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DEER: Efficiency, Not Just Emissions


Speaking in the opening plenary session today of the Department of Energy’s Diesel Engine-Efficiency and Emissions Research (DEER) 2006 conference in Detroit, heads of engine research from Ford and Caterpillar each called for a research push to increase the basic efficiency of the diesel engine platform in addition to the ongoing efforts applied to emissions control.

The name of the conference itself mirrors this broadening of focus. In years past, DEER stood for “Diesel Engine Emissions Reduction,” reflecting the focus applied by the industry on meeting regulatory targets while relying on the basic advantage in fuel consumption offered by the diesel platform.

The progress made in achieving those reductions—progress that is paving the way for the introduction of light-duty diesels into the North American market—has come with a bit of an efficiency penalty, noted Dr. Gerhard Schmidt, Ford’s Vice President for Research and Advanced Engineering.

Resolution of emissions challenges need to be achieved without radical cost and without sacrificing [diesel’s] fuel-economy advantage. Competition is coming from the gasoline gasoline engine technologies will reduce the fuel economy benefit [of diesel] to about 20%. The gap will close, especially when you talk about volumetric comparisons.

We have to improve the fuel economy [of diesels] further. In the long term, it is not acceptable that we have this disadvantage from the aftertreatment.

—Dr. Gerhardt Schmidt

The need for enhanced efficiency is driven by two primary factors, said John Amdall, Director of Engine R&D at Caterpillar: the uncertainty over the price and supply of oil, and CO2.

Among the varied scenarios Caterpillar has developed to map out its medium-term R&D work, the one that is “most likely for the next 15 years or so is that we are shifting focus away from...emissions versus the cost of owning and operating to CO2 versus owning and operating cost. For the next 15 years, CO2 replaces NOx and PM.

Amdall suggested the creation of a new DOE program—Ultra-High Efficiency Engines—to accompany some of the other DOE programs that have been of value to the industry: the heavy-duty truck engine, high-efficiency clean combustion, waste-heat recovery, advanced propulsion materials and advanced petroleum and renewable fuels programs.

Although much progress has been made on diesel-engine emissions reduction for the US, there remain some gaps in making US diesels as clean as advanced gasoline engine vehicles, according to another plenary speaker, Tom Cackette, Chief Deputy Executive Office at the California Air Resources Board.

In terms of urban pollutants (regulated tailpipe and evaporative emissions), light-duty diesels today are at the Bin 8 level and are planned to move to Bin 5, making them compliant with the California LEV 2 standard: the 50-state diesel.

But, Cackette noted, Bin 5 is the entry point to California standards.

The average standard in California is about 45% lower than Bin 5. And by the middle of the next decade, half of new vehicles must meet PZEV (about 75% below Bin 5). In other words, diesels meet the minimum, the challenges are to drop.

—Tom Cackette

California is allowing the diesel industry some latitude in the implementation of regulations for on-board diagnostics (OBD) systems used to ensure the proper functioning of emissions aftertreatment systems. The durability requirement for diesel OBD is lower, and the trigger thresholds are higher. But by 2013, the principal is that diesels have to be as clean as gasoline engines in all categories.


Stan Lass

Consider using a large cylinder with one or more telescoping cylinders within the large cylinder.

Telescoping cylinder(s) allow doubling or tripling the engine rpm while not increasing the ring rubbing speed, reducing the heat loss to the coolant for a combustion cycle. Seems that this should net a few to several percent improvement in thermal efficiency.

For more discussion, see:

tom deplume

Improvements in specific fuel consumption need not involve extra complexity. Combining compression ignition with the Atkinson or Miller cycle only needs a change in cam profile.


Wonder if they'll be saying anything about the fuel itself. IE: petro versus bio diesel, as part of emissions/energy variable.


Any reason auto makers haven't looked at hydrogen injection (brown gas)? It seems that hydrogen injection is highly efficient at reducing emissions, not to mention that it increases the flame front speed (which could allow for an improvement in fuel economy, I've seen numbers as high as 30%).

People say "The consumer doesn't want to fill up with water and gas..." BMW doesn't agree. They are looking at using urea injection when they bring diesel to the US in the next year or two. Water is a lot easier to find that urea.

They could also look at powering accessories off of recovered waste heat. That could provide a 5-6% jump in economy.



I remember reading about a Canadian company creating a hydrogen injection system for semi trucks that uses onboard power for electrolysis from distilled water. The system both reduces emissions and boots efficiency. But it only seems practical for large diesels thus far.

Wish I could remember the name of the company.


BMW's "turbosteamer" invention that recycles waste heat in a steam turbine could, according to BMW, increase efficiency by 15% in a 100 kg package. The best place to implement this is on a big diesel truck.

Robert Schwartz

Cummins Targeting 50% Efficiency and 2010 Emissions via Waste Heat Recovery Scheme

Cummins is working with a scheme for waste heat recovery to boost performance of its heavy-duty diesel engines to 50% Brake Thermal Efficiency while meeting the upcoming 2010 EPA emissions specifications.

GCC 2005-10-21

Pao Chi Pien

The cause of four-stroke engine pollution is the fact that expansion ratio is equal to or less than the compression ratio. Therefore high compression ratio is required for high thermal efficiency and high compression ratio leads to undesirable high combustion temperature which is the cause of NOx formation. For high fuel efficiency, the new cycle must have a much longer expansion stroke than the compression stroke (as in a Miller cycle) for high thermal efficiency without high combustion temperature. For high mechanical efficiency, the new cycle engine must have a high power density such that for the same total mechanical losses, mechanical loss per unit power output is reduced. For low manufacturing cost, the new cycle engine must have low specific engine weight. For achieving all of these desirable features, a new overexpanded two-stroke constant pressure cycle is created and a two-stroke engine having a crankcase compressor for scavenging has been introduced to operate on this newly created overexpanded two-stroke constant pressure cycle. For more information, my email address is .


Robert, Cummins is presenting Wednesday (at DEER) on the 50% BTE project...



The name of the company you were trying to think of was Hy-Drive.

tom deplume

I envision a parallel hybrid with an over expansion engine. The motor would add the extra power needed for acceleration.


A detailed agenda of this year's DEER conference can be found here:

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