Peterbilt Fuel Cell Means No Idling When Idle

image by peterbilt

So you’re a trucker stinging from high fuel prices. You don’t want to back off the hammer and double-nickel in the granny lane to save gas, nor do you want to turn off the AC in the sleeper cab on those hot Texas nights. Well, we’ve got good news for you, Rubber Duck: Peterbilt has demonstrated a big-rig fuel cell that provides the juice to provide your creature comforts when you’re parked, cutting out overnight idling and saving the motion lotion for the Big Slab.

The Pete uses a solid oxide fuel-cell auxiliary power unit (or SOFC APU, an acronym only the Army could love) from Delphi that provides 800 watts of electricity through oxidation rather than combustion. During a test in July, the truckmaker and Delphi found the fuel-cell unit could easily power the “hotel loads” — AC, radio, TV, lights and, of course, the CB) in a Peterbilt 386 (pictured) for ten hours without firing up the engine. In other words, it’s enough to keep you and your dog Fred cool and entertained while you rest up.

The fuel-cell power unit requires a starting temperature of around 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit, but that’s no problem thanks to the truck’s engine. After a typical day’s haul the diesel will effortlessly bring the SOFC APU up to temp and keep all your gadgets — check out the Pete’s sleeper cab below — running on through the night. The idea was discovered by the late Delphi scientist Dr. Jerry Reed and outlined in his Department of Energy brief, “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot.”

For truckers who find themselves beyond the range of “shore power” (somewhere to plug in their traditional APU), the fuel-cell variant is an attractive alternative to idling. Peterbilt’s ComfortClass system uses charged batteries to run climate control systems and promises to reduce annual fuel consumption by eight percent, but it won’t let you listen to The Truckin’ Bozo on XM (though we’re not sure that’s such a bad thing).

Peterbilt promises the fuel cell will run off of nearly anything from natural gas to military logistics fuel, which will come as welcome relief to long-haul truckers sweltering under the growing number of idling restrictions imposed on the brave truckers of Baghdad who don’t need any more reasons to sweat. According to Delphi, the SOFC APU was installed in the Peterbilt 386 because of its already fuel-efficient performance. “It merges conventional Peterbilt styling with leading aerodynamic design and has been recognized as fuel efficient and environmentally friendly by the EPA’s SmartWay program,” according to Delphi. We tried to get a quote from C.W. McCall, but were informed that he’s not a real person.

Photos by Peterbilt.

source: Wired

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9 Responses to “Peterbilt Fuel Cell Means No Idling When Idle”

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  2. Max says:

    Thanks for this post!

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  4. Jack says:

    performance fuel…

    I couldn’t have said it better myself….

  5. Max says:

    Peterbilt Fuel Cell Means No Idling When Idle is a quite interesting post but quite difficult to understand for me –

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  7. sonson says:


    You need more rest i think…

  8. we’ve been testing about a hydrogen stuff out there extremely difficult to find something reliable

  9. Honestly, fuel cells are the way to go.

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