U.S. institute studies idle reduction technology ROI

ARLINGTON, Va. — A recent study has found that anti-idling technology can reduce a truck’s idle time by up to 78 percent, but it could take a while to recover the initial upfront cost of the equipment.

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) undertook the study on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency because to date, the in-cab performance and related return-on-investment of these technologies has not been well documented.

ATRI worked with three carriers as part of the Demonstration of Integrated Mobile Idle Reduction Solutions, collecting data on auxiliary power units, and two different air conditioning systems – one battery powered and one thermal storage system.

With the idle reduction technologies in place, main engine idling comprised between 5 to 22 percent of total engine operating time, which was a reduction in idling of 42 to 78 percent from baseline conditions, according to ATRI.

However, the payback periods for the selected technologies were generally longer than anticipated, noted the non-profit research group.

Payback periods ranging from 16 to 45 months were identified for some of the units, while other units were not expected to provide a payback within the period of ownership. Several factors did influence the payback periods, including the level of baseline idling, the usage of the technology, and the start-up and ongoing costs.

On an environmental note, the estimated annual emission reductions from the use of the selected technologies amounted to more than 27 tons of nitrogen oxides, 0.6 tons of particulate matter, and 1,265 tons of carbon dioxide.

The researchers also identified several features which could facilitate the integration of idle reduction technologies into the truck manufacturing process.

These features include: improving cab insulation, improving air flow by designating vent locations and ducting paths, standardizing connections and components, coordinating main engine and idle system use, and developing system management tools.

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