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.