Dec 1, 2010 - 8 years ago
By Supply Post
Delphi Automotive demonstrated its Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) auxiliary power unit (APU) to the public for the first time during the recent Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF) in Dearborn, Mich. While at the forum the SOFC, utilizing diesel fuel from the truck's main tank, generated electricity to power equipment in the truck's cab, including air conditioning, television, refrigerator and microwave.
Delphi's SOFC auxiliary power unit operates independently from a heavy duty commercial truck's main internal combustion engine. Currently, drivers and fleets power those accessories by idling their main engines or with diesel engine APUs.
The SOFC converts chemical energy in conventional fuels directly into useful electrical power without combustion, resulting in minimal emissions. While other fuel cells require pure hydrogen to operate, Delphi's SOFC can use diesel fuel, natural gas, coal gas or propane.
"During our demonstration, the SOFC provided up to 50 percent higher fuel efficiency compared to currently available diesel engine APUs and ran on commercially available road diesel," said Dan Hennessy, chief engineer, Delphi Powertrain. "SOFC emissions are already below standards that will be required by 2012."
Prior to the HTUF event, Delphi demonstrated the technology at U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) offices in Warren, Mich., as Delphi also is developing the SOFC for military applications. In a September 2010 release, U.S. Defense Department officials noted a plan to reduce the military's fossil fuels consumption by more than 20 percent in the next decade as part of an effort to make government agencies better stewards of the environment. Delphi's SOFC provides a fuel-saving technology option to help achieve this target.
"With increased demand to reduce emissions and fuel usage by commercial vehicles, the SOFC provides an innovative and valuable advantage to achieving these goals" said Andrew Rosenblatt, business development manager, SOFC. "The demonstrations at HTUF and TACOM are another step to having this technology on the road in the near term."
One of the next steps in proving the technology and robustness of the SOFC will be to install it on national fleet trucks for a year and compile data on how it performs over time, in all climates and road conditions.
Hennessy said his team works with truck manufacturers and fleet managers for input about what they need from an APU.
"We are now taking it from the lab into the real world," Hennessy said. "We are focusing on making sure the APU meets standards for emissions and performance."