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NASA, Air Force, national lab partner to improve mpg (audio slideshow)

The American trucking industry could save as much as $10 billion, or 3.4 billion gallons of diesel fuel, with new aerodynamic designs being tested at NASA.

Just a 12 percent increase in fuel efficiency for America's trucking industry could translate into a savings of $10 billion, or 3.4 billion gallons of diesel fuel--as well as prevent 36 million tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere annually.

The small things do add up, and that is the philosophy behind the multi-agency cooperation taking place at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., where the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has teamed with Navistar and the U.S. Air Force to develop and test devices for reducing the aerodynamic drag of semis.

Some of the devices being tested are already commercially available and are being manufactured by Aerofficient, Aeroindustries, AT Dynamics, Freightwing, Ladyon, and Windyne. The testing aims to build on these successful devices and find different combinations most efficient on different types of vehicles, as well as examine some prototype devices currently under development by Lawrence Livermore and Navistar.