Tougher Truck Idling Regulations Sweep Nation; Drivers Must Seek Alternative Power Sources

The steady drone of idling trucks parked at hundreds of California truck stops is significantly lower this month as trucks are now restricted to just five minutes of engine idling time per hour.

The California Air Resources Boards anti-idling rule carries fines beginning at $100. It is part of a wave of increasingly stringent, state-by-state regulations introduced across the nation to help reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, toxins and pollutants, and to save fuel. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that with a half million long-haul trucks now operating nationwide, wasteful engine idling may consume as much as 840 million gallons of diesel fuel annually.

California isnt alone. With certain exemptions, three minute engine idling limits currently are in force in Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, New Jersey and New York City. Imposing a five-minute limit right now are Arizona, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and the state of New York. In Texas, with certain exemptions, idling limits for trucks are five minutes per hour during the warmer months of April through October when truckers air conditioner use is heaviest. Other states have different versions of the rules but include more lenient time limits.

For drivers resting in sleeper cabs, the rule poses special problems. Without use of their engines, they must rely on traditional deep cycle lead acid batteries, or small auxiliary diesel power plants to provide overnight power for heaters, air conditioners, TVs, refrigerators, microwaves and other devices used when their cabs become hotel rooms.

According to Ed Williams, Chief Executive Officer of battery technology company Firefly Energy, www.fireflyenergy.com these long-haul trucks and their drivers trying to stay powered during rest periods will experience continued daily reductions in battery run time and premature battery failure, since traditional lead acid batteries cannot tolerate the repeated deep discharging required to achieve long battery run times. Diesel-powered auxiliary power units still consume fuel, generate pollutants, and present long-term maintenance issues. Given the right battery that can handle the daily run-time requirements, batteries clearly are the way to address this issue.

To provide an answer to the anti-idling regulations, Firefly Energy announced late last year that the first pre-production versions of its BCI Group 31 truck battery-called Oasis-will be available for testing by trucking companies during the first quarter of 2008.

Williams says the companys Oasis truck battery for sleeper cabs will primarily be utilized when the trucks diesel engine is turned off, and will provide up to 50 percent longer run times than competitors when powering accessories which collectively make up a trucks hotel loads.

Initial availability of the battery will be in the summer of 2008, with full production of the Oasis battery scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2008.

With regulators and the rest of us wanting more efficient use of fuel, fewer pollutants in the air and added savings for our pocketbooks, anti-diesel engine idling regulations are becoming more pervasive, he continues. Better battery performance will contribute to added trucker safety, comfort and productivity as well. We feel the Oasis battery will help provide truckers with a quiet, comfortable haven to use during their mandatory rest periods while saving precious fuel and keeping the environment cleaner.

An updated 2008 idling regulations compendium that lists state-by-state restrictions is now available from the American Transportation Research Institute.

ATRIs idling regulations compendium helps truck drivers reduce idling and comply with idling regulations throughout the U.S., says Rebecca Brewster, ATRI President and Chief Operating Officer. Drivers also can get a cab card from the ATRI, listing each regulation in each state, which can be kept conveniently right in their cabs for easy reference.

Background on Firefly Energys Oasis battery

The primary characteristic of Firefly Energys Oasis battery is the inclusion of a high surface area, non-corrodible and light weight micro-cell foam material. Firefly Energys microcell-based battery technology achieves the high power potential of lead acid chemistry which was impossible to achieve in the past with ordinary lead acid batteries. This technology not only reduces the lead content making the batteries smaller and lighter, but additionally enables faster, deeper and more reliable discharges and recharges. Microcell technology significantly extends the batterys life, makes it more environmentally friendly, and less expensive than lithium and nickel battery chemistries.

Conventional deep-cycle lead acid batteries used in supporting the trucks electronics have shown sizeable performance drop-off after some 200 deep discharge cycles. The Oasis battery will be valuable in trucking because it will offer a several-fold increase in deep discharge cycles, continuous power throughout the discharge process, a fast recharge to 100 percent capacity, excellent vibration resistance, and greater cold weather capabilities. Battery life is also extended since life-shortening sulfation is dramatically reduced. When tested in cold weather extremes at minus 20°C, the Firefly batteries were capable of delivering above 65 percent of their rated room temperature capacity, compared to 20 percent or less for standard Group 31 batteries.

About Firefly Energy (www.fireflyenergy.com)

Firefly Energy Inc. (Firefly) is a Peoria, Illinois-based battery technology company developing a portfolio of lead-acid battery technologies and products to enhance battery performance within major portions of the worldwide battery marketplace, now estimated at $30 billion in annual sales. The companys first applied technology is a micro-cell foam-based battery technology, which can deliver a unique combination of high performance, extremely low weight and low cost, all within a battery which unleashes the full power potential of lead acid chemistry while overcoming its historical performance drawbacks. Fireflys battery products and their patented microcell technology deliver to battery markets a level of performance achieved with advanced battery chemistries (Nickel Metal Hydride and Lithium) but at one-fifth the cost. Micro-cell foam battery products can be manufactured as well as recycled within the existing lead acid battery industrys vast infrastructure. The company won the prestigious R&D100 award from R&D magazine in 2007 and was a co-winner along with Los Alamos National Laboratories of the 2007 Technology Innovation Award presented by The Wall Street Journal. Firefly is backed by multi-billion dollar product companies such as Caterpillar (www.cat.com)(NYSE: CAT), BAE Systems (www.baesystems.com) (London Stock Exchange over the counter symbol: BAESY), and Husqvarna (www.husqvarna.com Other OTC: HSQVY.PK). Additional investors include Chicago-area Venture Capital firm KB Partners (www.kbpartners.com) and the State of Illinois Illinois Finance Authority.

Contacts:

Tech Image for Firefly Energy
Dave Reiners (847) 279-0022 ext. 233
Dave.Reiners@techimage.com

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