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Autocar's new electric fan cooling system reduces fuel consumption and radiator clogging for refuse trucks

A close-up of the Smart Flow electric fan cool pack
An Engineered Machined Products Smart Flow electric fan cool pack

Autocar now offers an Engineered Machined Products (EMP) Smart Flow electric fan cool pack on select ACX refuse trucks. The e-fan's design helps reduce fuel consumption, noise and radiator clogging.

Autocar worked with Michigan-based EMP on the project. As a result, ACX refuse trucks without front-end power take-off (PTO) have the choice of the EMP cool pack featuring the Smart Flow e-fan system or the standard cool pack with a mechanical fan. Both configurations will be standard option choices in Autocar's ACX refuse trucks.

The technology behind EMP's Smart Flow electric fan

EMP has provided electric fans and electric components to the transit bus industry for years. Traditional mechanical fans are either two-speed, or they're either on or off. Because of this, the traditional fan draws more power from the engine than is needed, which in turn consumes more fuel while bogging down the engine. The electric fan systems are full variable speed and only provide the necessary airflow to meet an engine's cooling requirements. As a result, there are zero parasitic draws and less fuel consumption with the electric fans.

"We saw a need for this kind of technology in the refuse industry," EMP Director of Sales and Marketing Todd Kangas said. "Refuse is similar to transit in the same kind of duty cycles with lots of stop and go. The mechanical fan pulls about 37 horsepower from the engine. If the engine is  350 horsepower, that means 10 percent of the engine power is being used to drive the fan. If you need more power for the engine, that will make you guzzle more fuel. Once you pull that mechanical fan and remove that parasitic load, it frees up the horsepower on the engine and can save fuel and add to the engine's capabilities."

Features of the Smart Flow electric fan

Reduced thermal cycling is another benefit of the EMP Smart Flow e-fan. The electric fans optimize the engine's temperature, reducing wear and load on the engine, hoses and radiator. In addition, when the electric cool pack detects a retarder request, the fans immediately react to reduce the oil temperature going into the transmission. The engine then remains consistent in temperature and minimizes scaled-down thermal cycling.

The EMP fan system also helps address radiator clogging and reduces truck maintenance requirements because of the reversible capability of the electric fans. The electric fans can be reversed and assist in debris removal from the radiator. When in use, the e-fan system only draws the required amount of air through the cool pack, which has fewer fins per inch than the standard radiator and is less likely to clog.

"Plugged radiators from trash and debris have challenged the refuse industry," Kangas said. "If they can't move air and keep the coolant temperatures down, the engine will overheat. These fleet owners spend hours doing monthly preventative maintenance to deal with this issue. With the electric fan, we can save them manpower and time. Circuit boards control our Smart Flow E-fan system. We can do a lot for the maintenance side through the reversal and speeds of the fans," said Kangas.

The e-fan system also helps reduce engine noise. A mechanical fan attached to a typical CNG or diesel truck creates a roar as the vehicle accelerates.

"Everyone is familiar with the roar that comes from the huge fan that has to turn on to cool the engine. Essentially, the EMP electric fan system turns on the fans individually and cools the engine while picking up refuse cans. That is something a mechanical fan in a truck can't do. So, the electric fan system mitigates the roar and loudness," Kangas said.

 The Smart Flow e-fan system's technology is integrated into the Autocar smart dash, which ties into the truck's dashboard to provide reversal and diagnostic capability without an external data link adapter or service tool. The data is saved, allowing mechanics, owners, fleet managers, operators and engineers to download the truck's diagnostic history to determine if the fans are working correctly.

The EMP Smart Flow e-fan is available now in select Autocar ACX refuse trucks.

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