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Controlling Idle Times To Decrease Emissions

Idling trucks are an issue for trucking companies for three important reasons. First, when a truck is running, but not moving down the road, the company isn't making any money. Secondly, idling trucks consume fuel, thus adding to the company's expenses. And finally, these non-productive vehicles are responsible for a great deal of carbon emissions. New heavy duty & semi-truck technology help solve these issues and help trucking companies comply with new regulations recently enacted.

Idle Shut Down

In some states, such as California, the amount of time that a truck can sit and idle is limited to just a few minutes. Drivers literally have five minutes or less to shut down their engines, or face stiff fines that can range anywhere from $300 for the first offense up to a whopping $10,000 for repeated offenses. Some trucking companies have installed shutdown devices in their trucks to avoid this issue. The device is triggered by the air temperature outside of the truck and prevents it from idling for more than a set amount of consecutive minutes if the outside temperature falls between a specific range. These devices can be overridden when the driver's safety and comfort are at risk.

Auxiliary Power Units

Many trucks are equipped with small, diesel-fueled auxiliary power units, or APUs, that can cool or heat the cab and operate small household appliances while the vehicle is parked. While they're important to drivers who spend long periods of time on the road, they contribute greatly to the carbon emissions problem. The EPA encourages the use of other forms of idle-reduction technologies, such as including battery powered electric APUs. Alternatives such as IdleAir and Shore Power offer truckers the opportunity to plug in their unit when at rest, thus avoiding idle time. However, these services are few and far between and their use is limited to specific geographic areas, for now.

Particulate Filters

Currently, particulate emissions devices must meet the federal standard of 0.4 parts per million. While that's an incredibly small number, it's far from the ultimate goal of zero emissions. That's set to start changing, and newer vehicles being produced today are under even more intense guidelines. The new Phase 2 standards require manufacturers to produce APUs that meet strict emission rules of 0.02 parts per million by 2024. What's more, truck manufacturers will also be required to equip all heavy duty and semi-trucks with a diesel particulate filter to curb emissions going forward.

While emissions controls have been a hot topic for the trucking industry for some time now, the newest federal regulations aggressively address the situation. Over the course of the next few years, these rules will result in a decreased amount of pollution, which benefits everyone. As newer technologies are developed, there is no doubt that the zero-emission goal the government has prescribed will be reached.


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