Lab developed aerodynamic devices improve tractor trailer fuel efficiency

May 9, 2017, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers, as part of a Navistar SuperTruck I team, helped design a new type of tractor-trailer truck that significantly improves fuel economy. Credit: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers, as part of a Navistar SuperTruck I team, helped design a new type of tractor-trailer truck that significantly improves fuel economy.

The new SuperTruck vehicle achieved 13 mpg on public roads and a 104 percent freight efficiency improvement. Forty-eight percent of this improvement comes from aerodynamic enhancements developed by LLNL and Navistar while the rest comes from engine efficiency, tire rolling resistance, light weighting and other advancements.

The trucking industry could potentially achieve fuel efficiency gains through aerodynamics developed by LLNL and Navistar that equate to 21 billion gallons of diesel fuel saved, 210 million tons of reduced carbon dioxide emissions and $52 billion saved at an average diesel price of $2.51 per gallon annually.

An interesting fact about class 8 heavy vehicles on the highway is that most of their engine output goes into overcoming aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance. To combat this loss, the LLNL team with the aid of experiments and computer simulations have developed new generic highly aerodynamic body shapes called Generic Speed Form (GSF) to significantly reduce drag.

Aerodynamic drag is caused from pressure differences around the vehicle. Major contributors to the drag are: the gap between tractor and trailer, the vehicle underbody and trailer wake.

"The LLNL GSF shapes have demonstrated a breakthrough in aerodynamic performance of heavy vehicles," said Kambiz Salari, an LLNL fluid dynamics researcher who heads the project. "We're not only saving money, we are helping the environment by reducing carbon emissions."

The LLNL project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) and Vehicle Systems (VS).

Salari and LLNL's Jason Ortega, as part of Navistar's SuperTruck I team, have helped to improve the aerodynamic design of the SuperTruck. The truck also has other fuel efficiency improvements, such as a more efficient engine, better rolling resistance tires, fewer tires and other equipment.

The team, in collaboration with Navistar, has performed scaled and full-scale tests at the Army's 7-foot by 10-foot wind tunnel and the Air Force's 80-foot by 120-foot wind tunnel at the National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex (NFAC) located at NASA Ames Research Center.

Explore further: Lawrence Livermore National Lab, Navistar work to increase semi-truck fuel efficiency

More information: For more information, see www.llnl.gov/file/36221/download?token=CQ6-yApF

Related Stories

Recommended for you

The powerful meteor that no one saw (except satellites)

March 19, 2019

At precisely 11:48 am on December 18, 2018, a large space rock heading straight for Earth at a speed of 19 miles per second exploded into a vast ball of fire as it entered the atmosphere, 15.9 miles above the Bering Sea.

OSIRIS-REx reveals asteroid Bennu has big surprises

March 19, 2019

A NASA spacecraft that will return a sample of a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu to Earth in 2023 made the first-ever close-up observations of particle plumes erupting from an asteroid's surface. Bennu also revealed itself ...

Nanoscale Lamb wave-driven motors in nonliquid environments

March 19, 2019

Light driven movement is challenging in nonliquid environments as micro-sized objects can experience strong dry adhesion to contact surfaces and resist movement. In a recent study, Jinsheng Lu and co-workers at the College ...

Revealing the rules behind virus scaffold construction

March 19, 2019

A team of researchers including Northwestern Engineering faculty has expanded the understanding of how virus shells self-assemble, an important step toward developing techniques that use viruses as vehicles to deliver targeted ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.