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What is The MATRIX? Hint: It’s a New Battery that Will Stop Trucks from Idling

Quallion and the U.S. Department of Energy collaborate on new technology to reduce truck idlingIf I was Morpheus I could just say “Well, we can’t tell you what it is, you’d have to see it for yourself,” and this post would be over, but that would be lame, so here goes. The MATRIX is a new lithium-ion battery that will help reduce the need for truck idling, thereby making a huge dent in the amount of greenhouse gas, nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions spewed forth by parked trucks.  The technology was developed by California-based Quallion with an assist from the U.S. Department of Energy – thanks to Recovery Act funding, of course.


MATRIX is Quallion’s proprietary lithium-ion battery. It’s based on a modular design, which lowers costs by reducing the need to customize new units for different uses. A typical unit consists of masses of small cells linked in a way that keeps the system operating even if some of the cells fail. The small size of the cells also enables the system to dissipate heat more quickly, which helps reduce safety risks related to high temperatures.

Truck Idling

The Department of Energy estimates that the nation’s fleet of 460,000  long-haul trucks averaging six hours of idling per day account for about 838 million gallons of diesel fuel annually. The MATRIX battery is part of a new anti-idling system for class 6-8 heavy duty trucks, which Quallion unveiled at the San Jose Battery Show last week. The system was designed to provide up to ten hours of battery power for cooling. Along with saving fuel, the use of a battery prolongs the life of an engine, and the MATRIX battery is far lighter than conventional lead-acid batteries, saving additional fuel and engine wear.

Recovery Act Funds and Green Jobs

Quallion built its new MATRIX battery factory right here in the U.S.A., in California, with the help of Recovery Act funds through the Department of Energy. The company is currently working with DOE on further testing that will lead to a commercially viable system. DOE has been pumping significant Recovery Act resources into domestic next-generation battery production in the U.S., including funds for new factories in rust belt states like Michigan that could sure use a boost from new green jobs.

More Anti-Idling Technology Coming Soon

Truck stop electrification can be used to funnel electricity from the grid to parked trucks, and it could also leave the door open for installing solar panels at truck stops.  Onboard solar panels for buses and fire trucks are also being tested as a means of reducing idling, and this could be adapted for heavy duty truck use. The maritime industry is being targeted for anti-idling programs relating to tugboats, which spend a significant amount of time idling or performing tasks with low energy requirements. Many of these programs would not be advancing without the help of federal and state clean energy and anti-pollution funds, both of which could be in jeopardy if obstructionists carry the day in the upcoming election. So, stay tuned (or better yet, don’t forget to vote).

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Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.


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