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Reducing Truck Idling Emissions

AP via San Jose Mercury News. Hoping to reduce air pollution from idling diesel trucks, South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia will offer truck stop spaces where truckers can shut off their engines but still get electricity, air conditioning and even Internet access.

“Most truckers let their engines idle at truck stops, even for prolonged stays, so they can use their air conditioners and other accessories,” said Myra Reece, head of the air quality bureau for South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control. “Idling truck engines emit a lot of air pollution as well as noise.”

The pollution contributes to air quality problems in the I-85 corridor, where several counties are in danger of not meeting new federal air quality standards.

Emissions from prolonged truck idling is a significant problem that requires a more systemic solution. In 2001, the Argonne National Lab estimated that some 840 million gallons of diesel fuel were consumed annually in the US by idling long-haul trucks. Maricopa County has bumped that estimate to 1.2 billion gallons per year. Or, as they put it, a loss of fuel equivalent to the Exxon Valdez disaster every 28 hours.

One approach has been to use an Auxiliary (or Alternative) Power Unit—an APU—to handle power when not driving. The APUs tended to be diesel-powered too, and although they don’t burn fuel the way the engine does, they still do consume fuel and produce emissions. There is considerable focus now on using a fuel cell as the APU. Major manufacturers such as GM, as well as third-party component suppliers such as Tenneco are working on different implementations.

It might not seem major, but it could have a large impact.


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