According to recent estimates, the trucking industry accounts for nearly 13 percent of all the fuel purchased in the United States. For years, drivers have used many tactics to lower fuel consumption, but now a breakthrough, right in our backyard. In this week's Capital Region Business Beat, Jon Dougherty shows us how Actasys plans to revolutionize the trucking industry.
WATERVLIET, N.Y. -- With an estimated two million tractor trailers on American roads, fuel costs are one of trucking fleets' biggest expenses.
"The area between the cab and trailer causes a lot of turbulence, which causes a lot of drag, which at the end of the day causes a lot of fuel and spending," David Menicovich said.
Two years ago, Menicovich, a Doctorate graduate at RPI, joined several other RPI students and came up with a way for tractor trailers to get better gas mileage.
The group created Actasys, a transportation technology company. Actasys uses technology that was developed in the aerospace industry, which connects to tractor trailers to adjust to ever changing conditions, and can limit drag while on the road.
"By doing so we can increase significantly the aerodynamics of trucks," Actasys Co-founder and V.P. of Business Development Daniele Gallardo said.
Currently, the device is in the prototype stage but the developers said early tests in a wind tunnel showed it can reduce drag and increase fuel efficiency up to 18 percent. Actasys estimates fuel savings of $3,000 to $4,000 per truck, per year.
"If you reduce their operational costs, which means you reduce the price that they pay for actually moving the merchandise around, and you can actually see the reduction or that trickling effect down to the good that are being transported," said Menicovich, Actasys CEO and co-founder.
The Actasys system is scheduled to hit the open road this Spring, when the start-up teams with Price Chopper. With a grant from NYSERDA, Actasys will install the device on one Price Chopper truck and test it against one without it. If the test goes well, Actasys hopes to manufacture even more systems, and not just for trucks.
"Right now we're using it on trucks but I can see it being applied to the whole transportation industry in general," Gallardo said. "We're talking about cars, buses, trains, anything that moves on a road can use this technology."
Although the company may be in the early stages, it's already received a number of awards and grants and is backed by several investors.
"There's big expectations for the company to deliver and that's exactly what we're planning to do," Gallardo said.
Actasys said their system will pay for itself in one to two years and will also another way to help that environment. That's why they hope to change the world, at least one truck at the time.
To learn more about Actasys or learn how to get involved with their testing, go to www.actasysinc.com.
If you know a company that should be featured on the Capital Region Business Beat, you can submit an email to Jon.Dougherty@twcnews.com. You can also follow Jon on Twitter: @JonDTWCNews.