Being Green – As Easy as Rolling Down the Highway

Turn out the lights… Turn down the heat… Recycle those cans and bottles… Reduce gas consumption… “Being green,” can sound like a lot of work, but new product innovations are making it easier than ever to reduce our personal carbon footprint.

I became environmentally conscious in the 1970’s. I vividly remember the Keep America Beautiful advertising campaign, and its message stays with me to this day. Yet, I’m continually saddened to see so much litter. So I volunteer to pick up trash on our beaches and pick up trash in parking lots and throw it in the nearby waste bin.  Being “green” is part of who I am.

With this post, I am kicking off a “green” blog series related to how companies are rolling out green innovations with the help of realistic simulation and design optimization technologies. When I think back to some of my Dad’s cars from the Seventies, one of his “sweet rides” was a 1976 Oldsmobile 98.

It was large (19 feet long), heavy (nearly 5,000 pounds) and had a gas-guzzling, 455 cu in (7.5 L) Rocket V8 engine to power it down the highway.

Interestingly, he added a propane tank in the trunk so he could switch from regular gas to propane without stopping to refuel. Yes, it really was a rocket, but unfortunately not very green!

In contrast to my Dad and to what we drove in when I was younger, today I drive a 4-cylinder Ford Focus. My wife drives a hybrid Ford C-Max and we are considering an electric vehicle for our next car purchase. Development of these more fuel efficient, yet peppy cars, as well as longer-range EV’s has definitely been aided by the use of simulation and optimization software at all manufacturers of cars, engines, drivetrains and yes, even tires.

While tires are mainly thought of for their traction and performance capabilities in snow or wet roads, they also play a role in improving fuel efficiency. According to the US Energy Information Administration, the United States consumed 7.19 billion barrels of petroleum in 2016. Of this amount 48% or 3.45 billion barrels of petroleum was used for motor gasoline (including ethanol). One such tire performance attribute that can have an effect on fuel economy is rolling resistance. According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, an estimated 5% to 15% of passenger car fuel consumption is used just to overcome this complex phenomenon.

Rolling resistance is dependent on two major factors: tire design—which includes size, structure, and material makeup; and operating conditions, encompassing inflation pressure, vehicle load, ambient temperature, rotating speed, and alignment. Tire engineers believe that reducing rolling resistance can cut fuel consumption by an additional three percent. Such improvements could save more than 1 million barrels of petroleum annually, in just the U.S. alone!

Do you do things to reduce your personal ‘carbon footprint’ like recycle, reduce energy use, buy more fuel efficient cars, ride your bike to work? Does your company have a “green initiative”?

If you have suggestions related to topics or examples of simulation being used in these areas – leave a comment. I want to hear from you!


Check out this Case Study from a leading tire company on how their engineers use realistic, multi-scale simulation to improve the rolling resistance of their tires in order to meet more stringent fuel economy/CO2 regulations. Their proprietary, new materials development technologies, illustrated in this case study, was selected for the prestigious “Tire Technology of the Year” award at the 2017 Tire Technology Expo in Hannover, Germany.

I'm a University of Iowa Alumni (Go Hawks!). I collect vinyl records (remember those?). I celebrated 10 years with Dassault Systemes in 2015! Even after 21 years in the engineering software industry, it’s still amazing to me that nearly every product we use in our daily lives has been simulated with software such as Abaqus FEA or CATIA Analysis. I am passionate about communicating how our customers are using realistic simulation and optimization technology to improve the safety, reliability, and performance of a broad range of products, such as safer vehicles, high-performance soccer balls, fuel-efficient composite airplanes, and innovative medical devices. I am equally enthusiastic about sharing the stories of how our team of global engineers and software developers are able to transfer their depth and breadth of engineering knowledge into our products and to our customers through training, support, and online communities.

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