IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Evaluation of Fuel Cell Auxiliary Power Units for Heavy-Duty Diesel Trucks


  • Brodrick, Christie-Joy
  • Lipman, Timothy
  • Farshchi, Mohammad
  • Lutsey, Nicholas
  • Dwyer, Harry
  • Sperling, Daniel
  • Gouse, S. William
  • King, Foy


A large number of heavy-duty trucks idle a significant amount. Heavy-duty line-haul engines idle about 20-40% of the time the engine is running, depending on season and operation. Drivers idle engines to power climate control devices (e.g., heaters and air conditioners) and sleeper compartment accessories (e.g., refrigerators, microwave ovens, and televisions) and to avoid start-up problems in cold weather. Idling increases air pollution and energy use, as well as wear and tear on engines. Efforts to reduce truck idling in the US have been sporadic, in part because it is widely viewed in the trucking industry that further idling restriction would unduly compromise driver comfort and truck operations. The auxiliary power unites (APUs) available to replace the idling of the diesel traction engine all have had limited trucking industry acceptance. Fuel cells are a promising APU technology. Fuel cell APUs have the potential to greatly reduce emissions and energy use and save money. IN this paper, we estimate costs and benefits of fuel cell APUs. We calculate the payback period for fuel cell APUs to be about 2.6-4.5 years. This estimate is uncertain since future fuel cell costs are unknown and cost savings from idling vary greatly across the truck fleet. The payback period is particularly sensitive to diesel fuel consumption at idle. Given the large potential environmental and economic benefits of fuel cell APUs, the first major commercial application of fuel cells may be as truck APUs.

Suggested Citation

  • Brodrick, Christie-Joy & Lipman, Timothy & Farshchi, Mohammad & Lutsey, Nicholas & Dwyer, Harry & Sperling, Daniel & Gouse, S. William & King, Foy, 2002. "Evaluation of Fuel Cell Auxiliary Power Units for Heavy-Duty Diesel Trucks," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt1bt204qt, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:itsdav:qt1bt204qt

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:;origin=repeccitec
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Chen, Gang & Govindan, Kannan & Golias, Mihalis M., 2013. "Reducing truck emissions at container terminals in a low carbon economy: Proposal of a queueing-based bi-objective model for optimizing truck arrival pattern," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 3-22.
    2. Sharaf, Omar Z. & Orhan, Mehmet F., 2014. "An overview of fuel cell technology: Fundamentals and applications," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 810-853.
    3. Pregelj, Boštjan & Micor, Michał & Dolanc, Gregor & Petrovčič, Janko & Jovan, Vladimir, 2016. "Impact of fuel cell and battery size to overall system performance – A diesel fuel-cell APU case study," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 182(C), pages 365-375.
    4. Tzeng, Gwo-Hshiung & Lin, Cheng-Wei & Opricovic, Serafim, 2005. "Multi-criteria analysis of alternative-fuel buses for public transportation," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(11), pages 1373-1383, July.
    5. Lipman, Timothy & Shaheen, Susan, 2005. "Integrated Hydrogen and Intelligent Transportation Systems Evaluation for the California Department of Transportation," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt63d0t5wb, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
    6. Lutsey, Nicholas & Brodrick, Christie-Joy & Lipman, Timothy, 2007. "Analysis of potential fuel consumption and emissions reductions from fuel cell auxiliary power units (APUs) in long-haul trucks," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 32(12), pages 2428-2438.
    7. Koç, Çağrı & Bektaş, Tolga & Jabali, Ola & Laporte, Gilbert, 2016. "A comparison of three idling options in long-haul truck scheduling," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 93(PA), pages 631-647.
    8. Ercolino, Giuliana & Ashraf, Muhammad A. & Specchia, Vito & Specchia, Stefania, 2015. "Performance evaluation and comparison of fuel processors integrated with PEM fuel cell based on steam or autothermal reforming and on CO preferential oxidation or selective methanation," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 138-153.
    9. Hua, Jian & Wu, Yi-Hsuan & Jin, Pang-Fu, 2008. "Prospects for renewable energy for seaborne transportation—Taiwan example," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 1056-1063.
    10. repec:spr:annopr:v:242:y:2016:i:2:d:10.1007_s10479-014-1636-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. repec:eee:renene:v:112:y:2017:i:c:p:302-313 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Pregelj, Boštjan & Vrečko, Darko & Petrovčič, Janko & Jovan, Vladimir & Dolanc, Gregor, 2015. "A model-based approach to battery selection for truck onboard fuel cell-based APU in an anti-idling application," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 64-76.

    More about this item


    fuel cell; truck; diesel; power unit; evaluation;


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cdl:itsdav:qt1bt204qt. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lisa Schiff). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.