Photo courtesy of Tim Giles at Flickr.com.
High fuel costs are pushing many trucking companies to consider radical changes. UPS and Coca Cola have recently placed orders for 18 wheelers that use hybrid technology, as found in the Toyota Prius and other gas-electric models. Adopting hybrid technology could save more than 3000 gallons of diesel per truck, per year. At the Georgia Tech Research Institute, engineers are using wind tunnels and computer modeling to design big rigs with reduced drag:
Englar expects the work â€“ done under contract with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory â€“ to reduce aerodynamic drag by at least 35 percent, and perhaps by 50 percent or more. A 35 percent drag reduction translates to about a 12 percent drop in fuel consumption for tractor-trailers. If applied to the entire U.S. fleet, that would save an estimated 1.2 billion gallons of fuel a year.
It may be possible to get better mileage with something as simple as a spoiler attached to the rear end of a big rig. Fuel saving spoilers work by breaking up air currents at the rear of the truck, effectively reducing the drag that pulls a truck backwards. They also may reduce the amount of road debris sucked up in a truck’s wake, and protect other vehicles from cracked windshields.
All of these fuel saving innovations are big news, but there are other green innovations that are showing up on big rig trucks. The materials used to make cargo containers are also changing; becoming more earth friendly and sustainable. Just today, I saw this on the side of a container truck full of Tumbleweed Composters: