Trailers equipped with this front tray fairing and other BMI Corp. SmartTruck UnderTray components can achieve between 7 and 12 percent improvements in fuel mileage. (Photo courtesy of BMI SmartTruck)
BMI Corp. SmartTruck technology that could save 1.5 billion gallons of
diesel fuel and $5 billion in fuel costs per year has hit the road in
record time in part because of simulations performed on the nation’s
most powerful supercomputer at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge
South Carolina-based BMI Corp. has just won an industry award from
Heavy Duty Trucking magazine, the real winners could be trucking
companies and the environment. With installation of BMI’s SmartTruck
UnderTray System to improve the aerodynamics of 18-wheeler (Class 8)
long-haul trucks, the typical big rig can achieve fuel savings of
between 7 and 12 percent, easily meeting the new California Air
Resources Board mandate that calls for a minimum mileage improvement of 5
results, which earned BMI one of the publication’s top 20 products of
the year awards, were made possible because of simulation work performed
on ORNL’s Jaguar supercomputer.
were able to run simulations based on the most complex tractor and
trailer models instead of simplified models, and we were able to run
them faster,” said Mike Henderson, chief executive officer and founder
of BMI, an engineering services firm based in Greenville, S.C.
work on Jaguar shortened the computing turnaround time for BMI’s
complex models from days to a few hours and eliminated the need for
costly and time-consuming physical prototypes. In all, running
simulations on Jaguar allowed BMI to go from concept to a design that
could be turned over to a manufacturer in 18 months instead of the 3½
years they had anticipated, according to Henderson, who noted, however,
that more work remains.
first goal was to design add-on parts for existing trucks and trailers
to make them more aerodynamic,” Henderson said. “By reducing drag we
boost fuel efficiency and cut the amount of carbon that’s being dumped
into the environment.”
In time, BMI plans to design trucks that are far more aerodynamic from the ground up.
hope to soon turn our attention to creating a brand-new highly
aerodynamic vehicle with optimum fuel efficiency,” Henderson said.
then, Henderson noted that if all of the nation’s 1.3 million Class 8
trucks were configured with just the minimum UnderTray package, the
average fuel economy of 6 miles per gallon could increase to about 6.5
mpg or more, which is significant given the fact 18-wheelers
collectively travel some 130 billion miles per year. And from an
emissions standpoint, equipped with the aerodynamics package, those
trucks would reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by 32.7 billion
pounds (16.4 million tons).
Department of Energy’s supercomputers provide an enormous competitive
advantage for the United States,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
“This is a great example of how investments in innovation can help lead
the way to new jobs, new ways of cutting our carbon emissions and new
opportunities for America to succeed in the global marketplace.”
work with ORNL was made possible through the laboratory’s Industrial
High-Performance Computing Partnerships Program. Through this effort,
BMI was able to access Jaguar, which boasts nearly 225,000 processing
cores with a theoretical peak computational capability of 2.3 petaflops
(2.3 quadrillion floating operations per second).
UnderTray’s aerodynamic components are manufactured in Georgia by
Cellofoam while various metal brackets, bolts and other hardware that
attach the parts to the trailer are made by a number of companies in
South Carolina. Several fleets, including Con-way Truckload and
Frito-Lay, are already using the parts. The kit can be installed in the
field by fleet owners and operators.
award was presented Tuesday at the American Trucking Association’s 2011
Technology & Maintenance Council’s annual truck show in Tampa, Fla.
Images and more information about the SmartTruck technology can be
accessed here: www.SmartTruckBrands.com. A DOE press release about BMI
SmartTruck is available at http://www.energy.gov/news/10056.htm.