Case Study: Navistar and Semi-Truck Fuel Efficiency

Semi-truck fuel economy improved 17%

A team of LLNL scientists, led by Dr. Kambiz Salari, in partnership with engineers from Navistar, NASA, the U.S. Air Force, and other industry leaders, developed technologies that increase semi-truck fuel efficiency by 17 percent using HPC modeling and simulation. The team’s results, if applied to all U.S. trucks, would save 6.2 billion gallons of diesel fuel and reduce CO2 emissions by 63 million tons annually. Projected annual cost savings, based on U.S. average diesel fuel costs of $3.91, are approximately $24.2 billion.

The project has applied advanced computing techniques to the reduction of aerodynamic drag in tractor trailers and has demonstrated that high performance computing can be applied to everyday problems with a big potential payoff. Fuel economy improvement was made possible by a combination of aerodynamic drag reduction, vehicle streamlining, tractor trailer integration and the use of low resistance, wide-base single tires. HPC played a critical role in enabling the modeling and simulation of such detailed vehicle geometry as the hood, engine, wheels, wheel wells, door handles and mirrors as well as the ability to handle the highly turbulent and massively separated flow fields around the vehicle.

To improve the aerodynamics of a boxy trailer we had to trick the air flow to think that trailer is more streamlined than it is.

- Kambiz Salari, LLNL



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