Browse Publications Technical Papers 2014-01-0680

Impact of Paint Color on Rest Period Climate Control Loads in Long-Haul Trucks 2014-01-0680

Cab climate conditioning is one of the primary reasons for operating the main engine in a long-haul truck during driver rest periods. In the United States, sleeper cab trucks use approximately 667 million gallons of fuel annually for rest period idling. The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) CoolCab Project works closely with industry to design efficient thermal management systems for long-haul trucks that minimize engine idling and fuel use while maintaining occupant comfort.
Heat transfer to the vehicle interior from opaque exterior surfaces is one of the major heat pathways that contribute to air conditioning loads during long-haul truck daytime rest period idling. To quantify the impact of paint color and the opportunity for advanced paints, NREL collaborated with Volvo Group North America, PPG Industries, and Dometic Environmental Corporation. Initial screening simulations using CoolCalc, NREL's rapid HVAC load estimation tool, showed promising air-conditioning load reductions due to paint color selection. Tests conducted at NREL's Vehicle Testing and Integration Facility using long-haul truck cab sections, “test bucks,” showed a 31.1% of maximum possible reduction in rise over ambient temperature and a 20.8% reduction in daily electric air conditioning energy use by switching from black to white paint. Additionally, changing from blue to an advanced color-matched solar reflective blue paint resulted in a 7.3% reduction in daily electric air conditioning energy use for weather conditions tested in Colorado. National-level modeling results using weather data from major U.S. cities indicated that the increase in heating loads due to lighter paint colors is much smaller than the reduction in cooling loads.


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