There is a fuel mileage revolution under way in over the road trucking.  Aerodynamic drag accounts for approximately 65% of the fuel consumed by semi tractor trailer rigs. There are four major areas of aerodynamic drag on a tractor-trailer, at the front of the tractor 25%, at the rear of the trailer 25%, at the gap between the tractor and the trailer 25% and along the sides and underbody of the trailer the last 25%.

ATDynamics projects 200,000 semi-trailers will be equipped with fuel-saving rear-drag aerodynamics technology by end of 2017.  The payoff to the economy is each installed ATDynamics TrailerTail saves approximately the fuel consumption equivalent of one passenger vehicle.

For the costs of goods being transported there is more worthy news.  The TrailerTails pay for themselves in 6 to 24 months, depending on the operating profile of the operator fleet.  Andrew Smith the CEO of ATDynamics notes investment opportunities that pay 50 to 200 percent annual returns tend to drive action.

So far the ATDynamics TrailerTail technology delivers over twice the fuel-efficiency gains of the other commercially available rear drag reduction technologies and is the only rear-mounted aerodynamic device which allows fleets to fully comply with 2010 CARB trailer aerodynamics regulations.

ATDynamics TrailerTail Features. Click image for the largest view.

ATDynamics TrailerTail Features. Click image for the largest view.

If you’re concerned the parts might fly off and come winging there way into your car the TrailerTails are constructed of thermoplastic composites.  While not that might not seem reassuring, the units have been out now for years with 20,000 of them mounted now over 350 trucking companies.

What’s been learned from the real world exposure is that reducing aerodynamic drag at the back of tractor-trailers and improves vehicle fuel efficiency by approximately 6%.  Moreover,  by minimizing the vacuum created at the rear of the trailer the efforts at the front, gap and side aerodynamics pay off better.  The area of air displaced is going to end up at the back, so oddly that’s the best place to start.

Likely the next efficiency move will be to move forward with the skirts along the bottom sides of trailers.  Many of them can be seen on over the road tucks now.

With real numbers from real world operations one can expect to see more of the technology on the road.

Meanwhile the EPA and the Department of Energy are pushing in their way.  Obama ordered reducing the road freight industry’s fuel consumption and carbon emissions, to be enforced by the EPA.  The DOE is more helpful with the five year SuperTruck Project trying for increasing the freight efficiency of tractor-trailers by at least 50%.

DOE SuperTruck With ATDynamics Techology. Click iamge for the largest view.

DOE SuperTruck With ATDynamics Techology. Click image for the largest view.

So far ATDynamics can get over the road trucking an immediate 9 to 11% fuel savings.   That should go a long way to closing in on what ever EPA mandate comes to the business of getting the stuff you need to you.  A full side and rear kit would be worth almost two cars worth of annual fuel saving per year.


1 Comment so far

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