A fuel-cell-based auxiliary power unit (APU) being demonstrated by Freightliner LLC has a lot of future potential for commercial trucking, according to Xantrex Technology Inc.
Xantrex built the electrical management system on the Freightliner test truck, which was introduced at the Society of Automotive Engineers 2003 World Congress in Detroit MI.
“It shows the potential for generating low-noise, low-emission on-board electrical power to meet all the needs of a long-haul trucker,” said Brian Lawrence, heavy-duty truck manager for Xantrex.
The prototype liquid-fueled APU incorporates fuel cell technology from Ballard Power Systems Inc to generate up to 5 kilowatts of 120-volt AC power. The APU is fueled with a mixture of methanol and water, but further development will enable it to use ultra-low-sulfur commercial diesel fuel.
The fuel cell creates power by extracting hydrogen from a methanol fuel source (eventually diesel) and then converting it into electricity. A DC-to-DC converter regulates the electricity created from the fuel cell so that output power stays within the input parameters of the prototype Xantrex sine wave inverter/charger. If the fuel cell can't supply enough DC power to the inverter, a 36-volt battery will supply it with supplemental power.
Lawrence says future fuel-cell-powered systems could be set up to let truckers choose where they get their electrical power.
“Our inverter/charger on the test vehicle includes a transfer switch that controls and distributes regular 120-volt AC power (ie, shorepower) same as the inverter/charger option offered by Freightliner LLC today,” he said. “If the trucker of the future wanted to, he could plug into regular AC power when parked at a truckstop and use the fuel cell technology when at rest areas or loading docks.”
For full information, contact Xantrex, 8999 Nelson Way, Burnaby, BC, Canada V5A 4B5.