Planet Forward

This week we hit the road to find out more about an idea to reduce the amount of pollution and fuel used by big rig trucks across the country.

At any moment, there are nearly three million trailers on American roads. These diesel-burning trucks only get about five to seven miles per gallon and research says they’re responsible for 20% of greenhouse gas emissions.

ATDynamics, a San Francisco-based company created TrailerTail, a device they say can increase fuel efficiency in these trucks by six percent.

Jeff Grossman of ATDynamics says one of the main problems lies in the fact that large, rectangular boxes, the shape of these trucks, is the worst aerodynamic design for trailers hauling freight down the highways. As a truck passes by, the air has nowhere to go, so it forms a vacuum behind the truck, pulling it backwards. The truck’s engine then has to compensate for this by using more fuel. Grossman says TrailerTail prevents this problem from occurring by giving the air somewhere to go.

Currently, the device retails for about $2,199. They only take about an hour to install, and a trucking company in the southwest has already retrofitted its entire 4,000 truck fleet with TrailerTails.

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Planet Forward

Center for Innovative Media Plus

Welcome to the Vimeo Channel for Planet Forward, an online social network where creative and innovative ideas addressing global challenges are featured, discussed, and evaluated.

Showcasing original video, blog entries and commentary, this social


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Welcome to the Vimeo Channel for Planet Forward, an online social network where creative and innovative ideas addressing global challenges are featured, discussed, and evaluated.

Showcasing original video, blog entries and commentary, this social network invites participation and opinion from citizens and policy-makers, students and experts, advocates and practitioners. Contributors with the most promising and original ideas will be featured on a national TV show. Those contributors with the top ideas will be selected as “Planet Forward Innovators” and get a shot at implementing their idea on an ambitious scale -- seeing if they can truly affect change regionally or nationally.

Planet Forward is a project of the Center for Innovative Media at the George Washington University.

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