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...And stop that idling.

... and stop that idling

It's not uncommon to see a legion of long-distance diesel trucks parked noisily -- with their engines idling -- outside major turnpike rest stops. But this din may quiet as truckers learn the findings of a study conducted by Argonne (Ill.) National Laboratory. While it focused on quantifying the high fuel cost of idling, the study also drew together data on other adverse effects of engine idling.

Long-distance truckers idle their parked engines an average of about three hours daily, the study's authors found, largely to keep engines and fuel warm in winter and to heat or cool their cabs if they're resting in them long--even all night. The study shows that this widespread practice not only wastes fuel but also risks damaging the engine.

One hour of idling causes the same amount of engine wear as two hours--or 80 to 120 miles--of driving, the researchers say. For the 800 or so hours of idling that a typical long-distance truck may run annually, this translates into the engine-wear equivalent of driving an extra 64,000 miles, according to Larry R. Johnson, director of Argonne's Center for Transportation Research.

More important, he notes, idling engines run about 10[deg.]F cooler than what's required for peak operation. This causes water vapor to condense in the crankcase. As it mixes with sulfur oxides produced during combustion, sulfuric acid forms. Though lubricating oils contain additives to neutralize the acid, Johnson says, idling appears to deplete them faster than the manufacturers had anticipated. As a result, bearings, cylinder liners, piston rings, wrist pins and valve stems can become pitted by acid -- requiring early replacement. And because fuel isn't burned efficiently at idling temperatures, more soot is produced by idling than by road driving--a factor that can increase oil consumption, the need for oil changes and the risk of more engine damage. Over the long haul, this study found, excess idling by long-distance truckers necessitates overhauling an average engine about once every five years--about one year sooner than if it had been road-driven only.

Altogether, truck idling may waste up to 400 million gallons of fuel annually in the United States and cost long-distance haulers as much as $900 a year per truck in extra fuel, the researchers found. Ironically, Johnson notes, products already marketed can achieve each function a trucker now uses engine idling to accomplish--and at less ultimate cost. Most, like cab and engine-block heaters, will pay for themselves in less than a year from the fuel savings.
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Title Annotation:adverse effects of truck engine idling
Publication:Science News
Date:Aug 20, 1988
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