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To Save on Fuel, Redesign Trucks

?or use pig poop instead of diesel - With the lack of rail roads, most of the long-distance hauling that needs to be done in the US is done by trucks, and truckers are chafing at high gas prices. One problem is that big trucks, unlike cars, are not aerodynamic?there hasn't been a major design change in years.

Researcher Robert Englar has some ideas about how to improve things. The real problem is the trailers (the big square boxes that are hitched to the cab, where the driver sits). Englar think that something as simple as rounding the edges and installing covers over the tops of the wheels could help.

In LiveScience.com, Robert Roy Britt quotes Englar as saying, "Aerodynamically, we have resolved unknowns raised in earlier testing, and the next step is to get this into a fleet of trucks for more extensive testing. At highway speeds, each 1% improvement in fuel economy would result in saving about 200 million gallons of fuel for the US heavy truck fleet."

Oregon is experimenting with producing electricity using cow manure. If we could solve two problems at once by creating truck fuel from pig manure, a waste product overflowing at US farms, would truckers use it? Chemist Tom Bruno says, "The fact that pig manure crude oil contains a lot of water is unfavorable. They would need to get the water out."

Englar's team has also developed high-tech ideas to improve truck mileage, such as devices that blow air from slots at the rear in order smooth the air flow. If truckers start using pig poop for fuel, these air fumes will really be something! As Bruno says, "This stuff smells worse than manure."

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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