e-Actuation, a step ahead for emissions control of off-highway vehicles

  • 06-Jul-2010 12:22 EDT
Pierre Gandel.jpg

Pierre Gandel, CEO, Sonceboz Group 

The U.S. EPA has continuously stated that off-highway engines for construction, agricultural, and industrial applications contribute significantly toward particles, NOx, and sulfur oxides, which then lead to serious public health challenges. The introduction of Tier 4 Final and the development of associated new engines will lead to a drastic reduction (>90%) in the various emissions, thus producing great benefits for public health.

As a stakeholder in the off-highway vehicle community, I speak for Sonceboz with the belief that this step toward a cleaner environment represents a kind of reward and motivation in advance of the hard work with which we are faced. It is an exciting goal, indeed, to be allowed the opportunity to focus our core competencies toward the preservation of the planet for future generations.

This legal incentive acts as a stimulus for global creativity to solve emissions control challenges. The accomplishment of Tier 4 Final emissions control will lead to a large number of technologies that can be activated all along the engine and exhaust management chain—from air admission (intake throttle) through to the exhaust (exhaust back pressure valve). Sonceboz believes that an average of five or six new technologies will be introduced for engines along this chain in the very near future, leading to quite high stress levels for the hundreds of responsible engineers. These new applications such as intake throttle, EGR, EBPV, VGT, SCR, or electric thermostat all have a common factor: electric actuation, so-called e-actuation. This is now a general trend; e-actuation is actually the smartest way to accurately convert a signal coming from the ECU into the flow control of a fluid, e.g., air, exhaust, urea, water, oil, etc.

At Sonceboz we are trying to ease the burden on the hundreds of engineers who are racing to meet the emissions target on time. Since our business model is based on anticipating technological breakthroughs, we intend to provide these engineers with e-actuator solutions that contain very specific values:

* e-Brushless actuation, robust, validated, with ultralow ppm track record, and the availability of CAN communication and integrated sensors that will reduce costs and the development time for these new solutions,

* Software flexibility and support, fast EMC validations, experienced wire harness and connector definitions will be services provided daily depending on customers requirements, and

* A long-term partnership based on our expertise with the e-actuated emissions control solution will enable these teams to access the market more quickly.

As far as applications requiring e-actuation in harsh environments are concerned, precision, robustness, and reliability have become key factors in achieving success. To comply with Tier 4 Final, it is better to have an experienced partner that can provide guaranteed performance, which is the reason why the above-mentioned values will be such a vital part of our services over the next few decades.

Once the challenges of Tier 4 Final have been met, our engineers' jobs will not be over. The forthcoming challenge posed by CO2 reductions is already knocking at their door, with a constantly increased need for fuel efficiency. Sonceboz is actively preparing in its labs the future of these new engines that will rely on faster and stronger e-actuators with a new control strategy. e-cam phasing and variable valve timing are potential paths that could benefit from e-actuation values.

In addition to our technological vision, we should also consider the requirements of the end consumer. They naturally pay close attention to a cleaner environment and lower fuel consumption. However, they are also demonstrating greater awareness of productivity, safety, and comfort features in their daily life with off-highway vehicles. Here at Sonceboz we are working hard to supply our customers with new e-actuator solutions for continuously variable transmission or proportional hydraulic valves, which result in smoother motion from their joystick to their powerful applications.

There is an obvious logical and gradual evolution in the needs and priorities of our customers: public health considerations, fuel economy, safety, and comfort. e-actuation can undoubtedly provide unique answers to all these questions. By converting central intelligence signals into fluid flow control, e-actuators provide compelling innovation content for precise and efficient positioning functions.

We actually believe that e-actuation can master technological challenges and speed up compliance with off-highway industry standards. Our company is aiming to be the link from mind to motion.

Pierre Gandel, CEO, Sonceboz, wrote this article for SAE Off-Highway Engineering.

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