Truck Engines And Science Fiction: The Best Of Both Worlds

Jim McCormack

For those that are looking to the purchase a new truck in the near future, Cummins has just begun to incorporate nanotechnology into its engine parts.  This was a concept that was popularized by K. Eric Drexler in the 1980’s, but is only now moving from science fiction movies to reality with the first of its kind new fuel filter that traps particles twelve times smaller than the eye can see.

According to the US National Science Foundation, devices made through nanotechnology can be lighter than steel yet have ten times the strength.  Although, because of science fiction movies, people often visualize these gadgets as traveling through the human blood stream in order to trap cancerous cells before they can spread or repair damage caused by accidents, in reality nanotech, as it is sometimes called, can be applied to many industries.  In the trucking industry, it allows manufacturers to generate products that are built better, cleaner, safer, and long lasting.


To help fund nanotechnology, the US National Nanotechnology Initiative was created.  They promoted the creation of anything that was smaller than 100 nanometers that also included novel properties.  This meant that changes in design allowed inventors to create from the bottom up; at the atomic level.  When it comes to the Cummins engine, it made since to try the new technology on parts that could be easily and cost-efficiently replaced and that often have a short lifespan.  As a result, they began with their fuel filters.

Cummins introduced their new Fleetwood fuel filter design at the Mid-America Truck Show recently.  It was explained that a nanotechnology-based filtration method that has been tested over the past three years traps 98.7% of all particles and has 13 times greater particle retention over competitors as seen in engine vibration and surge testing in high-horsepower engines.  It has been found that less downtime due to failed injectors and a longer life has resulted.  As most truckers know, hard particles that enter the fuel flow not only reduce efficiency, but interrupt precision operation and can cause damage to engines as well.

These fuel filters are specifically designed for compatibility with the Cummins ISM and ISX engine models.  When compared with competitors whose filters failed after 37 hours, it is estimated that the 190 hours of use for the new filter will be a big boon to the trucking industry.  However, this manufacturer didn’t stop there.  It has also started a new recycling program which, in just three months, collected more than 55 tons of junk materials.

Cummins is working hard to meet the needs of current and future industry trends.  Their new engine designs to be released in 2014 will be able to meet the stringent new legislative mandates requiring better fuel efficiency and lower emissions.  With nanotechnology now successfully in use, there is no doubt that this technology will be in use in many other parts of engine design and manufacturing that will ultimately result in lower costs for truck parts and engines.  Although the concept of this technology began in science fiction movies, it has now moved into the real world and is expected to impact every facet of life.