Clarkson University has announced its development of flat plates mountable to the rear doors of truck trailers to reduce drag. According to Clarkson University, the device saves about one-half mile per gallon of fuel— amounting to a 10% increase in fuel efficiency.

The device resembles a set of second doors when closed but opens into a box-like structure. It has been studied in Clarkson’s wind tunnel and tested in cross-country conditions.

Ken Visser, associate professor of Aeronautical and Mechanical Engineering, was awarded a grant by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) after developing the technology and design. The money was used to contract with Plattsburgh, NY-based Composite Factory Inc. to manufacture the device.

“[The device] translates into a savings on the order of about $4,000 per year for a truck running 150,000 miles at $2.50 a gallon of fuel,” Visser said, adding that the device will be deployed on a 50-truck fleet. “Once we can test run this on a larger scale we will really be able to quantify the fuel savings and environmental benefits.”

For more information, go to people.clarkson.edu/~visser/research/drag/truck/.