Texas Patent of the Month – July 2023

Large vehicles, such as semis and tractor trailers, are a common sight on highways, transporting goods across vast distances. However, these vehicles often face challenges when it comes to aerodynamics, leading to decreased fuel economy and increased operating costs. To address these issues, FlowBelow Aero Inc., a Texas-based aerodynamic technology company founded by Mechanical and Aerospace engineers, has developed a novel fairing assembly for commercial vehicles.

The purpose of a fairing, sometimes called a fuel tank skirt, is to provide a clean aerodynamic surface and eliminate the components that increase the drag of an exposed chassis.

The fairing assembly has both a forward and rear fairing, each designed to optimize airflow and reduce drag. The forward fairing is positioned inboard of the outer tire edge of a forward drive wheel and progresses outwards along the longitudinal direction of the vehicle. Similarly, the rear fairing is located inboard of the outer tire edge of a rear drive wheel and progresses outwards. Notably, the rear fairing has a non-planar cross-section in the transverse direction of the vehicle, enhancing its aerodynamic properties.

FlowBelow Aero’s fairing assembly offers several key advantages. The forward fairing is strategically positioned outboard of the tire tread edge, while the rear fairing extends beyond the tire’s wall. This configuration effectively redirects airflow and reduces turbulence, resulting in improved fuel efficiency. Additionally, the fairing assembly utilizes different materials for specific portions, enhancing rigidity where necessary while maintaining flexibility in other areas.

The fairing assembly is easily adaptable and mountable on various commercial vehicles, including tractors. It can be adjusted vertically, horizontally, or rotationally, allowing for customization based on specific vehicle requirements. FlowBelow Aero’s fairing assembly also incorporates an arm with a spring attachment, enabling deflection and absorbing impacts during tire blowouts or encounters with debris.

In combination with other aerodynamic components like wheel covers, quarter fender panels, and middle fairings, the fairing assembly forms a comprehensive aerodynamic system. This system effectively reduces drag and improves stability, contributing to enhanced fuel efficiency and reduced operating costs.

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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