The pace of research into low-carbon technology is growing, with significant financial inputs by governments. In the U.K., sixteen low-carbon vehicle-development projects are being funded by the U.K. Technology Strategy Board. The State funding will total about $46 million, but including commercial partner contributions, the projects collectively are expected to represent a total value of over $100 million. The Technology Strategy Board is a business-led executive public body established by the U.K. Government and is sponsored by the U.K. Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS).
One of the first companies to announce its involvement in the projects was technology provider and strategic automotive consultancy, Ricardo. A company focus is the development of high-fuel-economy/low-carbon vehicle technologies and Ricardo will be an active participant in three of the project consortia.
Building on the work of the U.K. 2/4SIGHT engine concept (involving engine technology able to switch between both two-stroke/four-stroke operation and spark ignition and homogeneous-charge compression ignition), the 2/4CAR project aims to deliver a global premium vehicle demonstrating a 25-30% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions with no loss of performance. It would use a “highly-downsized gasoline engine with two-stroke/four-stroke switching technology,” revealed Ricardo.
The company says that laboratory work has shown that torque output more typical of an engine of twice the capacity was achievable. The engine design incorporates a cycle-switching valvetrain, an advanced boosting and control system, and will “demonstrate powertrain integration and driveable control strategies.” Ricardo will lead the project, which will be carried out by a consortium also including the University of Brighton, Denso Sales UK, and Jaguar Cars.
Ricardo will also participate in the Range Extended Electric Vehicle project that will be led by Land Rover. The project target is to develop a modular electric and electric/diesel powertrain suitable for several types of vehicle. It will be tested on what is described as a “large premium sport-utility platform” delivering 120-130 g/km CO2 and with a zero emissions range of at least 12 mi (19 km). The project will also investigate range extension and plug-in charging and installation/commissioning of local recharging facilities for vehicle trials within the vehicle fleet of E.ON, who along with Amberjac Projects Ltd. are also consortium members.
The third project in which Ricardo will be involved is the Flywheel Hybrid System for Premium Vehicles. This work will involve the design development of a mechanical hybrid (flywheel and variable-drive system) kinetic energy-recovery system for use in premium-segment passenger vehicles as an alternative, cost competitive solution to other hybrid systems. The project will demonstrate this within an existing vehicle platform to prove its effectiveness and viability for production and suitability for modular application. Jaguar Cars will lead the project, which will be carried out by a consortium including Flybrid Systems, Ford Motor Company Ltd., Prodrive, Torotrak, and Xtrac.“Improving fuel economy and reducing carbon emissions is a major imperative globally for both the automotive industry and society in general,” said Neville Jackson, Ricardo Technology Director. “These three very important projects aim to provide some of the crucial enabling technologies for future low-carbon road-transport applications.”