SUPERTRUCK: NEXT GENERATION TECHNOLOGIES
Transportation accounts for 28% of all U.S. energy use, and Class 8 trucks consume more than 80% of the diesel fuel used in the country. Improving the fuel efficiency of the U.S. heavy duty truck fleet is a critical path to reducing oil consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
To address this issue, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has established a federally funded research and development initiative called “SuperTruck” with the objective to double the freight efficiency of current tractor-trailer technology, measured in ton-miles per gallon, over a five year project time frame from 2010 to 2015.
Under the SuperTruck project, a consortium of leading research institutions and transportation technology providers were awarded $37.5 million to collaborate in the development of a next-generation tractor-trailer design which is 50% more fuel efficient. ATDynamics announced on February 8th, 2011 that it will partner with Navistar, Wabash National and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories among others to provide rear-drag aerodynamics expertise to this initiative.
A major objective of the SuperTruck project is to establish design and development integration between the tractor and the trailer as a total “system”, as opposed to the current methodology of designing each component in isolation, with little attention given to optimizing the performance of the whole system in the design phase.
Aerodynamics has proven to be a primary component of the SuperTruck project, in particular, trailer aerodynamics. At highway speeds, aerodynamic drag accounts for as much as two-thirds of the fuel consumed by Class 8 trucks. Because aerodynamic drag directly affects the level of power required to move a vehicle at the wheels, aerodynamic improvements will leverage the thermal-efficiency gains, powertrain hybridization and other upstream enhancements that are targeted as part of the project.
Leveraging the learning and technology development from the SuperTruck project into commercial application within the trucking industry will require close collaboration between tractor and trailer manufacturers (OEMs), new technology providers and fleets. ATDynamics is proud to contribute to this critical initiative and to play a significant role in reducing the country’s dependence on fossil fuels and enhancing U.S. energy security.
President Obama recently highlighted the importance of the SuperTruck Project in meeting his February 18, 2014 orders for higher fuel efficiency standards for heavy duty trucks.