Fuel Saving Devices for Trucks Under Development by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, NASA, and Navistar

Photo Credit: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Some of the same labs that work with astronauts and jet fighter pilots are developing ways to help truckers save money on fuel costs.

According to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory website, the lab has teamed with Navistar Inc., NASA’s Ames Research Center, the U.S. Air Force and industry to develop and test devices for reducing the aerodynamic drag of semi-trucks.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

The devices could increase fuel efficiency by as much as 12 percent and could prevent 36 million tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere annually, roughly the same amount of CO2 that is emitted from four 1-gigawatt power plants every year. Semi-trucks on U.S. highways could save the nation more than $10 billion annually in diesel fuel costs in a few years.

“This is a significant step toward reducing the United States’ dependency on fossil fuels,” LLNL Director George Miller said. “This collaborative effort is a testament to the value of the science and technology developed at the National Nuclear Security Administration’s labs for use in industry.”

Photo Credit: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Aerodynamic drag is caused from pressure differences around the vehicle. At highway speeds, a semi-truck uses more than 50 percent of the energy produced by the vehicle engine to overcome aerodynamic drag, while rolling resistance consumes roughly 30 percent of the usable energy.

Along with 30 years of prior semi-truck aerodynamic research and development conducted worldwide, LLNL computer simulations – using some of the Laboratory’s largest computer platforms and most advanced computational fluid dynamics codes – have identified critical drag producing regions around semi-trucks, such as the trailer base, underbody and the gap between the tractor and trailer.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

LLNL scientists estimate that with aerodynamic devices placed in these regions, the trucking industry could see as much as a 12 percent increase in the fuel efficiency rate, which annually saves 3.4 billion gallons of diesel fuel, equaling approximately $10.2 billion in diesel fuel savings per year.

“This is a technology that could easily be installed on the tractor trailer trucks that are out on the highway today,” said Kambiz Salari, LLNL’s lead scientist on the project. “And 12 percent is just the beginning. We expect to increase that savings even more during the current series of wind tunnel tests. It’s time to market is incredibly quick. In just three years, we could see these devices on the road and realize the real fuel savings.”

Source: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

2 thoughts on “Fuel Saving Devices for Trucks Under Development by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, NASA, and Navistar

  1. this is very good to hear that our goverment has taking some god step against this fuel efficiency of semi truck, which will not only save fuel but also this will help semi truck drivers to make some good money out of it.

  2. I think the whole approach to emissions reduction and fuel economy should change. Rather than having minimum standards for both, there should be a combined value that automakers have to meet. Permit a vehicle to emit more if the fuel economy is higher, or allow poorer fuel economy if the emissions are minimal. A 30mpg diesel shouldn't have to hit the same emissions targets as gas vehicles because they consume less to do the same work. Conversely, if the gas engine gives off cleaner emissions, it doesn't have to match the diesel's consumption.This would allow for greater benefits to the consumer and let manufacturers focus on the most cost effective solution. The cheaper it is to make, the more likely it is to take hold in the marketplace.

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