Fuel Smarts

Wabash Shows Almost All-Composite Prototype Reefer

March 01, 2016

By Tom Berg

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Molded structural combosites, developed by Wabash engineers over three years, are used throughout. Photo: Tom Berg
Molded structural combosites, developed by Wabash engineers over three years, are used throughout. Photo: Tom Berg

NASHVILLE — Wabash National showed a prototype composite refrigerated van with very few bolts and no rivets at the TMC’s Equipment Expo this week.

The trailer uses molded structural composites, or MSCs, developed by Wabash engineers over the last three years.The material gives the 53-foot trailer up to 25% improvement in thermal performance and is up to 20% lighter compared to conventional designs, said Brent Yeagy, group president, Commercial Trailer Products. Interior puncture resistance is 25% better.

An embossed, slip-resistant aluminum floor has a 24,000-pound rating, which is 50% more than a standard aluminum floor, he said. Its floor support comes completely from MSC components, so the vehicle has no metal crossmembers. This lowers the floor height and the vehicle’s center of gravity, and adds several inches of vertical interior room.

Crossmember-less floor reduces weight and height and eliminates corrosion, Wabash National says. Photo: Tom Berg
Crossmember-less floor reduces weight and height and eliminates corrosion, Wabash National says. Photo: Tom Berg

Metal bolts are still used at the upper coupler and in areas near the tandem slider, but most of those should be eliminated with further bonding adhesives, said Dick Giromini, president and chief executive officer.

Wabash is also showing a truck body using the same materials. Molded structural composites are used in a wide range of aerospace, automotive, marine and commercial construction applications, Yeagy said, but this is the first time the technology is being used in trailer and truck body manufacturing.

“What this means for our customers is improved thermal efficiency, reduced fuel costs, increased payload and cargo capacity, optimized utilization and enhanced durability,” said Yeagy. “We’re excited about the potential molded structural composites have for our industry, and we look forward to the feedback from our customers so our engineers can take this technology and our designs to even greater levels of performance.”

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