Fuel-saving flaps

ORLANDO. At first glance, the Andersen Eco-Flaps don’t look like trailer wheel flaps at all

ORLANDO. At first glance, the Andersen Eco-Flaps don’t look like trailer wheel flaps at all. A lightweight piece perforated with slats, they look more like large air vent covers. Yet these simple plastic constructions are touted to improve tractor-trailer fuel economy anywhere from 0.2 miles per gallon up towards 0.4 to 0.5 miles per gallon, according to the inventor and company president Barry Andersen.

In 2006, the Transportation Research Center in Ohio conduct an SAEJ1321 fuel test on the product and found the flap improved tractor-trailer fuel economy by 1.7%. Originally developed to reduce the water spray kicked up by trailers, Anderson found his device improved the aerodynamic signature of the trailer as well, partially from weight savings as well as by reducing drag.

Andersen said Eco-Flaps weigh three to 3.5 lbs. per unit, compared to the 18 to 30 lb. standard rubber flaps used on trailers. Initial cost, however, is the big difference, he said. While rubber flaps can cost as little as $4, rising to $15 to $20 at the truckstop sales counter, Andersen said his product is $25 for the 27-in. model and $27 for the 30-in. model.

But by improving fuel economy, the payback on that initial investment is rapid, Andersen said. He said in fleet service, the Eco-Flaps demonstrated a savings of slightly more than 1 gallon per 100 highway miles. This was demonstrated on standard Class 8 equipment running 260 million miles as logged by 50 customers in 2008, he noted.

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