Although you might not think a vehicle getting 9.9 miles per gallon is anything to celebrate, for the trucking industry, it's a huge improvement.
Earlier this month, truck manufacturer Peterbilt and the engine company Cummins announced their development of a 54 percent more fuel efficient "SuperTruck." Increasing fuel efficiency from 5.5 or 6.5 mpg to 9.9 mpg was achieved through upgrades to both engine and aerodynamic tractor-trailer design, in addition to other tweaks.
This SuperTruck built by Peterbilt and Cummins was found to get an average of 9.9 mph, a 54 percent improvement upon traditional tractor-trailers. (Photo: Cummins)
The Class 8 Peterbilt 587 powered by a Cummins ISX15 engine with a total weight of 65,000 pounds was developed under the Department of Energy's SuperTruck program, which is a public private partnership. The DOE contributed $39 million to the whole project while private funding adds up to $38.8 million.
The average fuel savings of the truck would add up to about $25,000 each year based on current diesel fuel prices for a long-haul truck that travels 120,000 miles annually. It would reduce greenhouse gas production by 35 percent. There is a vast savings potential for the industry when you consider there are 2 million tractor-trailers on U.S. highways.
“Many of the technologies we are testing on the engine and truck will be integral parts of the trucks of tomorrow,” David Koeberlein, principal investigator for the SuperTruck program at Cummins, said in a statement. “We are focused on developing innovations that meet and exceed the needs of our customers, while helping to create a cleaner, healthier and safer environment.”
In addition to a more aerodynamic design, the SuperTruck tractor-trailer has lighter materials, tires with less resistance, an electronic system that optimizes fuel use based on the route being taken and a system that converts exhaust heat into power, which is delivered to the crankshaft.
“Aerodynamics has been a significant contributor to the efficiency gains,” Scott Newhouse, senior assistant chief engineer of product development at Peterbilt, said in a statement.
You can see some of the differences in this traditional tractor-trailer that might make it less aerodynamic than the Peterbilt-Cummins SuperTruck creation pictured above. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
Peterbilt and Cummings state in their press release that they plan to continue working on a new Class 8 Peterbilt 587 that might exceed expectations even further. They plan on testing the tractor-trailer's efficiency for a 24-hour period to evaluate how activities like the driver being at rest but still using air conditioning and other appliances would impact fuel economy.
This story has been updated to fix a typo.
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