Improving Fuel Economy: Illinois Tollway and Argonne National Laboratory Launch Fleet Vehicle Study

Downers Grove, IL- The Illinois Tollway and Argonne National Laboratory today announced a new fleet research study aimed at identifying fuel cost savings and efficiencies that will make the Tollway more sustainable and have a regional application for other municipal fleet operations. Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur and Argonne Director Eric Isaacs announced the start of the research study at Argonnes state-of-the-art Transportation Research Lab.

As part of the new study, Argonne will research ways to improve fuel economy, reduce vehicle idling and study vehicle aerodynamics associated with State Police squad cars provided from the Illinois Tollway fleet. The Tollway fleet includes a diverse cross section of 725 vehicles that operate in urban and rural settings, including squad cars used by the Illinois State Police District 15.

In addition to analyzing a squad cars performance under controlled tests in the lab, the study will also evaluate vehicle operation by developing a baseline from actual vehicle use on the road. A second quad car will be outfitted with an array of sensors to monitor and track critical vehicle functions as the vehicle is in use patrolling the Illinois Tollway.

“The goal of this study is to find new ways to make our operations more efficient and sustainable–two very specific outcomes that Governor Pat Quinn established for our agency,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. “This research will help us make informed decisions about how to cut fuel costs and maximize the efficiency of our roadway operations.”

Research findings will determine if changes can be made to vehicles, systems or driver behavior to reduce fuel consumption. The Tollway spends $2 million on gasoline each year; a 1 percent reduction in the Tollways current fuel use would save about $20,000 annually.

“In these times of soaring gasoline prices, it is critically important to find new ways to increase fuel efficiency and save
money,” Argonne Director Eric Isaacs said. “We look forward to working with the Tollway to develop smart, effective new technologies and strategies that will make their fleet cheaper to run and friendlier to our environment, and that ultimately will benefit motorists throughout Illinois.”

Argonnes leading-edge research in this program is far-looking, typically 5 to 10 years out, and will be applicable to the new
generation of police vehicles being brought into use now and into future generations of vehicles. Battery electric vehicle technology as well as hybrid technology may play a future role.

The Illinois Tollway and Argonne National Laboratory announced an agreement in November 2010 to collaborate on the development of energy efficient technologies and eco-strategies. The Tollways agreement with Argonne includes four study areas: energy, fleet, intelligent transportation systems and the natural environment, with the fleet study the first to get underway.

The three-year partnership combines the expertise of both organizations to accomplish unique scientific goals, commonly develop and use specialized knowledge and facilities and increase cooperation. The Tollway has committed $250,000 toward this research partnership in 2011.

Larry Nutson

Article source: http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2011/05/05/531177-hybrids-and-electric-vehicles-illinois-tollway-and-argonne-national-laboratory.html