Skirts cut fuel and emissions

Creating an improved aerodynamic shape for truck trailers can lead to a cut in fuel consumption and emissions of up to as much as 15 per cent.

Creating an improved aerodynamic shape for truck trailers by mounting sideskirts on them can lead to a cut in fuel consumption and emissions of up to as much as 15 per cent.

That’s the conclusion of a group of researchers from TU Delft, who have recently confirmed their earlier predictions (which were based on mathematical models and wind tunnel tests) during road tests with an adapted trailer.

The research was carried out as part of a partnership between the university and TNT, Scania Beers BV, FOCWA Carrosseriebouw, Ephicas, Kees Mulder Carrosserieën, Van Eck Carrosseriebouw, Syntens, Squarell Technology, Emons Group and NEA transport research and training.

The researchers say that the cost of fitting the aerodynamically-shaped sideskirts may 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 be retrofitted.

The new aerodynamic design of the sideskirts substantially reduces the air currents alongside and under the trailer and 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 per cent and 15 per cent. Subsequent long-term operational tests by TNT displayed a fuel reduction of 10 per cent