Thanks to improved aerodynamic shape for truck trailers, the fuel consumption and emissions has dropped by as much as 15%.
Earlier promising predictions, based on mathematical models and wind tunnel tests by TU Delft in the Netherlands, have been confirmed during road tests with an adapted trailer.
It is expected that the cost of fitting aerodynamically-shaped sideskirts will be recouped within two years. Furthermore, the sideskirts can be fitted to approximately half the trucks currently in use in the Netherlands as the skirts can also be retrofitted.
Sideskirts are plates which are mounted on the sides of trailers, primarily with a view to underrun protection.
The new aerodynamic design of the sideskirts substantially reduces the air currents alongside and under the trailer and thereby also the air resistance.
Initial driving tests with a trailer equipped with the aerodynamic sideskirts over a straight stretch of public road revealed a cut in fuel consumption of between 5% and 15%. Subsequent research comprising long-term operational tests by TNT displayed a fuel reduction of 10%.
These results confirm the calculations and findings from the wind tunnel tests: these had already established that the observed 14 - 18% reduction in air resistance led to 7 - 9% less fuel consumption.
According to Professor Michel van Tooren of TU Delft's Aerospace Engineering faculty, this research can result in a substantial, structural contribution to cutting fuel consumption and an annual saving of tens of millions of Euros, next to that cut in CO2 emissions by the road transport sector.
"The next step is realizing a practical partnership between the government and industry in order to put the solutions into practice," he added.