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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

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.

The overall objective of HDGAS, coordinated by AVL, is to provide breakthroughs in LNG vehicle fuel systems, natural gas and dual fuel engine technologies as well as aftertreatment systems. The developed components and technologies will be integrated into three demonstration vehicles that are representative for long -haul heavy duty vehicles in the 40 ton range. The demonstration vehicles will:

  • comply with the Euro VI emission regulations;
  • achieve high specific power ratings of > 30kW/L while meeting at minimum 10% CO2 reduction compared to state of the art technology;
  • show a range before fueling of at least 800 km on natural gas;
  • be competitive in terms of performance, engine life, cost of ownership, safety and comport to 2013 best in class vehicles.

Three HDGAS engine concepts/technology routes will be developed:

  • A low-pressure direct injection spark ignited engine with a highly efficient EGR system;
  • A low-pressure port injected dual fuel engine;
  • A high-pressure gas direct injection diesel pilot ignition gas engine.

HDGAS will develop all key technologies (LNG fuel system including high-pressure tank design, compact and insulation in tank, cryogenic pump, aftertreatment systems) up to TRL6/7, and three engines as well as new fuel systems. All will be integrated into three demonstration vehicles. HDGAS will also prepare a plan for a credible path to deliver the innovations to the market. The exploitation plan will be proportionate to the scale of the project and contains measures to be implemented both during and after the project.

Through extensive use of simulation methods, Ricardo aims to create a heavy duty natural gas version of its direct injection combustion system that has already been applied in ultra-clean gasoline engines. Technologies that will be investigated in this endeavor include a conceptual study of liquid natural gas direct injection and the application of high energy ignition system based on corona discharge.

Advanced dual fuel and pure natural gas aftertreatment specification, development and testing is also a critical part the work of the HDGAS project, and an area where Ricardo will lead several partners of the consortium.

This work will aim to provide important knowledge around the challenge of controlling tailpipe methane emissions and the impact of natural gas on some of the conventional aftertreatment technologies that might be applied, such as the risk of methane poisoning of SCR catalysts.

Having specified the system requirements based on simulation and analysis, this information will be used as the basis for rig testing and development followed by incorporation of the technology on the four new heavy duty natural gas powertrains developed within the project.

These will include the Ricardo lean burn direct injection engine and the three other engines being developed by the partners on the project. Ricardo will then complete a Euro VI calibration of the aftertreatment system on the lean burn engine.

For future heavy commercial vehicles, reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a critical priority. A promising route towards this goal is the more widespread use of natural gas as an alternative to conventional liquid fossil fuels such as diesel. However, the adoption of natural gas power for commercial vehicles faces several technical challenges which are being addressed by the HDGAS project. Ricardo is very pleased to be a partner in HDGAS, contributing innovative technologies in collaboration with the other partners. We look forward to working towards the goal of demonstrating efficient lean burn engines and aftertreatment systems for all the candidate mono- and dual-fuel natural gas engine types.

—Dr. Andrew Noble, Ricardo head of heavy duty engines



The local Ozinga ready mix Concrete company is near to my home. Their entire fleet of concrete mix trucks are powered by natural gas. They are the least offensive heavy-duty vehicle to be stopped alongside at an intersection.

In sub-zero weather, when other trucking facilities are shrouded in the choking stink of blue diesel smoke, the area around the Ozinga yard is crystal clear.

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