Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

When an average-size car travels down the freeway, it uses tremendous amounts of energy to displace air. At 70 miles (110 kilometers) per hour, as much as 65 percent of fuel use goes to overcoming air resistance. Heavy-duty vehicles face similar challenges.

The Challenge

U.S. Department of Energy has asked LLNL to explore possible ways to make heavy trucks and trailers more aerodynamic by reducing air resistance and thus increasing fuel efficiency.

The Solution

At Livermore Laboratory, the objective of vehicle aerodynamics research is to improve the fuel economy of Class 8 tractor-trailers by reducing drag by at least 25 percent. This 25 percent reduction in drag would represent a 12 percent improvement in fuel economy at highway speeds, equivalent to the oil stored in 130 midsize tanker ships per year.

The specific goals of vehcile aerodynamics research are to:

  • Provide guidance to industry on reducing the aerodynamic drag in heavy truck vehicles
  • Develop innovative drag reducing concepts that are operationally and economically sound
  • Establish a database of experimental, computational, and conceptual design information
  • Demonstrate the potential of new drag-reduction concepts

Learn More

Reducing Aerodynamic Drag »

A Science & Technology article that describes research done at Livermore Laboratory to reduce drag on heavy vehicles using full-scale and scale model trucks inside a wind tunnel.