Dynamic flow control systems for vehicles

David is developing an adaptive add-on device to reduce aerodynamic drag on commercial semi-trailers, thereby boosting fuel efficiency up to 16%.

Critical need for this technology
The trucking industry is one of the most prominent in our society, where over 80% of the world population relies on it for the transportation of commercial and consumer goods. In the U.S. alone, over 70% of the freight tonnage is moved by trucks driving over 448 billion miles every year. This industry is responsible for the consumption of over 54 billion gallons of diesel per year, which is responsible for as much as 20% of its operational cost. The use of this active flow control system will allow for the decrease in fuel consumption and the decrease of harmful emissions on a scale that cannot be easily reproduced in other industries. Making this technology available will push this industry to an eco-friendly future, and will do it through an increase in profitability which will free resources to continue finding ways to save money and the environment. Furthermore, this development will contribute towards increasing the competitiveness of this industry and will allow it to remain as one of our economical pillars.

 

Competition

There is one major company in this space that markets a technology that targets the same vehicle area as our system. There is another company that markets a technology that targets a different area of the truck to improve.

 

Potential markets

The main costumers for this product are freightliners, such as UPS, Swit, Walmart, etc. These corporations have millions of vehicles and are the ones that will see the direct savings by reducing their fuel consumption.

Value proposition: This add-on active flow control device is capable of reducing energy usage in heavy vehicles by over 16%. This improvement is achieved by modifying the wake and increasing the base pressure, which in turn reduces drag. In addition to drag reduction, the introduction of this device provides a dynamic response to the vehicle to compensate for any kind of gust or cross flow, and has the capability of reducing the risk for roll-overs as well as increasing maneuverability and safety. This device will reduce the operating cost of freightliners by reducing fuel consumption, will reduce losses due to accidents, and will improve highway safety by providing better maneuverability and control of the vehicle. Current devices aimed to improve fuel consumption in heavy vehicles, by modifying the wake, are passive and are able to reduce drag on average by 4% at the expense of vehicle length and stability. These devices, while efficient at reducing drag, increase the area where gusts and side winds work, which induce instabilities that lead to roll overs.

 

Key innovation

The technology relies on generating a dynamic air-flow across the back of the trailer to direct the wake of the trailer in real-time.

 

R&D status of product

The team has developed a fast and inexpensive process to design active flow control systems that are capable of enhancing ground vehicle aerodynamics. To validate this process, the team has developed a device that improves the aerodynamic behavior of a ground transportation system (GTS) model, which is a simplified heavy vehicle geometry introduced by the U.S. Department of Energy to study base drag. This device achieved an improvement in energy consumption by over 16% and a drag reduction of more than 19%. In the coming months, the team plans to shift the focus to the mechanical design of the system, manufacturing process, controls, and overall system integration. This path has been chosen to take this idea from pure aerodynamic research to product development.

Team overview

David E. Manosalvas-Kjono [add link to corresponding “Innovator” webpage when ready]

Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics at Stanford University, where he works in the Aerospace Computing Laboratory.

 

Technology profile

Status:R&D
Primary industry:Shipping
Category:Aerodynamics
Estimated annual revenue:NA
Employs:NA
Social challenge:Energy efficiency/Reduction of harmful emissions
R&D commercial collaborator:NA

 

Graphene-enhanced electrodes

This graphene-based technology takes advantage of the unique properties of graphene to enable the preparation of nanoscale composites to serve as advanced electrodes in lithium-ion batteries (LIBs). Our technology offers a technical route to accelerate the adoption rate of LIBs by minimizing their weight and maximizing their stability and charging rate.

Critical need for this technology

There exists a continuous demand for improvement in stability, rate capability, and operating temperature range of LIBs. The environmental and societal impact of LIBs is a well-studied topic. In general, they provide the key enabling technology for electric vehicles, which will address the greenhouse gas issues associated with internal combustion engines. Furthermore, advances in LIBs for personal electrical tools, wearable devices, and grid energy storage systems will have broad implications for society.

Competition

  • Other material suppliers for battery manufacturers

 

Potential markets

  • Battery manufacturers such as Saft, Toshiba, and BYD, with applications in:
    • High-altitude UAVs (i.e., drones), military and scientific equipment, and specialized personal electronics for cold climates
    • High-power applications such as power tools, e-bikes, and hybrid electric vehicles
    • Electric vehicles, mobile electronics, and stationary energy storage

Value proposition: Our technology represents an advance in the field by simultaneously addressing the various limitations of other advanced battery electrodes. In comparison with other nanoparticle-based approaches, we offer competitive advantages in enhanced active material loading and packing density, low-temperature performance, and high-power capability. These advantages lead to a unique energy storage solution with high performance and stability in extreme environmental conditions, where there is presently not a comprehensive and commercially viable technology. We also add value from our generalizable manufacturing process, which adopts a combination of a scalable graphene composite formulation method and a particle size-separation scheme that were developed in the Hersam Laboratory. Furthermore, our active materials include widely available lithium manganese oxide and lithium titanium oxide, which afford compatibility with other industry-relevant systems for blended structures.

 

Key innovation

Our technology offers a comprehensive solution by utilizing a nanostructured composite of active material and conductive additive, which concurrently stabilizes the surface of the electrochemically active nanoparticles and facilitates efficient charge transfer while eliminating the need for inactive components such as binders. Furthermore, our liquid-phase manufacturing process offers generalizability and scalability that can be applied to a wide range of industrially relevant cathode and anode active materials.

 

R&D status of product

Lab-scale coin cell batteries utilizing our technology have been fabricated and tested, which have resulted in four pending/issued patents and one publication in a high-impact, peer-reviewed journal. Now our team is at a pivotal point where we need to demonstrate scalability of our technology, specifically with regard to translating our technology to commercially relevant cell prototypes.

 

Team overview

“Ted” Jung Woo Seo [add link to corresponding “Innovator” webpage when ready]

B.S. and Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Northwestern University, where he focused on the interdisciplinary fields of nanomaterials and nanomanufacturing.

 

Technology profile

Status:R&D
Primary industry:Energy storage
Category:Electrodes
Estimated annual revenue:NA
Employs:NA
Social challenge:Energy efficiency/Energy management
R&D commercial collaborator:NA