Xantrex introduces its fuel cell-based APU (May 01, 2003)

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ARLINGTON, Wash. – Xantrex’s fuel cell-based auxiliary power unit (APU), currently being demonstrated by Freightliner, has future potential for the trucking industry.

“This is an exciting installation for us,” says Brian Lawrence, heavy-duty truck manager for Xantrex. “It shows the potential for generating low-noise, low-emission on-board electrical power to meet all the needs of a long-haul trucker.”

The prototype APU incorporates fuel cell technology from Ballard Power Systems to generate up to five 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’s DC power goes to our sine wave inverter/charger which inverts it to household 120-volt AC power. The inverter/charger can provide up to 4,000 watts of continuous 120-volt AC output,” says Lawrence. “The AC output is distributed through three integrated circuits to loads both inside and outside the cab including a 2,000-watt heating and cooling system, a microwave oven, coffee maker, TV/VCR and various tools and work lighting.”

Lawrence says future fuel cell-powered systems could be set up to give truckers a choice about 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, for example shorepower, the same way as the inverter/charger option. The trucker of the future could plug into regular AC power when parked at a truckstop and use the fuel cell technology while at rest areas or loading docks.”

Lawrence sees a growing role of fuel cells in heavy-duty vehicles.

“It’s a clean way of generating electricity to power everything on the truck,” he says. “The test vehicle clearly demonstrates the potential for on-board fuel cell power.”

For more information, visit www.xantrex.com.

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