Print 80 comment(s) - last by Jedi2155.. on Aug 11 at 11:44 PM

Big rigs need to cut fuel consumption up to 23%

Having high fuel efficiency in a vehicle is a great thing for the driver because they can spend less on fuel. Having higher fuel economy on vehicles across the automotive market will reduce the need to import foreign oil and will help to reduce overall pollution as well. The big downside is that the cost of the tech to improve fuel economy is not cheap and that cost will be passed onto the car buyer.

The Obama administration today outlined its Heavy-Duty National Program [PDF] fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles like semis, concrete trucks, dump trucks, and other heavy work trucks. Rather than targeting a specific mile per gallon rating  for the heavy-duty vehicles – like what has been proposed for passenger vehicles -- Obama is going to target a percentage of fuel savings.

The reason for this significant difference in fuel savings is according to the administration imposing a MPG standard on this sort of vehicle would be very confusing considering that the range of categories is wide and the payload and duties in the segment vary widely.

The administration wants a 9% saving in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions for work trucks (fire trucks, garbage trucks, and busses, etc.). Gasoline swilling heavy-duty trucks and vans will need to see a reduction of 10% with diesel versions needing to see a 15% savings. Big rigs have the most stringent cuts at up to 23%.

The regulatory announcement also makes the following claims with regards to recouping the added cost associated with adopting more fuel efficient technologies: 

Using technologies commercially available today, the majority of vehicles will see a payback period of less than one year, while others, especially those with lower annual miles, will experience payback periods of up to two years. For example, an operator of a semi truck can pay for the technology upgrades in under a year, and have net savings up to $73,000 over the truck’s useful life.

The new standards will apply to covered vehicles in the 2014 to 2018 range. The hope is to cut 530 million barrels of oil consumption and $50 billion in fuel costs over the life of the vehicles with the new standards in place.

The cost to meet the new standards on the varying vehicle types are expected to be in the range of hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars per vehicle.

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RE: todays laugh
By Etsp on 8/9/2011 4:21:36 PM , Rating: 5
Long Haul Hybrid tractor? Yes. That may very well work. Many(most?) trains are now "hybrids", in that they have a diesel generator that powers electric motors that power the wheels. Scaling the technology down may take a bit of work though. It will certainly be expensive.

Regenerative braking? I'm sure that will be extremely helpful, as long as they don't sacrifice the ability to brake normally as well.

You can easily have the aerodynamic properties of the tractor extend to trailer by the use of fold-able panels. Whether this is cost-effective is another factor entirely.

Another method is to use thermo-electric plates on the exhaust instead of having an alternator. (This has already been done, just not on a wide-scale)

There's also water-injection technology that significantly boosts fuel efficiency (I believe they are having problems with this causing excessive wear and tear on the engines at the moment, but I'm sure these problems are surmountable).

However, I believe the best method to reduce emissions would be to send non-express delivery long-haul shipments via train, and have the tractor-trailers only do the last 50 miles or so. Trains are always going to be more efficient than tractor-trailers.

RE: todays laugh
By Spuke on 8/9/2011 4:49:00 PM , Rating: 5
However, I believe the best method to reduce emissions would be to send non-express delivery long-haul shipments via train, and have the tractor-trailers only do the last 50 miles or so. Trains are always going to be more efficient than tractor-trailers.
Trains are more efficient but good luck trying to get new rails built in states like CA. The environmental impact studies and accompanying lawsuits push costs into the stratosphere.

RE: todays laugh
By Argon18 on 8/9/11, Rating: 0
RE: todays laugh
By Etsp on 8/9/2011 6:27:47 PM , Rating: 5 Yes, these trains are "hybrids".

Why are batteries necessary? Why not supercapacitors? Why attempt to run the vehicle without the Diesel generator running? Why discourage further discussion? I think you are being very close-minded about the possibilities here. Nothing I've said was intended to be a silver bullet, simply part of a larger plan for better efficiency.

The reason manufacturers aren't selling turbodiesels in the US? There isn't enough cost-benefit on our subsidized fuel prices to justify it. It's a $3000 cost difference, and it will save you $2500-$3500 over the life of the vehicle. You won't save much money by buying a turbodiesel. Fuel in Europe and England is much more expensive, and so there is a clear cost-benefit there.

RE: todays laugh
By StanO360 on 8/9/11, Rating: 0
RE: todays laugh
By Etsp on 8/10/2011 11:29:00 AM , Rating: 3
The beauty of our government. Oil is subsidized by the Federal government. Gas is taxed by the state and federal government. Does that make sense to you? Me neither, but that's how it works. Fact is that the U.S. has one of the lowest consumer fuel prices on average than any other country that doesn't export oil.

RE: todays laugh
By ekv on 8/10/2011 10:04:49 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, these trains are "hybrids".
According to your Wikipedia link they are "series hybrids". Hybrid only in the sense that they use an ICE (as prime mover) and electric motor (for traction).

Why are batteries necessary?
Consider the acceleration profile of a train vs. a truck. Then consider that trying to add batteries to a truck, in order to smooth engine efficiency vs. acceleration needs, would likely add weight to the point of negating desired efficiencies.

Even assuming "hybrid" batteries as espoused on

I don't think the poster you were replying to was attempting to stifle discussion, but rather was decrying increased regulation, unfunded mandates and government intrusion. Get the government out of subsidizing fuels. Let the market decide what to sell.

Diesel-electric locomotives have marvelous technology -- 6000HP yeeha! -- but their weight and cost are optimized for a particular operating regime. I believe it is only a matter of time before trucks and other heavies cross-develop the technology.

RE: todays laugh
By lagomorpha on 8/9/2011 6:09:39 PM , Rating: 2
"Many(most?) trains are now "hybrids", in that they have a diesel generator that powers electric motors that power the wheels."

This is something trains have been doing since at least 1920, but it's mostly because building a transmission capable of reliably handling that kind of torque is a pain (though it has been done). It's not done so much to increase fuel economy. For one thing you don't get regenerative braking, but diesel-electric trains do have something called "dynamic braking" in which the forward motion of the train is slowed by generators in the wheels which feed in to a massive resistor bank above the engine. In order to cool the resistor bank the engine is actually run at full speed and geared directly to some fans, not really the best way to save fuel but does save on brake friction material. The change from 2 strokes to 4 stroke diesel engines should improve fuel economy a bit because of the nature of 2 strokes (limited in how you can adjust valve/port timing).

"The bank of batteries required to provide 2000 ft/lbs of torque would weigh tens of thousands of pounds. "

EMD's H series makes 6300hp at 1000rpm which based on 1hp=1ftlb*rpm/5252 means it's making 33,087.6 ft/lbs of torque. I don't care to guess at the kinds of batteries needed.

RE: todays laugh
By rudy on 8/10/2011 9:16:45 PM , Rating: 2
Why has obama not thought of the obvious solution.

Ship less.

Yes that is right it is only that simple. Mandate that no copy right is valid in the US unless media is sold in a digital copy as well as hard copy. And the digital copy must costs less than the hard copy at retail. This would mean we do not need to ship books, CDs, DVDs, as much and reduce lots of travel. Not shipping something at all is a very easy and realistic solution. Telling people they need to increase efficiency is alot more complicated and many times it is just a lie. For instance people say that now days the EPA MPG rating keeps getting the testing method changed so they can move up the MPG even though the cars are really not getting that much more efficient.

RE: todays laugh
By Calin on 8/11/2011 3:01:29 AM , Rating: 2
Consider the weight of all the books, software, ... that you buy. Now consider the weight of the bottled water, juices, meat, bread, fruits, vegetables and so on (almost all of which are shipped on diesel fuel).
You'd maybe save 0.01% of the transportation costs.

RE: todays laugh
By Calin on 8/11/2011 2:56:47 AM , Rating: 2
Good luck trying to convince companies to send loads with one truck to the train station, trans-ship to train, and wait for the train to arrive to trans-ship to a truck again. It's much easier to put a truck on the road and have guaranteed delivery in a while (freight trains are slow and probably aren't going often enough).

As for hybrid tractors, semis aren't much going in "stop and go" traffic, so I doubt there's any significant savings to be had in their typical workload. As for saving braking energy, a loaded semi convert during braking much more energy than even a hybrid SUV, so you'd need much bigger generators and batteries. Hybrid is best in stop-and-go traffic, and bad in "long haul" scenarios

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