|Phantom graphics of the Mercedes-Benz S 300 BlueTEC HYBRID showing ECO Thermo engine cover. Click to enlarge.|
The European Commission has approved the new ECO Thermo Cover engine compartment encapsulation in the Mercedes-Benz S 300 BlueTEC HYBRID (earlier post) as a manufacturer’s Eco-innovation. Insulating buildings saves energy; Mercedes engineers have adopted a similar idea in the car.
With insulating partitions in the engine compartment and a radiator shutter that is closed when the car is at a standstill, the heat inside the Mercedes-Benz S 300 BlueTEC HYBRID remains in the engine compartment, even if the vehicle is stopped for some time. When the engine is started again, the higher temperatures reduce friction in the engine, minimize cold-start losses, and cut CO2 emissions. Tests performed at Mercedes-Benz indicate an average fuel saving of up to 1.5 liters per full 70-liter tank (i.e., around 2.1%) over the course of a year.
|Thermographic image of the Mercedes-Benz S 300 BlueTEC HYBRID without (left) and with (right) ECO Thermo Cover. Click to enlarge.|
Mercedes-Benz has been working together with the EU’s Joint Research Center to develop a procedure for verifying the potential savings, and it has become the first automotive manufacturer to successfully apply for allowance of ECO Innovation Credits in the field of thermal energy storage. The CO2 reduction due to the ECO Thermo Cover has now been certified by the EU.
ECO-innovations were defined in CO2 legislation in 2009, although the EU has only approved four since then.The EU approves innovative technologies that offer potential savings during actual driving, in particular those technologies which can not be taken into account in the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC).
Under the Regulation, a technology can qualify as an Eco-innovation if it is new to the market; contributes to significant CO2 savings and is not otherwise taken into account in determining the level of CO2 emissions from vehicles. The technology should also aim at improving vehicle propulsion or the energy consumption of devices that are mandatory, without compromising vehicle safety.
This means, for example, that solar panels converting sunlight into electric energy could potentially qualify as an Eco-innovation but an energy-efficient in-car music system would not.
The ECO Thermo Cover has no effect in the NEDC laboratory tests because, in these prescribed consumption tests, the vehicle always has to be cooled down to the same test station temperature.
Other examples of approved automotive Eco-innovations are:
Audi’s use of LEDs in the low beam headlamp, the high beam headlamp and the licence plate lamp.
Valeo’s Efficient Generation Alternator, with an efficiency of at least 77%, reduces CO2 emissions by at least 1g CO2/km.