SuperTruck is On The Way, Latest News

Back in 2009, even the perfect vans on the freeway have been averaging solely six or seven miles per US gallon. Diligent drivers have been pushing 8 mpg. Few got here anyplace near 10. Today, good fleet vans are making 8 mpg (29.4 L/100 km) or barely higher. High-achieving drivers are seeing 10 mpg (23.5 L/100 km), not simply on a single leg of a visit however over 30-day intervals. That’s a unprecedented soar in barely greater than a decade.

We owe a lot of these beneficial properties to know-how and car designs developed beneath the U.S. Department of Energy’s SuperTruck program.

SuperTruck is On The Way, Latest News
SuperTruck is On The Way, Latest News
Daimler’s Supertruck achieved 12.2 mpg together with a 115% freight effectivity enchancment and hit 50.2% brake thermal effectivity for the engine. (Photo: Jim Park)

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy launched the SuperTruck initiative in 2009. The purpose of the undertaking was to enhance heavy-duty truck freight effectivity by 50% over a baseline 2009 Model Year truck. It directed lots of of thousands and thousands of {dollars} towards analysis and growth of applied sciences that might enhance heavy truck effectivity, akin to higher aerodynamic tools, lighter-weight tractors and trailers, extra thermally environment friendly engines, low-rolling-resistance tires, and applied sciences like turbo compounding and waste warmth restoration.

Four groups participated in SuperTruck 1 — Daimler Trucks, Volvo Trucks, Navistar and a joint effort involving Cummins and Peterbilt. Each of the tractor OEM groups partnered with a trailer producer to provide a trailer optimized for gas effectivity.

Navistar SuperTruck
Navistar’s SuperTruck achieved a freight effectivity enchancment of 104% in comparison with the DOE’s management car, 50.5% brake thermal effectivity, and ran the check course at 13 mpg. (Photo: Jim Park)

The DOE grants have been matched by the taking part groups, which was a stroke of genius, says Rick Mihelic, the director of rising applied sciences research on the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He was additionally immediately concerned within the growth of the aerodynamic techniques on the Peterbilt/Cummins workforce for SuperTruck 1.

“It was a 50/50 cost share between the OEMs and the Department of Energy, which I thought was a brilliant way to ensure technology that was developed under SuperTruck would actually make it into the marketplace,” he says.

Not all of what emerged from SuperTruck 1 made it into manufacturing – or ever will — however the undertaking helped OEMs and fleets decide what was viable and what would stay a pipe dream. By the time SuperTruck 1 had wrapped up in 2015, the company had recognized 26 totally different applied sciences with the potential to succeed out there inside two to 4 years (2017-2019). An extra dozen applied sciences have been pegged as probably viable with 5 to 10 years (2020-2025).

SuperTruck 1 applied sciences which have already been commercialized embrace downspeeding, clever torque administration, impartial shifting on downgrades, predictive gear shifting, diminished rolling resistance tire compounds and designs, predictive GPS-based cruise management, trailer aerodynamics (facet skirts, boat tails, hole fairings), lighter-viscosity lubricants, and extra.

Longer-term applied sciences, these simply beginning to come to market, embrace improved combustion applied sciences (piston bowl designs and supplies), superior aerodynamics (energetic aero akin to grille shutters and tractor-trailer hole discount), battery-based idle discount techniques, waste warmth restoration (turbo compounding), electrified engine parts (compressors, coolant pumps, and followers), cameras changing mirrors, and photo voltaic power harvesting.

SuperTruck is On The Way, Latest News

A singular second in time

When the primary SuperTruck program was introduced in 2009, the trade was in a fairly a state. We have been a 12 months into what could be a devastating recession. We have been nonetheless reeling from the catastrophic EPA 2007 emissions rules that noticed the introduction of diesel particulate filters and large reductions in gas economic system. OEMs had extra on their minds that creating unique fuel-saving applied sciences, and fleets have been in survival mode. Nobody on the time was even remotely curious about new fuel-saving applied sciences.

OEMs, although, nonetheless had a number of science tasks on the go, overshadowed by the push to satisfy EPA 2007. So, when DOE got here round with scads of money to deliver these tasks to life, the OEMs have been nicely ready.

“At the time, there were a lot of things on the shelf that had not yet been put into production,” Mihelic says. “There wasn’t much money going into R&D in 2009, so the DOE’s timing was great. It allowed OEMs to focus on aerodynamic research and to look really closely on real-world duty cycles, which at that time were not well understood. SuperTruck gave [OEMs] the opportunity to look at tractor-trailers as a complete system, which was something fairly new at the time.”

Volvo SuperTruck
Volvo Trucks’ Supertruck achieved greater than 12 mpg through the check run, and demonstrated an 88% enchancment in freight effectivity and a 70% enchancment in gas effectivity. (Photo: Jim Park)

For apparent causes, tractor makers get credit score for work achieved to tractor techniques, whereas trailer producers get credit score for enhancements to trailers. SuperTruck gave truck and trailer producers a novel alternative to collaborate on the entire car. The outcomes upended the pondering on tractor aero techniques.

Dean Opperman, who on the time was the chief engineer for superior automobiles and the SuperTruck group at Navistar, mentioned his workforce engineered the aerodynamic design from again to entrance, beginning with the trailer.

“Once we did the trailer, speaking in relative numbers, a 2-3% improvement on the tractor became an 8-10% improvement because of the overall reduction in drag on the rear of the trailer.”

Fine tuning the tractor and trailer aerodynamics would scale back drag, however at the moment no tractor OEM owns a trailer constructing enterprise. Even if one did, attempting to align one thing like Daimler-built tractors with Daimler-built trailers in the actual world could be practically not possible. However, present analysis into enhancing batter-electric veicle vary to make absolutely the most of a really restricted power provide might flip towards married tractor-trailer models in circumstances the place it’s logistically possible akin to non-public fleets with devoted tractors and trailers.

Success tales          

The SuperTruck 1 tasks demonstrated what’s doable. The subsequent step was turning the doable into the sensible. After seven years of tinkering and toying with present concepts and a few revolutionary new ones, OEMs got here away an entire new menu of choices to supply energy-conscious prospects. Here’s an abbreviated record of a few of the know-how that SuperTruck proved commercially viable since then and as much as the current day.

Tightly closed wheel wells have been tried through the SuperTruck 1 undertaking and made it into manufacturing just a few years later. (Photo: Jim Park)

Advanced Aero: The most evident growth in every case was the aerodynamic work. All the OEMs went lengthy on aero, and why not? It’s a straightforward goal. The nearer every might get to the best aerodynamic form, one thing much like a rain drop, the higher the beneficial properties have been.

We noticed tighter close-out round wheels, tractor underbody fairings, mirrors changed with cameras, and adjustments to the width and slope of tractor hoods. These and different growth may be discovered on present mannequin vans.

Trailer aero was a unique story. All the individuals developed full-height, full-length facet skirts, extremely sculpted nostril items, and extra airflow modifiers for the rear of the trailer. Because of the potential for physique injury ensuing from day-to-day use of such designs, fleets would by no means settle for the upkeep issues related to that kind of facet skirt. Some of right this moment’s newer skirts, nonetheless, are taller than earlier variations, suggesting fleets appear to be compromising between aero enhancements and a barely elevated upkeep burden.

Smaller, lighter engines: With superior aero therapies, low-rolling-resistance tires, and different friction-reducing applied sciences, SuperTruck engineers discovered they wanted solely an astonishing 100 horsepower to take care of 65 mph (104 km/h) on flat floor. That’s a couple of third of the horsepower required to maintain a non-aero classic-styled truck pushing by means of the wind. Daimler and Volvo each used 11-liter engines of their vans. Navistar used a 13-liter, and the Cummins/Peterbilt truck had a 15-liter engine.

All the engines have been considerably downsped. The high-torque, mid-horsepower output proved excellent for fleets in truckload functions the place typical gross car weights seldom exceed 70,000 kilos (31,750 kg).

Daimler developed a ten.7-L engine platform particularly for SuperTruck, utilizing hybridization, a waste warmth restoration system, and extra. The intent was to satisfy or exceed the 50% brake thermal effectivity goal set by DOE. With the put in know-how it succeeded, however the engine will not be but commercially viable.

Since SuperTruck 1, Volvo has made important inroads with its D11 engine, and fleet customers report very passable efficiency in appropriate functions.

Hotel masses: SuperTruck opened new home windows of alternative into the off-duty lifetime of vans, and the challenges confronted by drivers in sustaining snug residing surroundings. Solutions revealed by SuperTruck 1 embrace the usage of lithium-ion batteries for quicker charging and longer discharge cycles, super-capacitors relatively than lead-acid batteries for beginning, and photo voltaic panels for including charging capability.

Some work was additionally achieved to enhance cab insulation to thermally handle the cab surroundings with out added pressure on the HVAC system. All of those applied sciences are at the moment obtainable, although some stay slightly pricy for some fleets.

Powertrain administration: Adaptive and predictive cruise management techniques are maybe two of the obvious enhancements to emerge from SuperTruck 1. As is at all times the case, the techniques have been improved upon since 2016 and at the moment are supplied in some kind or one other by all OEMs.

Closer engine transmission integration was already underway when SuperTruck launched, however extra refinements emerged, together with downspeeding, torque administration, and idle coasting.

There was an enormous quantity of labor achieved on optimizing engine effectivity by means of delicate hybridization (regen braking, 48-volt auxiliary parts akin to pumps, followers and compressors). Such applied sciences should not but obtainable, however might be in some circumstances by mannequin 12 months 2023 and past.

The U.S. DOE set particular energy-saving targets for SuperTruck I, and so they have been all shattered by the 4 SuperTruck groups. Actual gas economic system (which actually the purpose of the undertaking) outcomes reported by every of the groups exceeded 10 mpg on the official check run. Cummins/Peterbilt reported 10.7, Daimler and Volvo each topped 12 mpg, and Navistar checked in with 13 mpg.

The purpose of SuperTruck 1 was not merely to get the best mpg on the check run, however to get truck and engine makers pondering past merchandise that may be commercialized in three to 5 years. Many of the applied sciences developed for the undertaking have already discovered their approach into present OEM choices. Others are a model-year or two away. Others could also be 10 years out, however SuperTruck 1 gave engineers and shoppers an unprecedented alternative to see which applied sciences have potential, and which don’t.

 

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