Boat tail saves truck fuel

An aerodynamic 'boat tail' extension on the back of a truck cut fuel consumption by 7.5 per cent in road trials.

A boat tail is a tapering protrusion about two metres long mounted on the rear of a truck. The boat tail had already proved itself during wind tunnel experiments and computer simulations, both conducted at Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands, in theory and using small-scale models.

Now the partners in the PART project have released details of highway trials.

An articulated lorry was driven for a period of one year with a boat tail (of varying length) and one year without a boat tail. The improved aerodynamics, depending on the length of the boat tail, resulted in reduced fuel consumption (and emissions) of up to 7.5 per cent. The optimum boat tail length proved to be two metres.

Academics, road transport manufacturers, transport companies and shippers are working together in PART (Platform for Aerodynamic Road Transport) with the ambition of achieving a 20 per cent reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in the road transport industry by 2020. TU Delft provides the secretariat for the group.

PART has previously conducted road tests on a new generation of aerodynamic sideskirts, which are to make their commercial debut later this year.

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