The impact of fuel costs on the trucking industry has researchers and truck designers working to make trucks sleeker and develop new fuel-saving technologies.
Since the high cost of fuel is passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices, developments in aerodynamic truck technologies affect more than trucking companies and driver.
The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) homepage features news on research using pressurized air “active flow control” techniques to increase truck fuel efficiency by 8 to 12 percent.
According to the George Tech Research Institute, research is also being conducted on GTRI low-drag active flow control aerodynamic technologies, developed with support from the U.S. Department of Energy nearly a decade ago.
Truck aerodynamics have improved thanks to attachments like roof fairings, but these improvements do little to affect the wind resistance of trailers.
One streamlining technique GTRI researchers are working on is pneumatic devices to push air over curved surfaces on the backs of trailers. The jets of air smooth out the angular shape of trailers and reduce drag.
According to a report by the Associated Press, a test track run using the GTRI system increased fuel efficiency by 12 percent. That might not sound like a huge increase, but fleet trucks often travel thousands of miles. That 12 percent adds up in the shadow of 5 dollars a gallon diesel fuel costs.