Volvo, Great Dane to test new technology for trailer aerodynamics

Volvo Trucks North America, Inc has received a contract from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to evaluate new technology designed to enhance trailer aerodynamics.

The trailer aerodynamics project, sponsored by the Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies of the U.S. Department of Energy, will help ORNL of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to meet the goals established by the Office to increase the fuel efficiency of heavy vehicles while simultaneously reducing highway emissions.

The technology, which utilizes aerodynamic surfaces and a blower to create positive air pressure at the back of the trailer, was developed and patented by Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI). Volvo Trucks, which is also involved in several other federal government R&D projects, was chosen as the prime contractor for the full-scale over-the-road aerodynamic evaluation partially due to the low drag aerodynamic cab design of the VN highway tractor.

Great Dane Trailers and Volvo Technology of America are supporting Volvo Trucks in conducting the evaluation. Testing began recently at Volvo Trucks' Technical Center in Greensboro, North Carolina, and is scheduled to conclude by the summer of 2002 at the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty, Ohio.

"This project is a continuation of our work with the federal government to develop new, commercially viable, technologies that contribute to highway safety and have a positive effect on the environment," according to Skip Yeakel of Volvo Trucks' Advanced Engineering Department. "The new technology could certainly have a major impact on heavy-duty, over-the-road commercial vehicle fuel efficiency if it proves to be as successful as initial results have shown in small-scale wind tunnel R&D conducted to date by GTRI."

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a multi-disciplinary research laboratory with an emphasis in transportation technologies research. Located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, it is operated by UT-Battelle, LLC, for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Volvo Trucks has been a partner in the U.S. government's Intelligent Vehicle Initiative (IVI) project since 1998. For the IVI, the truck maker has teamed up with U.S. Xpress Leasing, Inc. to conduct operational field testing of collision avoidance technologies, including disc brakes, an electronically controlled braking system (ECBS), and a collision warning system (CWS) with adaptive cruise control (ACC).

The IVI technologies and numerous other innovative environmental features were showcased at the Michelin Challenge Bibendum event on the Volvo VN 770 technology demonstration truck with a Great Dane SuperSeal SSL van trailer.

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