Modine develops diesel heat exchangers

Racine-based Modine Manufacturing Co. is developing a series of compact heat exchangers designed to capture waste heat from the exhaust stream of a diesel engine and convert the heat into useful power to improve engine efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions.

As part of this development effort, Modine has been involved in a Department of Energy-sponsored program called SuperTruck and has provided the heat exchangers to a Cummins-Peterbilt concept vehicle for comprehensive road testing.

The truck demonstrated a 75 percent increase in fuel economy in head-to-head testing over a 24-hour time period compared with a 2009 baseline truck. These results translated to a 43 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and an 86 percent gain in freight efficiency. The vehicle was on display at a recent event in Maryland where President Barack Obama announced that work would begin on the next phase of national greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency requirements for commercial trucks.

The Department of Energy (DOE) initiated the multi-year SuperTruck program in 2010 with the goal of designing a heavy-duty Class 8 truck that achieves a 50 percent improvement in overall freight efficiency.

The DOE set the goal of attaining part of the overall efficiency gains from engine improvements with the remaining gains coming from other vehicle improvements such as aerodynamics, use of lighter-weight materials, and reduction of friction in the drive train. Class 8 trucks represent only about four percent of the on-road vehicles in the United States but are responsible for almost 20 percent of the country’s on-road fuel consumption.

The Cummins-Peterbilt collaboration was one of several DOE-selected partner projects.

“Fuel economy and the reduction of CO2 emissions are two strong technology drivers that will create many opportunities for Modine heat exchanger technology in the future,” said Jonathan Wattelet, Modine’s global director of research and technical services. “The SuperTruck public-private partnership sponsored by the Department of Energy has been an excellent opportunity to leverage our research in areas where longer-term research is too risky to undertake alone. Working with engine and commercial vehicle leaders such as Cummins and Peterbilt has been an outstanding opportunity for Modine to obtain much-needed engine test cell and road testing.”

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