February 20, 2016

Round corners lower fuel consumption

Air resistance with standard coach. Illustration: Petter Ekman

(February 20, 2016)  Emissions from the transport sector can be drastically reduced with more streamlined trucks. Researchers at Linköping University have calculated, and road carrier owner Erik Alfredsson has built an initial version of the transport vehicle of the future. The results have also been published scientifically.

More and more goods are being transported on the roads; despite all the ambitious environmental goals and environmental policies, the number of light trucks in Sweden have increased by 33 percent – and the emissions from them have more than doubled over the last 15 years.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel for everyone worried about the climate and the environment. Erik Alfredsson, owner of Alfredssons Transport AB in Norrköping, today has 55 both light and heavy vehicles in his fleet; they’ve been running free of fossil fuels for two months. The vehicles run on HVO 100, a synthetic biodiesel that is produced from such things as offal.

Air resistance after reconstruction. Illustration: Petter Ekman

For a few years now, he’s also been working intensely with Professor Matts Karlsson and his doctoral student Petter Ekman from the Division of Applied Thermodynamics & Fluid Mechanics at the Department of Management and Engineering. The goal is to bring down fuel consumption through reducing air resistance. Using advanced computer calculations at the National Supercomputer Centre (NSC) at Linköping University, they have produced a body profile for a light truck in which air resistance is substantially reduced without decreasing its carrying capacity.

Mr Alfredsson has had the vehicle built. The base is a traditional Mercedes light truck that has been given self-supporting floors and new, lighter material in parts of the body. The box has been rounded off; all sharp corners and edges are gone, the wheels have been partially enclosed and the roof has a slight, gentle slope backwards like a wing. Over the 90,000 kilometers the truck has travelled so far, its fuel consumption has decreased by at least 12 percent compared to the same vehicle with a traditional body.  On average, it consumes approximately 9.1L of biodiesel per 100 km and can load up to 950 kg.

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