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SmartWay Partnership Targets Fuel Efficiency and Emissions Reduction Upgrades for West Coast Trucks

The US EPA, the US Department of Transportation, Oregon’s Departments of Transportation and Energy, and Cascade Sierra Solutions are partnering to upgrade 400 long-haul trucks from small-to-medium trucking firms in Oregon, California, and Washington with SmartWay upgrade kits.

The kits package together a variety of fuel and emissions-saving technologies and typically consist of engine idle reduction technology, low rolling-resistance tires, improved aerodynamics and exhaust after-treatment devices.

SmartWay Upgrade Kits can reduce fuel consumption, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen oxide emissions by as much as 20%. When the kit includes an exhaust after-treatment device, particulate matter emissions are reduced by 25% to 90%, depending upon the type of technology.

Because of the fuel savings, upfront capital costs of SmartWay kits are generally paid back within one to three years. In addition to the short payback period, if a loan is needed to purchase an upgrade kit, the monthly fuel savings exceed the monthly loan payments, thus increasing profits from the first day companies use the kits.

By 2012, the SmartWay program, with full participation, estimates nationwide annual fuel savings of 3.3 to 6.6 billion gallons of diesel fuel, eliminating 66 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and up to 200,000 tons of NOx emissions.



allen zheng

One way for them to save fuel would be to cut/eliminate idling at overnight truckstops. Either a small efficient and clean engine to power auxilaries during long stops, or an external power interface to jack the vehicle into the grid at night stops. Side skirts (with added safety features so cars can't end up underneath easily during certain situations), and cab designs will help too. B5 to B20 biodiesel will help emissions, and clean/keep clean fuel/engine systems too.


Allen- What case would have a car "underneath" a truck with or without sideskirts? I do not know of any car that would fit under any tractor trailer vehicle. What they do need to do is have an arm which retracts the sideskirts at low speeds where aerodynamic enhancements are not effective anyways. This way when they travel on standard streets that may be uneven or over railroad tracks or the like then it won't scrape the ground.

Rafael Seidl

Mike -

the technology package data sheet specifies 20-50% particulate reductions when an oxidation catalyst is retrofitted. The upper end of that range would apply only to really old, highly polluting vehicles. The life expectancy of a catalyst is reduced when engine-out emissions are high.

There is no mention of the 25-90% range. This makes sense, since a 90% reduction would require the installation of a wall-flow filter, which needs to be integrated with the engine management system to ensure timely recuperation if the vehicle spends a lot of time in part load or idling. Such integration is typically not possible as a retrofit, though some companies do offer devices with dedicated burners that can initiate soot burn-off independently of the engine.

In general, though, this program strikes me as a really good idea, except maybe the low-resistance tires unless they are combined with automatic tire inflation. Note that the ideal tire pressure of an HDV is a function of its load state. Tires that are too hard when empty could provide less lateral traction.

Another good idea for truck operators is to regularly send samples of their engine oil to an automated lab. The experts evaluating the results can tell you a lot about the wear and tear in your engine and give maintenance information incl. oil type and change interval. Vehicles that idle a lot in cold weather benefit most from expensive synthetic oils with low base viscosity.

EPA also offers driver training wrt fuel economy, which seems like a no-brainer investment.


Cars do end up under trailers. My mother ran a red-light and ran my father's RX-7 under the trailer of a truck when coming home from her night shift about 12 years ago. The rear wheels of the trailer traveled over the hood, totaling the car, but my mother survived with bruising and back-pain for a couple months.

It probably does not happen often, but I felt you should know that it happens.


Matt Simmons thinks we need to move quickly to massively expanding our railroads, cars, and the use thereof. While improving the efficiency of trucks is a good idea, it is just mostly rearranging deck chairs on the titanic.

Rafael Seidl

t -

in the US, about 80% of land freight by weight is already transported via rail. In Europe, for historical reasons, locomotives cannot cross national borders etc. so 80% of freight is moved by truck. Austria and Switzerland are exceptions because they have cheap hydro power and mountainous terrain that makes road building very expensive.

Therefore, improving HDV fuel economy is a big issue in Europe, perhaps more so than in the US. On the other hand, LDT such as pick-ups are really used mostly for commercial purposes and most SUVs here are the smaller, car-based type.

Joseph Willemssen

Rafael - you may wish to recheck your stats on freight.

Joseph Willemssen

Whoops - here's the link:

Rafael Seidl

Joseph -

I stand corrected.


Sean- the case you illustrate has little bearing in that having or not having sideskirts still doesn't change whether or not an accident could happen. Unless the initial poster was trying to say the side skirts should be stiff enough to deflect an impact by a 3000 to 5000 lb vehicle.


There are a lot of extensive programs for old diesel aftertreatment retrofit in US, notably in California and Texas. Unfortunately, no device could survive amount of soot and lube oil aerosols emitted by 7 years old diesel.

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