Engineers Propose New Heavy Vehicle Design to Increase Fuel Efficiency, Cut Carbon Emissions

Industry Insights

In the automotive sector, the reshaping of exterior of heavy vehicles can increase fuel efficiency, reduce drag, and thus cut carbon emissions. For example, semitrucks are reshaped in such a way that they are aerodynamically integrated along their complete length in a smooth, continuous fashion.

To validate this, engineers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory used computational fluid dynamics simulations and wind tunnel measurements. This led them to demonstrate that due to its shape, aerodynamically integrated vehicles decrease body-axis drag in a crosswind to create large negative front pressures, thus, aiding to propel the vehicle forward against the wind effectively. The propulsion is very much like that of a sailboat.

The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In fact, in the U.S., heavy vehicles dominate domestic freight, with a break up of nearly 81 percent of total freight weight, and approximately 86 percent of total value of freight shipments. By statistics, heavy vehicles comprise only 4 percent of all on-road vehicles, but, they account for more than 20 percent of transportation related greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption. Importantly, one of the main reasons of inefficiency of heavy vehicles contributing to low fuel economy is their relatively large body-axis drag.

“Meanwhile, in the future, to reduce petroleum use and carbon emissions, it will heavily rely on improved heavy vehicle freight efficiency,” stated the lead author of the study.

This arose the need of a dependable solution presented by the research team. Throwing light on the solution, it can transform the trucking industry completely in terms of higher fuel efficiency and help save the planet by reducing carbon emissions.

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