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ORNL Launches Trucks for Field Operational Test
March 1, 2007

A nationwide truck test that will include special monitoring equipment on six instrumented tractors and nine instrumented trailers was launched recently from the National Transportation Research Center (NTRC) – a joint transportation research facility involving the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee.

During the next few months, these specially equipped tractor-trailers, owned by Schrader Trucking Company of Jefferson City, Tenn., will be hauling freight across the United States on regular truck runs.

Data acquisition systems will be on board to measure each vehicle’s performance, including vehicle and engine speed, engine torque and fuel consumption. Performance data will also take into consideration such physical factors as wind speed, direction, road grade, precipitation and other conditions that vary during long-haul truck runs.

One of the primary areas to be studied is tire performance with the use of new generation wide-based single tires manufactured by Michelin. Standard dual tires mounted on drive and trailer wheels – along with steer tires mounted on tractor steer axles – will also be tested for comparison purposes on some of the trucks.

Prior testing at ORNL indicated the wider single tires improved fuel efficiencies and contributed tractor-trailer safety by enhancing stability.

Special equipment on the instrumented trucks includes a weather station, GPS antenna, a self-weighing system, and a tire inflation monitoring system.

Data collected will support modeling efforts for trucks of the future, and will be made available to automotive engineers in the trucking industry as they work to develop more energy efficient and safer trucks. The data will also help DOE’s efforts in supporting future investments in energy efficiency technologies.

The project is a partnership effort between ORNL, Schrader Trucking, Michelin and DOE’s Office of FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies.

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

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