I am a high school student working on a project involving class 8 trucks. The following is an article that i submitted for a newspaper. If you guys could please read it and give me any comments on the project it would be greatly appreciated.
All across the world, gasoline and energy costs are dramatically skyrocketing. Gasoline is not just rising in price; it is vanishing from the Earth. Based on the current trend of fuel usage, by approximately 2088, all fossil fuels will be depleted. There are limited green energy alternatives to increase the mpg of the millions of existing vehicles.
The Fuel Economists, participating in the siemens we can change the world challenge have set out to fix a large portion of the problem.
Out of all the sources of pollution in the transportation industry, the trucking industry, specifically the class 8 trucks are, by far, the largest emitter of greenhouse gases of any vehicle on the road today. An average 18-wheeler truck can emit as much nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide as about 150 passenger cars in the same driving time. Their fuel economy is also extremely low, hovering around 6 miles per gallon. This low mileage quantifies the extreme environmental problem that the inefficient trucks pose.
This low efficiency explains why these trucks release nearly 1000 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually. This huge output of carbon dioxide will not just cause global warming, it will also contribute to air pollution issues.
In a recent observations that the team did, around the Massachusetts highways, they noticed that almost half of the trucks driving around did not use any form of aerodynamic implements, such as fairings. Through optimizing a trucks aerodynamics by 100% a trucks milage can increase by over 65%. Obviously, for some high schoolers, 100% optimization was not plausible, but they could do something.
Though truck mirrors may seem very insignificant and petty, there is actually a great cause of drag on the un-aerodynamic ones. In fact, the truck mirrors can cause up to 6% of the trucks drag. The team sought out to design a more aerodynamic mirror for trucks, thus improving the fuel economy, and thus helping the environment.
In their preliminary design, the team ran a CFD, to see how good the new design was. The result was astonishing. They reduced the drag force by over 60%! Soon they plan on testing it in a wind tunnel.