Trailer tails offer a significant fuel savings. Now suppliers are working with the feds to allow increased lengths in Canada.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A young company with a mandate to promote fuel efficiency has launched a rear drag reduction device, which is purported to increase fuel efficiency by more than 5.1%, at 62 mph, (100 km/h), at this week’s Mid-America Trucking show.
ATDynamics has developed a collapsible “trailer tail” extension that not only offers drag reduction, which should cut emissions and lessen fuel costs, but is also designed to improve vehicle safety by providing additional stability and reduced spray at the rear of the trailer, the company announced. It’s a concept that has already attracted one prominent partner. Utility Trailer has entered into a market distribution agreement with ATDynamics, in a quest for economic and environmental benefits. It’s a similar issue for many in the trucking industry today, according to the company’s CEO.
“Diesel prices are at record highs and concern over global warming will lead to even stricter emission standards,” said Andrew Smith. “At this critical time, we are providing long-haul fleets a trucker-touch technology that can reduce fuel consumption and pay for itself in less than a year.”
The trailer is constructed of lightweight, rugged panels, designed to endure daily wear and driver abuse, yet enable smooth opening and closing, according to the principals behind ATDynamics. The tail collapses from four feet to three inches in length in less than eight seconds, and is considered to be user-friendly.
“If a driver is comfortable on a reefer trailer, they will have no problem opening this,” says Smith, who notes that otherwise the tail gate offers no change in regular freight operation. “It’s big, simple, and easy to understand.”
While the trailer tail adds up to five feet to the rear of the vehicle, the new device has been given an allowance by the US Department of Transportation, because it is “purely for aerodynamic purposes,” says Smith, who admits that similar allowances in Canada have yet to be approved.
“We are right now working with the Canadian federal government,” says Smith. “It is our goal to have this all throughout North America for obvious reasons.”
The trailer tail, which consists of four flaps that connect like an open box on the rear end of a trailer, is made of “honeycombed” aluminum and weighs about 250 lbs, which works with side skirts for optimum aerodynamic capability. The company had the device tested by a third party, where it also showed that at 68 mph the trailer tail yields potential efficiency gains of greater than 6%. Based on average long-haul trailer mileage, ATDynamics believe that its drag reduction device can deliver more than a billion dollars in fuel savings annually to the North American trucking industry
“With the high cost of fuel, technology continues to examine how to make trailers more aerodynamic, in order to lighten the load and ease fuel costs,” says engineering manager, Chuck Horrell.
ATDynamics is an affiliate of the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Transport Partnership, a voluntary program which accelerates the trucking industry’s efforts to conserve fuel and reduce emissions.
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