Research and Development in Tanker Trailer Steering Stability

A significant portion of liquid and dry goods are transported across the United States using semi-trucks and tank trailers. The transportation of materials by trucks is still continuing to grow across the country in order to keep up with the high demand for both manufacturer and consumer goods. Currently, transporting hazardous materials by truck is the fastest and safest way to move them across the country, due to the unreliability and likelihood for catastrophic accidents associated with water, air, and other forms of ground transportation. One of the setbacks related to ground transportation is that semi-trucks and tank trailers often have to run without being fully filled due to the danger of rolling over, as the movement of liquid can offset a tanker during a turn causing it to lose control. There are high risks associated with spilling of hazardous materials, including leakage, burning, explosion, and environmental degradation. Researchers are currently looking into the fluid-structure interaction in order to figure out how to move larger amounts of hazardous material per load.

In 2012, the National Key Research and Develop Program funded a study by Ding Sui Liang to look into simulating sharp turns of tractor a semi-trailer in order to analyze the force, acceleration and displacement, as well as the influence of load on tanker semi-trailer’s side tumbling stability. This research provided additional insights on ways in which the sloshing of hazardous material impacts the stability of tractor-trailers and ways in which the industry can continue to make improvements on carrying goods across the country.

The researchers built a model semi-truck in which they installed a tractor, tanker, and middle swish plate in order to study the impact of different fill ratios on the turning stability of the truck. During the study, researchers recorded the ways in which the centrifugal force generated by the truck was changed by the sloshing of materials in the tank. Once the model was built they tested various liquid ratios and found that during a sharp turn the liquid sloshing amplitude becomes gradually stronger as the fill ratio increases. They ultimately found that a tractor-trailer is more susceptible to side tumbling depending on the fill ratio. The results found that the sloshing of liquid has a significant influence on a tanker semi-trailer’s side tumbling stability during turning. For example, when the fill ratio was reduced to .75, researchers found a weaker liquid sloshing amplitude and a gradual reduction in rollover prevention. This information supports the experience of tractor-trailer drivers and points to a barrier for moving hazardous materials across the country.

Researchers need to further develop technology that will account for the sloshing caused by liquid hazardous materials. This study provides evidence that there is a direct correlation between carrying capacity and stability; therefore, pushing researchers to look into other ways to stabilize the centrifugal force during transportation. Drivers are waiting on researchers to develop technology that will either stabilize liquid movement or provide additional systems of support before they are going to be able to carry heavier loads.

1 comment (Add your own)

1. Paul Malik wrote:
I believe that at certain turns and speeds sloshing can aggravate the stability of a truck. Thanks for your article.

Tue, March 24, 2015 @ 5:29 PM

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