Peterbilt, Delphi successfully test new APU technology

Truck News

DENTON, Texas — Delphi and Peterbilt recently demonstrated a solid oxide fuel cell APU, which was able to successfully power a Peterbilt 386’s electrical system while providing air-conditioning without depleting the truck’s batteries or requiring it to idle.

The test took place at Peterbilt’s Denton headquarters and was supported by the US Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and Fossil Energy Solid State Energy’s Conversion Alliance (SECA) program.

The Delphi system converts chemical energy in conventional fuels into useful electrical power without combustion, the company explained in a release. It claims its system runs quietly and more efficiently than APUs with traditional combustion engines.

Delphi says its solid oxide fuel cell APU will be able to run off natural gas, diesel, biodiesel, propane, gasoline, coal-derived fuel and military logistics fuel. It is also compact in size, the company says.

The test was conducted to reflect a trucker’s typical day. The APU was brought to temperature during the course of on-road driving. Once it reached temperature, the Pete 386 was shut down to simulate the beginning of a rest period. During the rets period, the solid oxide fuel cell APU provided electrical power to the cab, running the air-conditioner, radio, CB radio and lights while also charging the truck’s battery.

The test ran for 10 hours to cover an entire off-duty period. Delphi and Peterbilt said the system provided an average of 800 watts of electricity throughout the test.

“The Delphi SOFC passed this test, standing up to the demands of a typical truck driver’s day,” said Mary Gustanski, Delphi Powertrain Systems director of engineering. “We are encouraged by the performance of the demonstration, especially given the 95 F Texas heat. Additionally, we thank everyone at Peterbilt for participating in this evaluation and for echoing our enthusiasm for the further development of eco-friendly solutions.”

“The SOFC system provides a technologically-advanced solution to meet anti-idle requirements while surpassing expectations for reduced emissions, noise and fuel consumption,” added Landon Sproull, Peterbilt’s chief engineer. “This system has the potential to revolutionize future APUs by setting new benchmarks for performance and ease of operation with no adverse effects on the environment.”

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