Unlike trailer fairings, the UT-6 is built to reduce drag through a number of underside components, including wheel and suspension fairings, a rear fairing and aero rain gutters. According to Mike Henderson, one of SmartTruck's engineers, the suspension between the wheels and the wheels themselves create a large amount of drag, as does the back of the trailer.
The device works by compressing and accelerating incoming air flow and injecting high energy air into trailer wake. It pulls high-energy, attached air flow from the top of the trailer down into the trailer wake.
Typically, Henderson says, air runs into these components, but the fairing bends the air around and under the suspension, increasing the velocity. Meanwhile, the fairing on the back directs air to the ground.
Using the device can produce a 12 percent reduction in drag, said Bob Balachowski, chief marketing officer of SmartTruck. The system has also been tested to provide a 6.78 percent improvement in fuel mileage on the whole truck, during normal, long-haul operations.
SmartTruck decided to kick things off by focusing on the aerodynamic aspects of trailers, prompted by the trailer regulations of the California Air Resources Board. CARB regulations require trailers to apply SmartWay-certified modifications that achieve a minimum of 5 percent in aerodynamic improvement, Balachowski said.
Other Products to Come
The subsequent trailer products, which are already designed, are also aimed at California, as each are built to be EPA SmartWay and CARB-compliant. Each of these products has been tested to provide their own improvement in fuel mileage. For example, the UT-6b and UT-6c have achieved fuel mileage improvements of 6.98 percent and 7.1 percent, respectively.
After the company has introduced these trailer items to the market, it will begin rolling out innovations related to the tractor itself. SmartTruck's ultimate goal is to look at the truck as a whole.
When launched last year, SmartTruck set out to take the advances made in aerodynamics within the aerospace industry and apply that to ground transportation. "It's entrepreneur meets engineer," said Balachowski.
To bridge that gap, Greenberg enlisted Henderson, the former chief of research at Boeing for 32 years. An expert in aerodynamics, Henderson has worked on a wide range of projects, including Aerion's supersonic business jet, race cars and a commercial plug-in hybrid electric van for Ford.
The venture doesn't use wind tunnel testing, but relies on computational fluid dynamics.