New Webasto system cools truck cabs overnight

BlueCool Truck will keep the cab or sleeper bunk of a heavy-duty truck cool on hot nights without requiring the idling of the truck's engine or the running of an auxiliary power unit. The system was developed by Webasto Product North America and its German parent company Webasto AG of Stockdorf, Germany.

BlueCool Truck debuted at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky. Production will start in early summer 2005.

“BlueCool Truck presents a huge step forward in presenting solutions that assist fleet and owner operators to meet the regulations yet still provide interior comfort irrespective of the vehicle's location in hot or cold climates,” said Rolf Lichtner, director of marketing services at Webasto Product North America. “Paired with the Webasto truck cab auxiliary heaters in our C5 (Complete Cabin Climate Comfort Control) concept, BlueCool Truck completely eliminates the need for engine idling to condition the vehicle's interior environment.

“Not only is this good news for the environment, it's also good news for the truck operator. According to experts, idling diesel engines consume about a gallon of fuel every hour; so over time BlueCool Truck and our truck heaters save remarkable amounts of diesel fuel,” added Lichtner. “Both BlueCool Truck and Webasto truck heaters truly are smart solutions to engine-off heavy-truck cab comfort.”

Unlike auxiliary cab heaters and engine pre-heaters that use the vehicle's on-board fuel tank as a direct energy source during the heating phase, the patent pending BlueCool Truck system uses no diesel fuel during its cooling operation. The core technology is an innovative cold storage cell that is charged during the daytime when the truck is being driven. At night, the truck engine can be switched off, BlueCool Truck turned on, and the system and cool air circulated to the cab interior.

BlueCool Truck runs independent of the vehicle's air-conditioner, utilizing only small amounts of electricity to circulate super-chilled coolant (between the cold storage unit and a heat exchanger in the truck sleeper cabin) and run four small, exceptionally quiet air distribution fans. Controls are remarkably simple: one rotary temperature knob and an infinitely variable fan speed control with an integrated on/off switch. Air vents are manually adjustable to provide optimal airflow throughout the cabin.

The 17,000-BTU cold storage unit incorporates Webasto proprietary technology in order to provide efficient heat transfer, both during the charging and discharging (or cooling) phases. A key design element is the use of a graphite matrix to provide heat conductivity between the circulated coolant and the core of the cold storage unit. The result is a remarkable capacity for absorbing heat and the ability to cool the cab's interior over a prolonged period, even in high ambient temperatures. Tests have demonstrated the capability to cool a truck's sleeper cab to below 70° Fahrenheit for approximately nine hours, even in 90°+ F ambient temperatures.

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