Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A cool, green way

I spent much of last week delving into the world of the California Air Resources Board and all its glory.

Even drivers who make only the occasional trip into California have been hearing talk of the state’s new rules set to begin Jan. 1, 2008, including a five-minute limit on idling and a restriction for diesel-fired APUs on ’07 and newer trucks.

After hours of research and writing, I got to leave the comforts of my office cube on Thursday and see new alternative power sources on display on an actual truck. I headed down I-70 and onto I-435 to the Kansas City Kenworth dealership, where the Kenworth Clean Power exhibit was on display.

Weighing about 550 pounds, the technology uses batteries to store enough power to keep a bunk warm when temperatures drop down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and will supply 110 volts of hotel load energy for 14 hours.

While I was there, I happened onto David Bones, an OOIDA member and owner of the Bones Company. David said he’s avoided buying APUs for his trucks because he is waiting to see what happens. Bones said he may be replacing his fleet sooner rather than later.

“I want to see what my shop guys are going to be faced with,” David told me.

Even though the temperature was soaring into the low 90s, the Kenworth Cab was pretty cool, powered by an AC system that relies on frozen ice.

The Clean Power System will be available in Kenworth’s 62-inch cabs early next year, Kenworth Sales Manager Jeff Farnsworth told me.