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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

DOE awarding $10M to 8 transportation technology incubator projects; single-fuel RCCI with reformer

August 26, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award $10 million to eight incubator projects to develop innovative solutions for efficient and environmentally-friendly vehicle technologies that will help reduce petroleum use in the United States. Among the projects is a novel implementation of RCCI—Reactivity Controlled Compression Ignition, usually investigated with two fuels (earlier post)—using a single fuel with onboard fuel reformation.

Through the incubator activity, the Energy Department supports innovative technologies and solutions that have the potential to help meet program goals but are not substantially represented in its current research portfolio. These projects bring a more diverse group of stakeholders and participants to address technical challenges in the vehicle research priorities. Eventually, successfully demonstrated technologies or approaches from the incubator activity may impact existing long-term technology plans and roadmaps. Awardees include:

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FEV working on water injection system using exhaust condensate; fuel consumption improvements up to 16% possible

FEV is developing a water injection system for internal combustion engines using condensate from exhaust gases, the “Extended Direct Condensate Injection” system. The concept, as reported in a new paper in the International Journal of Engine Research , demonstrates a potential for efficiency increase of 3.3% – 3.8% in the region of the minimum specific fuel consumption on a stoichiometric combustion concept with Miller cycle and cooled external exhaust gas recirculation.

Further improvement of the efficiency of up to 16% is possible at full-load operation, the researchers said. If water injection is used in addition to homogeneous lean combustion, an efficiency gain of 4.5% in the region of the minimum specific fuel consumption is achieved.

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Team from GM, Ford, FCA reviews how to calculate engine efficiency benefits of high octane fuels

August 25, 2015

A team of engineers from GM Powertrain, Ford and FCA have published a detailed review of how to estimate the engine efficiency benefits of higher octane fuel—e.g., fuel with higher ethanol content—for part- and full-load operation for different engine types and fuel assumptions. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Engine compression ratio plays a fundamental role in engine efficiency; a higher compression ratio improves efficiency, but also causes higher temperatures and pressures of the unburned air-fuel mixture which can lead to knock at high loads. Compression ratio is thus limited to avoid knock. The compression ratio selected for a particular engine depends, the authors note, on the expected duty cycle and fuel octane. A higher compression ratio can be used if an engine will operate primarily at light loads, such that degraded efficiency at high loads is more than offset by improved efficiency at light loads.

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New Argonne engine simulation project investigating effects of uncertainties on engine function; targeting gasoline compression ignition

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory are launching a new simulation project from the Virtual Engine Research Institute and Fuels Initiative (VERIFI) (earlier post) to investigate how multiple variables—uncertainties—interact simultaneously to impact the functioning of an engine.

A primary focus of the research will be enabling a new generation of gasoline compression engines that operate on the basis of low-temperature combustion. A gasoline compression engine combines many of the benefits of diesel and gasoline engines by using compression to ignite the fuel in the same manner used by diesels. Vehicle manufacturers have shown interest in pursuing low-temperature combustion as an innovative route to more efficient engines.

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Health Effects Institute to release Executive Summary of ACES new-technology diesel results this fall

August 21, 2015

The Health Effects Institute (HEI) it will publish an Executive Summary of the Advanced Collaborative Emissions Study (ACES) this fall. The Summary will be the synopsis and final publication from the program to characterize the emissions and assess the health effects of new-technology diesel exhaust (NTDE) from heavy-duty diesel engines that meet the 2007 and 2010 regulations enacted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (Earlier post.) HEI is an independent, non-profit research institute funded jointly by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the worldwide motor vehicle industry.

To meet new emissions limits, diesel-engine manufacturers developed new exhaust aftertreatment systems and the petroleum industry introduced new ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel needed to allow the new emissions controls to work. HEI—in collaboration with the Coordinating Research Council, a nonprofit organization with extensive expertise in emissions characterization—launched ACES in response to requests to characterize the emissions and health effects of NTDE.

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BMW introduces Concept M4 GTS at Pebble Beach; water injection

August 14, 2015

BMW M GmbH unveiled the BMW Concept M4 GTS at the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance in Monterey, California. Details on a production version will be revealed at a later date. The BMW Concept M4 GTS is the first M3/M4 special production vehicle to be sold in the US.

The BMW Concept M4 GTS showcases new technologies which will debut in production vehicles later this year. Among them, the BMW Concept M4 GTS features the innovative water injection system (earlier post) that has already provided a significant output and torque boost in the BMW M4 MotoGP Safety Car. In addition, the BMW Concept M4 GTS has rear lights with OLED (organic light-emitting diode) technology for an unmistakable appearance.

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Jeep Cherokee in Europe gains new 2.2L MultiJet II diesel

August 12, 2015

The Jeep Cherokee in Europe is adding a new 2.2-liter MultiJet II diesel engine, available with 185 hp (138 kW) and 200 hp (149 kW) outputs, and offering a significantly wider spread of torque from low rpm, greater power, improved performance and better fuel economy than the out-going two-liter 170 hp automatic engine. The new 2.2-liter Euro 6 compliant engine, appearing on an FCA model for the first time, joins the current 2.0L diesel 140 hp manual version in the Cherokee line-up.

Both power variants are available deliver 440 N·m (325 lb-ft) of peak torque. The 200 hp variant is available on Limited specification while the 185 hp is fitted on Cherokee Longitude and Longitude+ variants only. The engines are available only with Jeep’s segment-first nine-speed automatic gearbox, and are matched to the Active-Drive four-wheel-drive systems.

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Tsinghua studies on alcohol-gasoline dual fuel engines show fuel efficiency and particle number benefits

August 10, 2015

Researchers at Tsinghua University in China are studying the effects of Dual-Fuel Spark Ignition (DFSI) combustion fueled with different alcohols and gasoline. In one paper, published in the journal Fuel, they investigated the use of alcohols–gasoline DFSI Combustion for knock suppression and high fuel efficiency using a gasoline engine with high compression ratio.

In a second paper, also published in Fuel, they systematically compared the stoichiometric alcohol–gasoline and gasoline–alcohol DFSI combustion for engine particle number (PN) reduction (and fuel economy improvement), also using a high compression ratio gasoline engine.

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VW bringing EA211 1.4L turbo direct-injection engine to Jetta range in US

August 04, 2015

Volkswagen is introducing the 1.4-liter EA211 four-cylinder turbocharged and direct-injection TSI engine into the Jetta range, replacing the previous naturally aspirated 2.0-liter engine that was used in the S model and the 1.8T TSI engine in the SE model. This brings implementation of intelligent downsizing to more than 97% of vehicles sold by Volkswagen in the US, available across all the models on sale.

The engine will be mated to either a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission: manufacturer estimated fuel economy on the highway is predicted to be 39 mpg with the six-speed automatic transmission, an improvement of 13% over the EPA estimated highway fuel economy for the previous 2.0-liter engine and 7% over the 1.8T.

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Aeristech launches new 48V electric supercharger

July 31, 2015

UK-based Aeristech has introduced a new 48V electric supercharger capable of continuous operation at high boost levels. Independently validated by Ricardo and MAHLE Powertrain UK, the technology provides greater efficiency and easier packaging than a mechanical supercharger or a two-stage turbocharger.

Aeristech said it overcame the thermal management issues that can restrict other electric boosting devices currently available on the market to only transient operation by using permanent magnet motor technology in place of the more usual switched reluctance type. This has been made cost-effective by developing a patented control and switching technology that enables the use of many cost-competitive components.

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Delphi invests in Tula; Dynamic Skip Fire cylinder deactivation

July 30, 2015

Delphi has made a minority investment in Tula Technology, the developer of Dynamic Skip Fire cylinder deactivation technology. (Earlier post.) The software-enabled powertrain technology integrates advanced digital signal processing with advanced powertrain controls to create a variable displacement engine.

DSF allows the engine’s cylinders to fire or skip (deactivate) on a continuously variable basis. In independent tests, DSF has improved fuel efficiency by up to 17% as measured on a CAFE basis when compared to a vehicle (V8 engine) that does not have cylinder deactivation. GM Ventures made an equity investment in Tula in 2012.

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Next-generation LNG carrier concept about 8% more energy efficient, with 5% more cargo

July 23, 2015

DNV GL announced the completion of the LNGreen joint industry project, which worked to develop a state-of-the-art next-generation LNG carrier. (Earlier post.) The LNGreen joint industry project brought together experts from DNV GL and industry specialists from GTT (cryogenic membrane containment systems for LNG); shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries; and shipowner GasLog.

Each of the project partners contributed their know-how and experience, to develop a next-generation LNG carrier using the latest technology, within the bounds of existing shipbuilding methods. The vessel concept has a significantly improved environmental footprint; a higher level of energy efficiency (up to 8% improvement); as well as an improved boil-off rate and cargo capacity (+5%), making it much better suited to future trading patterns than existing vessels.

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MTU Friedrichshafen forms partnership with AKASOL for battery systems for hybrid and e-drive propulsion systems

July 22, 2015

MTU Friedrichshafen GmbH, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of large diesel engines and complete propulsion systems, has formed a close development partnership with AKASOL GmbH, a Darmstadt-based subsidiary of Schulz Group (Tettnang) and a leading manufacturer of Li-ion battery systems for high performance applications. The partnership aims to develop and to deliver battery systems for MTU’s hybrid and e-drive propulsion systems.

With the help of AKASOL battery systems, MTU aims to extend its current product range with hybrid propulsion systems for mobile applications in the marine, heavy duty ground vehicles and rail sector. In the near future, AKASOL systems will be used in stationary industrial drives as well.

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Buick 2016 Encore Sport Touring features new 1.4L direct injection turbo with stop/start

July 20, 2015

Buick introduced the 2016 Encore Sport Touring crossover, a more sporty take on the brand’s popular crossover. (Encore sales increased 29% for the first six months of 2015, logging 30,549 units.) The new model is equipped with an exclusive, all-new 1.4L turbocharged engine with direct injection and stop/start technology. The engine is part of the new, global family of small, power-dense engines developed to balance performance and efficiency with refinement.

Direct injection helps the engine generate an estimated 153 hp (112 kW) and 177 lb-ft of torque (240 N·m), for about 11% more horsepower and nearly 20% more torque than the Encore’s standard engine. The engine is matched with a six-speed automatic transmission.

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Argonne, Ford and FCA partnering to study natural gas and gasoline blending for 50% cut in gasoline, 10% boost in efficiency and power density

July 14, 2015

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory are partnering with Ford Motor Company and FCA US LLC in pre-competitive research to study blending natural gas and gasoline using natural gas direct injection to enable more efficient engines. The project is a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) resulting from the 2014 DOE Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA).

The project’s objective is to understand potential benefits and demonstrate targeted blending of gasoline and natural gas in an engine that uses half as much gasoline and shows a 10% increase in overall efficiency and a 10% improvement in power density.

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UMTRI study finds total cost of ownership of diesels in US often much less than gasoline counterparts

July 09, 2015

A comprehensive study of the total cost of ownership (TCO) of light- and medium-duty diesel passenger vehicles in the US has found that the total cost of ownership—depreciation, fuel costs, repairs, maintenance, insurance, and fees and taxes—is often much less for diesel vehicles as compared to gasoline versions of the same vehicles, mostly ranging from $2,000 to $7,000 over three to five years.

Bruce Belzowski, managing director of the U-M Transportation Research Institute's Automotive Futures group, compared thousands of gasoline and diesel versions of the same or nearly identical vehicles sold at auction in 2012-13, including Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen passenger cars and SUVs, and Chevrolet, Ram, Ford and GMC medium-duty pickup trucks.

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European automakers and fuel suppliers argue for diesel as they call on policy makers to accelerate fleet renewal

July 08, 2015

In an open letter to EU policy makers, leading representatives of the automotive and petroleum refining industry in Europe called on policy makers to help accelerate fleet renewal and the introduction of the cleanest vehicles and committed to keep pushing the technical boundaries in order to find ever better ways of combining the customer benefits of diesel—fuel economy and low CO2—with continuously reduced emissions.

The associations pointed out that political measures restricting the rollout of the new generation of diesel technology would undermine existing efforts to cut CO2 emissions.

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Mercedes-Benz introduces next-gen OM 471 heavy-duty engine; more fuel efficient, more torque with fast build-up at very low revs

July 03, 2015

Mercedes-Benz Trucks has introduced the latest generation of its OM 471 six-cylinder, in-line heavy-duty diesel engine. The latest generation reduces fuel consumption by up to 3% while increasing torque; the new series is also spearheaded by a unit offering new top performance figures of 390 kW (530 hp) and 2600 N·m (1,918 lb-ft) of torque.

Assuming an annual mileage of 130,000 km (80,778 miles) in long-distance transport and a consumption of approx. 28.5 liters/100 km (8.25 mpg US) on a demanding route covered at full load capacity, the latest-generation OM 471 engine would save around 1100 liters (291 gallons) of fuel a year and emit about three tonnes less CO2.

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BMW shows future drive technologies; 2 Series PHEV prototype, direct water injection in 3-cyl. engine, and fuel cell eDrive

July 02, 2015

During a driving event at the Miramas proving grounds in southern France, BMW presented future drive technologies, including the prototype of a BMW 2 Series Active Tourer with plug-in hybrid drive. This application of BMW eDrive technologies features the first PHEV system with a front/transverse-mounted combustion engine, high-voltage generator and road-linked all-wheel drive via an electric drive system at the rear axle.

The company also showcased the use of direct water injection to enhance the efficiency of combustion engines at higher performance levels while also significantly reducing fuel consumption and emissions in key driving cycles. Finally, BMW showcased a hydrogen fuel cell drive system as a future-focused variant of BMW eDrive (teased in a technical session during April’s SAE World Congress in Detroit) enabling all-electric driving with a high operating range and short refueling times. (BMW is collaborating with Toyota on fuel cell systems. Earlier post.)

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Mercedes-Benz sets Pikes Peak diesel record with near-production C 300 d

June 30, 2015

Mercedes-Benz has set a new record for the diesels in the Pikes Peak hill-climb race with a near-production C 300 d 4MATIC. Test driver Uwe Nittel completed the 19.99 km (12.4-mile) route—which includes 156 bends with a change in altitude of 1439 meters (4,721 feet)—in just 11.37 minutes.

The 150 kW (204 hp) C 300 d 4MATIC (in Europe known as 250 d) fitted with a 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission competed in the hill-climb race in largely series-production configuration. As is customary for a racing car, the interior was cleared out. The modifications included the safety measures required by the regulations, such as a roll-over cage, racing tank, fire extinguishing system, enhanced brakes and ultra-high-performance tires (UHP).

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Audi launches next-gen A4 with new Millerized TFSI engine; g-tron model w/ Audi e-gas

June 29, 2015

Audi has unveiled the new-generation Audi A4 and A4 Avant, developed with a high priority on the reduction of CO2 emissions. Among other developments, the new A4 is the launch vehicle for the new high-efficiency 2.0L TFSI based on Miller cycle, introduced by Audi earlier this year at the Vienna Motor Symposium. (Earlier post.) The A4 Sedan and the A4 Avant will be launched in the market this fall.

The new models deliver CO2 emissions as low as 95 grams per kilometer (152.9 grams per mile) for the A4 Sedan 2.0 TDI ultra with 110 kW (150 hp). The new A4 Sedan has the best drag coefficient in its class at 0.23, while Avant has cd 0.26. Further, although compared with the previous model the car’s dimensions have grown, its weight has been reduced by up to 120 kilograms (265 lbs), depending on the engine. The body of the new Audi models is one of the lightest in its class due to an intelligent material mix and lightweight construction.

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Volkswagen announces successful completion of 2-year drop-in renewable diesel evaluation with Solazyme and Amyris

Volkswagen of America announced the successful completion of its Renewable Diesel Evaluation Program in collaboration with Solazyme and Amyris. (Earlier post.) Beginning in 2012, Volkswagen measured the environmental impacts from the use of pre-commercial renewable diesel formulas with TDI Clean Diesel technology found in the 2012 Passat TDI (which uses a NOx storage system) and 2012 Jetta TDI (SCR system). Initial analysis found that advanced renewable fuels in the test offered comparable performance to standard crude-based diesel fuel blends while producing less CO2 emissions on average.

During the two-year evaluation, Solazyme’s now commercial Soladiesel RD (100% algae-derived renewable diesel fuel) and the Amyris plant-sugar-derived renewable diesel formula was used for the program with each company testing a 2012 Passat and Jetta TDI. Both fuel producers added additives, which are commonly used today, to meet ASTM D 975 specifications.

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Mercedes-Benz increases engine range for refreshed A Class compact

June 28, 2015

Mercedes-Benz increases engine range for refreshed A Class compact

With the refresh of its A-Class, Mercedes-Benz has increased the range of available engines. The A 160 with 75 kW (102 hp) is the new entry-level model. The new efficiency champion is the 80 kW (109 hp) A 180 d BlueEFFICIENCY Edition with an NEDC fuel consumption of 3.5 l/100 km (67 mpg US) and CO2 emissions of 89 g/km. Also new are the manual transmission versions of the dynamic models A 250 and A 250 Sport.

(Mercedes-Benz is using the A-Class model facelift as the opportunity to introduce the new nomenclature for the drive variants in this model series. While the gasoline models have no suffix, the small letter “d” replaces the previous “CDI”—for example, the A 200 CDI is now called the A 200 d.

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Chevrolet introduces new Cruze; new 1.4L EcoTec turbo; new 1.6L diesel coming to US in 2017

June 25, 2015

Chevrolet introduced the all-new 2016 Cruze—larger, lighter, and more efficient than its predecessor. The new Cruze will be offered in more than 40 global markets and goes on sale first in North America in early 2016. A new, standard 1.4L turbocharged direct injection engine (for North America) helps enable a General Motors-estimated 40 mpg (5.88 l/100km) on the highway with the available six-speed automatic transmission. Stop/start technology helps enhance the Cruze’s efficiency in stop-and-go driving.

The new turbo engine and a leaner architecture that reduces up to 250 pounds (113 kg) also contribute to the new Cruze’s stronger performance, with expected 0-60-mph acceleration of eight seconds. Chevrolet will add a new clean diesel engine to the US lineup in 2017, featuring a B20-capable 1.6L diesel already proven in Europe and other global markets.

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Ford assessment of two cylinder deactivation strategies for award-winning 3-cyl. EcoBoost

June 23, 2015

Ford wien1
A comparison of the benefits of two different cylinder deactivation operating strategies for downsized 3-cylinder engines such as the 1.0L EcoBoost. The largest difference proved to be in cost. Schamel et al. Click to enlarge.

Ford’s 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine recently received its eighth award in four years at the 2015 International Engine of the Year Awards. The judges selected the 999cc EcoBoost as the winner (for the fourth consecutive year) in the “Sub 1-Litre” category, awarding it 444 points. The second place challenger, GM’s 999cc EcoTec 3-cylinder turbo, scored 176 points. (Although the EcoBoost received 61 fewer points than last year, the gap between first and second place widened.) Last year, the 1.0‑liter EcoBoost became the first engine to be named overall International Engine of the Year three times in a row, and was in 2012 named “Best New Engine.”

One of the judges, Hormazd Sorabjee of Autocar India said, “That so much can be achieved from a sub 1-liter, three-cylinder motor is simply astounding.” That may be, but Ford is exploring ways to further improve the fuel efficiency of the three-cylinder design, including the possible use of cylinder deactivation. (Earlier post.)

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BorgWarner R2S two-stage turbo boosts performance of new top-end Ford 2.0L diesel

June 22, 2015

BorgWarner’s regulated two-stage (R2S) turbocharging technology is improving the performance and fuel economy of Ford’s new 2.0-liter TDCi diesel engine, the first Ford engine for passenger cars equipped with a two-stage turbocharging system. The high-performance engine, being offered in Mondeo, S-MAX and Galaxy models in Europe, achieves an output of 155 kW (210 PS) and a maximum torque of 450 N·m from 2000 rpm and will replace the 2.2-liter TDCi diesel engine.

BorgWarner’s R2S turbocharging technology consists of two turbochargers arranged in series to deliver improved torque and smooth power over the entire engine speed range. One compact KP35 high-pressure turbocharger generates boost pressure at low exhaust gas flow rates for rapid acceleration at low engine speeds without delay or turbo lag. As engine speed increases, the exhaust gas stream is split, and the larger K04 low-pressure turbocharger works in series with the KP35 high-pressure turbocharger.

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New PSA 1.2-liter 3-cylinder turbo takes International Engine of Year category award

PSA Peugeot Citroën’s new 1.2-liter 3-cylinder Turbo PureTech engine (earlier post) was named best in the 1.0-liter to 1.4-liter category International Engine of the Year 2015 earlier this month. Some 100,000 units of the engine, which displaced the reigning category champion Volkswagen Group 1.4-liter TSI Twincharger (2014-2006) by 69 points, have already rolled off the production line at the Française de Mécanique plant in Douvrin, France.

The PureTech family of 3-cylinder engines offers high levels of performance, cutting fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by an average of 18% compared with its predecessors. The 1.0-liter and 1.2-liter naturally aspirated versions have been manufactured since 2012 at the French Trémery plant, which has an annual production capacity of 640,000 units. The 1.2-liter turbo versions have been split since 2014 between the Française de Mécanique plant and the Xiangyang plant in China, which have respective annual production capacities of 320,000 and 200,000 units.

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Toyota unveils new diesels with advanced thermal insulation combustion; 15% more fuel efficient, 25% more torque; 44% thermal efficiency

June 19, 2015

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2.8-liter 1GD-FTV direct-injection turbo diesel engine. Click to enlarge.

Toyota has introduced a new line of turbodiesel engines with more torque, greater efficiency and lower emissions. The new GD engines feature Toyota’s next-generation advanced thermal insulation diesel combustion to reduce cooling loss significantly.

The use of Thermo Swing Wall Insulation Technology (TSWIN) helps make the 2.8-liter 1GD-FTV engine one of the most thermally efficient, with a maximum thermal efficiency of 44% (measured in-house). Despite smaller engine displacement in comparison to the current KD engine, maximum torque is improved by 25% and low speed torque improved by 11%, while fuel efficiency has received a 15% boost.

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ARPA-E awards $55M to 18 projects in two new programs: TERRA for transportation energy and GENSETS for distributed generation

The Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced $55 million in funding for 18 innovative projects as part of ARPA-E’s two newest programs: Transportation Energy Resources from Renewable Agriculture (TERRA) and GENerators for Small Electrical and Thermal Systems (GENSETS).

The six TERRA projects will receive a total of $30 million to accelerate energy crop development for the production of renewable transportation fuels from biomass and the 12 GENSETS projects are aimed at developing generator technologies that will improve efficiencies in residential Combined Heat and Power (CHP) generation.

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Free piston/ORC system for automotive waste heat recovery being tested at University of Brighton

June 18, 2015

A prototype automotive waste heat recovery system has been fired up on a recently commissioned test rig at the University of Brighton. The organic Rankine cycle test rig uses a novel linear free piston expander from Libertine (earlier post) to overcome the technical and economic barriers to using Rankine cycle technology for automotive waste heat recovery.

Initially configured to simulate heavy duty truck applications, the 20 kWe system can be scaled down to 3 kWe for light duty trucks and passenger cars. Libertine expects the results from rig tests to confirm the system’s potential to convert the high grade heat in the exhaust into electrical power, which can contribute to either powertrain or auxiliary loads.

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Mercedes-Benz premieres 2nd generation GLC and plug-in hybrid GLC 350 e 4MATIC

Mercedes-Benz unveiled the second generation of its mid-range GLC SUV (the SUV in the C-Class segment, formerly the GLK). In addition to cutting fuel consumption by up to 19% in comparison to the previous model on the conventional engined models, Mercedes also introduced another plug-in hybrid SUV model: the GLC 350 e 4MATIC.

In March, Mercedes-Benz said it would 10 new plug-in hybrid models by 2017. (Earlier post.) The company introduced its first SUV PHEV in the form of the GLE 550 e earlier this year. (Earlier post.) The GLE 550 e is Mercedes-Benz’ first plug-in hybrid SUV, the GLC 350 e its second.

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BMW wins overall International Engine of Year 2015 for hybrid drive system in i8 PHEV

June 17, 2015

BMW took top honors at the latest International Engine of the Year Awards, with the 1.5-liter, three-cylinder hybrid drive unit in the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid being declared the overall winner—as well as picking up two class wins—edging out Ford’s 1.0L three-cylinder EcoBoost. BMW also picked up a class win (2.5-liter to 3-liter) for the 3-liter, Twin Turbo six-cylinder engine in the BMW M3 and BMW M4.

The BMW i8 TwinPower Turbo three-cylinder gasoline engine was voted class winner in the 1.4-liter to 1.8-liter category, while the overall drive unit of the BMW i8 claimed a further class win as the best “new engine”. The combination of electric motor and gasoline engine also earned it overall victory.

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GM to premiere new efficient 1.4L turbo at Frankfurt IAA

GM will premiere the new 1.4 ECOTEC Direct Injection Turbo and in the new Opel Astra at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt (IAA) in September. The four-cylinder turbocharged unit with central direct fuel injection will be available in two outputs, 92 kW/125 hp and 110 kW/150 hp.

The new all-aluminum engine is the bigger brother of the recently introduced 1.0-liter, three-cylinder ECOTEC Direct Injection Turbo used in the Opel ADAM and Corsa. (Earlier post.) Both engines are members of the small gasoline engine family—a group of high-tech engines with three or four cylinders and a displacement below 1.6 liters. They are key players in the biggest engine offensive in Opel’s history which will see 17 new engines brought to market from 2014 to 2018.

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VW launches new Sharan MPV; up to 14.3% more fuel efficient; stop-start, battery regen standard

June 16, 2015

Volkswagen is launching the latest version of its Sharan MPV, equipped with new TSI and TDI engines that are up to 14.3% more fuel efficient; the most efficient model consumes 5.0 l/100 km (47 mpg US). The entire engine range (115 to 220 PS) meets the Euro-6 standard.

The first generation Sharan made its debut in Geneva in 1995; between 1995 and 2015 more than 800,000 Sharans were sold worldwide. The vehicle is the best-selling German MPV in its class.

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Suzuki to partner with Proton in Malaysia; new 2-cylinder 0.8L diesel for compacts in India

Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC) will collaborate with the Malaysian national carmaker Proton Holdings Berhad. As the first step of the collaboration, SMC will supply KD (knocked down) components for a Suzuki model to Proton.

Proton will manufacture the model at its own plant, and distribute and sell the model under the Proton brand through its sales network in Malaysia. The first model will be a compact passenger car, to be manufactured at the PROTON Tanjung Malim plant from around August 2016. Other additional models will be mutually studied by Proton and SMC.

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Honda discontinuing Civic Hybrid, Civic natural gas model, Accord plug-in hybrid; new BEV, PHEV models coming

June 15, 2015

Due in part to Honda’s ability to advance fuel economy through conventional engine technology, the Civic lineup will no longer include a hybrid or a natural gas model, according to John Mendel, Executive Vice President, Automobile Division American Honda Motor Co., Inc. Both of these products with the end of the 2015 model year. Mendel also said said that Honda will not offer a plug-in version of Accord going forward as the company looks toward the scheduled launch of a new dedicated plug-in model. Honda currently is selling the MY 2014 Accord Plug-in Hybrid.

Honda will launch the all-new 10th-generation Civic this fall. With two new engines on the new Civic, including its first turbo engine, Honda is targeting class-leading fuel economy for Civic, with EPA highway fuel economy “a few ticks” above 40 miles per gallon, Mendel said.

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Audi sets new lap record for diesels on Sachsenring; electric compressor overcomes turbo lag, enhances sprint performance

June 12, 2015

Audi has set a new record time on the Sachsenring for cars with a diesel engine. The Audi RS 5 TDI competition concept rounded the 3.6 km (2.2 mi) race course in a time of 1 minute 35.35 seconds. (According to fastestlaps.com, that time edges out the 1:35.53 results of a gasoline-fueled 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. The fastest lap on the Sachsenring was set this year by a 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z06 with a time of 1:30.47.)

The diesel technology platform draws its power from a 3.0-liter V6 biturbo TDI with 320 kW (435 hp) of power and 800 N·m (590 lb-ft) of torque. The highlight is an electrically driven compressor. (Earlier post.) The Audi RS 5 TDI competition concept is based on a technical concept car that Audi presented in summer 2014 on the 25th anniversary of the TDI engine. (Earlier post.)

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Fraunhofer laser arc method enables diamond-like carbon coating at industrial scale at high rate; friction reduction

June 11, 2015

Fraunhofer researchers have developed a laser arc method with which layers of carbon almost as hard as diamond can be applied on an industrial scale at high coating rates and with high thicknesses. Applying such carbon coatings to engine components such as piston rings and pins contributes to lowering fuel consumption.

Carbon-based coatings are already used in volume production. But now the team of IWS researchers led by Prof. Andreas Leson from the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS in Dresden, Dr. Hans-Joachim Scheibe and Dr. Volker Weihnacht has succeeded in producing hydrogen-free ta-C coatings on an industrial scale at a consistent level of quality. These tetrahedral amorphous carbon coatings are significantly harder and thus more resistant to wear than conventional diamond-like coatings.

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BMW introduces 6th generation 7 Series; new 740e plug-in hybrid; remote control parking

June 10, 2015

BMW has introduced the new generation (6th) of its top-end 7 Series, featuring technology innovations in the areas of lightweight design, powertrains, chassis, operating systems, and intelligent connectivity. The all-new BMW 7 Series will be offered in the US exclusively as a long wheelbase version.

Key factors in enhancing dynamics, efficiency, comfort and safety are the use of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) in the body structure; engines from the BMW Group’s new generation of power units; the plug-in hybrid system in the new BMW 740e; the Executive Drive Pro active chassis system; the Driving Experience Control switch with ADAPTIVE mode; and BMW Laserlight.

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CONVERGE code optimization yields three-fold increase in engine simulation speed

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory are partnering with Convergent Science, Inc. (CSI), to speed up a key piece of modeling and simulation software to ensure those cycles are used as effectively as possible, reducing product development time and resulting in better engines and savings for consumers.

The research is part of Argonne’s Virtual Engine Research Institute and Fuels Initiative (VERIFI), which is working with CSI to optimize the company’s CONVERGE code, a CFD (computational fluid dynamics) program widely used in industry to conduct modeling and simulation for engine design. (Earlier post.) While the effort has been ongoing for more than two years, it has recently moved into a code optimization phase that is showing dramatic gains.

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BMW announces second-generation X1; fuel consumption reduced up to 17%

June 03, 2015

BMW announced the all-new BMW X1 Sports Activity Vehicle. In its second generation, the new MY 2016 BMW X1 builds on the success of its predecessor (more than 730,000 sold worldwide to date, 61,974 sold in the US) by incorporating a roomier interior combined with greater efficiency and technology. The new generation features enhanced sportiness and ride comfort compared to the outgoing model, with fuel consumption and emissions reduced by up to 17%, model-on-model.

The second-generation BMW X1 (fuel consumption NEDC combined: 6.4–4.1 liters/100 km [36.8–57.4 mpg US]; CO2 emissions combined: 149–109 g/km) is fitted with an all-new range of engines comprising two gasoline and two diesel units, each with 2.0-liter displacement and BMW TwinPower Turbo technology. Beyond this, the model range is scheduled to be extended from November 2015 by the variants BMW X1 sDrive18i with 100 kW/136 hp and the BMW X1 sDrive16d with 85 kW/116 hp, both driven by three-cylinder engines. The engines link up with either a six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed Steptronic unit, both of which are new developments.

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Volkswagen introduces new 1L, 3-cylinder gasoline Golf; 54.7 mpg

June 02, 2015

In Europe, Volkswagen has introduced the new Golf TSI BlueMotion featuring a new 1.0-liter, 3-cylinder with low fuel consumption of 4.3 l/100 km (54.7 mpg US) (99 g/km CO2)—more efficient than any previous Golf with a gasoline engine. (Volkswagen unveiled the model earlier this year at the Geneva show.) The new TSI engine also offers the highest specific torque of any large-scale production series gasoline engines: 200 N·m per liter displacement.

Despite its efficiency, the Golf TSI BlueMotion with the 85 kW / 114 hp downsized 999 cc EA211-series engine reaches 100 km/h in 9.7 seconds and goes on to a top speed of 204 km/h (127 mph). A 6-speed manual or 7-speed DSG (with automatic gear changes) are available; both consume just 4.3 l/100 km.

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Toyota revamps Auris powertrain lineup, including hybrid; debut of new 1.2L turbo with Otto/Atkinson technology

May 29, 2015

Toyota’s 2015 Auris range in Europe features significant improvements in five key areas; design; sensory quality; the hybrid model; safety; and, improving the model’s segment coverage by some 40%, powertrains. Toyota had introduced the facelifted Auris at the Geneva show earlier this year. (Earlier post.)

Reflecting changing trends in the C-segment market which call for further reductions in fuel consumption, emissions and cost of ownership without detriment to performance or driving pleasure, Toyota has both extended and extensively revised the Auris full hybrid, gasoline and diesel powertrain line-up. Included in the revised lineup is the new 1.2-liter Turbo with Otto/Atkinson cycle technology. (Earlier post.) Every engine in the range now meets Euro 6 emissions regulations.

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Sandia RAPTOR turbulent combustion code selected for next-gen Summit supercomputer readiness project

May 28, 2015

RAPTOR, a turbulent combustion code developed by Sandia National Laboratories mechanical engineer Dr. Joseph Oefelein, was selected as one of 13 partnership projects for the Center for Accelerated Application Readiness (CAAR). CAAR is a US Department of Energy program located at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility and is focused on optimizing computer codes for the next generation of supercomputers.

Developed at Sandia’s Combustion Research Facility, RAPTOR, a general solver optimized for Large Eddy Simulation (LES, a mathematical model for turbulence), is targeted at transportation power and propulsion systems. Optimizing RAPTOR for Summit’s hybrid architecture will enable a new generation of high-fidelity simulations that identically match engine operating conditions and geometries. Such a scale will allow direct comparisons to companion experiments, providing insight into transient combustion processes such as thermal stratification, heat transfer, and turbulent mixing.

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DOE announces $26.6M SBIR/STTR FY15 Phase 1 Release 2 awards; fuel cells, batteries, power electronics and efficient combustion engines

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected 162 projects to receive about $26.6 million in the 2015 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Phase I Release 2 Awards. (Earlier post.) Of these, 16 are vehicle-related, encompassing projects developing batteries, power electronics and improved combustion engine technology including on-board reformers, and two are specifically hydrogen fuel cell-related.

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) are Federal programs in which agencies with large research and development (R&D) budgets set aside a small fraction of their funding for competitions among small businesses only. Small businesses that win awards in these programs keep the rights to any technology developed and are encouraged to commercialize the technology. While the original charter of the program focused on technological innovation, the current programs have evolved to have a greater focus on commercialization.

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Mercedes-Benz investing around $558 million in Berlin plant; global center of competence for CAMTRONIC

May 22, 2015

Mercedes-Benz is investing a total of around €500 million (US$558 million) in its plant in Berlin—the Group’s oldest production facility in operation—which is being developed into a high-tech facility for component production. Some €150 million ($168 million) of that will be applied this year. In the future, Berlin will be a global center of competence for the production of the CAMTRONIC engine management system, giving it a unique position within the production network. The V6-cylinder diesel engine is produced in Berlin.

With the agreement of this transformation plan, the plant is continuing to push forward its development into a high-tech component manufacturing facility, focusing on the expansion of capacity for advanced products. In addition to high-precision transmission parts, camshaft adjusters and fuel systems, these include the CAMTRONIC valve timing system that will be the subject of the majority of the agreed investment.

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Solvay participating in Polimotor 2 carbon fiber reinforced polymer engine project

May 19, 2015

Solvay is taking a “leadership role” in the development of the Polimotor 2 all-plastic automotive engine to be tested in a race car next year, demonstrating the company’s advanced specialty polymer technologies in light-weighting through metal replacement. The collaborative project is intended ultimately to set the stage for innovative breakthroughs in future commercial automobiles.

The original Polimotor was developed by Matti Holtzberg in the 1980s. The first version of the Polimotor, based on the Ford 2.3L Mustang engine, used a combination of carbon fiber, Torlon, epoxy, ceramic and metal. The engine block, cylinder head, valve spring retainers, timing gear intake valves and several other parts were made of fiber reinforced composites (FRCs). The reciprocating mass was still metal.

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Review of research suggests inconclusive support for fuel consumption benefits of catalyzed EGR

May 18, 2015

Conflicting evidence does not support making a firm conclusion on the fuel consumption benefit of catalysed Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR), according to a review of current studies by a team at the University of Bath (UK). In catalyzed EGR, a catalyst alters the chemical composition of the exhaust gas mix before its reintroduction to the engine. As an example, one study found a decrease in fuel consumption of up to 2%, while another found an increase of 1.5%-3.5%.

According to the review, the conversion of HCs, CO, and NO in the exhaust gas by the catalyst can result in up to a 4.5% reduction (in extreme cases) in the calorific value of the charge for catalyzed EGR when compared to equivalent operation with un-catalyzed EGR; this reduction in calorific value has a negative impact on the achievable BSFC. An open access paper on the study (an update of an earlier version published late last year) appears in the International Journal of Engine Research.

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Behind Audi’s new “rightsized” efficient EA888 Gen.3B family

May 14, 2015

Image002
Audi’s new “rightsized” 2.0L Gen.3B engine maintains the displacement of the 2.0L Gen.3 and delivers the power of the 1.8L TFSI with the fuel consumption of the 1.4L TFSI. Click to enlarge.

Audi’s new higher-efficiency series-production 2.0 TFSI turbocharged gasoline direct injection engine introduced at the Vienna Motor Symposium last week is the first of the company’s EA888 Gen.3B family. The engine, featuring a new combustion method based on the Miller cycle, will be used for the first time in the next generation of the A4. (Earlier post.) The Miller cycle uses a higher expansion ratio than compression ratio (i.e., over-expansion) obtained by either early or late closing of the intake valves (EIVC and LIVC, respectively), resulting in a smaller effective compression stroke; combustion and expansion proceed normally.

The new Audi engine combines shorter intake events with a high geometric compression ratio; together with other refinements to the basic engine, the new combustion concept enables a reduction in combined cycle CO2 emissions of up to 10-12 g/km compared to its predecessor.

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Ford exploring cylinder deactivation for 1.0L EcoBoost; testing shows up to 6% fuel efficiency improvement

May 12, 2015

Ford, in collaboration with the Schaeffler Group, is investigating different cylinder deactivation approaches on its award-winning 1.0-liter, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine. On-road tests using a working prototype showed fuel efficiency improvements of up to 6%, according to Dr. Andreas Schamel, director, Ford Global Powertrain, Research & Advanced Engineering in Vienna last week.

For the test, the engineers also developed a new dual mass flywheel. This enabled cylinder deactivation to take place at a wider range of engine loads and speeds, and helped minimize noise, vibration and harshness levels.

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Audi power-dense 2.5L TFSI engine with electric biturbo delivers 591 hp from 2,480 cc; 48V subsystem for the turbo

May 09, 2015

At the Wörthersee festival, Audi is showcasing the Audi TT clubsport turbo technology concept equipped with a new 2.5 TFSI gasoline engine with an electric biturbo (earlier post) that delivers 441 kW (591 hp) and 650 N·m (479.4 lb-ft), with acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 3.6 seconds. Peak torque is available from 3,000 to 7,000 rpm. Power is transferred via a manual six-speed transmission.

While production car engines with this level of output are available from a number of mainstream OEMs, the displacement of the Audi engine is about half or less that of the others, resulting in a very power- and torque-dense unit. The five-cylinder, 2,480 cc engine produces 178 kW (239 hp) and 262 N·m (193 lb-ft) per liter of displacement. By comparison:

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Volkswagen introduces new generation of EU6 TDI diesels for light-duty vehicles; 2.0 TDI BiTurbo offers avg. 14% reduction in fuel consumption

May 08, 2015

At the Vienna Motor Symposium, Jörn Kahrstedt, Head of Diesel Engine Development for the Volkswagen brand, presented the new EU6 TDI engine family for light-duty vehicles. The newly developed 2.0 TDI 4V engine, based on the modular diesel component system (MDB) (earlier post), makes its debut with the market launch of the new Multivan and Transporter models from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. The new family of engines is tailored to the requirements of commercial vehicles, while also extending the power range.

During development the focus was on a significant reduction in fuel consumption (by 14%, on average) while simultaneously meeting the EU6 emission limits, as well as a traction capacity oriented torque curve with a noticeable increase in driving performance for the customer. The top-of-the-range engine features a newly developed dual-stage turbocharger layout.

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Bosch developing series production water injection system for SI engines to reduce fuel consumption and improve performance

Bosch is developing a water injection (WI) system for spark ignition engines in partnership with a pilot customer, said Dr. Rolf Bulander, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH and chairman of the Mobility Solutions business sector, in his talk on powertrain optimization at the Vienna Motor Symposium. The port water injection system comprises a water pump; a water rail; and injectors which have been designed to handle the specific challenges arising as a result of operation with water.

Dr. Bulander said that a WI system can enable up to a 4% improvement in NEDC fuel consumption by cooling the charge to minimize/avoid fuel enrichment; mitigate knocking (premature denotation); and enable an increased compression ratio. A port-injection WI system is low complexity and highly effective, he noted.

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Audi introduces new high-efficiency 2.0L TFSI based on Miller cycle; 190 hp, 47 mpg

Audi introduced its new series-production 2.0 TFSI gasoline turbocharged direct injection engine for the first time at the Vienna Motor Symposium this week. The engine, which features a new combustion method, will be used for the first time in the next generation of the A4.

The four-cylinder engine delivers 140 kW (190 hp) and 320 N·m (236.0 lb-ft) from a displacement of 1,984 cc; the high torque is applied in a broad range of 1,450 to 4,400 rpm. The engine also features low fuel consumption levels of less than 5.0 l/100 km (47.0 mpg US) in the NEDC, clearly undercutting both its predecessor and comparable competitors. Enabling the performance of the new 2.0 TFSI is a new combustion method, according to Audi. At its core, its principle is comparable to the Miller cycle.

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Cummins Westport introducing new ISB6.7 G mid-range natural gas engine

May 06, 2015

At the opening reception at ACT Expo in Dallas, TX, Cummins Westport Inc. will unveil the ISB6.7 G, a 6.7-liter medium-duty, factory-built dedicated natural gas engine for school bus, shuttle bus, medium-duty truck and vocational applications. (Earlier post.) The new ISB6.7 G is currently in field trials with full production expected to commence in mid-2016.

The ISB6.7 G natural gas engine is based on the Cummins ISB6.7 diesel engine platform, the industry leader in the Cummins medium-duty engine family. The ISB6.7 G will operate exclusively on natural gas (CNG or LNG) utilizing Cummins Westport’s proprietary spark-ignited, stoichiometric combustion with cooled exhaust gas recirculation (SEGR) technology, first introduced with the 8.9-liter ISL G.

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Wrightspeed unveils new turbine range extender for medium- and heavy-duty electric powertrains; 30% more efficient than current microturbine generators

May 04, 2015

Wrightspeed Inc., a developer of range-extended electric vehicle powertrains for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (earlier post), has unveiled the Fulcrum, a new proprietary turbine generator for use in its Route family of electric powertrains (Route for Class 3-6, Route HD for Class 7-8). The new 80 kW Fulcrum is a radial inflow, axial turbine, intercooled and recuperated. Fulcrum is a single shaft machine, the generator runs at turbine speed (~100,000 rpm). Weighing in at 250 lbs (113.4 kg), the Fulcrum is approximately 1/10th the weight of its piston generator counterparts and it is designed to have a 10,000-hour lifetime.

The Route extended range electric powertrains incorporate a range-extending genset designed to recharge the high-power battery pack (currently from A123 Systems) and Wrightspeed’s own geared traction drive (GTD) (earlier post). Wrightspeed, founded by Ian Wright, one of the original co-founders of Tesla Motors, has used a 65 kW Capstone microturbine in earlier Route powertrains. The 65 kW Capstone unit weighs 300 lbs (136.1 kg), for a power-to-weight ratio of 478 W/kg; by comparison, Wrightspeed’s new Fulcrum microturbine offers a power-to-weight ratio of 750 W/kg. With Fulcrum, on which the company has been working for about 3 years, Wrightspeed now owns 100% of the Intellectual Property of its powertrain products.

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Jaguar bringing XE diesel to US in 2016

April 29, 2015

The Jaguar US lineup will expand in 2016 with the addition of the all new, aluminum-intensive Jaguar XE compact sports sedan in 20d (diesel) and 35t models each in Premium, Prestige and R-Sport trim levels and available in RWD or AWD. The Jaguar XE will be offered with a lighter version of the ZF 8-speed automatic used in the rest of the Jaguar range.

The fuel economy leader will be the Jaguar XE 20d, powered by the company’s new Ingenium 2.0 liter diesel (earlier post) delivering 180 hp (134 kW) and 318 lb-ft (431 N·m) of torque. Mated with the eight-speed automatic transmission, the Jaguar XE 20d will be the brand’s most fuel efficient model (EPA figures to be released at later date).

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Achates Power testing shows transient capabilities of opposed piston engine

April 27, 2015

Initial test results of the transient control and exhaust temperature management capability of Achates Power’s opposed piston (OP) two-stroke diesel engine show that under a typical transient maneuver—25% to 100% load step at low and constant engine speed—the engine can control both NOx and soot with a minimal torque lag. Test results also showed that the air system control flexibility and robust combustion system that Achates Power developed for the OP engine can be used to achieve high exhaust gas temperatures for a diesel engine at idle-like speeds and load, thereby assisting catalyst light-off.

The results follow a paper published earlier this year detailing steady-state testing results that showed the research 4.9L three-cylinder engine was able to achieve 43% brake thermal efficiency at the best point and almost 42% on average over the modes of the SET (Supplemental Emission Test) cycle. The results from this test confirmed the modeling predictions and pointed to a 48% best BTE and 46.6% average over the cycle for a production design of this engine, the Achates team concluded. With the latest paper Achates Power is exploring other critical attributes necessary to deliver a successful engine to the industry.

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U. Mich, Ford team studies effect of ethanol in reducing PM from DISI engines; insights into fueling strategies to reduce soot

April 26, 2015

A team from the University of Michigan and Ford’s Research and Advanced Engineering group in Dearborn has studied the effects of ethanol on reducing particulate emissions from a direct injection spark ignition (DISI) engine by comparing neat anhydrous ethanol with a baseline fuel of reference grade gasoline (indolene).

In a paper published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels, they reported that ethanol produced over an order of magnitude less soot under all operating conditions compared to indolene; however, ethanol produced measurable soot at cold coolant and early fuel injection timing conditions.

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LiquidPiston signs $1M agreement with DARPA to advance development of power-dense X-Mini rotary engine for JP-8

April 24, 2015

LiquidPiston, Inc. (LPI), the developer of engines based on its High Efficiency Hybrid Cycle (HEHC) (earlier post), has entered into an agreement totaling $991,557 with the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to advance the development of its efficient, power-dense rotary internal combustion engine X-Mini (earlier post) for portable and small-engine applications.

Under this agreement, LiquidPiston’s primary objective is to demonstrate a pathway towards a rotary JP-8 fueled engine that has the potential to reduce fuel consumption by 50% and to increase power density by threefold compared to today’s conventional heavy-fuel piston engines. JP-8, or Jet Propellant 8, is a kerosene-based jet fuel used widely by the US military.

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GM provides technical details of the Gen 2 Voltec propulsion system used in the 2016 Volt

April 23, 2015

The second-generation “Voltec” extended range electric powertrain applied in the MY2016 Chevy Volt (earlier post) marks a significant evolution in the electric drive technology platform from its first-generation origins. After proving a initial look at the design and capability of the different components (earlier post) late last year, GM is now providing deeper technical insight into the second-generation platform.

At the SAE 2015 World Congress in Detroit this week, GM engineers are presenting four papers on the technology of the Gen 2 Voltec propulsion system: an overview of the system and the realized improvements in efficiency and performance; a paper on the significantly re-engineered traction power inverter module (TPIM); a paper on the design and performance of the new electric motors used in the propulsion system; and a paper on the selection and design of the optimized gasoline-fueled 1.5-liter range extender engine.

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DOE developing Optima initiative: co-optimization of fuels and engines for extreme boost in system fuel efficiency above current policy targets

April 21, 2015

Optima
Optima is targeting a vehicle-fuels system approach to far exceed the improvements in vehicle energy consumption and the greenhouse gas intensity of the energy source. Source: DOE. Click to enlarge.

Researchers at several DOE national laboratories are organizing a new initiative—New Fuels and Vehicle Systems Optima (Optima)—targeting the development and market introduction of co-optimized new fuels and light-, medium- and heavy-duty engines which together could achieve very significant performance improvements. Specifically, Optima is targeting a reduction in per-vehicle petroleum consumption by 30% vs. the 2030 base case, which is constrained to using today’s fuels.

This goal reflects contributions from both improved engines (7–14% reduction in fuel consumption) and improved fuels (with substitution of up to 30% low-GHG biofuel blend stocks). Another goal is accelerating the deployment of advanced biofuels to meet the Renewable Fuel Standard Program 2030 goal of 15 billion gallons/year of advanced biofuel—a sharp contrast to the low volumes currently predicted by the International Energy Agency for the US in 2030. At a fleet level, Optima is intended to produce an additional 9–14% fleet GHG reduction by 2040.

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Ford investing $2.5B for new engine, transmission plants in Mexico

April 17, 2015

Ford is investing $2.5 billion in new engine and transmission plants in the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Guanajuato, respectively. The investment covers three projects: a new engine plant in Chihuahua; expansion of Ford’s I-4 and diesel engine lines in Chihuahua; and a new transmission plant—Ford’s first in Mexico—in Guanajuato.

The investment, which comes during the celebration of Ford’s 90th anniversary in the country, will bring 3,800 direct new jobs plus additional indirect jobs to Mexico. Ford officials announced the investment today during a ceremony with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and other members of the country’s Federal Government.

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Libertine FPE builds demo prototype of linear free piston generator

UK-based Libertine FPE has built a demonstration prototype of its linear electrical machine for what it is calling “Digital Piston Motion Control” in free piston engine applications. (Earlier post.) This technology will allow researchers to develop future combustion engines free from the piston motion constraints dictated by the crankshaft. Already validated at proof-of-concept level, Libertine’s new hardware uses production-feasible component designs suitable for automotive hybrid powertrain modules, such as range extenders.

Unlike conventional engine-generator combinations which use a crankshaft and mechanical powertrain to rotate an electrical machine, Libertine’s technology uses a linear electrical machine to generate power directly from the piston’s motion. The linear generator can also be used as a motor to apply a variable force to the piston, and this approach permits each piston’s velocity, motion profile and compression and expansion ratio to be optimally controlled via the ECU to accommodate startup, transient and flex-fuel operation. This flexibility offers significant improvements in combustion efficiency and has the potential to produce a third more power from the same fuel input.

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ARPA-E holding Workshop on Powertrain Innovations for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles

April 16, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) will be holding a Workshop on Powertrain Innovations for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, taking place in Denver, CO on 14-15 May 2015.

Even beyond 2030, the majority of vehicles in the US will continue to be engine-powered, either in conventional or hybrid configurations. As a result the light- and heavy-duty vehicle fleet will continue to consume about 30EJ of primary fuel energy, including substantial volumes of imported oil. Currently, each 10% improvement in vehicle fuel efficiency corresponds to a ~3% reduction in primary energy usage in the United States, with concomitant GHG emissions reductions.

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Honda’s 2016 Pilot features more power, 9-speed option, new drivetrain capabilities

April 10, 2015

Honda is enhancing its new third-generation MY2016 Pilot mid-size SUV with a new, more powerful direct-injected 3.5-liter engine with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) cylinder deactivation technology producing 280 horsepower (210 kW) @6000 rpm and 262 lb-ft (355 N·m) of torque @4700 rpm, and new 6-speed and 9-speed (a Honda first) automatic transmissions. The engine’s peak output and torque are up 30 hp and 9 lb-ft, respectively, over the previous model.

The new Pilot also features a new Intelligent Variable Torque Management (i-VTM4) AWD System and all-new selectable Intelligent Traction Management system with Normal, Mud, Sand, and Snow modes on the AWD model and Normal and Snow on the 2WD model.

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DOE investing $200M in next-gen supercomputer for Argonne; on the road to exascale computing

Under the joint Collaboration of Oak Ridge, Argonne, and Lawrence Livermore (CORAL) initiative, the US Department of Energy (DOE) will invest $200 million to deliver a next-generation supercomputer—Aurora—to the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF). When commissioned in 2018, this supercomputer will be open to all scientific users.

The new system, Aurora, will use Intel’s HPC (high performance computing) scalable system framework to provide a peak performance of 180 PetaFLOP/s. Aurora, in effect a “pre-exascale” system, will be delivered in 2018. Argonne and Intel will also provide an interim system, the 8.5 PetaFLOP Theta, to be delivered in 2016, which will help Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF) users transition their applications to the new technology. (Theta will require only 1.7 MW of power.)

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Toyota’s second turbocharged gasoline engine now available in Auris in Japan; 36% thermal efficiency

April 06, 2015

Toyota Motor has introduced its second turbocharged engine (following the 2.0-liter in the Lexus NX 200t turbo last year, earlier post) from a series of new engines with improved thermal and fuel efficiency. (Earlier post.) The new 8NR-FTS 1.2-liter direct-injection turbo engine is now available as an option for the partially redesigned Auris, which went on sale in Japan today. Toyota announced the new engine in March at the Geneva Motor Show. (Earlier post.)

The new 1.2-liter engine in the new Auris 120T generates peak torque of 185 N·m (136 lb-ft) at a wide range of rpms between 1,500 rpm and 4,000 rpm; maximum power is 85 kw (112 hp) at 5,200-5,600 rpm. At 19.4 km/L (46 mpg US, 5.15 l/100 km), fuel efficiency exceeds the Japanese government’s 2015 fuel economy standards by at least 10%. The 120T grade is eligible for the Japanese government’s subsidies and tax incentives for eco-cars.

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Jaguar introduces Gen 2, aluminum-intensive XF; up to 60 mpg US with diesel Ingenium engine

April 02, 2015

Jaguar has unveiled the second-generation, all-new Jaguar XF at the New York International Auto Show. The coupé-like design uses Jaguar’s aluminum-intensive (75% aluminum) architecture (earlier post) to enable weight savings of up to 190 kg (419 lbs)—making the 163PS diesel model 80 kg (176 lbs) lighter than the nearest competitor—plus an increase in torsional stiffness of up to 28%. The architecture also delivers improvements in packaging and proportions.

The powertrain range will consist of: 163PS (161 hp, 120 kW) and 180PS (178 hp, 132 kW) 2.0-liter diesel manual and automatic; RWD, 240PS (237 hp, 177 kW) 2.0-liter gasoline automatic; RWD, 300PS (296 hp, 221 kW) 3.0-liter diesel automatic; RWD and AWD, 340PS (335 hp, 250 kW) and 380PS (375 hp, 279 kW) 3.0-liter gasoline automatic. With fuel economy as low as 60 mpg US (3.94 l/100 km) (104 g/km CO2) on the European combined cycle from the Ingenium diesel (earlier post), the all-new XF delivers an improvement of almost 20% compared to its predecessor.

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Chevrolet introduces 2016 Spark; new 1.4L engine with 16% more power and 40 mpg highway

At the New York International Auto Show, Chevrolet introduced the all-new 2016 Spark—a completely redesigned and more sophisticated execution of the brand’s global minicar. It offers greater efficiency and refinement, along with new, available safety and connectivity features. As one of Chevrolet’s most global vehicles (global Chevrolet Spark sales have surpassed 1 million since it went on sale in 2010), the 2016 Spark will be offered in more than 40 markets around the world.

The new Spark has a sleeker appearance, thanks to a slightly longer wheelbase, and an overall height about 1.6 inches (40 mm) lower than the current model. The lower profile reduces aerodynamic drag to help improve efficiency and interior changes maintain the Spark’s headroom. The new Spark is built on an all-new, more robust architecture that serves as the foundation for an improved driving experience. The stronger body structure enabled engineers to tune ride and handling more precisely, for greater feelings of control and refinement, while fostering a quieter ride.

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2016 Optima midsize sedan gains new 1.6L engine

Kia Motors America (KMA) introduced the re-designed Optima midsize sedan at the New York International Auto Show. The new Optima maintains its athletic identity but rides on a chassis that is longer, wider and stiffer for improved ride and handling and a more spacious cabin.

The all-new Optima is available with three engine choices, providing a balance between sportiness and fuel efficiency. Two powerplants carry over from the previous generation, the 2.4-liter GDI four-cylinder, available on the LX and EX models, and the 2.0-liter GDI turbo engine, available on the SXL and SX Turbo models. All new for the 2016 model is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbo engine offered on the LX trim.

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U Toronto LCA suggests that with CNG as primary vehicle energy source, EVs best targeted at non-attainment areas

April 01, 2015

A team at the University of Toronto has examined the life cycle air emissions (climate change and human health) impact benefits and life cycle ownership costs of compressed natural gas (CNG) use directly in conventional vehicles (CV) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEV), and natural gas-derived electricity (NG-e) use in plug-in battery electric vehicles (BEV), using a gasoline-fueled conventional vehicle as a reference.

Among their findings, published in a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, are that policies should for the foreseeable future focus on the niche adoption of plug-in vehicles in non-attainment regions, as CNG vehicles are likely more cost-effective at providing overall life cycle air emissions impact benefits.

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Chevrolet introduces 2016 Malibu; full hybrid option; 8-speed auto

Chevrolet introduced the all-new 2016 Malibu—the ninth generation of the midsize sedan which made its debut in 1964. The completely restyled midsize sedan is engineered to offer more efficiency, connectivity and advanced safety features, and features the option of a new full-hybrid powertrain, which leverages technology from the Chevrolet Volt. (Earlier post.) The Malibu Hybrid will offer an estimated combined fuel economy rating exceeding 45 mpg (5.22 l/100 km). When equipped with the standard 1.5L turbo engine option, Malibu is projected to offer 37 mpg (6.35 l/100 km) highway.

The 2016 Malibu is also longer and lighter, with more interior space and improved fuel efficiency. Its wheelbase has been stretched close to four inches (101 mm), and it is nearly 300 pounds (136 kg) lighter than the current model.

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Tenneco developing new gasoline particulate filter (GPF) technology ahead of Euro 6c emissions regulation

March 31, 2015

Tenneco is leveraging its expertise in diesel particulate filter (DPF) technology to develop gasoline particulate filters for 2017 model year light vehicles. These filters are designed for gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines to reduce particulate emissions in compliance with the Euro 6c emissions regulation (particulate number of no more than 6 x 1011particles/km), which takes effect on 1 September 2017.

GDI engines help improve fuel economy and therefore reduce CO2 emissions; however, they can have higher particulate emissions due to shorter fuel/air mixing times in the cylinder compared to multiport fuel injection engines. Advanced fuel injection strategies are currently used to control gasoline particulate emissions in-cylinder but they are designed for a particular emission test cycle and may be less effective under real driving conditions.

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Achates Power awarded $14M military single-cylinder engine project; partnering with Cummins

Achates Power, Inc., the developer of a family of two-stroke compression-ignition opposed-piston engines (earlier post), has been awarded a $14-million project by the National Advanced Mobility Consortium to support research and development work of the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC). The project is the Single Cylinder Advanced Combat Engine Technology Demonstrator, part of the Army’s 30-year strategy to modernize tactical and combat vehicles.

Achates has partnered with Cummins Inc. for the project. Together, their technologies will be used to further refine the opposed-piston engine for lower heat rejection, greater fuel efficiency, increased power density and the ability to operate on various fuels. The end goal is to deliver a product that improves the mobility and performance of combat vehicles.

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Total natural gas vehicle sales in US down 6.5% in 2014 due to 34% drop in light-duty sales; medium- and heavy-duty up

March 29, 2015

In 2014, light-, medium-, and heavy-duty natural gas vehicle (NGV) production/sales in the US totaled just over 18,000 vehicles, down 6.5% from 2013, according to NGVAmerica’s 2014 NGV Production/Sales Report. The report is based on the organization’s annual survey of OEMs and approved aftermarket suppliers.

The heavy-duty market segment grew at a healthy pace, up 30% over 2013. The medium-duty market segment also grew steadily, up 24% over 2013. The light-duty segment fell 34% from 2013, mostly related to a drop in orders from the gas and oil exploration and production (E&P) sector.

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Daimler Trucks NA SuperTruck achieves 115% freight efficiency improvement over 2009 baseline; 50.2% engine BTE

March 27, 2015

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DTNA’s SuperTruck was unveiled at the 2015 Mid-America Trucking Show. Click to enlarge.

Daimler Trucks North America’s (DTNA) SuperTruck program has achieved 115% freight efficiency improvement (gallons of fuel consumed per ton of goods moved per mile traveled)—surpassing the Department of Energy (DOE) program’s goal of 50% improvement and exhibiting the best results of all reporting OEMs. (Earlier post.) DTNA unveiled its SuperTruck at the 2015 Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) in the Freightliner Trucks booth.

To measure freight efficiency, DTNA ran vehicle testing on highway routes in Oregon and Texas; one city route in Portland, Ore.; and anti-idle testing in both a cold chamber and hot chamber. These tests resulted in the combined 115% freight efficiency improvement over a 2009 baseline truck. Testing was also conducted at the DTNA Detroit engineering facility to demonstrate engine efficiency by achieving 50.2% engine brake thermal efficiency.

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Cummins ATLAS light-duty diesel surpasses fuel economy targets, with criteria emissions lower than Tier 2/Bin 2

March 26, 2015

Cummins Inc. is showcasing the results of a four-year joint program with the US Department of Energy (DOE) at the Mid-America Trucking Show. The Advanced Technology Light Automotive Systems (ATLAS) program (earlier post) was initiated to develop a commercially viable diesel engine for the half-ton pickup truck market that is capable of meeting future Tier 2 Bin 2 emissions regulations and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and stringent greenhouse gas (GHG) requirements out to the year 2025.

The Cummins team not only surpassed all fuel-economy targets, but also achieved criteria emissions lower than the stringent Tier 2/Bin 2 levels.

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New Ford S-MAX first worldwide to offer Intelligent Speed Limiter

March 24, 2015

Ford of Europe announced that the a new S-MAX will be the first Ford worldwide to offer Intelligent Speed Limiter, a new technology that scans traffic signs and adjusts the throttle to help drivers stay within legal speed limits and avoid fines.

Intelligent Speed Limiter for the first time combines the two current Ford technologies Adjustable Speed Limiter and Traffic Sign Recognition, which are both already available on models including Focus, all-new Mondeo, and Kuga SUV. Drivers can choose between speed limiting systems in the vehicle menu using the steering wheel controls, and activate them using the speed system controls.

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Daimler putting ~€1B into Stuttgart-Untertürkheim to make it the center of competence for efficient engines, hybrid powertrains and fuel cell system production

March 21, 2015

Daimler is investing about €1 billion (US$1.07 billion) in the Mercedes-Benz plant in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim and is transforming it into a center of competence for highly efficient engines, hybrid powertrains and the production of fuel cell systems.

From 1 June, Untertürkheim will assume responsibility for a facility in Nabern in the greater Stuttgart area where assembly of the fuel cell system will take place. The Nabern facility will remain the center of competence for the overall development of fuel cell drive systems under the direction of Daimler AG.

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Cadillac launches new V-6 family; 3.0L Twin Turbo w/ cylinder deactivation and stop/start for CT6

March 20, 2015

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The new 3.0L Twin Turbo for the 2016 Cadillac CT6 combines turbocharging with cylinder deactivation and stop/start technologies to conserve fuel. Click to enlarge.

GM’s Cadillac announced a new generation of V-6 engines, led by an exclusive 3.0L Twin Turbo V-6 that will power the upcoming, top-of-the-range CT6 luxury performance sedan, premiering at the New York International Auto Show. (Earlier post.)

The 3.0L Twin Turbo is the only six-cylinder engine to combine turbocharging with cylinder deactivation and stop/start technologies to conserve fuel. Cadillac expects the combination to enhance fuel economy by up to an estimated 6%.

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EPA awards $8M in FY2014 clean diesel grants in 21 states, Puerto Rico

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $8 million to communities in 21 states and Puerto Rico to reduce emissions from the nation’s existing fleet of diesel engines through the agency’s Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) program. The grants will fund projects such as retrofitting older school buses to improve air quality for children riding to school, upgrading marine propulsion and agriculture engines, and replacing long haul truck engines.

The twenty-one projects will receive funding through the EPA’s DERA Fiscal Year 2014 allocation. The selected projects are cost-effective and will impact fleets operating in areas that will benefit from additional steps to protect air quality and public health.

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VW of America introducing the Golf SportWagen; increased cargo volume and fuel efficiency; up to 43 mpg highway with diesel

March 09, 2015

Volkswagen of America is hosting a media drive in Austin this week to introduce the newest US member of the seventh-generation Golf family, the Golf SportWagen. Based on the Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) architecture introduced with the latest Golf generation, the SportWagen replaces the Jetta SportWagen in the Volkswagen US line-up. (The Golf SportWagen was also the basis for the hydrogen fuel cell Golf SportWagen HyMotion concept shown at the LA Auto Show last November. Earlier post.)

The Golf SportWagen will be offered with two powertrains: the third-generation EA888 1.8-liter, 170 hp (127 kW) turbocharged and direct-injection four-cylinder TSI engine (earlier post) mated to a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission; and the EA288 2.0-liter, 150-hp turbocharged and direct-injection four-cylinder TDI diesel (earlier post), fitted with a six-speed manual or a six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. Volkswagen is taking a more aggressive pricing stance with the diesel, reducing the base price of the TDI S (entry-level) model by almost $2,000 compared to the older SportWagen.

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Elio Motors unveils engine prototype for 84 mpg highway 3-wheeler

March 07, 2015

Elio Motors, the start-up developing a $6,800, 84-mpg- (2.8l/100 km) three-wheeled vehicle with a target date of 2016, unveiled its engine prototype: a 0.9-liter, 3-cylinder unit developed by IAV. To provide its customers with high fuel efficiency and still provide the performance consistent with today’s passenger vehicles, the Elio Motors engine must operate efficiently at two different loads—lower loads representative of highway cruising, and more demanding loads associated with the fast starts of city driving.

The original engine concept for the three-wheeler was to take the Geo Metro engine and create a template for the Elio engine; the Metro engine was compact, perceived to be efficient, had the correct power requirements, and is relatively inexpensive to produce. As the team began to dive into some of the details and changes to meet the desired Elio targets, it found that the Geo Metro engine would not meet the fuel efficiency targets to enable the vehicle fuel economy goal of 84 mpg highway.

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Sub-micrometer carbon spheres as oil additives reduce engine friction up to 25%

March 06, 2015

Researchers at Purdue University have shown that adding ultra-smooth submicrometer carbon spheres to motor oil can reduce friction and wear typically seen in engines by up to 25%. The researchers also have shown how to potentially mass-produce the spheres, making them hundreds of times faster than previously possible using ultrasound to speed chemical reactions in manufacturing.

In a paper in the ACS journal Advanced Materials & Interfaces, they reported that the new lubricant composition—3% carbon spheres suspended in a reference SAE 5W30 engine oil—exhibited a substantial reduction in friction and wear (10 to 25%) compared to the neat oil, without change in the viscosity. Friction reduction was dependent on the sliding speed and applied load, and maximum reduction was achieved at the highest sliding speed in the boundary lubrication regime.

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Toyota introduces facelifted Auris; revamped powertrains including new Otto/Atkinson 1.2L gasoline engine

March 04, 2015

At the Geneva Motor Show, Toyota introduced the facelifted Auris. With the launch of the Auris Hybrid in 2010, Toyota became the first manufacturer to offer a choice of three powertrains (gasoline, gasoline-electric hybrid, and diesel) in the C-segment.

Reflecting both changes in the highly-competitive C-segment market and Toyota customer feedback, the 2015 Auris range features significant improvements in five key areas: Design; Sensory Quality; the Hybrid model; Safety; and, improving the model’s segment coverage by some 40%, Powertrains. As part of the change, an all-new, 1.2 liter direct injection turbocharged engine from Toyota’s new family of efficient engines announced last year (earlier post) joins the existing gasoline line-up.

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New 2016 Range Rover Evoque with new Ingenium diesel will deliver up to 56 mpg; Geneva debut

February 23, 2015

Land Rover will stage the world debut of the MY 2016 Range Rover Evoque. Equipped with the EU6-compliant, four-cylinder Ingenium diesel (earlier post), the new Evoque will be the most efficient production Land Rover yet, with fuel consumption as low as 4.2 l/100 km (56 mpg US) and CO2 emissions of 109 g/km.

The all-aluminium 2.0-liter Ingenium TD4 engine, 20-30 kg (44-66 lbs) lighter than its predecessor with stiff cylinder blocks and decoupled injectors ensuring low levels of vibration and noise intrusion, is available in two power outputs: 150 PS (148 hp, 110 kW) (eD4 2WD) offering the 4.2 l/100km fuel consumption level, while the 180 PS (178 hp, 132 kW) unit offers 4.8 l/100km (49 mpg US) and CO2 emissions from 125g/km. The 150PS unit is 18% more fuel efficient compared to the Evoque’s previous diesel engines.

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Kia unveiling new cee’d GT line with new 1.0L T-GDi and 7-speed DCT at Geneva

February 20, 2015

Kia Motors Europe will unveil a new Kia cee’d GT Line specification at the 85th Salon International de l’Automobile in Geneva on 3 March. In addition to a range of visual upgrades, the new cee’d GT Line features the debut of Kia’s all-new downsized 1.0-liter T-GDi (turbo gasoline direct injection) “Kappa” engine and new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission in Europe.

The 1.0-liter T-GDi is a downsized, three-cylinder power unit engineered to improve fuel consumption and emissions while offering strong performance and immediate response. This is the first of Kia’s upcoming range of downsized engines to make its debut in Europe. The 1.0-liter T-GDi engine produces 120 PS (118 hp, 88 kw) and 172 N·m (127 lb-ft) torque, and has been engineered to deliver lower CO2 emissions than the 1.6-liter GDI engine found in other cee’d models, pending final homologation closer to the GT Line’s launch.

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Libertine LPE free piston technology targeting power generation, waste-heat recovery and range-extended EV applications; feasibility study with PETRONAS

February 19, 2015

UK startup Libertine LPE has developed a free piston linear power generator technology that it says overcomes the key challenges faced by earlier free piston engine schemes of motion control, emissions and power conversion efficiency. The company, which on 16 Feb won the €20,000 (US$22,800) Climate-KIC cash prize at this year’s Cleantech Innovate, will be presenting its Linear Power Systems technology to investors at CleanEquity Monaco from 5-6 March.

A number of groups have recently or are currently investigating the use of free piston engine power generation applications with a focus on automotive, including work at West Virginia University (WVU), Sandia National Laboratory (SNL), Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden), and Shanghai Jiaotong University. (Earlier post.) At the SAE 2014 World Congress, a team from Toyota Central R&D Labs presented their own work on a prototype 10 kW Free Piston Engine Linear Generator (FPEG) featuring a thin and compact build, high efficiency and high fuel flexibility. Toyota envisions that a pair of such units (20 kW) would enable B/C-segment electric drive vehicles to cruise at 120 km/h (75 mph). (Earlier post.)

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VW to launch technically updated Sharan MPV at Geneva; up to 15% more fuel efficient

At this year’s Geneva International Motor Show, Volkswagen will present an extensive technical update of the Sharan MPV, of which more than 800,000 units have been sold since its launch in 1995. The update includes numerous systems to assist the driver and enhance convenience and comfort, some features being unique to this market segment, as well as new gasoline (TSI) and diesel (TDI) engines.

The turbocharged direct injection engines are now up to 15% more fuel-efficient and all now comply fully with the Euro-6 standard. The two new TSI engines produce 110 kW (148 hp, 150 PS) and 162 kW (217 hp, 220 PS); the second, higher-powered engine produces 15 kW (20 hp) more power than its predecessor. Three new TDI engines are available at these power levels: 85 kW (114 hp, 115 PS), 110 kW and 135 kW (181 hp, 184 PS (gain of 7 PS)). All engines, except the smallest diesel model, can be combined with a 6-speed dual clutch gearbox (DSG), which now provides a coasting function (decoupling of the engine during deceleration) for additional fuel-saving. The DSG transmission is standard with the top TSI engine; a an alternative, the 150 PS TDI engine is also available with 4MOTION all-wheel drive.

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ICCT reviews real-world tractor-trailer fuel economy in US, China and Europe

February 15, 2015

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has published a new paper reviewing and summarizing data on commercial vehicle sales and real-world fuel consumption for heavy-duty tractor-trailers in the three key markets of the US, China and Europe, which together account for more than 70% of HDV sales worldwide.

The review found that in the US, average tractor-trailer fuel consumption rates for the entire fleet are approximately 39 L/100 km (6 mpg). For the newest US models, fuel consumption is typically between 33 and 36 L/100 km (6.5–7 mpg). A fleet-wide analysis done for the European Commission estimates tractor-trailer fuel consumption at roughly 31 L/100 km (7.6 mpg), while tests of individual vehicles done by trucking magazines suggest somewhat higher average rates of consumption at approximately 36 to 38 L/100 km (6.5 to 6.2 mpg). Chassis dynamometer testing performed as part of the regulatory development process in China reveals that tractor-trailers seem to have much higher fuel consumption rates, on average, than in the US and the EU, with laboratory results yielding an average of 44 L/100 km (5.4 mpg).

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Honda includes stop-start system in new 2016 Honda Pilot for improved fuel economy, new 9-speed (updated w/ VCM info)

February 13, 2015

Honda gave the all-new 2016 Honda Pilot SUV its global premiere at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. The 2016 Pilot, launching at Honda dealerships nationwide this summer, is the third generation of Honda’s three-row midsize SUV to be designed, developed and manufactured in the US.

The 2016 Pilot features a new 3.5-liter, direct-injected i-VTEC V-6 engine with new two-stage Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) cylinder deactivation technology. For improved fuel efficiency, the 2016 Pilot will also include a stop start feature—Honda’s first non-hybrid application of this technology.

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BMW introduces 2 Series Gran Tourer; up to 60 mpg US

February 12, 2015

BMW has introduced the new BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer, a premium compact model. At 4,556 millimeters long, 1,800 mm wide and 1,608 mm high, the 2 Series Gran Tourer accommodates up to seven people while additionally offering a load compartment that extends from 645 to 1,905 liters in the five-seater and from 560 to 1,820 liters in the seven-seater variant.

Five three- and four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines will be available from market launch of the new BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer, all featuring the latest BMW TwinPower Turbo technology. In addition to the four-cylinder liter gasoline engine in the BMW 220i Gran Tourer and the three-cylinder in the BMW 218i Gran Tourer, three diesel units round off the engine portfolio available at market launch. They include the four-cylinder diesel in the BMW 220d xDrive and BMW 218d Gran Tourer as well as the three-cylinder diesel in the BMW 216d Gran Tourer.

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Direct measurement of key molecule will increase accuracy of combustion models

February 08, 2015

Sandia National Laboratories researchers are the first to measure directly hydroperoxyalkyl radicals—a class of reactive molecules denoted as “QOOH”—that are key in the chain of reactions that controls the early stages of combustion. This breakthrough has generated data on QOOH reaction rates and outcomes that will improve the fidelity of models used by engine manufacturers to create cleaner and more efficient cars and trucks. A paper describing the work, performed by David Osborn, Ewa Papajak, John Savee, Craig Taatjes and Judit Zádor at Sandia’s Combustion Research Facility, is published in the journal Science.

As the Science Editor notes, the net combustion reaction is simple to describe (oxygen reacts with hydrocarbons to form water and carbon dioxide) but the details are much more complicated. Thousands of chemical reactions are involved in the conversion of a fuel’s chemical energy into mechanical work in an automobile engine. The fleeting molecules that initiate, sustain and then increase combustion are radicals: short-lived molecules that readily react and form new chemical bonds.

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Ford Focus RS features optimized 2.3L EcoBoost, Ford Performance All-Wheel Drive

February 04, 2015

Ford revealed another of its promised performance models (earlier post), the all-new Focus RS, a high-performance road car that debuts Ford Performance All-Wheel Drive with Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control. The all-new Focus RS is equipped with a new 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine producing in excess of 315 horsepower.

Developed by a small team of global Ford Performance engineers, the new Focus RS is the third generation in the line, following models launched in 2002 and 2009. It will be the 30th car to wear the RS badge, following such technology trendsetters as the 1970 Escort RS1600 with 16 valves, 1985 Sierra RS Cosworth with turbocharging and radical aerodynamics and 1992 Escort RS Cosworth with four-wheel drive.

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President’s 2016 Budget requests $29.9B for DOE; 9% boost over FY 2015 enacted; $793M (2.7%) for sustainable transportation

February 03, 2015

President Barack Obama’s 2016 Budget requests $29.9 billion for the US Department of Energy (DOE). The FY 2016 DOE Budget Request represents a 9% increase ($2.5 billion) above the FY 2015 enacted level.

42% of the DOE Budget Request ($12.6 billion) is for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), an increase of $1.2 billion over the FY 2015 Enacted level, to maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear weapons stockpile in the absence of nuclear testing and manage the research, development, and production activities and associated infrastructure maintenance and modernization needed to meet national nuclear security requirements.

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Renault Sport F1 introduces revamped 2015 hybrid power unit

January 28, 2015

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Renault Energy F1-2015 Power Unit. Click to enlarge.

Renault Sport F1 has unveiled its 2015 power unit for Formula 1 racing, which incorporates a number of changes compared to its 2014 predecessor (earlier post). 2015 is the second year of competitive use for the power units that feature a V6 turbocharged internal combustion engine coupled to energy recovery systems.

In introducing the new unit, Renault Chief Technical Officer Rob White noted that the second year of a new engine “is always difficult. The 2015 power unit project was started six months before the 2014 units took to the track, ie. before we had any significant experience of the technology. Then we also needed to consider the issues arising during the season. It creates a need to be both forward thinking and reactive. Splitting resources between projects is therefore a delicate balancing act, in the short, mid and long term. While certain decisions can be taken upstream, a number of design decisions were taken quite late in the day, in order to benefit from the experience of the 2014 power unit. The result is a power unit that is very different to its predecessor,” he said.

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HEI ACES study of lifetime animal exposure to New Technology Diesel Engine exhaust finds no lung cancer

January 27, 2015

The first study to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of lifetime exposure to new technology diesel exhaust (NTDE)—i.e., exhaust from heavy-duty diesel engines meeting EPA 2007 and later emissions requirements—has found no evidence of carcinogenic lung tumors. The Advanced Collaborative Emissions Study (ACES), released today by the Health Effects Institute (HEI), also confirmed that the concentrations of particulate matter and toxic air pollutants emitted from NTDE are more than 90% lower than emissions from traditional older diesel engines (TDE). (Earlier post.) HEI is an independent, non-profit research institute funded jointly by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the worldwide motor vehicle industry.

The study exposed laboratory rats 80 hours a week, for up to 30 months, to emissions from a heavy-duty diesel engine meeting 2007 US EPA standards using new filters and other control technology. The study evaluated the long-term effects of multiple concentrations of inhaled NTDE in male and female rats on more than 100 different biologic endpoints, including tumor development, and compared the results with biologic effects seen in earlier studies in rats after exposure to TDE.

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China Yuchai LNG engine powers the “Fuel Efficient Heavy-Duty Truck of the Year 2014” in China

January 26, 2015

China Yuchai International announced that a “K-Gold” model C&C truck equipped with the YC6K1340N liquid natural gas (LNG) engine has won the “Fuel Efficient Heavy-Duty Truck of the Year 2014” at China’s largest annual commercial vehicle event.

At 13 liters, the YC6K1340N engine has the largest displacement and highest torque power among comparable natural gas engines in China. Variants in the K13N range span power ratings from 340-440 PS (250-324 kW, 335-434 hp), with 1950 N·m of torque at 1200 ~ 1500 rpm. By utilizing lean-burn technology, it reduces average energy consumption by approximately 25% compared with diesel engines of similar size and power. The model YC6K1340N is the only engine in China that utilizes the JACOBS in-cylinder brake technology, and has LNG braking power up to 17 kW/L.

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New Opel diesels for Mokka and Insignia

January 22, 2015

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1.6 CDTI with 100 kW/136 hp for Opel Mokka. Click to enlarge.

Opel is introducing two new generation four-cylinder Opel diesels for Mokka and Insignia: the 1.6-liter CDTI (also seen in Astra and Meriva) in the Mokka and a 125 kW/170 hp 2.0-liter CDTI in the Insignia. The engines, which already meet the Euro 6 standards that will be compulsory from September, are another important step in the roll-out of Opel’s new powertrain portfolio.

The all-aluminum 1.6-liter CDTI for the Mokka sub-compact SUV will replace the 1.7 CDTI. The new engine gives more power and torque—up 6 hp and 20 N·m, respectively—from a smaller displacement, as well as significantly lower fuel consumption. The 1.6 CDTI in the 100 kW/136 hp version reaches 85 hp per liter—unrivaled in its displacement class, according to Opel—and delivers torque of 320 N·m.

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