Using solar power to keep truck drivers cool


November 9, 2010

The truck used in the trial of the i-Cool solar-powered cabin air conditioning unit

The truck used in the trial of the i-Cool solar-powered cabin air conditioning unit

Image Gallery (2 images)

A trio of companies has joined forces to develop a truck cabin air conditioning system that uses solar energy generated from panels on the trailer’s roof area for its power.

ICL Co Ltd, Mitsubishi Chemical Corp and Nippon Fruehauf Co Ltd co-developed the air conditioning system and the companies plan to conduct field tests of the i-Cool Solar system shortly. If the trials go well, we could see these units on highways in spring 2012.

The "i-Cool Solar” system stores electricity via the photovoltaic panels in special on-board batteries and uses the stored energy to power the cabin air conditioner when the truck is idle.

The system is made up of the i-Cool air conditioner from ICL, the installation mount for the PV panels from Nippon Fruehauf's, and the PV cell modules from Mitsubishi Chemical.

The companies claim the i-Cool Solar can save roughly 1.8 liters of light oil per hour when the truck is not moving and reduce fuel consumption by about 1 percent when the truck is moving (based on calculations made on a standard 10 ton truck).

This results are fuel savings of around 1,500 liters of light oil per year.

The i-Cool Solar unit also makes it possible to operate other equipment on trucks, such as moving up and down the tail gate. The air conditioning system can also reduce the over-discharge of the storage battery which increases its lifespan.

A smaller version for use in cars is also in development.

Via Tech-on


1 stinkin percent...whoopadeedoo!

That truck could get more then a 1% increase if it simply was more aerodynamic...instead a blunt nose...


I don\'t find this to bad of an idea BUT doesn\'t having the battery pack kind of obfuscate the whole point of doing this? There is always a price to pay, either in engine load or the weight it self of the battery pack and solar panels. I\'m just say\'n is all. :-)


It sounds like they\'re still running compressors and a gas to cool the air. Something like a Peltier device (array) might be more efficient at cooling the cab instead.

Facebook User

Reducing the fuel consuption by about 1500 liters per year.... or when standing still or in use - considering there is a HEAP of flat surface area on top of the truck, this is actually quite a clever idea. I am looking forward to the day when solar panels get to at least 50% efficiency and cost $10 a square meter tho.

Mr Stiffy

@ Ben Crowe

A Peltier Cell is far way less efficient than a heat pump

Francesco Baldacchini

Howe: What you don't get is that there are length and size restrictions determined by authorities. Why compromise the cubic capacity and or usefulness of the vehicle when you can think laterally to achieve the same result.

Marc 1

I have been saying for YEARS that all of the electric cars should use PV cells that are built in to the roof, the trunk and the hoods... While the cars are in use they might still need additional "kicker motors" to charge the batteries, but most of the time they are sitting in a parking lot, while the owner is at work.... They would fully charge on a sunny day.....


Marc 1 beat me to the draw in making the point that the truck is the shape it is in order to maximise payload. It is far better to use one large truck to carry a load than splitting it between two smaller but more aerodynamic ones.

This is such an obvious use for PV panels that I'm surprised that it is not more widespread.

Post a Comment

Login with your Gizmag account:

Related Articles
Looking for something? Search our articles