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Aerodynamic trucks: how to reduce fuel consumption and emissions

smet optiflow

Aerodynamic trucks: how to reduce fuel consumption and emissions

One aspect that is often overlooked when it comes to road freight transport is the efficiency of the vehicle. This is not about fleet management, but about the aerodynamic efficiency of the truck. In other words, the ability of the truck to cut through the air with the least possible effort. This aspect, which may seem marginal in the first place, can in fact produce extremely positive results, both in terms of reducing consumption and polluting emissions. For this reason Smet has decided to welcome this innovative technology, thanks to the collaboration with Wabco, on board its vehicles. Let’s find out what the aerodynamic efficiency of a vehicle is and what the solutions for improving it are.

The aerodynamic efficiency of a vehicle

Before talking about aerodynamic trucks, it is advisable to dwell a few moments on the concept of aerodynamic efficiency. This index, used by the aeronautical industry, indicates the ratio between the resistance offered by a body and its capacity to develop the forces that allow it to fly (lift). As far as road vehicles are concerned, of course, they must not take flight. However, in order to offer better performance in terms of consumption (or speed, depending on the needs) they must guarantee a reduced resistance to the air. This is the so-called CX, the aerodynamic drag coefficient that is often heard when a new car is presented. The lower the coefficient, the easier it will be for the vehicle to move through the air. This means less fuel consumption, but also better speed performance.

Efficiency in the automotive sector: aerodynamic trucks

The focus on aerodynamic vehicle efficiency has been growing year after year. First of all in the automotive sector, where we have tried to obtain ever lower CX values to improve performance. Currently, on the market, the car with the lowest penetration coefficient has a CX of just 0.22. These results have been obtained thanks to careful aerodynamic studies, carried out in wind tunnels, and are only possible thanks to sophisticated processing software.

Clearly, given the undoubted benefits, this interest has also shifted to other sectors. Such as the heavy vehicle sector. On the contrary, in some ways, in this area the attention is even greater, if we consider the benefits that a reduction in the penetration coefficient of a heavy vehicle could bring. Some manufacturers have been carrying out experiments to create an aerodynamic truck for some time now. Buying a truck of the future, however, is not the only solution. Other companies, in fact, produce aerodynamic appendages that are able to improve the aerodynamics of the vehicle and, therefore, reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

Aerodynamic appendages for trucks

Several studies, in fact, show how the adoption of aerodynamic appendages can improve air flows both on the cabin and on the trailer, with significant benefits for the performance of the vehicle. According to researchers at the Lawrence Livemore National Laboratory, for example, under optimal conditions it is possible to achieve a reduction in the coefficient of resistance of up to 25%. This can result in fuel savings of up to 13% compared to the current level of use. Not only that, but under these conditions, according to the same researchers, there would be a reduction of 66 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Smet adopts Wabco OptiFlow

smet optiflow wabco

Convinced of the undoubted advantages that can be obtained by adopting this technology can bring, our company has also decided to adopt it. Among the many brands available, we have decided to rely on the best that the market has to offer. We are talking about OptiFlow by Wabco, which produces aerodynamic appendages capable of improving the aerodynamic efficiency of a traditional vehicle.

What speaks for OptiFlow is the data obtained from tests carried out in controlled environments, on the track and on the road. By installing Wabco OptiFlow Tail, which helps to improve the flow of the tail of the vehicle in full compliance with European regulations, you can achieve a reduction in fuel consumption of up to 1.1 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers. Not only that, but the reduction in fuel consumption also translates into a lower environmental impact, with an annual reduction of 2.8 tonnes of CO2 emissions per truck. Results that go exactly in the direction of the philosophy of our company, always attentive to the sustainability of transport.