New Light Rail and Bus Solutions from Thermo King Improve Energy Efficiency and Sustainability

Transit agencies nationwide are demanding more innovative, energy-efficient solutions to meet tight budget constraints. In response, Thermo King is offering new solutions that enable owners and operators of light rail and bus systems to optimize energy and operational efficiency and sustainability, increase passenger and driver comfort and improve the bottom line.

Thermo King, a manufacturer of temperature control systems for a variety of mobile applications and a brand of Ingersoll Rand, recently introduced these solutions at the 2011 American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Expo in New Orleans.

At the conference, Steve D. Johnson, product manager from Thermo King, also educated attendees about the energy efficiency of all-electric heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems for bus.

Custom HVAC Unit for Mid-size Rail

Many U.S. metropolitan areas are introducing a new light rail segment called low-floor street car to meet the growing demand for more energy-efficient and sustainable light rail transit. To meet customer demand from this market, Thermo King launched a custom mid-size HVAC unit to provide a reliable, compact and efficient solution. Engineers at Thermo King worked closely with key rail car manufacturers to produce this new unit.

The mid-size rail unit, which is custom built to specifications for each transit agency, is one of the lightest and quietest in its class, enabling users to optimize energy efficiency and passenger and driver comfort. The first units will be installed on streetcars in Portland, Ore., by first quarter 2012.

"Our research shows that as many as 60 U.S. cities have started construction or are planning to add this transportation mode to their streets," said Dermott Crombie, vice president of global marine, bus and rail for Thermo King. "This versatile unit features the most recent technical advances in the rail industry to help our customers create a reliably quiet, comfortable environment for passengers and drivers while optimizing energy and operational efficiency."

New Bus Solutions

New bus solutions from Thermo King respond to customer demand for solutions that allow bus owners and operators to improve fuel efficiency and lower operational and life-cycle costs.

The innovative new solutions for the bus market incorporate leading edge technologies to help operators meet their energy efficiency, sustainability and cost objectives while optimizing comfort throughout the vehicle for passengers and drivers.

These solutions include the IntelligAIRE III microprocessor with advanced diagnostics and J1939 CANBus communication capability, long-life brushless motors and all-electric HVAC.

"These solutions will help bus owners and operators provide a consistently comfortable environment while improving the bottom line and increasing energy efficiency and sustainability," said Doug Lenz, director of product management and marketing for Thermo King.

IntelligAIRE III with SAE J1939 Communications Network - The IntelligAIRE III is an advanced microprocessor-based controller for bus climate control systems which can be programmed for either manual or automatic operation. This third-generation solution helps improve operational efficiency for lower lifecycle costs.

The controller offers a unique modular configuration which provides the user with greater flexibility for customization. The modular configuration reduces the number of electrical connections and significantly lowers weight through the elimination of long multi-wire harnesses.

IntelligAIRE III offers improved diagnostic and troubleshooting capabilities to help increase uptime. Users can monitor any of more than 100 functions and select alarm codes to alert them to any problems.

This innovative solution enables users to load a single program file which they can then save and apply to all buses in a fleet. This option makes the IntelligAIRE III ideal for transit fleets interested in standardizing controls across all units.

The new controller is standard on coach and transit solutions and optional on the Slim Line Rooftop (SLR) and SA-600 shuttle bus air conditioning solutions.

Second Generation Brushless Motors – New brushless motors from Thermo King provide increased energy and operational efficiency and sustainability. This newly engineered solution, which represents a five-year research and development commitment, provides leading-edge brushless motor technology which is unique to the industry.

The new motors, which are now available on the Thermo King rear-mount T Series and the roof-mount low floor (RLF) units, reduce the HVAC unit weight by 20 percent to help improve fuel economy and lower operational costs. Since these are brushless solutions, there are no brushes to check or change, reducing maintenance time for improved operational efficiency.

This new line complements existing brushless motor technology used on Athenia roof mount units and features the same technology as used in the Athenia motors. This second-generation, more sustainable solution features a condenser package that requires less energy for lower power consumption under any conditions.

The brushless motors also offer programmable variable speed which allows for power optimization and conservation and reduces load on the engine. This solution features a significant noise reduction in the condenser to increase driver and passenger comfort and meet external noise requirements.

In the updated brushless motor package, the condenser motor, fan and shroud are now a single assembly and require no adjustments, making maintenance and replacement easier and less expensive. Both the condenser and evaporator motors feature an electronics package that is integral to the motor itself, eliminating the external controllers, wiring harnesses, terminals and studs that were previously required.

This package provides a failure mode indicator to further reduce diagnostic time and cost for technicians when service is required.

All-Electric HVAC – The all-electric HVAC system for buses uses alternating current (AC) enabling users to increase energy and operational efficiency. This solution optimizes air conditioning capacity to provide consistent comfort for passengers and drivers throughout the vehicle at all engine speeds.

The all-electric HVAC system also improves fuel economy by eliminating the negative impact of variable engine RPMs on load and demand.

Because there are no external refrigerant fittings, this solution offers significantly increased system reliability and simple, low-cost installation. The all-electric HVAC solution also uses energy-efficient R407c refrigerant and offers lower operational and life cycle costs because there are fewer parts to maintain and replace, and there are no valves, hoses or seals to leak refrigerant.

APTA Presentation by Thermo King Leader

The HVAC system is the largest electrical load on a transit bus, requiring as much as 40 percent of the total available capacity. Steve D. Johnson, product manager for Thermo King presented "HVAC –Efficiency and Electrification." Johnson discussed strategies and techniques which can allow users to reduce energy consumption of the HVAC system by 50 percent or more during the cooling season.

APTA Expo 2011 Details

Thermo King unveiled these new solutions during the APTA Expo in New Orleans, Oct. 3-5. Conference website:

The American Public Transportation Association Expo is North America's largest public transportation conference. The expo is held every three years in conjunction with the APTA annual meeting.