DOE Project on Heavy Vehicle Aerodynamic Drag

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Class 8 tractor-trailers consume 11-12% of the total US petroleum use. At highway speeds, 65% of the energy expenditure for a Class 8 truck is in overcoming aerodynamic drag. The project objective is to improve fuel economy of Class 8 tractor-trailers by providing guidance on methods of reducing drag by at least 25%. A 25% reduction in drag would present a 12% improvement in fuel economy at highway speeds, equivalent to about 130 midsize tanker ships per year. Specific goals include: (1) Provide guidance to industry in the reduction of aerodynamic drag of heavy truck vehicles; (2) Develop innovative drag ... continued below

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PDF-file: 53 pages; size: 3.3 Mbytes

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McCallen, R; Salari, K; Ortega, J; Castellucci, P; Pointer, D; Browand, F et al. January 4, 2007.

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Class 8 tractor-trailers consume 11-12% of the total US petroleum use. At highway speeds, 65% of the energy expenditure for a Class 8 truck is in overcoming aerodynamic drag. The project objective is to improve fuel economy of Class 8 tractor-trailers by providing guidance on methods of reducing drag by at least 25%. A 25% reduction in drag would present a 12% improvement in fuel economy at highway speeds, equivalent to about 130 midsize tanker ships per year. Specific goals include: (1) Provide guidance to industry in the reduction of aerodynamic drag of heavy truck vehicles; (2) Develop innovative drag reducing concepts that are operationally and economically sound; and (3) Establish a database of experimental, computational, and conceptual design information, and demonstrate the potential of new drag-reduction devices. The studies described herein provide a demonstration of the applicability of the experience developed in the analysis of the standard configuration of the Generic Conventional Model. The modeling practices and procedures developed in prior efforts have been applied directly to the assessment of new configurations including a variety of geometric modifications and add-on devices. Application to the low-drag 'GTS' configuration of the GCM has confirmed that the error in predicted drag coefficients increases as the relative contribution of the base drag resulting from the vehicle wake to the total drag increases and it is recommended that more advanced turbulence modeling strategies be applied under those circumstances. Application to a commercially-developed boat tail device has confirmed that this restriction does not apply to geometries where the relative contribution of the base drag to the total drag is reduced by modifying the geometry in that region. Application to a modified GCM geometry with an open grille and radiator has confirmed that the underbody flow, while important for underhood cooling, has little impact on the drag coefficient of the vehicle. Furthermore, the evaluation of the impact of small changes in radiator or grille dimensions has revealed that the total drag is not particularly sensitive to those changes. This observation leads to two significant conclusions. First, a small increase in radiator size to accommodate heat rejection needs related to new emissions restrictions may be tolerated without significant increases in drag losses. Second, efforts to reduce drag on the tractor requires that the design of the entire tractor be treated in an integrated fashion. Simply reducing the size of the grille will not provide the desired result, but the additional contouring of the vehicle as a whole which may be enabled by the smaller radiator could have a more significant effect.

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PDF-file: 53 pages; size: 3.3 Mbytes

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  • Report No.: UCRL-TR-227076
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • DOI: 10.2172/1036846 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1036846
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc829871

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • January 4, 2007

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

Description Last Updated

  • Nov. 23, 2016, 4:48 p.m.

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McCallen, R; Salari, K; Ortega, J; Castellucci, P; Pointer, D; Browand, F et al. DOE Project on Heavy Vehicle Aerodynamic Drag, report, January 4, 2007; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc829871/: accessed November 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.