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Old 02-16-2011, 10:28 AM   #1
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Default Aerodynamic add-ons reduce fuel consumption of semi trucks by 7-12%

Quote:
BMI SmartTruck aerodynamic UnderTray System

BMI Corporation, along with the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, have developed a set of aerodynamic fairings that are claimed to reduce fuel consumption of long-haul semi trucks by 7-12 percent. The aerodynamic add-ons, which BMI calls the SmartTruck UnderTray System, include five individual components that reduce the drag coefficient of tractor trailers.

BMI claims its SmartTruck UnderTray System could cut diesel fuel consumption by 1.5 billion gallons annually, provided that all 1.3 million (Class 8) long-haul semi trucks on U.S. roads were outfitted with its drag-reducing setup. The reduction in fuel usage would result in the elimination of approximately 16.4 million tons of CO2 emissions per year.

BMI's fuel-saving SmartTruck UnderTray components can either be applied at the OEM level or retrofitted to existing semi trucks.
http://green.autoblog.com/2011/02/16...i-trucks-by-7/

I've known about this for a few years now, but have just recently started seeing these things being used at all.
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:33 AM   #2
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i bet if they make the bottom of the trucks smooth instead of having lots of horizontal bars it would help even more.

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Old 02-16-2011, 11:42 AM   #3
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Think they are dreaming. The weight is primary issue and most new trucks are fairly aerodynamic and their mods will only get 2% in real world. Should be ez to prove as most trucking co's keep track of efficiency.
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Old 02-16-2011, 12:07 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Masterauto View Post
Think they are dreaming. The weight is primary issue and most new trucks are fairly aerodynamic and their mods will only get 2% in real world. Should be ez to prove as most trucking co's keep track of efficiency.
2 percent is a huge increase given fleets and the thousands and thousands of miles driven in a year. Even if it only saves 50 gallons of diesel a year, combined it is a major impact.


The fronts of trucks can't be improved too much, but it's the trailer that needs a redesign. The gap between the cab and trailer needs a better enclosure, but ultimately it's the trailer itself, ie the square that abruptly ends. That causes a huge turbulence in airflow, and that's where a majority of the drag is. If the trailer were designed more like a Kamme-back it would help alot. THe premise of a Kamme-back is that the airflow will act like it is laminar to a surface, but the surface is not there. The Prius is a Kamme-back. The airflow over the car is laminar and when it reaches the end, it will act as if the car is extending back. That's also the reason all these hybrids look the same. You don't need any material past that point to get the airflow to act like there is some there.
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Old 02-16-2011, 02:06 PM   #5
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Think they are dreaming. The weight is primary issue and most new trucks are fairly aerodynamic and their mods will only get 2% in real world. Should be ez to prove as most trucking co's keep track of efficiency.
Wrong.

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Originally Posted by Masterauto View Post
Think they are dreaming. The weight is primary issue and most new trucks are fairly aerodynamic and their mods will only get 2% in real world. Should be ez to prove as most trucking co's keep track of efficiency.
Right.

They do keep track of efficency. That's why they load them as close to the legal limit as possible (unless they 'bulk out' - where the load fills the trailer before it maxes out weight wise). Modern tractor/trailers show a relatively insignificant drop in fuel mileage - loaded OR empty. Think of it this way - if you were to take one tractor trailer that gets 6mpg and drop it's weight in half - the vehicle may get 7-8mpg. Unfortunately, you'd have to operate two trucks to haul the same amount of freight. That's 3.4-4mpg between the two.

The big issue is (as mentioned previously) the gap between the cab/sleeper and smoothing the air that strikes the trailer axles. The cab/trailer gap is a big issue as the closer the trailer is to the cab, the better the fuel economy, but the higher risk of damage during very tight turns.
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Old 02-16-2011, 02:10 PM   #6
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Here are two examples of what's already in use:



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Old 02-16-2011, 02:15 PM   #7
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Wrong.
THANK YOU.

Drag is absolutely the biggest force to overcome when travelling on the highway.

The drag is a function of the Velocity squared, it's a tremendous force. The rolling friction is the only component of forward travel affected by weight. The total friction component is negligible almost compared to the drag component once you're at highway speeds.
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Old 02-16-2011, 02:36 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Skylab View Post
Here are two examples of what's already in use:
yeah, I've seen a few with the lower faring. this definitely reduces drag, and as a result increases the efficiency.

I've also seen the tail faring on the back of the trailer.



this too improves efficiency.
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Old 02-16-2011, 02:45 PM   #9
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This is actually one of the biggest things we're working on here. there are all types of ideas for how to bring the trailer closer to the back of the cab. competitors are too, i don't think much of the ideas are hard to come up with, but they can be hard or expensive to implement.

we work on weight savings too, since a few lbs here and there can make a huge difference on annual operating cost for some companies. but afaik, there's a much higher focus around here on aero effects, front of the truck, between cab and trailer, and all areas of the trailer itself. they actually did wind tunnel testing and everything. we saw a presentation on it all, but i admit to not sticking around for all of it. it's not what i work on directly.
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Old 02-16-2011, 03:32 PM   #10
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This is actually one of the biggest things we're working on here. there are all types of ideas for how to bring the trailer closer to the back of the cab. competitors are too, i don't think much of the ideas are hard to come up with, but they can be hard or expensive to implement.

we work on weight savings too, since a few lbs here and there can make a huge difference on annual operating cost for some companies. but afaik, there's a much higher focus around here on aero effects, front of the truck, between cab and trailer, and all areas of the trailer itself. they actually did wind tunnel testing and everything. we saw a presentation on it all, but i admit to not sticking around for all of it. it's not what i work on directly.
and it isn't like they've been going through and making the trailers efficient to tow.

the trailers, as I understand it are as light as they can be pretty much, allowing the truck to carry more, since there is a max weight for a loaded trailer (per DOT).

up to now, no one has done anything for aero on a trailer, so all this stuff is low hanging fruit on how to make a box more efficient.
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Old 02-16-2011, 08:43 PM   #11
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This is actually one of the biggest things we're working on here. there are all types of ideas for how to bring the trailer closer to the back of the cab. competitors are too, i don't think much of the ideas are hard to come up with, but they can be hard or expensive to implement.

we work on weight savings too, since a few lbs here and there can make a huge difference on annual operating cost for some companies. but afaik, there's a much higher focus around here on aero effects, front of the truck, between cab and trailer, and all areas of the trailer itself. they actually did wind tunnel testing and everything. we saw a presentation on it all, but i admit to not sticking around for all of it. it's not what i work on directly.
Weight savings on trailers/cabs are to:

- Offset APU/Scrubber/Urea system weight

AND/OR

- Allow for more weight to be loaded on the vehicle (for those older power units without the APU/Scrubber/Urea system weight)

Unfortunately, when the Federal Government implemented a weight variance for trucks equipped with APU's, they ****ed up (go figure) and did not provide the proper language to mandate that the individual States allow these variances. This was supposed to be a 500lb credit for gross weight limits (i.e. 80,500lbs instead of 80,000) for APU equipped vehicles, but ended up being a revenue source for the states that wished to enforce the previous maximum weight limits.
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:04 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Obsessive View Post
Weight savings on trailers/cabs are to:

- Offset APU/Scrubber/Urea system weight

AND/OR

- Allow for more weight to be loaded on the vehicle (for those older power units without the APU/Scrubber/Urea system weight)
That's not true. I'll ask people for the specific number, but there is a percentage gas mileage reduction you get for each lb you can take off the truck. i know it isn't much, but that is the reason we work on it. it's got nothing to do with loading rules as far as we're concerned. We know it helps the customers with stuff, but we generally want to be able to brag that our trucks get the best gas mileage. i work on exterior components now, and they are looking at doing plenty of things to save weight.
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:36 PM   #13
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Split incentives in the trucking industry are a lot of the problem. The trucking companies don't generally own the trailers, they're leased.

The trailer leasing companies make money by renting out the cheapest possible box with wheels on it. They have no incentive to offer a more expensive trailer with aero devices, as it bring them no benefit whatsoever.

Now if they could quantify fuel savings on the trailers, then they could ask for a premium lease rate that made more money for the leasing company, but was also less than the cost of the saved fuel, saving the trucking company money too. AFAIK that isn't happening much yet though...

Those trailer tails supposedly help a lot, but most US trucks have the cab behind the engine, and are already at max length with a standard trailer. Going to a euro-style cabover truck might save the necessary length to allow a trailer tail. Or an exemption could be (carefully) written into existing regulations...
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:42 PM   #14
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many of the things we're looking at for aero would be something the truck owners could install quickly, so they wouldn't need to own the trailers. it's not that hard to attach some of these designs. plus, the gap between the trailer and cab is solved by cab attachments, or by optimizing the design of the fifth wheel.

all of the weight savings we work on are for the cab.

I also know that some of our bigger customers, giant nationwide companies with fleets, are working directly with us for development, including these aero improvements on cabs AND trailers.

i'll be the first to admit that i don't know much about the trucking industry beyond the truck engineering side.
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Old 02-16-2011, 11:07 PM   #15
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I also know that some of our bigger customers, giant nationwide companies with fleets, are working directly with us for development, including these aero improvements on cabs AND trailers.
Walmart?

I understand you probably can't answer that question...


Are you at all familiar with the work of Amory Lovins? His lecture on transport is :headassplode:

The section on heavy trucks starts at about 1:01:40 and only runs about 3-4 minutes or so, but you need the groundwork from the first hour of the lecture (which is quite worthwhile).

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Old 02-17-2011, 07:26 AM   #16
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I probably shouldn't say. I don't think it's a secret what the company is, but better safe than sorry. At least the one I'm thinking of isn't walmart.

I haven't heard of his work. Most of my understanding just came from a presentation when our team got back from the NASA windtunnel. Apparently, it's the only one big enough to have tested a line haul vehicle with all types of trailers. It was related to this:

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/new...0/10-13AR.html
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Old 02-17-2011, 12:06 PM   #17
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That's not true. I'll ask people for the specific number, but there is a percentage gas mileage reduction you get for each lb you can take off the truck. i know it isn't much, but that is the reason we work on it. it's got nothing to do with loading rules as far as we're concerned. We know it helps the customers with stuff, but we generally want to be able to brag that our trucks get the best gas mileage. i work on exterior components now, and they are looking at doing plenty of things to save weight.
So, you're saying that lightening the vehicle has nothing to do with offsetting weight from APU's and increased weight due to emissions controls affecting cargo weight capacities as far as gross vehicle weight is concerned?

I'm not trying to be a dick, but I'm trying to understand the disconnect from the perspective of a person who is the end user of your (or like) products.

FYI -I do not disagree with you at all on the areo improvements. They do make an impact on fuel mileage (a positive one).
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Old 02-17-2011, 12:34 PM   #18
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I'm not saying that they don't do that as well. I'm saying that from my perspective, designing the truck, that's not why we do it. In my department, we go for weight savings because of the fuel economy gained. The fact that it helps you load more isn't anything I've ever known.

Sorta like, instead of hybrid vehicles where the aero and weight stuff is for gas mileage, on a sports car the weight and aero stuff are to make it faster. If a 3200 lb corvette gets better gas mileage than a 3700 lb corvette, that's just bonus. (I just pulled those numbers out of my butt to illustrate my point. i'm too lazy to look up actual weights.)

Just a matter of perspective i guess. The part I quoted below doesn't have much to do with anything I do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Obsessive View Post
Weight savings on trailers/cabs are to:

- Offset APU/Scrubber/Urea system weight

AND/OR

- Allow for more weight to be loaded on the vehicle (for those older power units without the APU/Scrubber/Urea system weight)
ETA: For what it's worth, I don't work in powertrain. I'm fairly sure the people responsible for adding all the clean deisel stuff to get the truck re-certified are responsible for managing their own weight add/subtract on the vehicles. Especially since the base platform pre-dates the new requirements. So another department might totally be working from the standpoint of what you're saying. MY particular job has nothing to do with it.
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Old 02-17-2011, 01:11 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by MrSaabaru View Post
That's not true. I'll ask people for the specific number, but there is a percentage gas mileage reduction you get for each lb you can take off the truck. i know it isn't much, but that is the reason we work on it. it's got nothing to do with loading rules as far as we're concerned. We know it helps the customers with stuff, but we generally want to be able to brag that our trucks get the best gas mileage. i work on exterior components now, and they are looking at doing plenty of things to save weight.
I think the weight of the cab and the trailer doesn't matter, unless the truck is traveling unloaded.

I mean, if the cab weighs 20k lbs, and the trailer weighs 5k lbs, and the cargo weighs 55k lbs, that's 80k lbs total weight that the engine has to pull at 65mph.

if the cab weighs 15k lbs, the trailer weighs 2.5k lbs, the the cargo is going to end up weighing 62.5k lbs, still totaling the maximum weight of 80k lbs that the engine still has to pull at 65mph.

maybe I'm not understanding the intricacies, but that seems pretty straightforward?
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Old 02-17-2011, 03:14 PM   #20
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that makes sense. but I don't know much about loading. i don't know how often a trailer is full volume-wise before it's full weight-wise.

i also think that when comparing one truck to another, they use identical loads, so either empty identical trailers, no trailers, or identical full trailers. therefore, when they brag about having the most fuel efficient truck on the road, it's still something where different weights on the cabs will make a difference.

it seems that in this case, even though there are two separate goals, "bragging about the most fuel efficient truck in some marketing brochure" versus "carrying the most load efficiently because of weight management", it just so happens to both be served by the same approach.
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Old 02-17-2011, 03:15 PM   #21
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and yes, there is plenty of engineering going on while i'm here at nasioc. market research? okay, i'll get back to work...
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Old 02-17-2011, 03:18 PM   #22
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This is basic aero design stuff.

Way before I had a drivers license I was really into mtn bikes, we're talking early 90's here. I had a crappy heavy Huffy that I was hell bent on breaking 40 mph down this steep hill that dropped 300ft in less than a quarter mile. The first couple runs no matter how big a head of momentum I had coming to the drop, and no matter how low I got in an aero tuck...I couldn't break 37mph.

So I went back to the garage, stripped off uneeded items from the bike, and added aero fairings I made from cardboard. I put one behind each front fork, sealed off the triangle area of the frame, made a fairing behind the seatpost, and fairings coming off the rear triangle. Sure enough on the first run I hit 40.5mph.

I'm surprised there aren't more aero aids being used by tractor trailers. Weight reduction would be nice too, but these things DO have to haul cargo around so the trailer can't be made of balsa wood.
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Old 02-17-2011, 03:38 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSaabaru View Post
that makes sense. but I don't know much about loading. i don't know how often a trailer is full volume-wise before it's full weight-wise.

i also think that when comparing one truck to another, they use identical loads, so either empty identical trailers, no trailers, or identical full trailers. therefore, when they brag about having the most fuel efficient truck on the road, it's still something where different weights on the cabs will make a difference.

it seems that in this case, even though there are two separate goals, "bragging about the most fuel efficient truck in some marketing brochure" versus "carrying the most load efficiently because of weight management", it just so happens to both be served by the same approach.
weight distribution comes in very handy when you're looking at crossing a bridge that has a max weight of 40k lbs per axle (or axle tandem).

maybe you can make an argument that weight distribution makes a difference in the rolling resistance of the tires, but that's probably it as far as where the weight is distributed in a truck making a difference on the efficiency of that truck's engine.

again, I could be wrong, not my field of expertise, just a very interesting subject.
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Old 02-17-2011, 03:59 PM   #24
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not really what i'm trying to say. you're talking about how to make one truck as good as possible for the driver. i'm talking about directly comparing one truck to another. once you're doing that, and you have to include all the 'start/stop' over the entire test trip, then weight can play a difference. you don't have to be best by much to brag about being the best.
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Old 02-17-2011, 04:11 PM   #25
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This is basic aero design stuff.

Way before I had a drivers license I was really into mtn bikes, we're talking early 90's here. I had a crappy heavy Huffy that I was hell bent on breaking 40 mph down this steep hill that dropped 300ft in less than a quarter mile. The first couple runs no matter how big a head of momentum I had coming to the drop, and no matter how low I got in an aero tuck...I couldn't break 37mph.

So I went back to the garage, stripped off uneeded items from the bike, and added aero fairings I made from cardboard. I put one behind each front fork, sealed off the triangle area of the frame, made a fairing behind the seatpost, and fairings coming off the rear triangle. Sure enough on the first run I hit 40.5mph.

I'm surprised there aren't more aero aids being used by tractor trailers. Weight reduction would be nice too, but these things DO have to haul cargo around so the trailer can't be made of balsa wood.
They're hard to package on a trailer. No trucking company is going to give up space, and you realiztically cannot increase the length to keep laminar flow. That fold out tent thing on the back is a start, but it can only do so much. It's between design and volume, and companies are choosing the latter for net gain.
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