Sixty-eight percent of all goods in the United States spend some of their journey across the country stored on tractor trailers attached to a tractor. With the average semi-trailer truck getting about 5.6 miles per gallon of diesel, however, tractor trailers take an immense amount of fuel to transport. It’s not simply the weight of the materials on board causing this low MPG, either--the boxy tractor trailer isn’t exactly areodynamic.
Addressing this problem, Advanced Transit Dynamics (ATDynamics) produces TrailerTails, which are designed to make the bulky tractor trailer more areodynamic and thus more fuel efficient when pulled by the tractor. Attached to the back of a trailer, they fold out, almost like extensions of the trailer’s walls. Saving about 3 cents profit per mile when deployed, most trucking companies make back their investment in under a year, according to the company. The environmental boon seems sizable, too: each TrailerTail, when used at highway speeds for 50,000 miles for a year, is effectively like removing an average passenger car from the road for a year.
With that much CO2 reduction possible, this statistic reveals more about the immense inefficiency of trailer trucks than the net environmental-boost TrailerTails provide. But given that tractor trailers are such a mainstay of goods transportation in the U.S., this technology seems a step in the right direction in an area that demands significant improvement.
image credit: ATDYNAMICS, INC.