|Paul Abelson interviews Bob Sliwa|
|Bob Sliwa talks with Paul Abelson|
235.3 KBAirflow Release-FINAL.docx
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View the Press Release directly at K&N's site: http://www.knfilters.com/news/news.aspx?ID=3149
K&N Engineering, Inc. News
Bob Sliwa's AirFlow Truck Company Creates World's Biggest Aerodynamic Hot Rod
Sliwa also began his intimate relationship with science and physics, by disassembling his toys just to see what
makes them whiz and whirl. But, when he sat down to design and then create a brand new Class 8 tractor trailer
rig with advanced aerodynamics, extraordinary fuel savings, and a very low emissions profile, he ended up
revolutionizing over the road trucks.
The 2011 AirFlow SuperTruck, the world's biggest hot rod, is scheduled to be rolling by this spring.
Sliwa founded the AirFlow Truck Company in 1983 and his vision
to substantially lower the cost-per-mile operating cost for fleet
operators and owners of rigs, is destined to become reality when
he unveils his first working prototype of AirFlow's second-
generation design. Sliwa recently agreed to talk with us about
what he calls the world's biggest hot rod.
Having seen the concept drawings of the truck, we have to say
that in comparison, other rigs look like dinosaurs. How and
when did this idea come about, was it swirling around in your
head first as you drove trucks yourself?
"Thanks for the compliment. Actually you got it just right. The idea started swirling around in my head when I first
became an owner-operator in 1980. Soon after buying my first cabover tractor 18 wheeler, I then realized how
poor the fuel mileage of existing equipment was. So right then, I decided to improve the efficiency and the fuel
mileage, using my prior drag racing experience."
Shown here on top of the Cummins ISX is the new air induction system, and the new Heavy Duty Air Filter assembly from K&N Filters.
At first glance your truck resembles a European/Asian Bullet
train somewhat, how did you come up with the "airflow"
design and how much wind-tunnel testing was done, and what
sort of measurable drag and fuel reductions do your results
"The current AirFlow 2011 SuperTruck design is actually a
morphing of a Kenworth T2000 truck, into a more aerodynamic
design, as opposed to starting with a "clean sheet" design. So
many design compromises had to be made. It would have taken
many more years, and tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars
more, to do a clean-sheet prototype."
"We had great help with the SuperTruck design from our CAD
and CFD designer, Jeremy Singley, of Jeremy Singley Industrial Design. The AirFlow rig has never been out on
the road yet, so we have not done any actual wind-tunnel testing. All of our aerodynamic testing has been done
via computer with software provided by one of our Partners, SolidWorks. SolidWorks provided the Computational
Fluid Dynamics (CFD) FloWorks software that we use to tweak the aerodynamics. The CFD software is
analogous to a virtual wind tunnel. Our FloWorks CFD software says we have 326 lb ft of drag, which is a 45%
drag reduction over a stock Kenworth T2000 pulling a stock trailer. This translates to an approximate 25% fuel
In general terms, just how much research has gone into the overall concept, and have you found that it
continues to evolve as you get further into the development?
"The research has been ongoing and evolving to some extent for over 25 years now. I always knew I wanted to
build what is called a 'conventional' tractor, as opposed to a 'cabover' tractor. The basic difference is that a
conventional tractor has the engine in front of the driver's compartment, and in a cabover, the drivers
compartment sits over the engine. We have only ramped up research and development in the last two years
with this new project and the prototype. Yes, the design and the details do evolve daily. When we add one new
piece it sometimes affects many other pieces of the puzzle. Oops! I mean the prototype."
How many people are currently working on the project with you?
On a day-by-day basis, it is usually just myself, as a one-man project. My best friend helps out with the actual
build on some Saturdays. And our CAD/CFD designer works on CAD details, or aerodynamic tweaks, on contract
assignments for us. But, I estimate that I have done 98% of the work of the AirFlow Truck project myself. From
contacting sponsors, administering the web site, buying parts, building custom parts, and the actual prototype
truck build itself. Six days a week for the past two years.
Are you aware of any other truck design projects along the same lines as yours?
"Not to this extent, at least, none that I am aware of. Many OEM's are trying to get better fuel mileage and lower
emissions through various, and what I consider questionable, techniques. But basically, I feel that the large truck
OEM's are at least 30 or 40 years behind the times with their designs, even though they all check out the AirFlow
Truck web site on a regular basis. Volvo Truck North America has been to the AirFlow Truck web site over 100
times in the past two days alone."
Tell us a bit about the engine design and how did you decide to go with the K&N intake?
"Other than the redesigned cooling system and drive belt system, and the custom implementation of the new
K&N Heavy Duty Washable Air Filter, the engine is basically a stock Cummins ISX 450 horsepower diesel engine."
"We have done some modifications to the ISX to reduce parasitic horsepower losses. These include removing
the belt-driven A/C compressor and installing an all-electric A/C compressor, removing the 40# cooling fan hub,
and adding 45 quarts of 5W40 synthetic motor oil."
"Being a former amateur drag racer, I have been familiar with K&N Filters, and their sterling reputation for quality
products, for over 40 years. So when K&N recently introduced their new K&N Heavy Duty Washable Air Filter,
and when K&N told me it has lower restriction than the OEM filter, I knew we had to have one for the project."
Are you finding a lot of support for your concept from the trucking industry and other truckers?
"We have received overwhelming support from truck component and equipment manufacturers, especially the
ones who have a newer version of technology than previous versions of the same component."
We have over 20 corporate partners, and without their magnanimous support, we could not have even begun a
project of this scope and magnitude. Again, the prototype has never been out on the road. But I would imagine
that the old-school truckers will not appreciate the design and would rather actually drive, or own a square truck.
The businessman truckers, the ones who are in it to make money and not just interested in buying shiny chrome
do-dad add-ons, will appreciate the design. They will also appreciate how much fuel and money it saves."
Ideally, how would you see this project playing out, meaning would you like to go into full-scale production?
Also, have you given any thought to developing particular components of your truck to increase the efficiency
of existing rigs, such as creating bolt-on airflow body parts or engine components?
Unless we are able to obtain adequate funding, this will be the only version of the AirFlow tractor. You hit the nail
on the head when you said 'developing particular components of your truck to increase the efficiency of existing
rigs, such as creating bolt-on airflow body parts or engine components.' That is exactly what we have in mind.
Specifically, trailer skirts, which have now been required by CARB. Although just in case funding is available, we
have already designed a 2015 next-generation of the AirFlow rig, and we actually have a 29" long plastic model
Find K&N products for your vehicle using the K&N application search then use the K&N dealer search to find a
K&N dealer in your part of the world.
Februrary 12, 2010
Sirius XM Road Dog Channel
Interview with Reed Black
January 27, 2010
Sirius/XM Satellite Radio Interview with Reed Black on the Road Dog Channel.
2 out of 3 owner-operators who replied said they would buy an AirFlow rig.
The other one probably drives a SQUARE truck.
AirFlow Truck Company, LLC
State of Connecticut License # 000327240001 - 3894