Aircraft Technology Applied to Trucks


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Several aerodynamic improvements and flow control techniques are used in jet aircraft wings in order to allow a better movement through the air and thus enhance the overall performance of the airplane. The Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta is now working on using these same techniques with trucks and trailers. According to the latest tests using a full-size truck show clearly how the techniques enhance fuel efficiency reducing fuel costs by as much as 12 percent. The techniques can also improve directional control and breaking, enhancing this way safety as well on the roads.

Robert Englar, principal research engineer of Aerospace, Transportation and Advanced Systems Laboratory of the Georgia Tech Research Institute said that they have resolved unknowns from previous testing, and that they have demonstrated that this technology functions in trucks as well as it does in airplanes, and they expect that the trucking industry will consider an estimated 12 percent of fuel expenditure reduction worthy of pursuing. This amount will improve fuel economy resulting in approximately 2,400 million gallons of fuel worth of savings for the United States heavy truck fleet.

The techniques employed in this technology include aerodynamic improvements made possible by geometry modifications in the trucks that generate savings of up to 6 to 7 percent. These modifications include rounding aft trailer corners, installation of fairings, as well as other modifications that smooth air flow over the boxy trucks. The additional savings of 5 percent are achieved through pneumatic devices that blow air from vents at the rear of the vehicle to prevent separation of air flow.

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