June 28, 2012

The following sources were used as information for this blog:

1.)      Cielo Electro-Kinetics by Steven Suggs, March 2012

2.)      Estimation of Fuel Use by Idling Commercial Trucks, Paper No. 06-2567,by Linda Gaines, Anant Vyas, John L. Anderson: Center for  Transportation Research, Argonne National Laboratory


4.)      TRUCKS THAT WORK by the National Wildlife Federation 2011


 Unless you have been living in a tree, you know that heavy trucks have basically overtaken our Interstate highway system.  I have a fairly short commute each day; i.e. 45 minutes one way, and even at 0600 hrs they literally dominate the roads.  I’m not complaining—not complaining at all because I know they are extremely valuable to our economy, or what’s left of it.  I try to stay legal to avoid “county Mounties” and “Tennessee’s Finest” so 70 to 75 miles per hour is just about my speed on any one given day.   These truckers blow by me as though I were standing still.  I mean these guys are really hauling in the truest since of the word.   Some months ago I acquired a new client and since that time I have been thinking about transportation and what trucking companies put up with on a daily basis.  My client has designed and produces a device called a “hydrolyser” which is applied to a “big rig” for the purpose of extending gas millage.  This device produces hydrogen and pumps that hydrogen into a chamber where it is mixed with diesel fuel.   We have been able to produce, on average, a 27 percent improvement in gas mileage with a fully loaded 53 foot rig.  Let’s take a quick look at transportation, specifically Class 7 and Class 8 freight haulers.

First, a quick definition as to the various classifications.   The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) defines the following categories:

 As you can see, there are basically eight (8) categories from minivans to trucks weighing over 33,000 pounds.  Each classification is determined by the weight of the vehicle–called the gross-vehicle-weight (GVW).  Gross weight is defined by FHWA as follows:   “Gross vehicle weight means empty vehicle weight plus cargo weight”. The classes were formulated over 50 years ago when truck transport was not very prevalent.  At that time, most of our goods were transported by rail.    The charts below will indicate the number of commercial trucks on our highways as well as the fuel of choice for those trucks.

It is readily apparent that, for classifications 7 and 8, the fuel of choice is Diesel.  The overwhelming number of Class 8 trucks runs on diesel fuel whereas the majority of trucks within classifications one through six run on gasoline.  One sobering fact may be seen from the following chart:



The fuel consumption of a category eight truck is only 6.5 miles per gallon.  Can you imagine the quantities of diesel fuel used on an annual basis for companies such as UPS, FedEx, Covenant Transport, DHL, US Express, etc.?   Well it’s tremendous.  


There are other fascinating facts we might take a look at right now:


  • Trucks haul sixty-nine percent (69%) of all freight tonnage and collect 84 cents of every dollar spent on domestic freight transportation.
  • There are almost nine million people in trucking-related jobs, including over three million truck drivers.  Most of these drivers are not associated with large carriers but are independent owner-operators.  Eighty-seven percent (87%) of fleets operate with less than six trucks.
  • About fifteen percent (15%) of driver jobs are in manufacturing sector with factories across the United States.
  •  Heavy duty vehicles account for only four percent (4%) of traffic on the road, but they use twenty percent (20%) of the fuel consumed in the US. 
  •  Heavy-duty truck fleets turn over twice as fast as the light-duty automotive with trucks needing to be replaced approximately every three years.  The newest truck will travel between 150,000 and 200,000 miles per year.       
  • Fifty percent (51%) of the trucks in the class 8 category use eighty percent (80%) of the fuel.
  • Fuel is very often the number one expense with usage being between $70,000 and $125,000 per year.
  • The profit margin for most long-haul trucks is generally between one and two percent (1—2%).
  • A twenty percent (20%) improvement in fuel economy can save between $14,000 and $25,000 per year per rig.
  • Idling of heavy vehicles, in particular trucks, has become a subject of great interest in the past few years because of the large quantity of petroleum used and emissions created without any productive movement of goods accomplished.   In 2000, for example, Argonne National Laboratory [Argonne] estimated that over 800 million gallons of diesel are used annually just for overnight idling of sleeper cabs.
  • A majority of non-sleeper truck tractors (512,000) are employed in short trips and may idle while waiting for loading/unloading and during stops for meals and other breaks. In terms of average annual miles, 400,000 such trucks travel over 50,000 miles, with 23.4% of annual miles in trips longer than 200 miles. An additional  113,000 truck tractors travel 40,000–50,000 miles annually.
  • If we actually consider the impediments to improved gas mileage, we see the following

Engineers and development firms are definitely working on improving the average forty-two percent (42%) efficiency of a rig such as the one you see in the above graphic.  Please note the targets associated with each energy loss category.  The DOE goal is fifty a percent (50%) improvement or sixteen percent (16%),which is attainable, hopefully within my life-time.   I say within my life-time for the following reasons: 

  • At the present time, the United States imports fifty percent (50%) of the oil we use.    We represent twenty-five percent (25%) of the world’s oil usage with only five percent (5%) of the worlds’ population.  In 2010 we imported 4.3 billion barrels of crude.
  • According to the British Petroleum Statistical Review, world oil reserves are considered to be 1,333.1 billion barrels.  Of this sixty percent (60%) or 754.2 billion barrels are located in the Middle East.
  • U.S. oil reserves will be depleted in approximately ten (10) years.
  • Depletion of all world proven reserves will occur in approximately 45.7 years. 
  • In 2009, the world consumed eighty-four (84) billion barrels per day—per day.

 There is no doubt that we are a civilization that runs on petroleum products but we have better wake up and start the process of conservation.  We really need to get serious about this.  The clock is ticking.  Just a thought.



%d bloggers like this: