A new initiative by the U.S. Department of Energy includes $115 million in funding to develop a Class 8 "Super Truck," aimed at achieving a 50 percent improvement in fuel efficiency.
The funding for Class 8 projects will go toward the development of such technologies as...
The funding for Class 8 projects will go toward the development of such technologies as aerodynamics. Here, DTNA tests aerodynamics at its Wind Tunnel in Portland, Ore. (Photo by DTNA)
The DOE has chosen Cummins, Navistar and Daimler Trucks North America to pursue this goal.

The funding is part of a larger effort announced by U.S. Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu to invest $187 million in nine projects to improve fuel efficiency in heavy-duty trucks and passenger vehicles.

"Improving the efficiency of our vehicles is critical to reducing America's dependence on foreign oil and addressing climate change," said Secretary Chu.

The manufacturers will explore fuel efficiency through improved aerodynamics, reducing engine idling technologies, waste heat recovery to increase engine efficiency, advanced combustion techniques and powertrain hybridization. The goal is to build vehicle prototypes that can move large volumes of freight at efficiency levels beyond today's standards.

The Diesel Technology Forum praised the administration's decision to fund these projects.

"Providing stimulus funds for clean diesel technology is a wise public investment," said Allen Schaeffer, executive director. "Diesel engine and truck makers and suppliers have a proven track record of working with the Department of Energy to turn government research investments into real-world results. Past research investments are already benefiting Americans through lower emissions and more efficient commercial truck transportation."

DTNA received about $40 million, which will be shared by DTNA's sister company, Detroit Diesel. The company is not new to exploring fuel-efficient technologies. DTNA has been testing aerodynamics on vehicles at its in-house wind tunnel testing facility. To meet the EPA 2010 emissions standards, the company uses Detroit Diesel heavy-duty engines with BlueTec emissions technology.

"This funding enables us to significantly accelerate our research and development of advanced technologies," said Elmar Boeckenhoff, senior vice president, engineering and technology for DTNA and director of the DTNA SuperTruck project team.

Navistar has tapped $37 million to develop and demonstrate fuel-efficient technologies, including aerodynamics, combustion efficiency, waste heat recovery, hybridization, idle reduction and reduced rolling resistance tires. The company has been exploring such technologies on the International ProStar.

Cummins received a $54 million cut of the funding to work on both the Super Truck and the light-duty project. Working in conjunction with Peterbilt Motors Company, Cummins will use $39 million to develop a clean diesel engine, an advanced waste heat recovery system, an aerodynamic Peterbilt tractor-and-trailer combination and a fuel cell auxiliary power unit to reduce engine idling.

"This public-private partnership is a win for our economy, a win for the environment and a win for energy challenges," said Tom Linebarger, Cummins president and chief operating officer.