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US National Academies publish 21st Century Truck Partnership report

16 November 2011

The National Academies published a review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership, a US public-private R&D initiative aimed at reducing fuel consumption and emissions from heavy-duty engines and vehicles. The review was conducted by a committee appointed by the National Research Council (NRC) and chaired by professor John Johnson of the Michigan Technological University. This is a second (Phase 2) review report of the program, following a Phase 1 report completed in 2008.

The objectives of the 21st Century Truck Partnership (21CTP) include development of a truck engine of 50% brake thermal efficiency (BTE) by 2015 (re-scheduled from the original 2010 deadline) and 55% BTE by 2018 (originally by 2013). The current flagship program under the 21CTP umbrella—the SuperTruck Program—aims to achieve (1) a 50% increase in vehicle freight efficiency (ton-miles per gallon) which translates to a 33% reduction in load specific fuel consumption (gallon per ton-mile), (2) achieve at least 20% improvement through engine efficiency development and achieve 50% BTE under highway cruise condition, and (3) evaluate potential to achieve 55% BTE. Three SuperTruck projects (Cummins, Daimler, Navistar) will receive 21CTP funding over the period 2011-2014. Each of the projects will integrate a number of technologies (such as efficient engines, waste heat recovery, aerodynamics, rolling resistance and weight reduction) into a Class 8 long haul freight demonstration truck.

The 21CTP is a cooperative R&D partnership including four US federal agencies (DOE, DOT, DOD and EPA), and 15 industrial partners (Allison Transmission, ArvinMeritor, BAE Systems, Caterpillar, Cummins, Daimler Trucks North America, Detroit Diesel, Eaton, Honeywell, Navistar, Mack Trucks, NovaBUS, Oshkosh, PACCAR, and Volvo Trucks North America). The main leadership in the Partnership resides with the DOE’s Office of Vehicle Technologies.

During 2009 and 2010, the program received funding under the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). These ARRA funds have significantly enhanced the ability of the 21CTP to meet and demonstrate its goals in prototype vehicles—concludes the Phase 2 report—as the steady decline of funding levels from FY2003 through 2007 was threatening the attainment of program objectives. As an overall recommendation, the report finds that the 21CTP should be continued to help meet the nation’s goal of reduced fuel consumption in the transportation sector.

The report includes a number of specific findings and recommendations for the program’s major focus areas. Some of these conclusions include:

The report also includes findings and recommendations for the SuperTruck program. The SuperTruck projects go beyond the scope of previous 21CTP projects—instead of relying entirely on simulations and laboratory testing, each of the three projects will result in a drivable truck. However, the SuperTruck projects allow each team to design its own test cycle (within certain constraints), with the negative consequence that the three trucks may never be tested using a common cycle for comparison. The committee recommended that DOE and the SuperTruck contractors should agree on at least one common vehicle duty cycle that will be used to compare the performance of all three SuperTruck vehicles. In addition, fuel consumption improvements should be calculated on the basis of the EPA/NHTSA fuel consumption regulations.

Source: National Academies