Cat Electronics aims at big fuel savings

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Cat Electronics says it believes technology it’s currently testing can deliver up to 18 percent annual fuel savings.

The technology, called MorElectric, delivers fuel savings by converting the air conditioner, air compressor, water pump, and other engine belt or gear driven accessories to be powered electrically.

The MorElectric technology, which Cat Electronics hopes to have ready by late 2004, will provide heating, cooling and accessory power, including battery charging, without idling the engine.

Trucks equipped with the technology will be able to use “shore” power to reduce idling at truck stops, loading docks or fleet terminals where electrical power is available, the company says.

“In the highly competitive and low margin trucking industry, even a two percent fuel savings has a respectable impact on profitability,” says David Orr, the Caterpillar technical manager for the MorElectric technology.

Driving truck accessories through electric power rather than belts and gears should also reduce maintenance costs associated with belt and gear wear as well as wear on the accessories themselves, which must often run at speeds much higher than required. There are also advantages to be realized from parts reduction.

The electronically driven HVAC system on its own eliminates 65 parts, says Mark Pflederer, managing director, Cat Electronics. Finally, making accessories electrically driven removes the need to have them positioned near the engine; they can be mounted in more easily accessible and less punishing positions. The company believes doing so can reduce the heat load on radiators by up to 23 percent.

What happens in places where there isn’t ready access to electric power? Another option is an onboard auxiliary power unit, which the company says will weigh under 300 lb.

Mike Render, technical manager, says the MorElectric technology will be made available to all truck OEMs and the aim is to price it so that there is an 18-month payback at today’s fuel prices.

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