54pc fuel economy boost from test truck

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A demonstration truck has achieved a 54 per cent increase in fuel economy in real world driving conditions in the United States, according to engine maker Cummins and truck maker Peterbilt.

The two have developed the “SuperTruck” with a higher-efficiency engine and an aerodynamic tractor-trailer to reduce drag.

The Class 8 Peterbilt 587 powered by a Cummins ISX15 engine averaged 9.9 mpg during testing on US Route 287 between Fort Worth and Vernon, Texas. The testing was conducted over 11 runs meeting SAE International test standards along a 312-mile route. The tractor-trailer had a combined gross weight of 65,000 lbs (29.5 tonnes).

In comparison, they said, existing long-haul trucks typically achieved between 5.5 and 6.5 mpg. The 54 per cent increase in fuel economy would save about $25,000 annually based on today’s diesel fuel prices for a long-haul truck travellling 120,000 miles per year. It would also translate into a 35 per cent reduction in annual greenhouse gases per truck.

The truck includes a system that converts exhaust heat into power delivered to the crankshaft, electronic controls that use route information to optimise fuel use, tires with lower rolling resistence and lighter-weight material throughout.

“Many of the technologies we are testing on the engine and truck will be integral parts of the trucks of tomorrow,” said David Koeberlein, principal investigator for the SuperTruck programme at Cummins. “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.”

Scott Newhouse, senior assistant chief engineer of product development at Peterbilt, which is a sister company of DAF in the Paccar Group, said: “Aerodynamics has been a significant contributor to the efficiency gains.”

Testing will continue in 2013 on a new Peterbilt 579 that Cummins and Peterbilt are confident will take what has been achieved so far to higher levels.

The testing will address use of the tractor-trailer over a 24-hour period; including periods when drivers are at rest but still need power for such things as air conditioning and small appliances.


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