Does the boat tail work

The boat tail, is a simple tapered extension on a truck and saves 7,5% fuel. Considering that there is not much more efficiency gain on the internal combustion engine, 7,5 % is a lot.

The man who came up with this idea, Gandert van Raemdonck, says: “In the ideal situation the extension should be 10 meters long, but that wouldn’t be very practical”. It is still in testing phase and right now you couldn’t access the loading ramp or open the doors of the truck. All of this can be easily solved.

Another reason that makes this idea good is that it can be retro-fitted on existing trucks. And even more important, this idea will also save energy on future electric trucks.


Well, does it work enough? some simple Maths!

 How much is 7,5% fuel reduction, sounds like a lot right?

In the Netherlands there where 19.800.000.000 (19,8 billion) road-freight km a year in 2006, that is a lot for a country that is only 350 km long and 200 wide.

Lets make this a more comprehensible figure. 19,8billion/365 = 54.246.575 km each day

54.246.575/24 = 2.260.273 km each hour.

2.260.273 / 60 = 37.671 km a minute, there is a figure that we can work with. That is just slightly less then 40.074 km which is the circumference of the earth.

So each minute in the Netherlands, trucks transporting stuff almost go around the earth!

After some research on the internet I found out that a “normal” truck uses about 26 litres of fuel for 100 km on long distance driving. So If the freight kilometres where driven with this “normal” truck then they would use 37.671/100*26 litres of fuel. That is 9794 litres of diesel each minute.

Now, diesel is more or less C16H34. Molecular mass is 16*12 + 34 = 226. 1 litre weighs 830 grams, that’s 3,67 mol. If you burn this it would give you 3,67 * 16 = 58.72 mol CO2. So per liter diesel that is 58,72*44=2.583g or 2,58 kg.

So 9794 * 2,58 = 25.269 kilos of CO2 each minute because of trucks in the Netherlands, that is 13.281.386.400 kg CO2 each year!

If we are talking about a 7,5% decrease of fuel consumption, (9794*0,925) * 2,58 = 23.373 kg of CO2, Almost 1896 kilos CO2 less each minute. Still 23.373kg/minute is a staggering figure.


My conclusion.

Alltough a 7,5% decrease in fuel consumption is quite good, also because you can retrofit this on every truck in the world. I would say retro-fit every truck now.

According to the IPCC we would have reduce the GHG 80% of year 2000 level to sort of stay in the clear. So, it would not make enough difference in the larger scale of global warming. The only real way is to cut the transport down to 20% of 2000 level, and then, with the boat-tail you could drive 7,5% more then 80% of 2000.


I assumed that all road freight km are done with trucks, but there are also vans and cars involved. They have a lot less fuel usage but also carry less freight. These are just kilometres driven, not tonnes transported, so efficiency of each type of transport is also not taken in account. It is very raw data.

These figures are for the Netherlands, a country the size of a post-stamp, imagine Germany, the U.K., France or U.S.

For the UK it is 156 billion ton/km in 2006. If a truck carries 10 tonnes it would be 15,6 billion km a year, assumed again that it is all truck and they are fully loaded.



Yesterday I biked the 6000th kilometer going up and down to work, 42 km a day. According to some calculations I avoided the creation 1223 kg of CO2, I burned 407 mj of energy (that is 11 kilos of fat or 24 kilos of carbohydrates). I didn’t use 465 liters of car fuel, for the economists among us that is €651.

Except for the obvious health and environmental considerations I bike because it is good fun and it makes me feel closer to nature, the seasons and unwillingly: the road. I bike all year round summer, winter, -16ºC and snow, I know for sure that my wife thinks I’m crazy, but I have the sneaky suspicion that our dog thinks so too.

This is a Lanz Bulldog, a well known type of tractor from before and until just after WWII, it is a 1 cylinder diesel engine with a flywheel. It could not only run on diesel but also on petrol and other cheaper and dirtier fuels.

Lanz Bulldog

Before the introduction of tractors like this German beast, there where lots of other transport types, also ones that where a lot more silent. Like these pulling horses, one of them has an alternative way of harvesting.


For those with less money there is another option, this dog cart. These dogs are specially bred for the purpose, this is a Bernese Mountain Dog. Dog carts are nowadays forbidden in the Netherlands, only exceptions are made for demonstration purposes.


Dogs where not only used buy farmers, De Dutch Post used dog carts for small package delivery until 1922. During the call to arms in WWI the dutch army had around 1200 pulling dogs in voluntary service. They where used for pulling Automatic gun carts, munition carts and tool carts. On the picture you see the only automatic gun of the Dutch army then, it is still in use but now pulled by a bike because of the dog law.


Not only dog where used but also goats, this particular one is very chic though.

four goat drive

In the end, nothing is better and muscle power, looks like a normal bike….


But I’ve never seen this before….

plow bike

If anybody has more info about this bike, I’d like to hear.

Most of the pictures are taken at “oude ambachten in Einighausen Limburg”