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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.]

Global MRV introduces first permanently embedded Micro PEMS for continuous onboard emissions analysis

October 08, 2015

Global MRV, a provider of portable emissions measurement systems (PEMS), has introduced the first on-board permanently embedded Micro PEMS that reports all regulated vehicle emissions and performance system data all the time. Called Firefly, the PEMS provides continuous analysis of diesel or internal combustion engine emissions. The patented Firefly unit is 11-inches long by 11-inches wide and 3-inches high, and weighs seven pounds (3.2 kg).

Global MRV is deploying Firefly technology to measure, report and verify the operations of light- and heavy-duty vehicles operating in normal driving conditions. Firefly collects and allows for the combined analysis of engine, GPS and emissions data; the unit is currently being tested in on-road vehicles and will be available to the market at the end of 2016.

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CPT and Eminox to collaborate on development of retrofit electric supercharging and aftertreatment solutions for heavy-duty vehicles

Controlled Power Technologies (CPT), a British developer of advanced automotive technology focused on the electrification of internal combustion engines, and Eminox, also based in the UK and a leading European manufacturer of exhaust gas control systems for heavy duty diesel vehicles, will collaborate to bring their technologies for reduced fuel consumption and emissions to the heavy duty vehicle retrofit market.

By combining CPT’s Cobra electric supercharger with Eminox’s SCRT technology, which itself combines CRT (continuously regenerating trap) and SCR (selective catalytic reduction) technology to reduce emissions of vehicles already in service, the companies plan to demonstrate a solution that can achieve Euro VI emissions standards and fuel economy improvements.

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Volkswagen of America temporarily withdraws application for US certification of MY 2016 vehicles; AECDs

October 07, 2015

In his prepared testimony for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing tomorrow (earlier post), Michael Horn, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, says that in discussions with EPA and the California ARB, Volkswagen said that its emissions control strategy also included a software feature that should be disclosed to and approved by the agencies as an auxiliary emissions control device (“AECD”) in connection with the certification process.

AECDs are allowed by the EPA, but they must be disclosed. As a result, Horn says, Volkswagen has withdrawn the application for certification of its model year 2016 vehicles. The company is working with the agencies to continue the certification process, he adds.

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New VW Group CEO: “swift and relentless clarification” of emissions scandal; technical solution to be presented to authorities

October 06, 2015

Speaking at a plant meeting in Wolfsburg, Matthias Müller, the new CEO of Volkswagen AG, promised employees “swift and relentless clarification” of the emissions scandal. He said that what had happened went against everything the Group and its people stand for and that there was no excuse.

Müller said that the company will shortly be presenting the technical solutions to the responsible authorities—in particular the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA)—for approval. Müller said that while in many instances a software update will be sufficient, some vehicles will also require hardware modifications. “We will keep our customers constantly informed about the measures and arrange workshop appointments.

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CWI ISL G Near Zero natural gas engine certified to near zero NOx; 90% below current standard

Cummins Westport Inc. (CWI) announced that its new ISL G Near Zero (NZ) natural gas engine is the first mid-range engine in North America to receive emission certifications from both US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Air Resources Board (ARB) in California that meet the 0.02 g/bhp-hr optional Near Zero NOx Emissions standards for medium-duty truck, urban bus, school bus and refuse applications.

Cummins Westport ISL G NZ exhaust emissions will be 90% lower than the current EPA NOx limit of 0.2 g/bhp-hr and also meet the 2017 EPA greenhouse gas emission requirements. CWI natural gas engines have met the 2010 EPA standard for particulate matter (0.01 g/bhp-hr) since 2001.

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Freudenberg-NOK wins first regular-production order for dry gas-lubricated frictionless engine seals

October 05, 2015

Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies (Freudenberg-NOK) has won its first major order for its new generation of dry gas-lubricated automotive seals—a first in the automotive market. The frictionless Levitex seals, a subject of the company’s research for years, will go into an engine for a global platform in 2017. The new seals function with a cushion of air, reducing both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. CO2 reductions can be as high as 1 gram per kilometer driven.

Freudenberg-NOK initially will produce Levitex seals in Europe, although the company plans to expand product into North America in the future as customer demand grows.

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ARB posts discussion draft of new proposed mobile-source emissions reduction strategy through 2030; Advanced Clean Cars 2 regulation

October 02, 2015

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff has published a discussion draft of a proposed strategy for further regulation and reduction of mobile source—cars, trucks, and off-road equipment—emissions. The approach described is designed to meet simultaneously federal air quality standards; achieve greenhouse gas emission reduction targets; reduce petroleum consumption; and decrease health risk from transportation sources through 2030.

ARB staff developed this strategy using a multi-pollutant scenario planning tool (Vision 2.0) that quantifies changes in ozone and PM2.5 precursor emissions; GHG emissions; petroleum usage; and diesel toxics emissions as various technologies become widespread in vehicle and equipment fleets.

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VW says complete investigation of emissions scandal will take several months; suspending General Meeting in November; report on solutions next week

In a statement issued following its meeting on 30 September the Executive Committee of Volkswagen AG’s Supervisory Board said that it has concluded that the completion of investigations into the emissions testing scandal will take at least several months.

For this reason, the Executive Committee will propose to the Supervisory Board that the Extraordinary General Meeting scheduled for 9 November should not be held. The Executive Committee Members all agreed that, in view of the time available and the matters to be considered, it would not be realistic to provide well-founded answers which would fulfill the shareholder’s justified expectations.

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Volkswagen of America CEO to testify before House Subcommittee next week on emissions affair; request for all related documents

As part of its ongoing investigation into Volkswagen’s emissions issues, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce has scheduled a hearing for Thursday, 8 October. The hearing is entitled, “Volkswagen’s Emissions Cheating Allegations: Initial Questions.”

Volkswagen Group of America President and CEO Michael Horn and the Environmental Protection Agency are scheduled to testify as the subcommittee investigates Volkswagen’s alleged efforts to circumvent emissions requirements for certain models of diesel engine passenger vehicles. Members are working to understand the facts and circumstances surrounding Volkswagen’s reported Clean Air Act violations and what they mean for consumers and the general public.

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Ricardo demonstrates processes for evaluating light-duty diesel emissions under coming Real Driving Emissions (RDE) regs

October 01, 2015

Despite the continuing and significant reductions in the legislated limits of light-duty diesel vehicle NOx emissions under the European Euro 1 through 5 regulations of recent years, many studies have demonstrated that real-world NOx emissions appear not to have been reduced as significantly. The Volkswagen emissions scandal has certainly spotlighted this issue, but more by the intentionality of the cause rather than by the effect.

This divergence between type-approval limits and real world emissions was one of the primary drivers for the proposed introduction of Real Driving Emissions (RDE) (earlier post)—put forward in the European Commission’s CARS 2020 Action Plan (earlier post)—in European Euro 6c legislation as early as 2017. The objective of this proposed regulation is that future vehicles certified to a given type approval threshold for NOx output will, subject an incremental Conformity Factor to be defined in the regulation, not exceed this level in normal on-road driving conditions.

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Schaeffler introduces new high-voltage P2 hybrid module; up to 800 N·m; first production application in China in 2017

September 29, 2015

Schaeffler has developed a new P2 (parallel, two-clutch) high-voltage hybrid module—arranged between the internal combustion engine and transmission—that can transmit engine torques of up to 800 N·m (590 lb-ft) to the transmission without having to incorporate a commensurately expensive clutch.The new generation P2 hybrid module can be used in both medium- and very high-performance transmission concepts—e.g., from mild to plug-in hybrids.

The high-torque module distributes the flow of forces in an innovative way; the pathway of torque conveyance depends on its direction. Torques are transmitted to the crankshaft via a 300 N·m disconnect clutch, while traction torques from the internal combustion engine are transmitted to the transmission via a one-way clutch. The clutch can therefore have a compact design, even at high torques, with the corresponding advantages in terms of space utilization and cost. Schaeffler showcased the unit at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt.

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Norwegian/Finnish studies find Euro 6 cars exceeding NOx and CO2 type limits in real-world conditions; below on PM

Emission measurements conducted by Institute of Transport Economics in Norway, in collaboration with VTT in Finland, show that new Euro 6 cars with diesel engines are struggling with NOx emissions well in excess of regulatory type limits when in real traffic.

Since 2011, TØI and VTT have conducted emission measurements of 12 heavy vehicles with Euro VI engines, and seven Euro 6 diesel cars. In addition, they measured emissions from several gasoline vehicles (Euro 5 and 6) and Euro 5 diesel vehicles. All vehicles were tested in laboratory under conditions that as far as possible should correspond to the actual use of the vehicles.

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Lux: VW “actually in a strong position to innovate their way out of this mess”

September 28, 2015

Reflecting on the implications of the still evolving Volkswagen emissions testing scandal (“a vehicle emissions scandal of unprecedented proportions”), analysts at Lux Research suggest that one outcome of the crisis could be an aggressive push by Volkswagen to accelerate the push towards plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.

VW was slowly moving beyond conventional gasoline and diesel engines anyway, Lux noted, with plans of putting out 20 more plug-in vehicles by 2020 (earlier post)—such as the production version of the Audi e-tron quattro. (Earlier post.) Volkswagen has also invested in next-generation batteries, including lithium-sulfur and solid-state. (Earlier post.)

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Study uncovers role of longer-chain unburned hydrocarbon emissions from diesels in London air pollution; calls for regulatory shift

September 27, 2015

Researchers at the University of York (UK) have found that longer-chain unburned hydrocarbons released from diesel—which are not currently explicitly considered as part of air quality control strategies—represent only 20–30% of the total atmospheric hydrocarbon mixing ratio but contribute more than 50% of the total atmospheric hydrocarbon mass and are a dominant local source of secondary organic aerosols (SOA) in London—and by extension to other developed megacities.

The study found that 60% of the winter primary hydrocarbon hydroxyl radical reactivity in London is from those diesel-related hydrocarbons; the authors predicted that the longer-chain HCs contribute up to 50 % of the ozone production potential in London. The results, they said in an open access paper published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, suggest the need for a shift in policy focus onto gas-phase hydrocarbons released from diesels as this vehicle type continues to displace gasoline world-wide.

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VW: ~5M VW vehicles affected by emissions scandal; working on technical solution; suspension of some employees starting

September 25, 2015

Volkswagen said that an internal assessment following the revelation of cheating on emissions testing in EA 189 2.0L diesels (earlier post) has concluded that approximately five million Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand vehicles are affected worldwide. In the heat of the initial discovery of the emissions testing cheating, Volkswagen had said that up to 11 million vehicles worldwide could be affected. (Earlier post.)

Certain models and model years of these vehicles (such as the sixth generation Volkswagen Golf, the seventh generation Volkswagen Passat and the first generation Volkswagen Tiguan) are equipped exclusively with type EA 189 diesel engines. Also as previously announced, all new Volkswagen Passenger Car brand vehicles that fulfill the EU6 norm valid throughout Europe are not affected. This therefore also includes the current Golf, Passat and Touran models.

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California ARB to begin enhanced testing of modern light-duty diesel engines to detect emissions cheating (updated)

The California Air Resources Board sent a letter to automobile manufacturers notifying them that ARB will begin using enhanced testing procedures for modern light-duty diesel vehicles to determine compliance with emission levels to which they were originally certified.

ARB developed its enhanced screening techniques as it dug into the anomalous emission results from Volkswagen’s 2.0L diesel engine; Volkswagen subsequently admitted its use of the software defeat device on emissions testing, triggering that emission control scandal that erupted exactly one week ago. (Earlier post.)

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Eaton launches new, more efficient TVS2 supercharger; targeting super-turbo systems

Eaton has announced its newest supercharger—TVS2—which improves vehicle manufacturers’ ability to deliver an optimal single boosted application, or to pair this device with other boosting technologies in order to deliver compound boosting solutions for improved engine performance—a combined supercharger-turbocharger system. The announcement came at the 20th Supercharging Conference in Dresden, Germany.

Eaton’s Twin Vortices Series (TVS) is a Roots-type supercharger with four- lobe rotors and high-flow inlet and outlet ports. TVS2 technology builds on Eaton’s supercharger portfolio by delivering significant improvements in efficiency and increased capability, achieved through a rotor design that improves the internal aerodynamics. Key elements of this new design include:

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Ricardo in EU-funded HDGAS; seeking >30kW/L, 10% improvements in power, torque and GHG in natural-gas fueled heavy-duty trucks

September 23, 2015

Ricardo is one of 19 collaborating commercial and academic partners in the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Green Vehicle Initiative project HDGAS—a project that aims to develop, demonstrate and optimize advanced powertrain concepts for dual-fuel and pure natural gas-powered heavy duty vehicles. Particular areas of focus for the company will be the development of engine and aftertreatment systems that offer the prospect of delivering real driving emissions well below Euro VI limits for heavy duty vehicles.

Long haul trucks are an essential element of the transportation mix of modern, industrialized society. They are, however, inherently less amenable to the type of electrification and hybridization strategies that are already contributing to reduced carbon emissions and potential long-term sustainability for the light vehicle sector. A key global imperative is, therefore, the substantial improvement of heavy vehicle engine efficiency and reduction of environmental impact.

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Volkswagen: new EU 6 diesels clear of software cheat, but up to 11M EA189 diesels worldwide affected

September 22, 2015

In a statement issued this morning, Volkswagen AG said that new vehicles from the Volkswagen Group with EU 6 diesel engines currently available in the European Union comply with legal requirements and environmental standards. The engine control software in those vehicles does not affect handling, consumption or emissions, the company said.

Although the engine management software that enabled the cheating on NOx targets (earlier post) is installed in other Volkswagen Group vehicles with diesel engines, the company added, for the majority of those engines the software does not have any effect. However, the software “discrepancies” do relate to vehicles with the Type EA189 2.0-liter diesel engines—involving some eleven million vehicles worldwide. (Earlier post.)

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Toyota Land Cruiser in Europe offers new 2.8L diesel; first Toyota SCR NOx aftertreatment system

New D-4D diesel. Click to enlarge.

Toyota’s Land Cruiser off-road 4WD vehicle in Europe is now available with a new 2.8 liter D-4D turbo-diesel. The engine replaces the current 3.0-liter engine, with a focus on improved driveability with better torque delivery, plus lower fuel consumption and reduced CO2 emissions. It delivers 130 kW/177 DIN hp @ 3400 rpm and can be mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox or a new 6-speed automatic transmission.

Available on 3-door and 5-door models, Toyota’s newly developed 2.8 D-4D Global Diesel (GD) engine combines an 11% increase in low speed torque and a 7% increase in maximum torque with a 9% reduction in average fuel consumption. The engine features Toyota’s first urea Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system that can eliminate up to 99% of NOx emissions.

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Volkswagen of America debuts 2016 Passat; 38 mpg highway from the 1.8 TSI

Although the timing arguably could have been better, Volkswagen of America proceeded with the planned debut of the restyled 2016 Volkswagen Passat in New York on Monday. The midsize sedan, built in Volkswagen’s LEED Platinum-certified factory in Chattanooga, will offer three engine options—1.8-liter TSI gasoline; 2.0-liter diesel TDI; and 3.6-liter gasoline VR6—as well as a strong suite of new connectivity and driver assistance features. (The European market Passat GTE plug-in hybrid (earlier post) is not slated to come to the US yet.)

Although the emissions control calibration of the applications of the 2.0 TDI in earlier models in the US is at the core of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)/California Air Resources Board (ARB) charges against Volkswagen (earlier post), both agencies are now testing all the 2016 model year Passat models for certificates of conformity, Volkswagen said.

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EPA and California ARB charge Volkswagen with using software defeat device to circumvent NOx testing in 4-cylinder 2.0L diesels

September 18, 2015

EPA has issued a notice of violation (NOV) of the Clean Air Act (CAA) to Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (collectively referred to here as Volkswagen). The NOV alleges that Volkswagen and Audi cars from model years 2009-2015 equipped with 2.0-liter, four-cylinder diesels include software (a “defeat device”) that circumvents EPA emissions standards for NOx. California is separately issuing an In-Use Compliance letter to Volkswagen, and EPA and the California Air Resources Board (ARB) have both initiated investigations based on Volkswagen’s alleged actions.

In response, Volkswagen said that it is cooperating with the investigation, and is unable to comment further at this time. VW may be liable for civil penalties and injunctive relief for the violations alleged in the NOV. The allegations cover roughly 482,000 diesel passenger cars sold in the United States since 2008. Affected diesel models include:

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DOE awards nearly $55M to advance fuel efficient vehicle technologies in support of EV Everywhere and SuperTruck

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding nearly $55 million for 24 projects to develop and deploy advanced vehicle technologies, supporting the Energy Department’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge to make plug-in electric vehicles as affordable to own and operate as today’s gasoline-powered vehicles by 2022.

Through the Advanced Vehicle Power Technology Alliance with the Energy Department, the Department of the Army is contributing an additional $2.26 million in co-funding to support projects focused on battery modeling technologies and computational fluid dynamics.

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NRC Canada team investigates effect of gasoline particulate filter on PM from light-duty GDI engine

September 17, 2015

A team led by researchers from the National Research Council Canada has investigated the effect of the use of a gasoline particulate filter on the size and morphology of PM emitted from a light-duty gasoline-direct-injection (GDI) vehicle over the FTP-75 and US06 transient drive cycles.

Using transmission-electron-microscope (TEM) image analysis, they compared PM from a 2012 Ford Focus powered by a 2.0-liter wall-guided GDI engine, operating under globally stoichiometric condition, to the results for the same vehicle equipped with a catalyzed gasoline particulate filter (GPF). A paper describing their results is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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Hyundai showcasing two new turbocharged GDI engines, 7-speed DCT at Frankfurt

At the IAA in Frankfurt, Hyundai Motor is showcasing two new turbocharged gasoline direct injected (T-GDI) engines. Hyundai Motor’s new downsized 1.0 T-GDI and 1.4 T-GDI powerplants are part of a new generation of small turbocharged gasoline engines within the Hyundai engine line-up.

Also on show is the new seven-speed double-clutch transmission (7DCT), which provides an improvement in fuel consumption and CO2 emission compared to a conventional six-gear automated transmission, while acceleration performance increases. The new 7DCT is already available in the New i30, New i40 and All-New Tucson.

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Honda unveils 10th generation 2016 Civic Sedan; two new engines, including Honda’s first turbo in US

Honda unveiled the new 10th-generation 2016 Civic Sedan, slated for sale in the US this fall. The Civic Sedan is the first in a series of new 10th-generation Civic models that will include a sedan, coupe, high-performance Si models, a 5-door hatchback and the first-ever Civic Type-R model for the market, constituting the most diverse lineup in Civic's 43-year history.

The 2016 Civic will feature two all-new engines, including the first application of Honda turbo engine technology in the US. The 2016 Civic Sedan will be available with the Honda Sensing suite of advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies, including Collision Mitigation Braking, Road Departure Mitigation and, for the first time in a Honda, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow.

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New Mahle piston ring coating for high-output GTDI engines; chromium nitride using high-velocity oxygen fuel process

September 16, 2015

Mahle has developed a new thermal spray coating for modern high-output direct-injection turbocharged gasoline engines (GTDI). Under development since 2011 at Mahle’s thermal spray development labs in Michigan, the new process initially was designed for high-output GTDI engines currently in production by two US domestic automakers. The market for high-output turbocharged engines is expected to achieve a market share of 30% or more by 2020.

The new top ring coating, also referred to as MSC312, uses chromium nitride applied through a high-velocity oxygen fuel (HVOF) thermal spray process. MSC312 improves upon the scuff-and-wear capabilities of Mahle’s MSC385 chrome carbide HVOF coating because of the chromium nitride composition.

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Continental Voltage Stabilization System with Maxwell Ultracapacitors to power start-stop in Cadillac ATS and CTS as standard

September 15, 2015

Maxwell Technologies, Inc. announced that Continental Automotive Systems’ Maxwell-powered voltage stabilization system (VSS) will be a standard feature on 2016 General Motors is the first North American automotive OEM to integrate the Continental ultracapacitor-based voltage stabilization as part of the enhanced start-stop system, which lowers fuel costs, improves performance and reduces emissions, delivering an overall superior owner-driver experience.

There are currently some 1.5 million vehicles on the road in Europe with the Maxwell-based Continental VSS, said Marty Mills, regional sales manager, ultracapacitor products, Central North America.

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Volkswagen introduces new MQB-based Tiguan at Frankfurt; plug-in hybrid concept

Volkswagen introduced the second-generation Tiguan SUV at the IAA in Frankfurt. The second generation Tiguan is the first Volkswagen Group SUV whose design is based on the MQB platform. Volkswagen has sold some 2.6 million units of the first generation version since its introduction in 2007.

Volkswagen presented four versions of the new Tiguan simultaneously. The three production versions are the sporty Tiguan R-Line; the basic on-road model; and a version customized for off-road use. The Tiguan GTE—a concept vehicle with a plug-in hybrid drive (160 kW / 218 PS of system power) (earlier post)—offers an outlook on future development of the best-selling SUV.

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National Academies release third review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership

September 14, 2015

The National Academies have released a third review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership (21CTP); the review follows the Phase 1 and Phase 2 reviews by the National Research Council in 2008 and 2012 (earlier post) and assesses the progress the partnership has made. The report highlights goals that have been achieved and identifies remaining issues that the partnership should continue to address.

The 21st Century Truck Partnership is a cooperative research and development (R&D) partnership comprising four federal agencies and 15 industrial partners. The Partnership aims to “accelerate the introduction of advanced truck and bus technologies that use less fuel, have greater fuel diversity, operate more safely, are more reliable, meet future emissions standards, and are cost effective.” To do so, it supports research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) that can lead to commercially viable products and systems. Its strategic approach includes:

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Ford at Frankfurt: Euro-spec Ford Edge diesels with up to 40.6 mpg; new Ranger pickup with 17% improvement in fuel efficiency

Ford will be introducing the Euro-spec version of its Edge SUV at the IAA in Frankfurt this week. The large SUV will be offered in Europe with a choice of 180PS 2.0-liter TDCi diesel engine with six-speed manual transmission, or 210 PS bi-turbo 2.0‑liter TDCi diesel with six-speed PowerShift automatic transmission. Ford said both powertrains will deliver up to 40.6 mpg US (5.8 l/100 km) fuel efficiency and 149g/km CO2 supported by Auto-Start-Stop technology.

The upscale Edge will join the Ford Kuga medium-sized SUV and EcoSport compact SUV to meet the demands of growing numbers of SUV customers in Europe. Ford expects to sell 200,000 SUVs in Europe in 2016—a 200% increase compared to 2013. (Earlier post.)

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Ford Europe leading project investigating DME and OME1 as low carbon, near zero particulate fuels; power-to-liquids pathways using CO2

September 12, 2015

Ford Motor Company is leading a €3.5-million (US$3.9-million) research project to investigate the use of alternative fuels that could offer customers the power and performance of modern internal combustion engines with environmental benefits comparable to an electric vehicle.

The German government is co-funding the three-year project that will test the first cars to run on dimethyl ether (DME) (earlier post), commonly used as a non-toxic propellant in aerosol spray gas, and monooxymethylene ether (OME1). (OME1 is made from methanol on a commercial scale and has a cetane number of 38; it can be mixed with additives to produce OME1a diesel fuel (CN 48).)

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Bosch leading Direct4Gas consortium to develop direct injection for monovalent natural gas engines

September 11, 2015

Bosch is leading a consortium in a German government-funded project to develop a direct injection system for monovalent natural gas engines—i.e., engines that run exclusively on CNG. Compared with present systems that use manifold gas injection, a direct injection system for natural gas could deliver as much as 60% more torque at low rpm, and offer the prospect of an even more dynamic driving experience in the CNG cars of the future.

Today’s CNG vehicles are generally bivalent, running on gasoline and CNG with engines designed for gasoline direct injection. For CNG operation, they are fitted with an additional manifold injection system for methane. However, because methane behaves differently from gasoline when injected directly, it is important to optimize the combustion process for methane.

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Achates Power proposes EPA/NHTSA medium- and heavy-duty engine standard require 15% decrease in fuel consumption and emissions

September 10, 2015

Achates Power, Inc., the developer of a family of efficient compression-ignition opposed-piston two-stroke (OP2S) engines (earlier post), proposed more stringent engine fuel efficiency and emission standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles at a recent public hearing held by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on “Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles – Phase 2”.

Earlier this year, NHTSA and EPA jointly announced the proposed Phase 2 standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. (Earlier post.) While these vehicles as a whole will have to curb fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by up to 24% between the 2018 and 2027 model years, the agencies are proposing separate engine standards requiring only a 4% decrease.

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FAA awards $100M to 8 companies for CLEEN II development; lower fuel consumption, emissions and noise

September 09, 2015

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has awarded $100 million in contracts to eight companies to develop and to demonstrate aviation technologies that reduce fuel consumption, emissions, and noise under the second phase of its Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions, and Noise (CLEEN II) program. (The CLEEN II solicitation was posted in October 2014.)

The five-year CLEEN II program will build on the success of the original CLEEN program, a public-private partnership that began in 2010 and is a key part of the FAA’s NextGen efforts to make aviation more environmentally friendly. (Earlier post.) The CLEEN team focused on nine projects in the area of energy efficient aircraft technologies and sustainable alternative jet fuels. The first of these technologies will enter service in 2016.

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New engines in Porsche 911 Carrera boost power and torque; almost 12% more efficient

September 07, 2015

The new Porsche 911 Carrera features a set of new engines that increase power and torque while also decreasing fuel consumption. The completely new engine generation with bi-turbo charging offers 370 hp (272 kW) at the rear of the 911 Carrera and 420 hp (309 kW) in the 911 Carrera S. In both cases this represents a power increase of 20 hp (15 kW). Both engines have a displacement of three liters.

Every new 911 generation boasts enhanced performance and efficiency compared with the predecessor. For example, depending on the model variant, the new engine generation is almost 12% more efficient: fuel consumption is reduced by up to a liter per 100 kilometers. The 911 Carrera with PDK transmission now consumes 7.4 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (32 mpg US), a reduction of 0.8 l per 100 km, while the 911 Carrera S with PDK consumes 7.7 l/100 km (31 mpg US)—1.0 l less per 100 km.

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Federal-Mogul Powertrain develops new high strength aluminium alloy material for automotive diesel pistons

September 03, 2015

Federal-Mogul Powertrain has developed a new premium diesel piston aluminium alloy: DuraForm-G91. In benchmarking tests, the new alloy—which will be on display at the IAA show later this month—provides between three and five times the component life of established as-cast materials in modern, highly loaded, diesel engines. The increased strength of the new material also supports higher mechanical loads, allowing engines to operate at higher specific power and more efficiently.

The enhanced alloy properties facilitate piston designs with a lower compression height and reduced mass. The resulting benefits of less reciprocating mass and smaller, lighter cylinder blocks contribute to vehicle CO2 emissions reduction.

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FCA US upgrades 3.6L Pentastar V-6; 2-step VVL, cooled EGR; up to 6% better fuel economy

September 02, 2015

FCA has upgraded its 3.6-liter Pentastar engine for MY 2016. The 3.6L Pentastar, first introduced in 2009 (earlier post), was the first of an all-new line of V-6 engines intended to improve fuel efficiency across the Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge lineup. More than 5 million Penetastar engines are now on the road.

Depending on the application, the redesigned V-6 delivers fuel-economy improvements of more than 6% while increasing torque more than 14.9%. This occurs at engine speeds below 3,000 rpm, where elevated torque has its most profound impact on the driving experience. Enhancements such as two-step variable valve lift (VVL), cooled exhaust-gas recirculation (EGR) and innovative weight-reduction strategies boost the engine’s efficiency and performance, all while preserving its smoothness.

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Westport and Fuel Systems Solutions to merge; alternative fuel vehicle and engine company with expanded reach

September 01, 2015

Westport Innovations Inc. and Fuel Systems Solutions, Inc. have entered into a merger agreement to create a premier alternative fuel vehicle and engine company. The transaction will result in a combined equity value of $351 million based on the closing trading prices for the shares of both companies on 31 August 2015 and combined annual revenues ranging from $380 to $405 million projected for 2015.

Traditionally, Westport Innovations has focused the majority of its technological development and commercialization efforts in the heavy-duty and high horsepower natural gas arena, while Fuel Systems has significant experience and focus with gaseous fuel systems and components for light- and medium-duty automotive and industrial applications. The complementary industry expertise provides a rationale for the merger, as the combined company’s product development efforts will span passenger car to heavy-duty trucks to locomotives and marine applications to stationary power.

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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

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, 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

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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