The KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden is currently creating a device that improves the fuel efficiency of trucks by incorporating electric wind. To charge the air, they use plasma actuators that manage the wind flow surrounding the truck to minimize drag and correct fuel consumption by five percent.
Based on the data gathered by the American Trucking Association, trucks transport about 70 percent of heavy freights in the country. This means that 3.4 million heavy-duty Class 8 trucks carry 10.5 billion tons of cargo. Imagine the total number in a global scale because this also converts to plenty of fuel burned.
A regular truck is basically a traveling crate that is as sleek as a brick. It moves down the freeway by tossing, tearing and churning the air to the side instead of just passing through it. This is why it feels unpleasant and scary every time you pass a juggernaut in the heavy rain.
Ever since the 1920s, engineers already knew about the limitations of these massive vehicles. They have tried to create plenty of ways to streamline them just to be more aerodynamic. Besides being fuel efficient, this is the secret to make them more stable and run faster. Unfortunately, they have been unsuccessful in their attempts until KTH decided to borrow ideas from aerospace engineering.
Like trucks, aircrafts also face issues with drag, but aircraft engineers were able to find a solution to the problem. They have come up with a way to produce vortices at the front of the vehicle cab to manage airflow. These researchers used electric wind instead of vortex generators, such as winglets for aircrafts.
Ultimately, their goal is to lessen the flow separation that happens on the front corners of the truck. By increasing the momentum near the surface, it will decrease the size of the separated region.