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Friday
Nov022012

Smaller Engines + More Technology = Better Economy?

By Christopher A. Sawyer

SpeedStart can do things other stop-start systems can't, like start large displacement engines.UK-based Controlled Power Technologies (CPT), says that the new 48 volt standard proposed by leading automakers provides an ideal compromise for performance and cost in the development of a new generation of affordable super fuel efficient cars. With global CO2 emission targets rapidly converging, the auto industry has only a decade to achieve almost another 30 per cent reduction by 2022, putting pressure on automakers to come up with innovative and affordable technical solutions.

“The convergence of global standards for fuel economy and CO2 emissions means that the auto industry will need to embrace exhaust gas energy recuperation as well as kinetic energy recovery by electro-mechanical means as the next major step for CO2 reduction,” says Nick Pascoe chief executive and chief technology officer at Controlled Power Technologies (CPT). Barring any breakthroughs in materials, fuels or engine designs, many engine engineers claim the gains to be made through increases in engine efficiency are narrowing. The efficiency increases necessary to meet the tighter standards will have to come through other means, including the use of lightweight materials that will allow automakers to use smaller engines without sacrificing the drivability and performance customers demand. Part of that technology shift, Pascoe believes, includes the use of tools that supplement the power provided by the engine.

“Energy recuperation is the key to solutions the motorist can afford,” says Pascoe. And key to this technology is a move from the current 12-volt electrical standard to a 48 volt system that will bring with it, “the required motor-generator efficiency and power levels” the industry needs to meet the 30% reduction in CO2 that the global legislation will require in an affordable manner. As Pascoe notes: “Some [hybrid options] are more expensive than others. Mild and full hybrid vehicles including plug-in hybrids, operating between 200 and 600 volts, incur significant additional development and product costs to the automaker, which then have to be passed on to the consumer or absorbed by the OEM. Hence the need for governments to subsidize electric vehicles.” Despite this taxpayer subsidy, he says, “Hybrid and electric vehicles are unaffordable for most motorists.”

Cobras and Tigers

CPT has in its arsenal Cobra, SpeedStart and TIGERS technology to help meet the mandates. Cobra is a water-cooled electric supercharger designed for commercial vehicle and off highway applications. A powerful water-cooled starter/generator, SpeedStart is able to provide torque assist to the engine and harvest kinetic energy through brake regeneration. TIGERS, on the other hand, is a water cooled Turbine-Integrated Gas Energy Recovery System.

TIGERS: Turbine-Integrated Gas Energy Recovery System.CPT claims that, on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) SpeedStart’s stop-start, high-current electrical generation and regeneration reduces fuel consumption and CO2 by about 20%. Testing indicates an increase in transient performance of 10 kW (13.4 hp), depending upon system specification. Direct torque assist to the engine has similarly increased, though duration is a critical parameter. The engine breakaway torque at zero rpm also can be increased to 95 Nm (70 lb-ft of torque). That’s enough to start large automotive engines, a stumbling block for most stop-start motor/generators. In addition, as a switched reluctance device, it is able to eliminate the use of expensive rare earth materials in its design.

Next year, CPT will place its Turbine Integrated Gas Recovery System (TIGERS) in a UK government-sponsored project. The idea behind the VIPER (Vehicle Integrated Powertrain Energy Recovery) program is the development of more thermally efficient engines and thermal energy recovery systems. CPT says its TIGERS unit is being dyno tested at 650 degrees Celsius (1,200 F) with a generating efficiency of more than 70%, and a maximum operating speed of 63,000 rpm. That thing spins! It’s also capable of recovering 2-4 kW from a vehicle’s exhaust, an amount equivalent to the SpeedStart system recovering 40-75% of braking energy on the NEDC test. Still in the agenda: developing a sensing system, a stator and rotor for continuous steady state operation, turbine optimization, and the design and development of a bypass system.

CPT also is showing its 12-volt LC Super Hybrid demonstrator to U.S. automakers. This micro-hybrid started life as a European VW Passat powered by VW’s 1.4-liter turbocharged direct-injection four cylinder. It has been fitted with CPT’s VTES electric supercharger, belt-driven SpeedStart starter motor/generator, and low-cost lead-carbon batteries provided by Exide Technologies. Recalibrating the engine increased power from 120 to 140 hp, and torque from 147 to 203 lb-ft. That’s more than is produced by VW’s larger 1.8-liter engine, and puts the LC Super Hybrid on par with cars in the 2.0-liter class. CO2 emissions dropped from 140 to 130 g/km, and economy on the NEDC cycle rose from 38 to 42 mpg. A 1.8-liter Passat returns 34 mpg on the same cycle. (All figures are U.S. equivalents.) CPT claims the technology can provide diesel-level fuel economy at a much lower price point.

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