|Enertek Corp co-principles Paul Baumann (left) and Bruce Wingen discuss the Gen-a-Sys technology.|
“We knew that the Federal Energy Program was coming down the pike with some hefty regulations about idling and all that, so we said, ‘we’re going to come up with a hybrid,’” Baumann said.
A professional walleye fisherman, a pilot, a trucker and an inventor, Wingen had it all planned.
“We’re going to have a system that runs on diesel (engine) or runs on shore power (110-v outlet) and charges those batteries until they get up to full charge. The batteries will be long-lasting, but the unit will be capable of being shore-powered, which will be a standard feature,” Wingen said. “At some point in the future, I’m going to make an all-electric auxiliary power system.”
Wingen predicted three years ago that diesel prices would increase. In the United States, the average price per gallon of diesel has jumped more than $1 in the first half of 2008 – from $3.31 in January to $4.66 at the end of June, according to the Energy Information Administration and www.etrucker.com
“So what we did was, we came up with that hybrid, and basically that diesel engine typical Kubota 12-hp, twin-cylinder, water-cooled runs for about an hour and a half and will charge the battery module,” Baumann said.
• An auxiliary power unit or generator set is a device that contains a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency certified engine. The devices supply cooling, heating and electrical power to Class 8 trucks and other applications. Through its own text programs, the agency has determined these devices reduce emissions on pre-2007 Class 8 trucks and other applications when compared with the baseline truck’s emissions.
“I had a trucking company, and the fact that fuel costs were going through the roof – even though it was US$1.50/gal — you could save $15 or $20 a day back then, and now you can save $70 or $80,” Wingen said.
They went looking for partners and investment capital. One of the companies they found was Electro Energy Inc. based in Danbury, Conneticut.
Michael Reed, chief executive officer and president of Electro Energy Inc., which provides advanced battery technologies and associated systems, has been with the company for three years and met Baumann and Wingen in 2007.
“I met Paul and Bruce in Denver about a year ago to view their prototype Gen-a-Sys unit,” Reed said. “It was a simple but effective APU [auxiliary power unit] solution. Electro Energy battery technology would offer significant improvement in the overall system improvement. In addition to enabling compliance with anti-idling laws in many states and localities, the Gen-A-Sys APU system with its advance Electro Energy battery system reduces truck operating costs, offsetting part of the increasing fuel price with better overall fuel economy.”
|What drivers in the United States pay for in a gallon of diesel (May 2008). Retail price: $4.43/gal. (Data source: Energy Information Administration)|
Reed calls the duo “experienced and well-connected in the trucking industry,” noting their understanding not only of the industry, but also the vehicle owner/operators as well as the fleet owners.
“This enables them to develop an effective solution for the trucking industry’s idling-reduction needs,” he said.
Bill Wylam, who has worked for battery company Delco Remy, met Baumann and Wingen through Reed. Reed, Wylam said, saw an opportunity to partner with the pair and asked Wylam to fly to Denver and assess the value for himself.
“I went out there and saw what they had, met with them, and went to the trucking company that had committed to buy a bunch of their systems if they were successfully developed, so I thought they were real,” Wylam recalled. “The space they are in is occupied by a lot of different players and different approaches to the no-idle legislation on trucks. In fact, Delco Remy in the last four or five years had programs to try to invest the same need these guys are filling, so I knew a little bit about it, but the systems they had were good approaches and were also an opportunity to ultimately use some of the batteries from Electro Energy, which are in use in some of their prototype systems, so it looked like a good fit.”
The Gen-A-Sys is anti-idling technology for the trucking industry jointly developed by Electro Energy and Enertek Corp. The system alleviates the need for idling to cool and heat the daycab (DC) during overnight parking with the DC model, which uses only rechargeable batteries for the power. The Q model offers a hybrid battery/diesel generator option that provides auxiliary power for trucks carrying more weight or traveling longer distances.
“Effectively, these day-cab guys, they come in, and if they have to do paperwork or whatever and it’s 90°F (32ºC) out, they can’t idle, so wouldn’t this be a perfect system for someone like this, because it charges from the alternator not only going down the road, but at night just plug it in, and you have a freshly-charged set of batteries the next day,” Baumann said.
Wingen and Baumann have spent a long time perfecting the system and traveling cross-country as well as to major truck shows, peddling their fuel-saving and cost-efficient product.
“Paul and Bruce visited my office to demonstrate the equipment to me and others. There are many different types of idle reduction technologies, and they vary in design and application. What works for a long-haul truck is not necessarily going to work for a PUD [planned unit development] utility truck or a transit bus – so it is a good thing there are so many different products out there,” said Frank Van Haren, environmental specialist with the air quality program for Washington State Department of Ecology, who emphasized his department’s inability to endorse any particular product because of being a public agency. “Drivers are notoriously opinionated about the products they use and it’s their decision – not ours – on what they choose. Except for the obvious ‘snake-oil’ devices, I am quite comfortable with the array of idle reduction technology currently out there and would encourage any diesel engine owner to invest in one if they do much idling.”
Monique A. Hitchings can be reached at 1 (713) 260-6456 or firstname.lastname@example.org