A European Union-funded research project has successfully designed, produced and tested an improved electromagnetic valve actuation system (ELVAS) for car engines, increasing fuel efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions.
Electromagnetic valve actuation systems replace the mechanical systems used in conventional engine systems with control electronics. A conventional system involves steel valves, actuated (opened and closed) by rotating cams linked to a crankshaft. The link between valve actuation and the crankshaft is necessary because steel valves are heavy and need that force to move them. An ELVAS system, in other words, eliminates the conventional valve train (camshaft, rocker arms, timing belt, etc.) leaving only the valves and their control units. (A picture of the ELVAS valve actuator is to the right.)
Decoupling valve actuation from the crankshaft with an electromagnetic systems (combined with lighter-weight valves) enables independent fine-tuning of the valves, improving engine efficiency.
That system has now been delivered. New valve actuators have been designed and manufactured and a final demonstration has been performed on an engine test bench. The new system delivers significantly improved engine efficiency, reduced valve actuation power loss and maximum fuel savings. —ELVAS coordinator Jean-Paul Rouet, Johnson Controls
According to the Project Office, using the ELVAS system:
Reduces CO2 emissions by up to 15%
Reduces fuel consumption by up to 11%
Reduces engine noise by up to 10 dB at 3,000 rpm
Weighs 25% less than conventional systems
Reduces electrical consumption
The ELVAS project partners have developed a new set of testing guidelines for valve actuation system components, as well as a number of new manufacturing processes.
The project consortium included Johnson Controls Automotive Electronics (France), TRW Deutschland (Germany), the University of Sheffield (UK) and Fundacion Cetenasa (Spain). ELVAS ran in parallel with the LIVALVES project, another EU-funded initiative into which the Chinese contributed significantly, aimed at reducing valve weight.