The powertrain will continue to deliver progress in reducing CO2 emissions, according to Continental. During September's Frankfurt Motor Show, the supplier presented new technologies to improve vehicle fuel efficiency. The powertrain heads the list.
“Of course, we need to help bring down vehicle weight by lightweight components such as new brake calipers. And we also need to reduce the consumption of electric energy,” said Karlheinz Haupt, head of the company's systems and technologies activities. “But at the same time, we have to improve the internal-combustion engine’s efficiency.”
"Improved direct injection is an enabling technology to improve engine efficiency,” Haupt said. At Frankfurt the supplier presented the new XL3 generation of gasoline engine solenoid injectors. “Their improved minimum volume injection capability and the option of multiple injections will help to make better use of stratified charge.”
The biggest single trend with gasoline engines, however, is turbocharging in combination with direct injection (DI). “In the future, turbocharging will be a precondition for gasoline downsizing,” said Haupt. The supplier has now developed its first turbocharger (displayed at the Frankfurt show) to meet the increasing demand. Continental has two initial contracts for gasoline applications from 2011 and 2012.
While turbocharging is a mature technology with little variation in componentry, the supplier’s modular design is tailored for automated assembly. Modularity also makes it amenable for adaption to different engine sizes.
“There will probably be less change in the diesel engine field,” said Haupt, “but the Euro 6 emissions standard asks for further improvement.” Piezo injection technology will be highly instrumental in this. Injection rate shaping, for instance, relies on the piezo actuator’s high accuracy. With the latest generation of piezo diesel injector design, the actuator simultaneously acts as a sensor measuring the nozzle needle position and feeding the data to the electronic control unit. The result is the first self-contained flow rate control system. The system detects any variation in flow rate and adjusts individual injectors accordingly for the best possible figures for NOx emissions and fuel consumption.
“By increasing the efficiency of high-pressure diesel pumps and reducing the internal system leakage alone, we can reduce CO2 emissions by another single-digit gram amount,” Haupt added.
Some Continental solutions apply to gasoline and diesel engines. One is making the injection system pressure tight, for instance, to improve stop-start systems. When the engine is cranked after a standstill, a pressure-tight injection system instantly offers the optimum level of fuel injection pressure. Controlling the fuel-supply pump’s speed according to the instantaneous demand is a characteristic of Continental’s new in-tank fuel supply units.
Electrifying functions and/or using electric propulsion with or without an IC engine are also high on the list of the supplier’s priority list. Its second generation of power electronics with dc/dc converter, for instance, requires 30% less installation space. This technology will go into Europe’s first mass-production electric vehicle, announced by Renault for 2011.