18 Nov 02. General Dynamics C4 Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD – News), has delivered a first-of-its-kind, fuel cell-based auxiliary power unit (APU) to SunLine Transit Agency for installation aboard “The 21st Century Truck,” a government- industry collaborative effort for development of commercially viable technologies that will dramatically cut the fuel use and emissions of commercial trucks and buses.
Chris Marzilli, vice president and general manager of commercial hardware systems for General Dynamics C4 Systems, said, “The military has become an early adopter of this technology because of the enormous potential it holds for improving the quality of its mobile power systems. The tactical advantages of stealth and agility, along with the prospect of logistical savings in reliability and fuel efficiency, make this technology directly relevant to the DoD’s transformation objectives.”As configured for the 21st Century Truck, the five kilowatt (5kW) power unit will act as a battery charger to electrify the air conditioning and other driver utilities in the concept Class 8 tractor when it is parked, avoiding the noise, emissions, and expense of running the vehicle’s engine for electrical power. Class 8 trucks (mostly tractor semitrailers) consume approximately 68 percent of all commercial truck fuel used, according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy.
General Dynamics integrated an Acumentrics Corporation 5kW fuel cell “stack,” which is based on Acumentrics’ proprietary solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology, into a specially designed cabinet housing the power plant, thermal management system, power electronics and controls. The advanced fuel cell APU system is mounted behind the experimental truck’s cab and provides a continuous charge to a 42 volt DC battery system to
power the environmental control unit and other engine loads.
“This is a significant accomplishment in the ongoing effort to bring alternative energy solutions to practical fruition,” said Bill Clapper, Executive Director for SunLine Services Group. “We are pleased to have General Dynamics as part of our team to bring forward demonstrable solutions to advance the U.S. Army’s objectives under this important development program.”
Partners in the 21st Century Truck program include the U.S. Army, the U.S. Departments of Energy and Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. trucking industry. The National Automotive Center, Tank- automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) is the Army’s lead agency for the program.
The U.S. Army is interested in electrification of diesel engine loads in order to improve the efficiency and exhaust emissions of its systems, achieve enhanced silent watch capability, ease cooling loads to tightly packed radiators and decrease the space claim of a bare engine by moving loads to off-engine locations. It may be possible to increase the life of components by running them only when needed or at lower speeds.
Dr. Warren Ziegler, Acumentrics’ vice president of technology, said, “We are glad to be fielding another of our fuel cells with General Dynamics, our partner for military applications. This unit is from our current production run of SOFCs, which are designed for rapid start-up and to run directly off a variety of light hydrocarbon fuels including natural gas.”