Georgia Tech Research Institute Hosts Secretary of Transportation

GTRI showcases research

U. S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters toured Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) labs and questioned researchers on the latest technology that addresses transportation issues.

Georgia Tech Interim President Gary Schuster welcomed Secretary Peters and Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Gena Abraham to GTRI's Cobb County research facility and was pleased to share Georgia Tech's ongoing research with them.

"One of the broad thrust areas on which we are focused is energy and environmental sustainability, and much of our work in this arena has a direct bearing on transportation," said Schuster. "More specifically, our work in energy focuses on efficiency, conservation and new sources, and all three of these areas have significance for transportation."

Secretary Peters and Commissioner Abraham viewed important components of Tech's research in conservation and new energy sources. GTRI researcher Bob Englar described his work on aerodynamics technology developed for jet plane wings and how his team is applying it to tractor trailer trucks to help them conserve fuel.

Their goal is to reduce the drag on 18-wheelers by at least a third, and perhaps even as much as half, which would improve their fuel efficiency by 12 percent or more. A 1 percent improvement in fuel economy in the U.S. heavy truck fleet conserves 200 million gallons of fuel. So a 12 percent improvement means saving more than 2 billion gallons of fuel.

Tom Fuller and his team in the GTRI Center for Innovative Fuel Cell and Battery Technology presented their research with fuel cells. The fuel cell is expected to be the next significant new energy source for transportation. Both Honda and Toyota are road-testing fuel-cell cars, which are much more efficient than today's hybrids. And last year Georgia Tech successfully flew the largest hydrogen fuel cell-powered aircraft to date.

Coca Cola Enterprises also unveiled the company's new hybrid Coca Cola delivery vehicles. According to Peters, Georgia Tech researchers are working hard to solve real problems affecting the transportation industry, and Coca Cola Enterprises is showing how new technology is being embraced by industry.

In addition, Secretary Peters announced a new funding plan for the U.S. Transportation Department and used Atlanta as a model for a city willing to try new ways to save and use energy efficiently.