Introducing the i-Cool Solar air conditioning for trucks

Oct 29, 2010 by Lin Edwards report
The truck used for a field test of the i-Cool Solar. Image via Tech on.

(PhysOrg.com) -- A solar-powered air conditioning system has been developed for use in trucks, and should be available commercially by early 2012. The "i-Cool Solar" system was the brainchild of companies Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, ICL Co. Ltd, and Nippon Fruehauf Co. Ltd, who together developed the system, which uses a series of Mitsubishi Chemical photovoltaic (PV) cells on a Nippon Fruehauf mount fixed to the container of the truck to power the air conditioner in the cabin while the truck is stationary.

The new system adds to ICL’s “i-Cool,” which was released in May this year. The i-Cool air conditioner stores electricity in the storage battery while the truck is moving and uses it when the truck’s engine is turned off. The addition of solar cells ensures the storage battery is kept fully charged.

When the truck is stationary, the i-Cool can save around 1.8 liters of light oil per hour, and when moving can save an average of about 1% of fuel per year, depending on weather and driving conditions. For a 10 ton truck this equates to approximately 1,500 liters of light oil saved each year.

The i-Cool Solar system are thin-film cells mounted on the tops of the wings that are lowered onto the container, an area that provides a relatively large solar collection area. The maximum output of the cells is 900 W and excess power is stored in the battery for use on overcast days.

Chemical is the largest chemical manufacturing company in Japan, and their calculations estimate that if all the in Japan (around 1.4 million) used the i-Cool Solar system the country’s carbon emissions would be reduced by 1.65 million tons.

The companies plan to run trials of the truck system to enable it to be marketed in 2012. They are also planning a smaller version for use in cars. Japanese company Kyocera is also producing thin-film solar panels for roof-mounting on the next version of the Toyota Prius hybrid car.

Explore further: Solar energy prices see double-digit declines in 2013, trend expected to continue

Related Stories

Innovative use of solar energy

Oct 27, 2010

Working in collaboration with industry partners, researchers of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) have successfully developed a Solar-powered Air-conditioning System for vehicles and completed a series of testing ...

Wal-Mart to go solar to save energy

Oct 28, 2005

Wal-mart has announced that energy efficiency and renewable energy such as roof solar panels are part of its corporate goals for its U.S. stores.

Keeping cool using the summer heat

Jan 23, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- While most Australians are taking care to shield themselves from the harsh summer heat, scientists from the CSIRO Energy Transformed Flagship are working on ways to harness the sun’s warmth ...

Toyota Plants Giant Solar-Powered Flowers Across US Cities

Jul 20, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- As part of Toyota's national marketing campaign for the third generation Prius launch in 2010, the company is "planting" giant solar-powered flowers in urban areas. The flowers generate electricity ...

Recommended for you

Cheaper silicon means cheaper solar cells

18 hours ago

Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have pioneered a new approach to manufacturing solar cells that requires less silicon and can accommodate silicon with more impurities than ...

User comments : 5

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

snivvy
2 / 5 (2) Oct 29, 2010
Yes, you save fuel. The payback period is probably way too long for it to make economic sense. Until it makes $ense, it's just another exercise in futility.
fmfbrestel
5 / 5 (1) Oct 29, 2010
Well thats true to some extent. There will be companies who will see added value from marketing themselves as green by using these. So even under strict cost analysis you will still see some companies use a system like this.
david_42
5 / 5 (1) Oct 29, 2010
Of very limited value as it is applicable only to integrated tractor/trailer units. Most truck shipping involves unpaired vehicles.
Eric_B
4.5 / 5 (2) Oct 29, 2010
it only provides enough energy to air-condition the massive fatbody operator adhered to the vinyl cabin seat.
Dually
not rated yet Oct 31, 2010
This won't work for ltl or other high cube applications because the dock workers are constantly poking holes in the trailer roofs trying to jam more freight in there.

Also, this won't work until municipalities become a whole lot more diligent about trimming trees to legal height so they don't damage the solar panels.