even when their engines are turned off.

“We are aiming to develop nine different, but related, new technologies to reduce greenhouse gas and other emissions, and also to increase efficiency of air conditioning and refrigeration of service vehicles,” Bahrami told The Epoch Times.

“This project … will bring a cutting-edge research facility to our Surrey campus. For consumers, it will help bring milk and frozen food to the local supermarkets in a more environmentally friendly manner.”

To develop the new energy conversion technology, Bahrami and his team will capture waste heat from engine exhaust to power the air conditioning and refrigeration (AC-R) cooling system.

The result will be a significant reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in long-haul and refrigerated trucks, heavy and light duty vans, tourist buses, and emergency vehicles, which will no longer need to keep engines idling to stay heated or cooled.

A typical long-haul tractor-trailer idles an estimated 1,830 hours per year when parked overnight at truck stops.

A typical long-haul tractor-trailer idles an estimated 1,830 hours per year when parked overnight at truck stops. This consumes millions of litres of additional fuel while sending out harmful emissions.

Approximately 94 percent of all freight in North America is moved by diesel power. Although diesel engines have some environmental advantages, diesel fuel is a major contributor of particulate matter (PM)—extremely small particles that can pass through the throat and nose and enter the lungs.

Particulate matter has been identified as a main contributing factor to a variety of lung-related illnesses, including asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis, and has also been linked to increased risk of cancer.

Efficient Adsorption Process

Although some other research groups and industrial companies are working on components of these technologies, Bahrami says his research plan is unique due to its integration with three major industry players, as well as a partnership with University of Waterloo’s Amir Khajepour, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Mechatronics Vehicle Systems.

Bahrami and Khajepour will turn waste heat from engines and brakes into air conditioning and refrigeration for service vehicles. The sustainable AC-R system will use the process of adsorption, which has a variety of environmental advantages such as using benign refrigerants and porous materials like water, ethanol, and silica gels.

Particulate matter has been identified as a main contributing factor to a variety of lung-related illnesses.

An adsorption system also has low energy requirements and no GHG or carbon dioxide emissions, does not generate noise, and requires minimal maintenance.

The Automotive Partnership Canada program, a federal government initiative that invests in large automotive research collaborations, has committed $2.9 million to the project.

The funding comes as Environment Minister Peter Kent announced new regulations Monday that aim to improve fuel efficiency and reduce GHG emissions from new on-road heavy-duty vehicles and engines in a bid to align Canada’s environmental regulations more closely with those in the U.S.

Bahrami says his technology will help the government meet the new standards by eliminating engine emissions from diesel trucks due to idling, and significantly reduce emissions through the AC-R system.

In 2000, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency introduced stringent standards aimed at reducing emissions from on-road vehicles by as much as 90 percent. The standards called for a 75 percent reduction in diesel PM by 2010 and an 85 percent reduction by 2020.

Since idling is responsible for significant PM emissions, under the new standards idling time has been restricted to 5-30 minutes, depending on the state and weather conditions. However, the idling limitation has caused major difficulty for truck drivers and created an increased demand for new, environmentally friendly technology.

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