Volvo partnership pays off in SuperTruck collaborative effort

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Five years of effort by a partnership of international corporations and universities organized by Volvo have led to the Volvo SuperTruck, a vehicle that achieved an 88 percent improvement in overall efficiency. Penn State engineers were part of this SuperTruck team, and focused on advanced combustion strategies and engine simulation.

Volvo was one of four truck manufacturers chosen by the U.S. Department of Energy's SuperTruck Program to improve the freight efficiency of Class 8 heavy trucks and design the next-generation engines that can reach ultra-high fuel-efficiency goals. Daimler Trucks North America, Cummins & Peterbilt and Navistar are the other three companies working on the DOE's SuperTruck Program.

"The order-of-magnitude efficiency leap achieved by our SuperTruck is a testament to the outstanding work done by our team and our partners," said Pascal Amar, senior project manager, Volvo Groups Truck Technology and principal investigator for this project. "We started by rethinking everything, and we discovered that with every layer you peel back, you uncover new opportunities."

SuperTruck front frame

Penn State's contribution to the project focused on the development of a set of tools and designs that created a pathway toward a 55 percent brake thermal efficiency engine.

Image: courtesy Volvo Group

Penn State's contribution to the project focused on the development of a set of tools and designs that created a pathway toward a 55 percent brake thermal efficiency engine. The pathway to this ultra-high efficiency goal was a requirement from the DOE for successful completion of the project. Jacqueline O'Connor, assistant professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering, designed advanced injection strategies and combustor architectures to enhance engine efficiency and reduce engine emissions.

Daniel Haworth, professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering worked on advancing engine thermal efficiency through modeling and simulation. The main goal of this work was to improve modeling capability to better capture missing and combustion processes. Their final result proved a pathway to 56.2 percent brake thermal efficiency for an internal combustion engine.

The DOE recently selected Volvo to participate in its SuperTruck II program, which targets a 100 percent improvement on a ton-per-gallon basis and a power train capable of 55 percent brake thermal efficiency over the 2009 baseline truck. Penn State will continue as one of the partners in the SuperTruck II project.

Penn State's participation in this DOE project is part of the ongoing Academic Preferred Partner agreement between Volvo and Penn State.

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Last Updated October 19, 2016