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Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Nov 22

Innovation Reduces Truck Fuel Consumption by 7.5%

Posted in Energy Industry | Energy Inventions | Transportation

Boat Tail Sometimes slight modifications in existing machines do wonders for fuel saving. A simple attachment of a tapering protrusion at the back of a truck can save up to 7.5% in fuel consumption. This is a significant amount of fuel saving with a simple alteration. This fuel saving is possible due to dramatically-improved aerodynamics. It has been verified by road tests conducted by the Dutch PART (Platform for Aerodynamic Road Transport) public-private partnership platform.


PART has been exploring various methods to improve gas mileage and fuel cutback. They tried out wind tunnels and modeling and this combination threw up various possibilities to reorganize truck lines. They short listed adding of a boat tail to the back of the truck. What is a boat tail? It is a tapering protrusion which is mounted on the back end of a truck. Tail ends length is about two meters. The feasibility of this arrangement is already demonstrated by the wind tunnel experiments and computer simulations. Both of these experiments were performed at TU Delft, in theory and using small-scale models. This modification was also tested on the public highways. A lorry fitted with a boat tail was driven across the public highways for acquiring the practical data of this project. This lorry was running on the public highways with its boat tail for one year. Another one year was spent on the public highways with a lorry but this time lorry was not fitted with the boat tail.

The end result of this project was reduced fuel consumption of 7.5 percent. Lesser fuel consumption automatically leads towards lesser carbon dioxide emissions. The optimum boat tail length was found to be two meters.

The responsibility of conducting these tests was borne by the PART, a European organization. PART prepared a common ground where academicians, road transport manufacturers, transport companies and shippers huddled together to achieve a common goal. The platform focused on reduction of fuel consumption in the road transport industry by improving aerodynamics. Now PART is going for a 20% reduction in fuel consumption by 2020 and hence carbon dioxide emissions in road transport. The same goal is endorsed by the European Union.

These changes come with some baggage. When we make any modification in an existing machine, we have to adjust ourselves to a different feel of a modified machine. Here lorry drivers have to adapt themselves to the new lorry and learn to drive them in a different manner. So PART came forward with the suggestion of training drivers.

Another problem that lorry operators face is boat tails add more length to the truck. This extra length may pose some problem with rules and regulations. Every country has its different rules regarding length of trucks. So this problem has to be tackled by various governments.

  • larry hagedon

    How do they propose getting around the legal length limits on trucks? Is this simply coming off truck cargo length, which will reducing cargo space, dramatically increasing trucking cost?

    How do they intend to load and unload a truck with this big funnel in the way? Most pallets of boxed goods are made to just fit inside, floor to ceiling, and two pallets wide, wall to wall. Having this big funnel in the way will dictate smaller pallets and dramatically decrease load capacity, and will dramatically increase loading and unloading time to work through the funnel.

    Does the funnel have to be removed and reinstalled each time they back up to a dock?

  • Mark Austin

    Regarding loading problems, the new section could simply be hinged along its top edge with some sort of push rods or rams either side to push it up and out of the way for loading. It could also replace the back door of the truck.

  • http://abouttruckingjobs.wordpress.com/ Todd McCann

    I’m not an enviro-freak, but anything that can save that much energy is worth a look. I wouldn’t mind it if it was hinged like you said. Like Larry said, they’d have to adjust the length restrictions. A bigger concern might be who’s going to pay for it? If it’s voluntary, fine. But what if it’s mandatory?

  • Steve S

    No doubt European crash-test requirements would prevent such a thing being introduced.

  • larry hagedon

    Looks to me like that lower edge is about the right height to neatly and cleanly remove the heads of anyone in a pickup truck that rear ends it.

  • larry hagedon

    Across the street from me there is a hardware store. They move a lot of merchandise and resupply at least weekly.

    To unload, the trucker backs through a door and inside the building to a loading dock sheltered from the weather. The point is that the funnel swiveled up on top will not fit through the door or fit inside the building.

    Must be millions of businesses and warehouses similarly set up.

  • adam donofrio

    There are many simple solutions. One idea is: Have the top and bottom sections as two separate sections split in the middle which can be latched or pinned together during transit. There would be hinges joining the top (and bottom) halves to the sides which would allow the top and bottom sections to fold (parallel/in plane to the sides). Then the sides could be hinged to the truck similarly to the way the doors are hung now to fold back along the sides of the truck. Entire structure could be made out of composite for weight concerns and to “give a little” when the moron in the pickup rear ends the shipping truck. I envision the disassembly and assembly of that cone to take only about 5 minutes (time required to undo a couple latches and fold panels) and while in its disassembled/folded back state, it would be only a few inches wider than the current doors folded back. Total length of the truck would still be a concern, but may be addressed by marketing the cone as a cosmetic feature with huge fuel gains and should be given pardoned by current restrictions.

  • BAsM

    That’s strange , How they managed to provide exactly the same conditions for the truck in the two years! I mean , the same weather “wind speed”, the same acceleration time, etc , in the two years so that they can say that it reduced fuel consumption.

  • Bigkahuna

    I think it could be designed to deploy /slide back only as the truck speeds up and reaches say 50mph. This way its really used on highways and main roads where there is more room for them. Then as one slows down in town or on stop and go traffic they would pull back to the sides of the trailer box. Hence not becoming a problem during loading /unloading and while making sharp turns in tighter streets.

  • Amol Khodke

    This will be used on highways and main roads where there will be more room for them. Then as one slows down in city they would pull back to the sides of the trailer box.

  • swopper

    The tail looks like something that wouldn’t make it pass crash test, but perhaps here lies an opportunity to modify the tail with airbags or folding zone, so that it will be actually safer than crashing into the bare back of the truck


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