Archive for June 15, 2008

Fuel-Saving Technology for Heavy Trucks

Diesel fuel prices approaching $5 a gallon – and the resulting economic impact on products transported by truck – have created renewed interest in fuel-saving technologies developed during the past decade at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI).

Use of pressurized air “active flow control” techniques combined with conventional aerodynamic streamlining could improve fuel efficiency by 8 to 12 percent in the heavy trucks used to transport a broad range of products. If installed throughout the U.S. trucking fleet, these technologies for reducing aerodynamic drag could save between 1.6 and 2.4 billion gallons of fuel per year.

“The dramatic increase in diesel prices has led the trucking industry to reconsider aerodynamic fuel efficiency improvements that might not have been cost effective only a few years ago,” said Robert Englar, a GTRI principal research engineer and principal investigator for the project. “Though there are technical challenges ahead, we believe our techniques for improving fuel efficiency offer significant potential to reduce the impact of these fuel cost increases. Beyond the trucking industry, that would help consumers who see the effects of fuel costs in everything they buy.”

Since diesel prices began their rapid increase, Englar has seen growing interest in the GTRI low-drag active flow control aerodynamic technologies, which were developed with support from the U.S. Department of Energy starting in the late 1990s. He has received numerous inquiries for information from both large and small trucking companies, and also from railroads – whose higher-speed western track runs could also benefit from aerodynamic drag reduction.

Aerodynamic drag is the major component of heavy vehicle resistance at typical highway speeds, and overcoming that resistance requires increased energy use. Truck designers have reduced drag on the tractor portion of the vehicles by applying such aerodynamic streamlining approaches as roof fairings, but those have done little to address drag on the aft portion of the trailers.

Because only limited streamlining can be done for trailers due to their length, the GTRI researchers added the active flow control techniques, which use patented pneumatic devices to blow air from slots over small curved aerodynamic surfaces at the rear of the trailers. These air jets smooth the flow of air over the boxy trailers to eliminate air-flow separation, vorticity and suction on the aft doors, which reduces aerodynamic drag at highway speeds.

Read the rest at Georgia Tech Research News.

Were I in the trucking business as an independent owner/operator or a fleet owner, I’d certainly be interested in anything that could save me 8 to 12% on my fuel bill. The profit margins are razor thin in the trucking industry.

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Weird? I dunno. Maybe.

My former daughter-in-law stopped by for a visit to show off her new baby, an absolutely beautiful boy. I cuddled his warm little body close to me while she had a look around as this pregnancy had been very difficult for her, and she hadn’t gotten out much during the past few months. She had been working 12-hour shifts at the hospital, I had been working as well, and our schedules hadn’t meshed for meeting since Christmas. I was disappointed the lil’ 2-year-old boy wasn’t along, but happy to see my granddaughter.

Her first exclamation of surprise had been when she got out of her Blazer. “What happened to your beautiful flower bed?”

“Chickens. And ducks.”

Then she came inside, and looked out the front window. “Oh, NO! What happened to your flower beds out front and all the shrubberies?”

“Eaten. Sheep. And chickens. And ducks.”

We (former DIL and I) had a long discussion (about 3 hours) and got caught up on just about everything. She asked me to come over next week and help her pick out the paint colors for the house that they had purchased (a foreclosure) and were fixing up prior to moving in as the interior had been pretty much destroyed. “I spent $30 on samples of paint so far, and still haven’t found any colors I like!” she wailed.

“So, what color are you painting?”

“Neutral. I really want sand, but it can’t have any yellowish tinge in it. My husband HATES yellow!”

Well, that will be a challenge. I’m kinda thinking maybe a rosy beige, but I haven’t seen any pinkish sand in Florida. It’s going to be hard to restrain myself from exuberant color, but if I must, I must.

“My friends think it’s weird that we get along so well even after the divorce.”

“Hunh. Why is that weird?”

“I dunno. I don’t get it.”

We pondered the weirdness of people that think that it is weird to get along for awhile, then gave it up as a lost cause. I’ve never figured that I needed to get involved in the personal disputes of the kids when they were children, and don’t intend to start when they’re all grown up.

As she and the children left, I gave my regards to her husband who I think is a great guy, and I’m quite fond of. She said he just loved us, too.

I figure you can never have too many relatives.

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Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to all of you fathers out there, whether biological, adoptive, or step. Children need a father in their lives.

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