The trucking industry in America uses a lot of fuel. The good news is, due to industry initiatives and government regulations, consumption has steadily gone down. Even a fraction of a percent in logistics fuel savings impacts our economy, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, which impacts the GNP. According to the New York Times,”There are currently about eight million heavy and medium-weight trucks consuming three million barrels of oil a day while traveling the nation’s highways. That is nearly 15 percent of the total national daily consumption and the equivalent of three-fourths of the amount of oil imported from members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.” How is Fuel Consumption Being Reduced?

Aerodynamics

Big boxy trucks don’t move smoothly through the air. The wind resistance, or drag, may impact fuel usage by as much as 15%-20%. Side skirts, roof and rear door deflectors, aerodynamic mirrors and bumpers, are a few of the modern innovations being applied to cut drag and increase fuel mileage.

Alternative Fuels

There are several non-conventional fuels being tested in trucks. In North America, conventional vehicle fuels are normally defined as gasoline and petroleum based diesel. Alternative fuels include:

B-10 and B20 — Blended bio-diesel and petroleum based diesel fuel.
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) — Methane.
Hydrogen
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) 

Hybrids

Combining and integrating multiple drive systems isn’t only for passenger vehicles. Using hybrids in the trucking industry can drastically reduce fuel consumption. The two most common hybrids are:

Electric Hybrid — stores energy generated by a conventional engine. A plug-in electric hybrid supplements its power by storing electricity from the grid.
Hydraulic Hybrid — uses hydraulic motors and accumulators to store energy. May be used in a series or parallel with other systems.

Weight Reduction

Trucks that use lighter materials, such as aluminum, high impact plastics, and carbon fiber, need less energy to accelerate. According to the EPA, “Every 10 percent drop in truck weight reduces fuel use between 5 and 10 percent.”

Regulations

The EPA has worked toward reducing trucking fuel consumption. On February 14th Bloomberg News reported, “Today’s announcement follows the first-ever fuel-economy rules for U.S. truck makers three years ago, which sought to improve efficiency by about 20 percent by 2018, saving $50 billion in fuel costs over five years and decreasing carbon-dioxide emissions.The administration’s plan, which also covered city buses and garbage trucks, was projected to save 530 million barrels of oil. The first round of regulations was intended to take off-the-shelf technologies already employed on real-world trucks.”

TruckingInfo.com added, “Finally, a regulation that gives something back. Sometime between now and Jan. 1, 2014, all new heavy-duty trucks coming into service will be certified to a new fuel efficiency standard. Compliance rests with the truck maker, and the customer sees the benefit.”

The greening of the trucking industry is significant to the greening of America. Without the efforts of the industry, assisted by government regulations, little or no progress would be made. And without an impact on the industry that accounts for 15% of our nation’s fuel consumption it would be difficult to reduce our dependence on foreign oil as well as our carbon footprint. We want to salute the trucking industry for looking beyond profit and taking on the responsibility of helping make America a better place for all of us. Thank you.

For additional information, go to GTA (Green Truck Association).

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