In a corner of the hall at the North American Commercial Vehicle show in Atlanta recently, I ran across a very unusual-looking trailer.
Turns out it was an LPG trailer made by Exosent Engineering out of College Station, Texas. Exosent designs and manufactures custom, high-end, lightweight cargo tanks, such as anhydrous ammonia trailers, propane trailers, crude oil trailers, and vacuum trailers. In fact, it claims to be the home of the safest LPG (propane) trailers in North America.
Exosent’s trailers feature a low center of gravity to help prevent rollovers – a 30% lower chance of rollover, a company official explained at the booth. In fact, PT Risk Management, one of the largest propane insurance agencies in the U.S., says it’s willing to offer a discount for insurance packages for companies buying these trailers.
The LPG trailer on display was striking due to skirting around the bottom of the trailer and an unusual wing on the rear. I wondered if this were some sort of concept trailer, but in fact the wing is a very real and very useful feature on Exosent’s trailers.
Not only does the wing look cool, it also addresses the turbulent air flow coming off the back of the trailer. It helps keep water spray and splash down for following vehicles, improves trailer stability and increases fuel mileage.
One customer, who so far has five of the trailers with the wings, says it is getting as much as 15% better fuel mileage, according to a company official.
In addition to the low center of gravity and the wing, Exosent offers a different baffling system, which instead of going just side to side, also baffles from front to back.
According to its website, Exosent is latin (Exo Sentia) for "outside thought." I take that to mean thinking outside the box, to use a cliché. Founded in 2010, Exosent uses a “skunkworks” philosophy, named after a small and agile group at Lockheed Martin that took the stealth fighter concept to flying prototype in 2.5 years.
Co-founders Yuval Doron and Andrew Duggleby both came out of the Navy and both are mechanical engineers; Doron is also a third-generation steel fabricator, and Duggleby’s expertise is in fluid mechanics and computational analysis. They were later joined by Gerald Pearson, a former customer with an extensive career in the transportation of natural gas liquids and crude oil.
The emphasis is on custom trailers, designed for where the customer is hauling and what product they’re hauling. Exosent does all its own engineering and manufacturing; rolls of steel come in, trailers go out.