November 3, 2008 12:13 pm

InventHelp’s Invention Girl has learned a surprising statistic: nearly 7 percent of our daily fuel consumption in the U.S. is caused by vehicles that aren’t even moving. The culprit? Big rigs that sit idling while the drivers sleep inside the cab.

Drivers keep their trucks running while they sleep to keep the cabs at a comfortable temperature. Unfortunately, this practice is both inefficient and expensive. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that an average truck idles 2,400 hours per year. With today’s fuel costs hovering around $4 a gallon, that’s $9,600 in annual fuel costs.

Webasto Products has devised a solution that helps drivers to keep cool without emitting pollution or wasting fuel. Called BlueCool, the system involves a “black box” that sends refrigerant through a maze of graphite and a water/glycol mixture inside the box, creating blocks of ice. The device, mounted on the truck’s frame, uses only 3.5 to 10 amps from the truck’s battery, meaning there’s no danger of draining the battery. And it’s pollution-free.

Once the driver is ready to rest, he or she turns on an air handler that circulates coolant around the ice and blows cold air from the unit into the bunk area of the cab. The company estimates that the device can keep the cab cool for about 10 hours (which is a lot more sleep than this InventHelp employee gets each night)!

The company has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the pollution generated by trucks idling. Called Make a LEaP (Lowering Emissions and Particulates), the organization’s website aims to reduce oil consumption by featuring sobering statistics on fuel usage.

At a cost of $5,500 to install, the device seems like a good investment for long-haul truck drivers who want to keep cool AND do their part to reduce our dependency on oil.

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