Taking a Look at Turbo Compounding

Much is being said and written about the role electric power will someday play in moving Class 8 vehicles down the road, but for the foreseeable future most trucks still will be powered by good old-fashioned internal combustion engines. And there is plenty going on to advance the technology that powers those engines.



In other words, diesel is here to stay. And there are some interesting advancements in the realm of diesels that merit review. One of them is turbo compounding, and it’s the focus of a cover feature in this issue of Equipment & Maintenance Update.

Trucks that deliver extremely high fuel efficiency are high on the wish list of most motor carriers. With diesel fuel reigning as one of the top operating expenses for carriers, it’s all about the miles per gallon.

Without going too far down into the engineering weeds, turbo compounding is a way to increase a truck’s fuel economy through waste heat recovery. Put in simple terms, it is the equivalent of a truck having 1.5 turbochargers, according to John Moore, Volvo Trucks’ product marketing manager for powertrain. “It’s like a push from behind,” he said, as reported in the story. Volvo Trucks North America said its D13TC engine’s turbo compounding unit will improve fuel efficiency by 7.5%.

Other OEMs, however, question the technology’s benefits and are taking other routes on the highway to greater fuel efficiency for their customers. It’s an open question, and one that is explored in the story.

Getting the right engine spec is just one challenge fleets face; keeping trucks and drivers safe and hauling freight on the road is another. But let’s face it: Accidents happen. That’s why another story in this issue investigates the challenges of heavy-duty collision repair.

Fixing damaged trucks has become more difficult due to several factors, including the increasing use of onboard sensors. As Jim Kolea, president of collision-repair company PennFleet Corp., notes in the story, the technology in heavy-duty trucks today is not unlike that in personal computers. “It’s changing almost overnight, but no one is writing repair procedures,” he said.

As a result, the Technology & Maintenance Council of American Trucking Associations has formed two new task forces concerning heavy-duty collision repair. Learn more about what’s being done to address some key concerns.

Finally, E&MU columnist Phil Romba writes about a timely development in this industry: Camera monitor systems for Class 8 trucks. He would like to see the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration allow trucking companies to adopt this technology instead of the variety of mirrors currently hung on doors and hoods of trucks.

Read his column to see if you agree with his perspective.