Mitsubishi and Nippon Fruehauf, a light metals manufacturer, have developed an “idling-stop” solar-powered air conditioning unit that cools the truck cabin when the engine is not running.
Called the “i-Cool Solar,” the solar–powered, 900 W (maximum) AC system uses a series of Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. solar photovoltaic (PV) thin-film cells on a Nippon Fruehauf mount attached to the top of the trailer, behind the cabin or tractor. A battery stores the electricity for use when the truck is at a standstill or the engine is not running.
The addition of solar cells insures that the battery is kept fully charged, allowing for the stable operation of truck tailgates and wings. The solar cells also make possible a one-percent fuel savings per year, as well as a savings of about 1.8 liters (1.90 quarts) of light hour per hour. For a 10-ton truck, this is the equivalent of 1,500 liters (396 gallons) of light oil not used each year.
According to Mitsubishi Chemical, if all the trucks in Japan used the i-Cool Solar, the country’s carbon dioxide emissions would fall by 1.65 million tons. The companies are also planning a smaller version of the i-Cool for use in cars.
The solar AC unit should be commercially available in the spring of 2012. The current “i-Cool,” was released on May 24 and consists of a battery that stores electricity while the truck is moving and makes it available when the engine is not operating. Nippon Fruehauf also makes trailer bodies.