Study verifies performance of Eco Flaps with LTL trailers

Eco Flaps announced Wednesday it has completed a study with Exa Corporation that shows its SmartWay-verified splash guards can earn significant fuel savings when installed on LTL equipment, even when used with multiple trailers. The announcement was made during a press event at ATA’s Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) Annual Meeting in Atlanta

“The segment of the trucking industry that run with two or three trailers at a time, which includes most LTL carriers, is really limited when it comes to aerodynamic devices. Most are designed specifically for single-trailer application,” says Bren Marshell, vice president of sales for Eco Flaps. “Our recent work with Exa Corporation shows that when Eco Flaps are installed in all flap positions on multiple trailers, drag is reduced significantly, resulting in greater fuel savings and quick ROI.”

Marshell says Eco Flaps’ SmartWay, CARB and GHG2 approvals typically refer to 48- or 53-ft. dry van or reefer applications. The company decided to conduct its study with Exa Corporation last fall to confirm its belief that the products were equally valuable when installed on trailers in other applications.

Eco Flaps commissioned Exa Corporation to perform an aerodynamics and fuel economy analysis through computational fluid dynamics simulations (CFD). The analysis evaluated a day cab tractor with two 28-ft. trailers connected by a dolly. This particular configuration runs with eight mud flaps and is known to have significantly more complicated aerodynamic issues due to multiple gaps and a greater area of flap wind resistance, the company says.

Marshell says Exa Corporation created four different scenarios: a baseline with conventional flaps; changing out the truck and dolly flaps for Eco Flaps; a full swap out of all eight flaps for Eco Flaps; and an equipment setup with no flaps used. The results showed a 4.7 percent improvement in drag at highway speeds when all eight flaps were removed, even though the pup trailers already utilized aerodynamic skirts. The use of eight Eco Flaps — a full swap out — created the same results. The total fuel savings from this amount of drag reduction is estimated at 2.7 percent, the company says.

“The Exa Corporation simulations showed a major impact when equipping the dolly flaps in addition with the tractor and trailers,” says Marshell. “Not including the dolly greatly restricts the airflow and thereby significantly reduces fuel savings from the leading trailers.”

In addition to fuel savings and reduced maintenance, Marshell says Eco Flaps also can greatly reduce splash and spray from inclement weather and increase safety on the road.

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