Heavy Duty Trucking

AUG 2014

The Fleet Business Authority

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32 HDT • AUGUST 2014 www.truckinginfo.com FuelSmarts W ith research and development budgets in the private sector driven by quick and relatively high rates of return, the money they invest in so-called sci- ence projects is necessarily limited. The Department of Energy changed all that in 2010 for four groups of North American truck and engine makers and their suppli- ers when it announced a $284 million grant (including matching expenditures from the project participants) to develop a "SuperTruck." The goals of the program included developing a vehicle with a 50% overall improvement in freight ef- ficiency compared to a 2009 baseline truck; developing an engine that achieves 50% brake thermal efficiency under highway cruise conditions compared to the current approximate baseline of 42% BTE; and to show a technical pathway to achieve 55% engine BTE. The International Council for Clean Transportation in June released an interim report on the progress of the four groups, describing the pathways taken and the progress to date, as of 2013. The report, "The U.S. Super- Truck Program: Expediting the Development of Advanced Heavy-Duty Vehicle Efficiency Technologies," is a fascinat- ing read. It's at least as com- pelling as anything you might have read between the covers of Popular Mechanics over the past 30 years. The report describes the approaches used by the four groups (Cummins-Peterbilt, Daimler Trucks North America, Navistar, and Volvo Technology of America), along with the progress and the estimated efficiency improvements they expect to make to their trucks and engines. The report offers a concise but technically satisfy- ing overview of the four teams' approaches to meet the three sets of objectives. While there are similarities and crossovers in technology, some are pursuing paths the others are not. In the simplest terms, Daimler and Volvo, for ex- ample, are turning to 11-liter engine platforms, while Cummins stayed with its 15-liter ISX and Navistar used its 12.5-liter Maxxforce 13 engine — all with highly optimized fuel mapping and combustion strategies, improved fluid and gas handling, and so on. Some, like Daimler and Navistar, have opted for off-engine accessory drives using energy from the waste heat recovery or turbocompounding. On the vehicle front, Cummins-Peterbilt opted for vehicle lightweighting and advanced aerodynam- ics among other things. Daimler and Navistar are introducing varying degrees of hybridization as well as advanced aerodynamics, powertrain integration, parasitic loss reductions, and more. Volvo is exploring different combustion modes and using a blend of about 20% dimethyl ether or propane in the diesel. On top of that, Volvo is using its new dual-clutch transmission to improve powertrain efficiency. But, this doesn't even scratch the surface. Each com- pany's most innovative and imaginative engineers are leading these high-profile projects. Some of the technology that emerges from the Super- Truck projects will remain the stuff of tomorrow. Some will be on dealer lots in a year or two. As is the case with Cummins' efforts on waste heat recovery, some tech- nology has proven effective, but is still too expensive. As an exercise, free of the constraints imposed by shareholders, the companies participating in the Super- Truck program are proving that long-term investment in this far-out technology could — and probably will — pay huge dividends later. David Koeberlein, Cummins' principal investigator for SuperTruck, says the next step will be to bring in a system with an 18- to 24-month ROI. Given that the sys- tem Cummins squeezed under the hood of the Peterbilt 579 was the first time waste heat recovery has been demonstrated successfully on a commercial vehicle, it's only a matter of time until they, and the others, commer- cialize their science projects, benefitting everyone, even the shareholders. What's next for fuel-efficient trucks The chart, from the International Council for Clean Transportation's Super- Truck report, illustrates the different paths chosen by the four groups partici- pating in the project. The U.S. Department of Energy's SuperTruck program encourages technology investment on a scale and timeline the private sector could scarcely afford on its own.

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