Drag-reducing flat plates could save fuel

Clarkson University has announced its development of flat plates mountable to the rear doors of truck trailers to reduce drag. According to Clarkson University, the device saves about one-half mile per gallon of fuel- amounting to a 10% increase in fuel efficiency.

The device resembles a set of second doors when closed but opens into a box-like structure. It has been studied in Clarkson's wind tunnel and tested in cross-country conditions.

Ken Visser, associate professor of Aeronautical and Mechanical Engineering, was awarded a grant by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) after developing the technology and design. The money was used to contract with Plattsburgh, NY-based Composite Factory Inc. to manufacture the device.

"[The device] translates into a savings on the order of about $4,000 per year for a truck running 150,000 miles at $2.50 a gallon of fuel," Visser said, adding that the device will be deployed on a 50-truck fleet. "Once we can test run this on a larger scale we will really be able to quantify the fuel savings and environmental benefits."

For more information, go to people.clarkson.edu/~visser/research/drag/truck/

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