WASHINGTON RAINS MONEY

Rolf Lockwood

January 13, 2010 Vol. 6, No. 1
Gee whiz, some serious coin is leaving Washington on its way to you folks who live south of the border, albeit a little indirectly. And even less directly, those of us north of the 49th parallel will benefit too as our common trucking technology is moved forward. On behalf of all trucking Canucks, I say thanks, Barack.

All told, the U.S. Department of Energy is funding nine projects to the tune of US$187 million or so to improve fuel efficiency for heavy-duty trucks and passenger vehicles as well. The funding includes more than $100 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and with a private cost share of 50%, will support nearly $375 million in total research, development and demonstration projects across the country.

Three of those projects aim to improve the efficiency of class 8 long-haul trucks by a whopping 50%, and they’ll get more than US$115 million of the funding to develop and demonstrate systems-level fuel efficiency technologies by 2015, including improved aerodynamics and powertrain hybridization.

Among those that won funding support from Washington is Cummins, with just under US$39 million to develop their ‘SuperTruck’ project in partnership with Peterbilt and others. The goal there is to improve long-haul heavy-truck efficiency through advanced engine and vehicle systems. They’re looking to develop a highly efficient and clean diesel engine, an advanced waste-heat recovery system, and a fuel-cell auxiliary power unit to reduce engine idling on an aerodynamic Peterbilt tractor-trailer combination. They’ll be working on aerodynamics and tire technology too.

At the most advanced end of all this, Peterbilt has already been researching new systems and advanced technologies like ultracapacitor starting modules and fuel cells, the latter in conjunction with Delphi. Other outfits involved in the SuperTruck project include Eaton, Modine, Bridgestone and U.S. Xpress Enterprises.

Daimler Trucks was also awarded a grant of nearly US$40 million for technologies including engine downsizing, electrification of auxiliary systems such as oil and water pumps, waste heat recovery, improved aerodynamics, and hybridization.

And Navistar won US$37,328,933 to develop improved truck and trailer aerodynamics, combustion efficiency, waste heat recovery, hybrid powertrains, idle reduction, and reduced-rolling-resistance tires.

It’s all going to be interesting to watch, and I’ll dig out as much of it as I can as we go along.

ON A DIFFERENT LEVEL ALTOGETHER, TARPS OVER DUMP TRAILERS can apparently save a lot of fuel right now. Like A LOT of fuel. So say the folks at Quebec’s ElCargo Fabrication (www.elcargo.com), who claim that recently released fuel-consumption results from tests made last fall showed a 14.93% fuel economy gain with a covered dump trailer compared to an open one. These results came out of the fourth edition of Energotest fuel efficiency testing run by FP Innovations at the Transport Canada test track in Blainville, QC.

I suppose that shouldn’t be a surprise. Obviously, while the main objective of a tarp system is to protect bulk commodities inside a dump trailer — and the rest of us on the outside — the tarping will also reduce aerodynamic drag dramatically, especially when the dumper is empty.

Rolf Lockwood

Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to Trucknews.com.

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