Trailer Talk

VorBlades Twist Air into Fuel-saving Vortices, Their Maker Claims

April 10, 2013

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The VorBlade Invisible Fairing, the device is combined in rows at the trailing edges of a box trailer, reducing turbulence and the suction effect at the vehicle’s rear.
The VorBlade Invisible Fairing, the device is combined in rows at the trailing edges of a box trailer, reducing turbulence and the suction effect at the vehicle’s rear.

Here’s a new twist on aerodynamics: curved blades inside a rectangular structure that smooth air flow as it leaves a trailer’s surfaces. Called the VorBlade Invisible Fairing, the device is combined in rows at the trailing edges of a box trailer, reducing turbulence and the suction effect at the vehicle’s rear.

The result is 5% or better fuel savings that have been independently tested and verified by EPA’s SmartWay program, according to AvanTechs Inc. in suburban Denver. Representatives showed them last month at the Technology & Maintenance Council’s annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

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The VorBlade concept was inspired by straight-bladed vortex generators on the wings of jet aircraft that travel at 500 mph or more, they said. Those don’t work at much lower highway speeds, so researchers specializing in fluid mechanics developed the more complex assembly.

Air is grabbed by a VorBlade’s leading edges and funneled through its structure, creating a 10-foot-long vortex that leaves the trailer’s surface with reduced drag, enough to cut fuel use by 5% to 6%, the company says. Added also to the trailing edges of tractor surfaces, fuel savings rise to 8.76%.

VorBlades work in oblique winds of up to 20 degrees, the company says.  Fashioned of aluminum, the devices are attached in rows.  Affixed in multiples to metal strips, they form VorBlade Wings for the rear edges of a trailer’s sides and its roof. These provide 7.3% to 9.5% in fuel savings, the company claims.

A full set of VorBlades weighs about 60 pounds. They protrude about 2 inches to the top and each side – slightly more for the wings -- but federal regulations exempt them from height and width limits.

They are easy to install and can be removed without damage to a trailer’s surface, the company says. More detailed descriptions are at the company’s website, www.vorblade.com, and videos are posted on YouTube.

Comments

  1. 1. rick wood [ April 10, 2013 @ 04:41AM ]

    This is a clear example of the inadequacy of the EPA Smartway Verification process. The subject technology violates governing principles of fluid mechanics and is not capable of modify the aerodynamics of this class of vehicle as described. The arguments and explanations offered in the article and on the referenced web site show a complete lack of understanding of vortex generator aerodynamics as well as basic aerodynamic principles. It would appear that the EPA Smartway verification is being used as technical vindication of the product. This is not possible as the EPA Smartway program is not capable or charged to make such assessments - all they do is review and publish test data obtained by a product developer. Technical validation requires that a peer reviewed publication by either the SAE, AIAA or ASME professional societies. This does not exist and therefore the claims are not valid. This is another example of the challenges facing the industry and the limitations o=f the EPA Smartway program.

  2. 2. Andrew [ April 10, 2013 @ 11:27AM ]

    Mr. Wood, since you never introduced yourself, let me do it for you.
    Mr. Wood is CEO of Solus, the company that manufactures trailer skirts and wheel covers.
    Solus is a direct competitor to the VorBlade technology.
    Their products have been verified using exactly the same protocol that Avantechs used and they are part of the same EPA SmartWay program that mr. Wood dislikes so much.

  3. 3. Engineer [ April 10, 2013 @ 12:16PM ]

    Let's see SAE Type II or III testing! Should be easy to see the benefit with 5-6% instant fuel savings.

  4. 4. Andrew [ April 10, 2013 @ 08:15PM ]

    SAE J1321 test of VorBlade Wing System was performed by Texas A&M Transportation Institute. It is the requirement for the EPA SmartWay Verification. Copy of the test results are provided to the customers upon request.

  5. 5. Funny [ September 24, 2013 @ 09:39AM ]

    Why are the SAE tests only available on request? That seems like something that would beneficial to have available to everyone who goes to the website. Are they SAE verified or are they just done to SAE standards? There is a difference of about $40,000 and validity between the two. Not to mention on the website tests the test without the blades was conducted in bad cconditions while the tests with the blade were in ideal conditions. Pay the money, have it SAE verified by a certified testing conductor/center and then the results will be believeable. Until then all I hear is skewed inforamtion to sell you product.

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Author Bio

Tom Berg

Senior Editor

Truck journalist 35 years; joined us in 1978. CDL-licensed; conducts road tests on new trucks, specializing in light and medium-duty, vocational and hybrids.

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