EkoStinger Aerodynamic Solution
By Marek Krasuski
In an era of competing innovations and manufacturer promises of product superiority, makers of the EkoStinger present a compelling argument for the benefits reaped from the installation of what the company describes as a premium aerodynamic solution.
The EkoStinger is a V-shaped apparatus made of polyethylene which is affixed to a track directly under the bottom of the trailer. What distinguishes the EkoStinger from many competing products is its flexibility: It moves with the tandems so as to keep air flow consistent and ultimately saves fuel. Parr Wiegel is President of this New York based company which began operations five years ago. He explains why the EkoStinger has an edge over traditional skirt designs associated with most aerodynamic products. “The EkoStinger moves with the tandems. This feature keeps the aerodynamics consistent at all times, so if you move the wheel forward for better maneuverability our aero is consistent. If you move the wheels back for better ride our aero is consistent,” he said.
EkoStinger is a two part undercarriage, arrow-shaped unit that moves in conjunction with the rear tandem wheels and an undercarriage cross member cover which enhances airflow. Key to its effectiveness is the way in which this product splits wind – due to its sharp nosed design – as opposed to channelling it under the tandems. This wind distribution pattern deflects low pressure air away from the rear of the trailer, resulting in greater fuel savings of 7 percent on the sliding system. Indeed, independent studies confirm these fuel benefits as well as other measurable gains.
Among them is stability! The EkoStinger stabilizes the trailer in high cross winds because both the upwind and downwind side panels share an equal load in the wind, again making both truck and trailer more stable. A testimonial by an EkoStinger customer, Clinton’s Ditch, confirms enhanced stability with on road use: “That was absolutely the first thing our drivers noticed, was in the wind the trailer with an EkoStinger was much more stable than one without. Now, take into account our pulling doubles, the tail trailer always is susceptible to lots of swaying in the wind, especially when empty. The EkoStinger has all but eliminated that problem. Single or double, the trailers are definitely more stable with an EkoStinger on them.”
EkoStinger was tested at the NRC Wind Tunnel in Ottawa under the test parameters of the EPA’s GHG II Certification Requirements. EkoStinger passed with flying colours. Additional tests outside the EPA are being scheduled later this year. Those will incorporate tests with tandems in the full back position as well as tests at a greater angle of “attack” to the wind. These have been designed to confirm EkoStinger’s efficiencies in real world conditions where cross winds are an everyday occurrence. EkoStinger will also test side skirts at these increased tests requirements in order to demonstrate the difference.
Among the other advantages is a 70 percent reduction in road mist thanks to the design and positioning of the EkoStinger. Notes Parr Wiegel, “This gives the driver better visibility and gives passing traffic better visibility, making both safer. This design also keeps grit off the brakes.
Because the EkoStinger Sliding System is placed close to the tandems it also helps protect the brakes against the impact of road debris and shields the bottom of the trailer against similar assaults. The cross member cover protects the bottom of the trailer and keeps out unwanted elements like ice and snow while preventing I-beam rot and further corrosion. By contrast the EkoStinger also is available in a Fixed System for fleets that don’t move their tandems. This system costs less than conventional side skirts.
Asked about other benefits Parr Wiegel drew attention to prolonged brake life. In raining conditions grit is pulled from the road and mixes with road mist. Apply the brakes and the grit gets absorbed into brake parts, thereby producing a sandpaper effect on these expensive components. Since mist reduction reaches 70 percent there is a corresponding reduction in grit that can damage the brakes. “We keep grit off the brakes, prolonging brake life by 20 percent,” Wiegel confirmed.
Prior to the development of the EkoStinger the company was already immersed in wind research. “We were originally a Hurricane protection company and constantly in wind tunnels researching 200 mph plus winds,” Wiegel continued. As with many inventions, the idea developed from something his team saw that was not working. “After a wind tunnel test we were driving back from Boston and saw a set of side skirts flapping back and forth in the wind and realized that that pair of side skirts was actually losing fuel for the truck owner. From that point on we have been working to make tractor trailers save more fuel and be safer for both the driver and passenger traffic on the roads.”
To this end EkoStinger will add more products to its inventory. The company is in the process of developing a recapture device to further increase fuel mileage, and mud flaps to reduce misting. These two new products are scheduled for launch in 2019.
For more information, visit www.ekostinger.com.☚