Volvo Trucks North America Inc. has received a contract from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to evaluate new technology designed to enhance trailer aerodynamics.

The trailer aerodynamics project, sponsored by the Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies of the U.S. Dept. of Energy, will help ORNL meet goals established by the Office to increase the fuel efficiency of heavy vehicles while simultaneously reducing highway emissions.

The technology, which uses aerodynamic surfaces and a blower to create positive air pressure at the back of the trailer, was developed and patented by Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI). Volvo Trucks was chosen as the prime contractor for the full-scale over-the-road aerodynamic evaluation partially due to the low drag aerodynamic cab design of the VN highway tractor.

"This project is a continuation of our work with the federal government to develop new, commercially viable technologies that contribute to highway safety and have a positive effect on the environment," said SkipYeakel of Volvo Trucks' Advanced Engineering Department. "The new technology could certainly have a major impact on heavy-duty, over-the-road commercial vehicle fuel efficiency if it proves to be as successful as initial results have shown in small-scale wind tunnel R&D conducted to date by GTRI."

Great Dane Trailers and Volvo Technology of America are supporting Volvo Trucks in conducting the evaluation. Testing began recently at Volvo Trucks' Technical Center in Greensboro, NC, and is scheduled to conclude by next summer at the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty, OH.