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Mitsubishi Chemical Uses the Sun to Chill Out Trucks

Bill DiBenedetto | Tuesday October 27th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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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  • http://alternativemobilepower.com Jason

    This is pretty obvious. The roofs of 53′ trailers are great opportunities for solar panel installation. While solar panels aren’t going to propel the truck down the road, at least they could keep things cold (or warm) when the truck is at rest. How many times have you heard trucks running at a rest stop, just to run some electronics and maybe an air conditioner in the cab? There are many applications for mobile solar energy, and we are leading the way with our alternative mobile power systems (AMP Systems). Solar generator trailers are another mobile solar application that is practical, clean, silent, and cost effective. Bravo to Mitsubishi Chemical for being a leader in the emerging mobile solar market.

  • Konrad Kwiatkowski

    Hello;

    I would like to take a moment to write a summary of my patent. It’s a national solar grid concept, which utilizes our existing infrastructure i.e., the trucking industry and the U.S. highway system, for generation, storage and management of energy, to supplement the national grid.

    I would like to give you some numbers to illustrate the impact trucking industry has on the economy and the evironment.

    - Nearly 80% of U.S. communities receive their goods by a truck.

    - Trucking moves nearly 70% of all freight tonnage in U.S.

    - Presently ther are nearly 2 million tractor-trailers registered in U.S., generating combined revenue of over $650 billion.

    - Trucking consumes 54 billion gallons of diesel and gasoline per year, and as fuel prices have risen and remained high, profit margins have sharply decreased.

    - Truck idling amounts to 1 billion gallons of fuel burned, without advancing the cargo towards its destination.

    - Single long haul truck has to take 10 hours off after driving for 11 hours. At 1 gallon of fuel per hour spent idling, that translates to 10 gallons of fuel wasted per day.

    - Truck idling emits an estimated 11 million tons of CO2, 18,000 tons of NOx, and 5,000 tons of particulate matter annually.

    In view of these circumstances, there is a pressing need to reduce fuel consumption, offset rising fuel costs, and reduce the carbon foot print of each truck on the road, and the carbon foot print of the nation as a whole.

    It is an object of the present invention to provide a mobile electricity distribution network that can accumulate, store and distribute electricity into existing power grid, in turn lowering the necessity of power plants to burn fossil fuels. Some of the “by products” of the invention are lowering of the fuel costs by eliminating idling which in turn will drive down the cost of the goods delivered, while reducing the carbon foot print of the trucking industry. This system could power up some of the charging stations for electric vehicles. Also, there is a pressing need to update the inefficient, and antiquated power grid, which will become prone to blackouts, as well as the possibility homeland security issues. By implementig this idea we will be able to create a backup power distribution network, which in the time of need will be at the least a back up system for emergency systems.

    The aim of my invention is to lease the roof space of the trailers and install solar panels on them which will be tied to a battery and inverter module, which will be built into the chassis of the trailer. The stored energy will transfer to the power grid where ever the truck stops, for rest, refueling or back at the hub of operation. There the stored trailers will continue to produce power which can be used to power up the facilities or be sold back to the power grid. All of the onboard electric need will be supplied by the battery bank and eliminate idling. Back at the storage facilities the unused trailers will be able to interconnect and become a major power producing plant. This translates into trains and container shipping.

    By utilizing thin film PV technology, we will be able to keep the weight down, and with the advancements in battery efficiency, I believe that innovation will catch up to the implementation of this solar grid backup.

    This system will create many jobs which at the current state of economy is a very welcome sight. The power discharge stations will be manned by certifed electricians, the racking of the panels and discharge stations will employ many people. There is a very limited impact on the infrastructure as well as landscape, which many are concerned about. It takes care of the space allocation problems as well as the aestetic infrastructure required for installation of solar arrays.

    Thank you for your time,

    Konrad Kwiatkowski

    Managing Partner

    Interstate Solar Utilities, LLC

    11 Main Street

    Old Mystic, CT 06355

    Office 860-572-0089

    Fax 860-572-0084