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Mack options idle-free system for trucks

LEHIGH VALLEY, Pa. -- Mack Trucks has introduced the Idle Free Hybrid System as an option on its trucks, in an eff...

LEHIGH VALLEY, Pa. — Mack Trucks has introduced the Idle Free Hybrid System as an option on its trucks, in an effort to allow drivers to heat or cool their cabs, and run electric items without idling the engine.

This non-polluting anti-idling system utilizes battery power to provide reliable electrical power and to save fuel, noted the truck maker.

The smart operator wants to avoid idling these days, said Jerry Warmkessel, Mack marketing product manager, highway products. The price of fuel is near record levels, many local and state environmental regulations strictly limit the amount of time trucks may idle, and fleets now recognize the increased maintenance costs of excessive idling.

The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates heavy-duty truck idling in the US consumes 960 million gallons of diesel fuel annually and the average heavy-duty truck burns 0.8 gallons per hour. According to EPA, truck idling results in annual emissions of 11 million tons of CO2, 180,000 tons of NOx and 5,000 tons of particulates prior to the emission reduction legislation introduced at the beginning of 2007.

The Idle Free system uses a bank of high-efficiency absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries to provide stored electrical power for heating, air conditioning and amenities, such as televisions or microwaves.

The bank of five AGM batteries is stored under the sleepers bunk. The batteries can be recharged three different ways: by the trucks alternator when the engine is running; through a shore power connection when the vehicle is stopped; or through an available connection to the reefer unit for tractors hauling refrigerated trailers.

The system provides either 12- or 120-volt power and uses a Xantrex Prosine 2000W inverter/charger to control and regulate electrical power, as well as to charge both the Idle Free batteries and the trucks batteries.

Macks complete climate control package includes a Webasto diesel-fired heater and a Dometic HVAC unit. The total weight of the system, with five batteries, inverter, HVAC and controls is 370 pounds.

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