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Microenvironmental Control and Thermal Barrier Curtains/Shades for Long-Haul Trucks

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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Technology Marketing Summary

 

Cab climate conditioning is one of the primary reasons for idling the main engine in a long-haul truck during driver rest periods. In the United States, long-haul trucks (trucks that travel more than 500 miles per day) use approximately 667 million gallons of fuel annually for rest period idling[1]. Including workday idling, over two billion gallons of fuel are used annually for truck idling[2]. Idling represents a zero freight efficiency operating condition for the truck. As awareness of idle fuel use has increased, federal regulation and incentives have been created. An example is the idle reduction technology credit in the Heavy-Duty Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards, which began in 2014[3]. Increased awareness has also spurred implementation of many stringent state and city anti-idling regulations[4].

By reducing thermal loads and improving the efficiency of climate control systems, there is a great opportunity to reduce fuel use and emissions associated with idling. Enhancing the thermal performance of cab/sleepers will enable smaller, lighter, and more cost-effective idle reduction solutions. In addition, if the fuel savings from new technologies provide a one- to three-year payback period, fleet owners will be economically motivated to incorporate the new technologies. Therefore, financial incentive provides a pathway to rapid adoption of effective thermal load and idle reduction solutions.



[1] Stodolsky, F., Gaines, L., Vyas, A. Analysis of Technology Options to Reduce the Fuel Consumption of Idling Trucks. Argonne National Laboratory, ANL/ESD-43, June 2000.

[2] Gaines, L., Vyas, A., Anderson, J., “Estimation of Fuel Use by Idling Commercial Trucks,” 85th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C., January 22-26, 2006, Paper No. 06-2567.

[3] “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles, Final Rule.” Federal Register 76 (15 September, 2011): 57106-57513.

[4] “Idling Regulations Compendium, American Transportation Research Institute.” http://atri-online.org/2013/02/20/idling-regulations-compendium/. Accessed on 9/16/2013.

 

 

Description

 

Engineers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have developed a microenvironment control system to decrease climate control loads while improving comfort. Called “The Comfort Shower,” this invention uses an overhead supply manifold with directed outlets and near occupant return lines built into the sleeper bed area. Air exits through the supply manifold and is drawn into the return lines near the occupant. This configuration limits the mixing and entrainment of air from outside the intended climate control zone creating a smaller conditioned space within the sleeper compartment without the need for physical barriers. When the occupant(s) is sleeping in the truck the air flows down along the length of the person with returns along the side of the bed (Figure 1).

By limiting the conditioned space only to the air in close proximity to the occupant, the system needs to add or remove less energy from the air stream, thus improving the HVAC efficiency. The reduced air mass also makes it easier to control air conditions (temperature, humidity, etc.) to meet the occupant needs, improving thermal comfort.

Additionally, engineers at NREL have developed an improved thermal barrier which also acts as a privacy shade and cab-to-sleeper separator curtain to provide the occupants with the ability to isolate a spatial region of the vehicle and control the lighting/privacy of an area. Thermal performance as a design criterion for existing curtains and shades is often limited, with the design focus primarily on privacy and cost. The thermal barrier curtains and shades developed at NREL differ significantly from existing designs in their ability to provide a significant reduction in both heating and cooling climate control loads of the vehicle for long-haul truck driver rest periods.

 

 

Benefits

 

·        Limits the volume of conditioned air needed to keep the occupant comfortable

·        Adjustable vents which can be moved to improve comfort

·        Can be used for one or more occupants

·        By limiting the entrainment of air from outside the microenvironment climate control zone, fresh air can be provided more directly to the            occupants, reducing the total outside air required to meet occupant needs

·        Reduced thermal inertia of the smaller climate controlled zone will also respond faster to climate control, providing opportunity for                      better transient control response

·        Reduced controlled air volume allows for easier humidity control of the conditioned space

·        Comfort Shower can reduce the sensitivity of the climate control loads to the sleeper curtain and may allow for a more open                              environment without increasing loads

 

Applications and Industries

 

·        Truck cab/sleeper climate control

·        Heating

·        Cooling

·        Localized ventilation

 

Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
NREL ROI 14-06, 15-54ProposedAvailable12/28/201512/28/2015

Contact NREL About This Technology

To: Eric Payne<eric.payne@nrel.gov>