Trucks at Work

Crossing the streams

Back in the day, the connotations of the term “crossing the streams” were entirely in the negative; a warning regarding an act that would ultimately lead to “total protonic reversal.”

At this moment in this space, however, “crossing the streams” is entirely positive as it describes the deployment last December of a tractor-trailer in Europe combining natural gas power with the latest in aerodynamic tailoring to craft a “one-two punch” in terms of fuel savings.

Deutsche Post DHL married two so-called “Teardrop” trailers – built by Don-Bur – to a liquid natural gas (LNG) fired truck produced by Iveco in Belgium late last year, to be operated by its partner Ninatrans.

[The video below shows off both the Iveco tractor and Don-Bur trailer models in action elsewhere in Europe; set to some pretty funky music.]

DHL said the aerodynamic form of the teardrop-shaped trailers include a curved roof to reduce air resistance, cutting fuel consumption by 5% to 10% compared to its regular “heavy-load” trucks.

That savings is then “crossed” with LNG helping reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by another 5% to 10%, noted Patrick Boone, VP-road network Europe for DHL Express.

"Green transport solutions are a vital part in modern logistics operations. We have been working with our partners and customers to create tailor made answers to their transport needs,” he explained.

[That includes electric vehicles – including “e-bikes” – as you can see below.]

“The teardrop trailer and the LNG truck perfectly represent this approach and will help to reduce the environmental impact of the operations," Boone added.

He pointed out this “combined” approach is also in line with DHL’s overall "Strategy 2020,” which in part stresses “continuous emphasis” on green business solutions and carbon efficiency improvement.

DHL said its overall aim its “Strategy 2020” effort begun back in 2007 – also known as its “Go Green Program” – is to cut CO2 emissions 30% by 2020.

The global delivery company added that it already attained a 16% cut in CO2 emissions as of 2012.

In the United Kingdom (comprised of merry old England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland still), DHL said it’s already deployed more than 1,100 of those Don-Bur teardrop trailers, which have been further developed and modified over the years.

Yet the Belgium deployment of the Teardrop trailer/LNG tractor combination (seen above at right) is a “new design and technology” effort as part of a customer project, noted DHL – for example incorporating a new “forward-swept front bulkhead” design to the trailer to help reduce air turbulence as well as by adding new lightweight recyclable "blade panels" along the side to further reduce fuel consumption.

DHL added that the Iveco LNG tractor pulling those Teardrop trailers can travel as far as 700 kilometers (roughly 435 miles) before refueling.

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