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EcoLink trailers could save fuel and reduce congestion

March 1, 2021 7:38 PM
By Barry Cash. in GLD Challenge magazine 2020-21

EcoLInk - 2 trailers behind one tractor unit (Dick.Denby@denbytransport.co.uk)Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could reduce the fuel used by Heavy Goods vehicles (HGVs) by 15% ?

Well, Dick Denby (85) has done just that! Dick has spent a lifetime in the Haulage Industry running Denby Transport of Lincoln, the company started by his father in 1926.
When he retired, Dick started a new project, to make our lorries more efficient.

In 2018 HGVs moved 1,400,000,000 tonnes of goods in the UK.
No, it can't all go by rail.
The railways manage to move just 5% of our freight.
Like 'em or not, for the foreseeable future we are going to need our articulated lorries.
If we're going to stop climate change then we need to make them use less fuel.

Dick's solution is the Ecolink trailer. It makes use of slipstreaming to reduce the fuel used, and therefore the emissions produced by HGVs on the motorways.
Imagine two artics driving along a motorway. If the following lorry was so close to the leading lorry that it almost touched it, it would not have to push the air aside. This is "slipstreaming" and saves about 15% of fuel. Obviously this is not a safe way of driving.

But take away the second tractor unit and connect one tractor unit and two trailers together and you have a vehicle that can cruise on the motorway and will use between 8% and 15.8% less fuel depending on the type of load. Such a vehicle would not be ideal for driving on ordinary roads. But a huge amount of lorry mileage is on motorways and dual carriageways between factories and distribution depots.
Most artics are not fully laden. Consider a load of tissues, toilet rolls or crisps. This is why it is possible to save 15.8% of the fuel. And what about the return journey? Why do you need two engines and two cabs to pull two empty trailers? If loaded to the maximum 44 tonnes then the fuel savings are 8%.

There are many advantages to the system.
It will reduce congestion because two Ecolink vehicles replace three artics.
It is safer and will reduce accidents. CCTV means no blind spots. Fewer lorries means fewer accidents.
Less fossil fuels used means less CO2 and less pollution. (In 2015 HGVs used 6.2 m tonnes of diesel fuel)
Fewer lorries so fewer HGV drivers needed so this helps with the shortage of drivers in the road haulage industry.
Above all less fuel used and fewer drivers means cost savings so the scheme needs no public money.
Conforms to EU turning circle rules. Therefore capable of being driven on any road that can take a normal artic.
No extra wear on roads or vibration to roadside buildings because the axle weight is not increased.
Works with any type of fuel, diesel, petrol, electricity, LPG or Hydrogen.

Dick built a prototype at his own expense. It has been available for testing since 2004. Incredibly, Governments, Labour, Coalition and Conservative have all refused to examine it or to grant him a permit to demonstrate it on Britain's Roads. 16 years of unnecessary inaction!
There is an important lesson here for environmental campaigners. It is not sufficient to find a solution to a problem. The real difficulty is in persuading those in charge to implement it or to even look at it.
Happily Dick has persevered and Baroness Vere, the under secretary of State for Transport, has agreed to grant him a section 44 permit which will allow the Ecolink to be tried out on the roads. He is waiting for the civil servants to complete the paperwork. (February 2021) It is a huge tribute to Dick that he is finally overcoming the politician's inertia.

If you have any questions about the system you can contact Dick Denby himself at Dick.Denby@denbytransport.co.uk


EcoLInk - 2 trailers behind one tractor unit (Dick.Denby@denbytransport.co.uk)