Devices Making Semis Greener – APUs Cut Carbon Emissions While Idling

A5GoGreen-1100x818Go Green APU President Harry Benjamin (center) and employee Don Hagerty (right) show U.S. Rep. John Joyce one of the company’s APU units. Mirror photo by Andrew Mollenauer

An Altoona auxiliary power unit manufacturer aims to change the trucking industry with its energy technology.

Go Green APU builds two auxiliary power units — Adam and Evolution — which provide semi-tractors with heating, air conditioning and electricity while the engines are off.

The technology reduces operating costs and allows truckers to be in compliance with no-idle laws while still having a comfortable experience on the job, company officials said during a tour of the business Thursday.

“This is providing hotel services to the truck driver,” company President Harry Benjamin said, because when a truck driver rests in the truck cab, the engine is either off, which saves money but is often uncomfortable temperature-wise, or the engine is left running to provide air conditioning or heating.

U.S. Rep. John Joyce, R-13th District, toured the company’s facility on Mill Run Road and said he’s encouraged by the units’ innovation and potential impact on emissions.

Idling with the engine on uses a gallon of diesel fuel per hour compared to a fifth of a gallon with the APU in the same amount of time, Benjamin said.

That translates to spending either $3 an hour by using engine power compared to $1 an hour using the APU.

“The other big thing is the emissions,” Benjamin said. “If you’re running a big truck engine and idling, you’re putting a lot more carbon into the air. The two issues here are the reduction in the amount of fuel you use and the savings for that with respect to economics, and the second issue is carbon neutrality.”

Benjamin, who led Joyce and others on the tour of the facility, said truck drivers for companies like Walmart use APUs to pursue their businesses’ goal of achieving carbon neutrality. The retail giant aims to reach zero emissions by 2040, according to a September 2020 article in Forbes.

As the tour wound through the Go Green APU facility, workers could be seen building the units.

According to service technician Bryan Dare, both the Evolution and Adam models do the same thing.

“The (Evolution) just takes less frame space. The only real difference is the size of the radiators on them — they’re a little different,” Dare said.

A company brochure says the Go Green APUs units feature 1,000-hour oil-change intervals, truck battery monitoring and charging, programmable electronic control units and the ability to manage the APU via Bluetooth with any wireless device. The Evolution model features a sliding frame rail, which the company says makes it “the most serviceable APU on the market.”

Don Hagerty, one of the employees who builds the units, said they are self-contained and use a two-cylinder motor.

“Nothing is plugged into the truck,” he said.

An HVAC box that sits up under the bunk is connected to the heating and air conditioning lines that run up through the floor from the APU unit, Hagerty said.

Building each unit is “a step-by-step process,” Hagerty said, adding that he builds both the Adam and Evolution and thinks they are pretty easy to maintain.

Go Green APU, founded in 2010, currently employs eight people.

General Manager Ken Wyandt said the company has a goal of building 40 units a month, for a total of 400 to 500 a year.

Joyce said after the tour that he was thrilled with the technology.

“Innovation is right here in Blair County,” he said. “The ability to gainfully employ individuals here in Blair County and have a positive impact on the trucking industry, which is so important right now, is moving America on so many levels. I think we’re going to see (hiring) more people to expand the workforce, and I think that’s so important right now as we’re coming out of the COVID-19 crisis.”

Mirror Staff Writer Andrew Mollenauer is at 814-946-7428.