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Honda Previews Next-Generation Engine and Power Technologies

The Tier 2 Bin 5 diesel engine and aftertreatment system.

In May 2006, Honda CEO Takeo Fukui announced voluntary global CO2 reduction targets for its products and production activities—a 10% reduction by 2010 compared to 2000 levels—becoming the first automaker to do so. In the speech, he outlined a number of powertrain technology and product steps the company was taking to meet those and other targets. (Earlier post.)

On Monday, Honda previewed its progress in those areas noted by its CEO during the speech back in May: a Tier 2 Bin 5-compliant diesel engine for the US, the FCX Concept fuel cell vehicle, an E100 flex-fuel vehicle for Brazil, improvements in its VTEC gasoline engine, two new motorcycle engine developments, and two new power product developments.

Tier 2 Bin 5 diesel engine research vehicle (European Accord) and Takeo Fukui.

Next-Generation Diesel Engine. Honda’s new diesel, targeted for introduction in the US by 2009, will not use a urea-based SCR system to meet the US Tier 2 Bin 5 standards. (Earlier post.) Instead, it is using a combination of an advanced combustion management (PCCI) and a new NOx catalytic converter, about which it provided more details.

The new catalytic converter utilizes a two-layer structure: one layer adsorbs NOx from the exhaust gas and converts a portion of it into ammonia, while the other layer adsorbs the resulting ammonia, and uses it later in a reaction that converts the remaining NOx in the exhaust into nitrogen (N2).

Ammonia is a highly effective reagent for reducing NOx into N2 in an oxygen-rich, lean-burn atmosphere—urea-based SCR system derive ammonia from the urea.

Honda’s ability to generate and store ammonia within the catalytic converter enables the creation of a compact, lightweight NOx reduction system for diesel engines. The system also features enhanced NOx reduction performance at 200–300ºC, the main temperature range of diesel engines.

Reaction mechanism of the new NOx catalytic converter.
  1. During lean burn operation, the NOx adsorbent in the lower layer adsorbs NOx from the exhaust gas.
  2. As needed, the engine management system adjusts the engine air-fuel ratio to rich-burn, wherein the NOx in the NOx adsorption layer reacts with hydrogen (H2) obtained from the exhaust gas to produce ammonia (NH3). The adsorbent material in the upper layer temporarily adsorbs the NH3.
  3. When the engine returns to lean-burn operation, NH3 adsorbed in the upper layer reacts with NOx in the exhaust gas and reduces it to harmless nitrogen (N2).

Honda designed the catalytic converter for use with its 2.2 i-CTDi diesel engine. Through the use of more advanced combustion control, 2.2 i-CTDi delivers cleaner exhaust to the NOx catalytic converter.

Honda achieved this by optimizing the combustion chamber configuration, reducing fuel injection time with a 2,000-bar common rail injection system and boosting the efficiency of the EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) system.

Along with developing its low-emissions engine and aftertreatment system, Honda plans to address other technical challenges in developing clean diesel engines, such as handling diesel fuels with different cetane numbers—a major challenge in the US compared to Europe—and meeting US On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) System requirements.

Configuration of the emissions aftertreatment system.

FCX Concept Fuel Cell Vehicle. Honda held a demonstration drive of the next-generation FCX Concept fuel cell vehicle, an earlier version of which was shown at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show. A production vehicle under development for 2008 will incorporate the principle technologies in the current FCX Concept.

FCX Concept Specifications
Motor Output 95 kW (127 hp)
Motor Torque 256 Nm (189 lb-ft)
FC Stack Output 100 kW
CH2 Tank Pressure 355 bar (5,144 psi)
Max speed 160 kph (99 mph)
Range 570 km (354 mi)

The vertical-flow (V Flow) fuel cell stack is 20% smaller and 30% lighter than the current FCX FC Stack, yet its power output is 14kW greater. The drive motor has been positioned coaxially with the gearbox for a more compact design, with output increased by 15kW. Overall, the power plant is about 180kg lighter than that of the current FCX and about 40% smaller in volume. The result is improved energy efficiency and performance along with a more spacious interior.

The vertical-flow design enables improved water management, resulting in stable power generation under a broad range of conditions, and higher output from a smaller package. Low-temperature startup has also been significantly improved, enabling cold-weather starts at temperatures 10°C lower than the current FCX - as low as minus 30°C.

As an auxiliary power source, the FCX Concept carries a compact, high-efficiency lithium ion battery, contributing to increased power output and a more compact power plant. These efficiency improvements to major power plant components give the vehicle a travel range approximately 30% greater than the current FCX. The vehicle is also highly efficient, with an energy efficiency of around 60%—approximately three times that of a gasoline-engine vehicle, twice that of a hybrid vehicle, and 10% better than the current FCX.

Fit FFV prototype.

E100 Flexible-Fuel Vehicle. Honda has developed a new flexible fuel vehicle (FFV) system that enables gasoline engine-based power plants to operate on either 100% ethanol or a wide range of ethanol-gasoline fuel mixtures. In addition, a cold-start system utilizing a secondary fuel tank ensures reliable starts even at low ambient temperatures.

The company showed FFV prototypes of both the Civic and the Fit. In late 2006, Honda plans to begin sales of FFVs in Brazil.

Advanced VTEC Engine. Honda’s new version of its VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control System) engine combines continuously variable valve lift and timing control with the continuously variable phase control of VTC (Variable Timing Control) to achieve a 13% improvement in fuel efficiency, compared to a production 2.4-liter i-VTEC engine.

This new system permits optimum control over intake valve lift and phase in response to driving conditions, achieving improved charging efficiency for a significant increase in torque at all engine speeds. Under low to medium load levels, the valves are set for low lift and early closure to reduce pumping losses and improve fuel economy.

Exhaust emissions that meet both U.S. Environmental Protection Agency LEV2-ULEV regulations and Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport requirements for Low-Emission Vehicles, with emission levels 75% lower than those required by the 2005 standards (based on Honda calculations).

Motorcycles. In a new application of Hyper VTEC technology, Honda has developed a variable cylinder management system (VCM) for motorcycles. This new VCM allows control of the number of active cylinders in three stages from 2 cylinders to all 4 cylinders, for both superior performance and low fuel consumption.

Honda also displayed a new ultra-low friction motorcycle engine with dramatically reduced internal mechanical friction and twin-spark-plug ignition for increased combustion efficiency.

Power Products. Honda announced that it plans to expand its line-up of products featuring the electronic STR Governor technology first developed for the i-GX engine. All medium-to-large power product engines (GX160 and larger), generators, and snow blowers are to feature this technology by the end of 2010.

Honda also revealed the prototype of a revolutionary high-expansion-ratio engine featuring intake and expansion strokes of variable lengths.



The NOx converter for diesels looks ingenious. Kudos Honda! I bet all other diesel makers will be clamoring to license (or steal) this technology. Maybe this will be the innovation that finally brings large numbers of clean diesels to the US.


THIS is the sort of thing american auto makers should have done thirty years ago.

They had better get with the program or they WILL be history.

Tim Russell

Lucas THAT is the kind of comment that shows total bias. Why didn't Honda do it 30 years ago? Yes Honda they was building cars then. Why is it to so many people that Detroit = BAD and Japan = Good? To those who think that way, stop getting your auto news from the New York Times (they seem to be bias against Detroit)

For full disclosure I drive a Honda and a Ford and like them both.

allen Z

GM also has a Bin2 Tier5 diesel in the works, for 2010. Will they move the launch up?
_I do suspect DaimlerChrysler may look to license the NH3 generating system, or come up with one themselves. They may have trouble convincing US regulators on their BlueTec, and might be looking to hedge their bets.
___As for the rest of the others, the advanced VTEC and "high-expansion-ratio engine featuring intake and expansion strokes of variable lengths" look most promising. These two may combine to make a gasoline engine on par to diesels in effciency. The low friction engine, if tranplanted over to car/truck engines, could let Honda compete with Nissan/Renault's long lasting low friction cylinders in their upcoming engine.


Why is it to so many people that Detroit = BAD and Japan = Good

No one thinks that - that's a strawman.

Detroit has a long and disappointing history over the past few decades on many levels, especially with respect to fuel efficiency, environmental responsibility, and so forth. The primary Japanese automakers, by contrast, have a long history of dedication to fuel efficiency (which is not necessarily altruistic and merely a result of their timing of entry in large numbers in the American market), and they also have been at the forefront in embracing environmental responsibility, and more importantly, bringing that commitment to market.

The only thing tiresome is hearing the same whine about "anti-American bias" or whatnot any time a criticism is levelled against a US auto company. We get it - you're a real patriot. Noted.

Now please move on to something else.


THIS is the sort of thing american auto makers should have done thirty years ago.

Dollars to doughnuts the NOx converter gets poisoned by sulfur. What we should have done 30 yrs ago was reduce the sulfur content -- then we wouldn't be talking about technologies for diesel exhaust treatment, we'd be using them. Well, better late than never ...

John W.

I want a job at Honda.


Tim - While we are disclosing - I also drive a Honda (Hybrid) and a Ford. I like them both.

I'd also be driving a Ford Hybrid if they made one since 2003 that even came close to the Honda.

Michael G. Richard

Interesting. I wonder when the new VTEC engines will start appearing in cars.

Rafael Seidl

To all those who appear to think all this could have been done 30 years ago: why do you think EU emissions regs have remained more lenient on diesels all these years? They do push the envelope here, too, just not to the point where a strategic technology is forced out of the market altogether for several decades.

Achieving emissions as low as mandated by Tier 2 Bin 5 is only possible through a combination of a number of more recent innovations, including precise EGR valves, unit injector/common rail fuel injection, variable charge motion control, HCCI combustion in part load, sophisticated engine management PLUS advanced NOx aftertreatment. After all, the engine has to be capable of switching transparently between lean and slightly rich burn concepts, at all points in the engine map. This complex combination of measures was simply not feasible up to now.

The specific chemistry of Honda's NOx store, based on ammonia, differs from the traditional adsorption by barium oxide as nitrides. The net effect is the same, though, so don't expect the industry to rush out and license this from Honda's supplier. NOx store technology has been around for a decade or so but it is relatively expensive to apply and produce, therefore carmakers will only consider it after all other options have proven inadequate.

As dt correctly points out, the primary stumbling block to adopting NOx store catalysts up to now has been high levels of sulphur in the fuel which poisons the catlyst (blocks the adsorption sites). Purging the sulphur requires raising the temperature of the monolith to ~600 deg C for several minutes, raising fuel consumption and causing permanent, cumulative degradation in NOx conversion efficacy. Even with ULSD or its EU equivalent, it takes substantial effort to meet the EPA/CARB longevity requirements.

Btw, SCR systems also prefer low sulphur to maintain high efficacy of the oxidation catalysts, plus they consume the urea additive. The light-off temperature is also a little higher, always an issue for bulky components that need to be mounted far from the engine in the vehicle underbody. US and Japanese test cycles tend to produce lower exhaust temps than those used in the EU. On the plus side, there is no risk of SCR catalyst poisoning and no need to adapt the engine control maps, so the application effort is much lower.

Harvey D.

Could somebody set the records straight by giving the mpg progress for American cars versus Japanese during the last 20/30 years?

The vehicle weight gain or reduction may be thrown in. I've seen encouraging figures on the Honda Civic 1976/86 versus the 2006.


Just in the last ten years the decrease in the fuel economy (but fairly static fuel efficiency) of Japanese vehicles can be seen. The Toyota Corolla and Mazda 3 made slight improvements. The Honda Civic is slightly poorer, Mitsubishi Lancer is worse, Nissan Sentra is worse, Camry & Accord are slightly better (excluding hybrid versions), Altima is worse, Galant is worse, Eclipse is worse for the low end and about the same for the high end (but comparing an AWD turbo 2.0L versus a FWD 3.8L V-6).

Emissions & HP, on the other hand, are much improved as is crash worthiness (but cost to repair is much higher).

Mark R. W. Jr.

Hmm, I think Honda could do it. Haven't they made Super Low Emission gas-burners already?


I believe Honda was the first manufacturer to produce a SULEV certified automobile.


To all those who appear to think all this could have been done 30 years ago: why do you think EU emissions regs have remained more lenient on diesels all these years?

The point is not that we'd have met T2B5 30 yrs ago. After all, gas cats today are far far better than they were when we stopped adding lead to gas, and a 30 yr old gasser would not meet current emission standards either. The point is that with 30 years of development, meeting current specs would be much easier than saying "OK, these are the new standards. We know you can't meet them yet because your fuel quality is too low -- oh well." With 30 years of development, T2B5 might even be considered unacceptably high. But again, that's water under the bridge.


“…Why do you think EU emission regs have remained more lenient on diesel all this years?”

Because diesel cars in Europe appeared in great numbers before governments paid attention to health effects of their exhaust.

“They do pushed the envelope here too, just not to the point where the strategic technology is forced out of the market altogether for several decades”

Diesel emission regulation in US will push diesel cars from the market in – what? 2007? California and another 4 states – this year? Diesel cars enjoyed free emissions ride for 3 decades in US. Still enjoy it in Canada. They just failed the competition in market not distorted by double price for cars and triple price for fuel.

Repeating of this politically correct bias does not make it less false.


Andrey, you still think diesels emit black smoke don't you? In Europe the revolution in common rail TD happenned about 6 years ago... shame you are not here to see it. I pity your distorted view and don't knock Euro governments for actually taxing fuel and making people drive more efficient vehicles... now you can go back to driving your 'safe' yank tank.

John Schreiber

30 years ago, we may have been able to do ethanol.
However, to get the knowledge needed to do what Honda (and others) have done would have taken 60 years with the computers we had 30 years ago. Not to mention sulfur.

Rafael Seidl

Andrey -

"[...]Diesel cars enjoyed free emissions ride for 3 decades in US.[...]²

How so? It's not as if diesel cars didn't have to meet US emissions regs! Indeed, it is precisely because those regs demand the same emission levels from lean-burn engines such as diesels as they do from stoichiometrically operated gasoline engins with three-way catalysts that there have been virtually NO diesel cars in the US for the past three decades. Their market share is around 1%. Announcements that the T2B5 hurdle will be cleared soon were only made recently, by Honda, VW and MB.

Btw, diesel market share in the EU didn't begin to pick up until about 1990. Sweden, Switzerland and Austria had adopted US emissions levels for gasoline cars and forced their refineries to deliver unleaded gas. Germany forced the rest of the EU to follow suit in 1992 but implementation was initially patchy. The delay created a ready market for diesels because they could be driven across borders. This in turn prompted R&D on turbos, direct injection etc. Of course, the tax bias in favor of diesels reinforced this shift; it remains to be seen how much longer finance ministers remain willing to forego this revenue.


I'm looking forward to a new honda 250cc or bigger scooter with a low friction VTEC with variable cylinder management engine.


GM's upcoming Bin2 tier5 diesel, from what I've heard, relies on a urea solution, which is less practical, and more of a hassle to consumers than Honda's solution.



Looks like you was misinformed on US emission standards for diesel cars.

EU Tier 1, phased 92-93: NOx+HC: 0.97g/km PM: 0.14g/km

US Tier 1, phased 94-97: NOx: 0.625g/km PM: 0.05g/km

EU Tier 2, 1996: NOx+HC: 0.9 g/km PM: 0.01g/km

EU Tier 3, 2000: NOx: 0.5 g/km PM: 0.005g/km

US Tier 2, temp. bin, 2004-2006 NOx: 0.25g/km

US Tier 2, end2006-2007 NOx: 0.0875g/km

US began to regulate passenger diesel cars phased in 1994-97, with standards no stringent then 1996 EU, PM standard being more lenient. Tier 2 standards in US (temporary bin) still allowed European diesel cars to be sold in US (and they were), and only at the end 2006 European diesel cars become incapable to comply with Tier 2 permanent bin.

For US/Canada emission regulation look at


I want a Yamaha scooter. I'm almost old enough to get my license.

Cheryl Ho

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