Wabash National and Purdue University’s College of Engineering, working with Herrick Labs, debuted the result of a three-year project to harvest power from a trailer’s vibrations – a new trailer that recaptures energy from normal driving.

Wabash donated a trailer that was retrofitted with data collection tools – displacement sensors, accelerometers, anemometers, and pressure gauges. Composite panels help reduce the weight of the trailer. Both short-haul and long-haul test drives will provide valuable data on energy collection and will help the team determine which methods will be most efficient and potentially scalable.

“At Wabash, we like to say that we’re a visionary leader in the transportation industry,” said Brent Yeagy, president and chief executive officer of Wabash. “In this age of sustainability and finding new ways to reduce carbon in our environment, nothing could be more visionary than a trailer that uses composite matrix materials to create its own electricity.”

“We’re investigating several ways to harvest electricity from a trailer’s normal operation,” said James Gibert, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University. “These modalities could be the vibration of the suspension system, aeroelastic vibrations of the composite panels, or harvesting the air used in the braking system.”

“The scale is much bigger than anything we’ve worked with before,” added Mr. Gibert. “But that’s a good thing. A semi-trailer has lots of mass, which means lots of opportunities for that mass to be utilized in ways it hasn’t before. Plus there’s an increasing regulatory push for these vehicles to be more energy-efficient. We are trying to get a step ahead of that, and think outside the box for what a novel energy-harvesting system could look like.”