Saturday, October 30, 2010

Plastic Truck Trailer And Five Green Car Of The Year Finalists

An aerodynamic shaped plastic truck trailer that is as solid as one made from steel but weighs 1200 kg less: Composite Engineers from an independent research centre in Loughborough, UK, succeeded in the development of a new material that could save up to 15 percent of fuel in freight transport.  The Plastic Trailer: a green revolution in transport     

The new composite material contains double the volume of glass fibers compared to common composites and thus is extremely stabile. The increased amount of glass fibres was enabled through an innovative process the engineers from EPL Composite Solutions developed within the EU funded research project CLEANMOULD.

Glass fibre mats impregnated with resin powder are placed into a mould. This mould is then packed in a plastic bag, the bag is sealed and the air extracted. With the help of the vacuum the mat keeps attached to the mould. In an oven heated up to 200°C, the powder resin melts. When molten, the thermoplastic resin provided from Cyclics Corporation in Germany, gets as runny as water and coats the glass fibres.

A cube made from the new plastic weighs only one quarter of the same cube made from steel. Through the reduction of weight five percent of fuel can be saved. But even more important is its improved shape:

The plastic frame consists of only one piece. This allows the designers to change its aerodynamic properties. Smooth surfaces underneath the trailer reduce the draft considerably. The design has an inherent drag reduction of 13 percent that can be further improved to 20 percent with optimization of the design. At high speeds, such as motorway cruising, this aerodynamic drag is the dominant factor in determining heavy goods vehicle fuel consumption. With the new shape another 10 percent of fuel can be saved.

The prototypes have been tested thoroughly on a series of demanding test tracks at the Motor Research Industry Association (MIRA) in Warwickshire, the biggest test ground in the UK. They included a breaking test, speed bumps and cobblestone roads.

Deflections and accelerations through the trailer have been measured to see which parts in the trailer are under high stress or strain. The results so far are very promising and the engineers envisage already the next steps: “The composites are ready to roll out into the industry now”, says Matthew Turner, CLEANMOULD project coordinator and composite engineer at EPL.

In a related event, the Top 5 Green Cars for 2011 have been announced by Green Car Journal and are currently being featured on, a leading source for information on electric cars, hybrids, and high efficiency vehicles. The Top 5 include the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, and Nissan LEAF. Two are gasoline-electric hybrids, two are primarily electric drive, and one is a high efficiency gasoline internal combustion model. All are finalists for Green Car Journal’s 2011 Green Car of the Year®, which will be identified at the L.A. Auto Show on November 18.

 “These advanced vehicles represent the diversity of an auto industry evolving to meet the needs of a changing market,” said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of the Green Car Journal and editor of “New car buyers continue to be motivated by the touchstones that have been important for years, including safety, quality, functionality, performance, value, and style. What’s changed is a growing interest in efficiency, decreased CO2 greenhouse gas emissions, and the use of alternative fuels or technologies that lead to lessening near-total reliance on petroleum.” is also featuring multi-part coverage of the first-ever Green Car of the Year Tour, which showcases the existing 2010 Green Car of the Year – Audi’s A3 TDI – on a 1,000 mile journey the length of California driving on synthetic RenDiesel fuel. The odyssey included Green Car Journal editors on a drive along the coast, through redwoods, a stop at the State Capitol for a press conference with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, news interviews in San Diego, and a clean diesel panel discussion at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.

Ron Cogan’s Green Car Journal, the award-winning magazine that focuses on the intersection of automobiles, energy, and environment, has been widely recognized as the leading authority in the field since the title launched in 1992. The magazine’s editors present features from an auto enthusiast perspective that celebrates the excitement of vehicle ownership while emphasizing the need for improved environmental performance.

Demand Media’s presents this authoritative information online, offering hundreds of in-depth features and technical articles on ‘green’ cars of all types. Like Green Car Journal, articles benefit from the perspective of auto and technology writers with decades of behind-the-wheel experience testing cars and providing a realistic look at the vehicles, technologies, and fuels that are shaping our transportation future.

1 comment:

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