Mitsubishi Chemical Uses the Sun to Chill Out Trucks

mitsu-solarSomehow it’s a fitting juxtaposition: using solar power to cool down.

Mitsubishi Chemical has developed a solar technology system that enables solar cells to power air conditioning units in the cabin of trucks, according to reports from Kyodo News International and BusinessGreen.

The result: reduced fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

Japan’s biggest chemical manufacturer, based in Tokyo, last week demonstrated a 10-ton prototype tractor-trailer truck equipped with solar cells. They are installed on the tops of wings that can be lowered over the container compartment.

The solar cells are based on Mitsubishi Chemical’s thin-film solar technology. Two types of cells achieve a maximum output of 900W, and excess power can be stored in a battery for use on rainy or overcast days.

Mitsubishi Chemical says the solar cell technology will reduce fuel consumption by 2 to 8 percent, and if it were to be installed on all of the 1.4 million trucks operating in Japan, CO2 emissions would drop by an estimated 1.65 million tons annually. The company plans to commercialize the technology in 2012 following demonstration testing and is exploring its use in passenger cars as well.

Toyota Motor Corp. has already adopted a solar cell system for it Prius gasoline-electric hybrid car to provide power for ventilation.

Also on the eco-front, Mitsubishi Chemical last month entered an agreement with a Thailand company, PTT, to study the joint development of bio-degradable polymers made from biomass resources in Thailand. Biopolymers, also called renewable polymers, are produced from biomass for use in the packaging industry.

Better living through chemicals and the sun, and Mitsubishi Chemical is positioning itself on both fronts.

If vehicles can’t be powered entirely by the sun – at least not yet – then the company is showing the way by applying the power of the sun to operate vital vehicle components.

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