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Kinetic energy invention keeps trucks cold

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The invention uses kinetic energy to cool refrigerated trucks like this one. The invention uses kinetic energy to cool refrigerated trucks like this one.
Inventor Brian Arnold explains his device to Leigh Spann Inventor Brian Arnold explains his device to Leigh Spann

A McDonald's semi truck rolls down the highway carrying a load of refrigerated food. While it moves, it creates kinetic energy. That is the energy something has due to its motion. A former Tampa police officer invented a way to harness that energy to run the refrigeration unit on that tractor-trailer.

Brian Arnold calls it the Wedway Refrigeration Unit, and he created a company to help make his idea a reality.

"As the truck's in motion, it actually rotates the tires which turns our device which powers up to the actual refrigeration unit," said Arnold.

Typical refrigeration units on trailers use diesel fuel and can consume one gallon of fuel per hour.

In January of this year, Caspers Distribution Company started using the first full-scale model of the Wedway Refrigeration Units in one of its trailers.

"It's the only one to my knowledge in the world," said Kim Seigler, Vice President of Caspers Distribution Company. 

"Since January, we've put zero diesel fuel in that unit," Seigler said.

Caspers partnered with Arnold's company, Emerald Technology Partners, to develop and test the device.

"At this point, we haven't noticed any drag or any reduced fuel economy in our trucks," said Seigler.

Michael Quill with Emerald Technology Partners explains how the Wedway works.

"We've got a patented device on the rear axle on the trailer, and when that wheel rotates at 28 mph or faster, it creates a consistent current that goes through the alternator into a power cell system." 

That system runs the refrigeration unit, known as a reefer.  Enough energy is generated through the motion of the trailer to run the reefer system and charge a battery that can run the unit when the truck is at rest.

Right now, Quill estimates the Wedway would cost $50,000-$70,000. While that price may go down once the products are more widely available, using the Wedway already eliminates the upkeep cost of a diesel unit.

"Oil changes, belts, fuel costs, any cost associated with running a diesel reefer system is gone away," said Quill.

Quill adds that without the weight of the extra fuel on board, more cargo can be carried per truck.

Emerald Technology Partners believe that near 58,000 pounds of carbon emissions would be removed from each trailer per year.

"This is really a game changer for the whole industry," said Seigler.

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