There are more than 7 million refrigerated trailer-trucks in the US . A new technology using steam power could make them up to 40% more fuel efficient.
The Clean Energy Storage and Recovery system (CESAR) from Clean Power Technologies captures waste energy from a primary engine and stores it as steam in an accumulator for on-demand use either in the same primary engine or in a secondary vapor engine.
Power can be produced solely by the secondary vapor engine even after the primary combustion engine has shut down. Along with a 40% increase in fuel efficiency the company claims there will be reductions in carbon emissions as well.
An earlier study by researchers in the UK had already concluded that using waste heat from light-duty vehicle engines in a steam power cycle could deliver fuel economy improvements of up to 31%, so as Clean Power's CEO Abdul Mitha says, "These results are a major achievement. We set high expectations that we would be able to achieve reductions of up to 40%, so to reach the top of this range is especially pleasing."
Both BMW and Honda are also using this idea of waste-heat powered steam systems to increase fuel economy. BMW’s steam-based cogeneration cycle is used to power their accessories, and Honda is exploring using a Rankine cycle co-generation unit to improve the overall efficiency of a hybrid vehicle by recapturing waste exhaust heat from the internal combustion engine and converting that to electricity to recharge the battery pack.
Earlier this year, Clean Power Technologies signed an Memorandum of Understanding with East West Express to conduct detailed research using their existing refrigerated trailer fleet. Like most companies heavily impacted by fuel costs, East West has found rapidly increasing fuel prices are now their biggest cost. Sandy De Vaaal, the president of East West is excited about the prospects of their research project with Clean Power Technologies, as one that could lead to far more than incremental improvements in fuel economy.
Clean Power sees their system being workable for a range of vehicles, including locomotives, heavy trucks and light cars. "Combustion engine and steam hybrid technology offers huge potential for green transport and our technology will be able to be adopted by vehicle manufacturers cost-effectively,"
Today, Voith Turbo and Clean Power Technology signed an agreement to develop steam and heat energy recovery engines for Clean Power’s proprietary heat recovery technology for refrigeration trailers for the grocery market.
How ironic that steam technology could propel our rusty old Internal Combustion Engine into a sustainable new life. Clean Power Technologies' Mithra shares a design aesthetic with that of the inventor of the original steam engine, James Watt, who arguably began the Industrial Revolution with the steam powered locomotive. "Our technology is unique, effective and elegant in its simplicity and I am extremely proud of what our dedicated team has achieved."
Just as James Watt would have put it.