Nov 26, 2015 at 11:34 AM CST
by Kyle Field
The good folks over at Energy.gov shared some SuperTruck goodness that’s just too good to pass up. Not sure what a SuperTruck is? Well, that’s a great place to start. The Energy Department kicked off an initiative called SuperTruck with the specific goal of increasing freight efficiency by 50% compared to a baseline vehicle. Now, that wording is tricky, so let’s break it down a bit further.
Freight efficiency is effectively the amount of energy required to move a given amount of freight. Increasing freight efficiency is accomplished by:
You might be asking why the US Department of Energy is working on heavy truck efficiency, and that’s a great question. Digging into the numbers reveals that heavy-duty trucks consume about 20% of the nation’s fuel. On top of that, the general design of these vehicles is similar, meaning improvements in efficiency that relate to aerodynamics, tires, gearboxes, heating and cooling, freight loading strategies, etc, are much easier to scale across a large number of vehicles — which, in turn, can lead to larger reductions in emissions, much more quickly than with passenger vehicles. Most importantly to me, these trucks burn diesel, and even though diesel can enable higher mileage per gallon, it causes cancer which negates any other benefits in my book.
The Energy.gov article spotlighted several specific improvements that the Department of Energy has found to be successful since starting the program:
What’s great is that, while battery electric trucks are not always cost effective, they have found that in specialized applications — like shipping yards, which are hubs for pollution on their own — these fully electric Class 8 trucks can be a great fit. Current models are already getting 60–120 miles per charge with a recharge time of 3–4 hours. That’s pretty much what I’m getting in my Leaf, though I’m sure they’re packing much larger loads of batteries. I guess size does matter….
They also have a video that nicely summarizes and shares a lot of the neat tech they are working on to improve heavy-duty truck freight efficiency… here: