U.K. consortia chase ultralow-carbon targets

  • 04-Oct-2010 11:32 EDT
LoCarbon9-10FlybridFlywheel_CENEX_01.jpg

Interest in flywheel hybrids has spread from F1 racing's KERS (kinetic energy recovery systems).

Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, and a number of specialist companies—together with universities that have formed technology-led consortia to develop greener vehicles—are to receive cash support from the U.K. government-backed Technology Strategy Board (TSB).

Six consortia will run extensive innovation projects designed to strengthen the U.K.’s ultralow-carbon capability, with particular focus on supply chain development. They secured the funding via a competition developed by the TSB in partnership with the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Office for Low Emissions (OLEV).

U.K. Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said £24m would go to the consortia. Speaking at the recent Low Carbon Vehicles 2010 event at Millbrook Proving Ground north of London, Hammond said: “I congratulate the six winners for their fresh and innovative solutions to the low-carbon challenge. These projects represent cutting-edge technology that has the potential to transform the way we travel in a way that will stimulate a vital and growing market.”

Each project has been designed to optimize and improve opportunities for companies that manufacture components and systems as part of the automotive supply chain and involve both large and small- to medium-size enterprises. Each project had to demonstrate a credible route to market with the associated opportunities for high-tech jobs.

One of the projects is VIPER (Vehicle Integrated Powertrain Energy Recovery), with Jaguar Land Rover as lead. Others involved include Ford, BP, Imperial College London, and the University of Nottingham. The project’s aim is to show how a CO2 emissions reduction of 4.5% could be achieved over a broad range of new vehicles by optimizing control of heat energy in current conventional vehicles.

Suppliers with the VIPER project are to develop new technologies to harness, manage, and store heat energy and integrate it into a practical demonstrator. A prototype Land Rover will be used to demonstrate the effectiveness of the consortium’s work.

Expertise in computational and experimental techniques is to be combined with engineering service suppliers to develop new and efficient methods for the optimization of future vehicles. These should be a majority of new vehicles by 2020.

Jaguar Land Rover is also involved in the REEV (Range Extended Electric Vehicle) consortium together with Lotus Cars, Nissan, EVO Electric, Xtrac, Think Global, and Axeon. The project aims to deliver REEV products while developing four fledgling U.K. suppliers of novel ultralow-carbon technologies. The consortium companies are to work together to develop advanced electric powertrains and a greater understanding of the commercial requirements needed for high-performance electric and range-extended vehicles. The work will accelerate the development of new technologies and key commodities while laying the foundations for a globally competitive supply base, according to a statement by the partners.

The program (known as REEVolution) is the next phase of the Jaguar Land Rover-led Limo Green project. This involves a range-extended hybrid-electric Jaguar XJ prototype. It delivers sub-120 g/km tailpipe CO2, a fuel consumption of 4.9 L/100 km, and a top speed of 180 km/h (112 mph). Overall range is 600 mi (965 km) and in pure EV mode 30 mi (48 km). Participants in the new project will develop components and systems, as demonstrated on Limo Green, to global levels of quality and reliability required for production. It is expected to deliver a CO2 emissions reduction of up to 75%. Jaguar has not officially stated that it will produce a hybrid car but is understood to be considering the idea.

Ford is leading the consortium involved in the emissions Project CREO (CO2 Reduction through Emissions Optimization). Jaguar Land Rover is also involved in this initiative, as is Johnson Matthey, ITM Power (Trading), Revolve Technologies, Combustion, and the University of Bradford, University of Liverpool, and University of Birmingham. They will work to reduce or eliminate the 4% negative effect of a typical emissions control system on fuel consumption. The project will look at ways of redesigning the engine and aftertreatment system as a complete system. Novel aftertreatment techniques and new optimization tools will be developed.

Three technology demonstration vehicles will be built under Project CREO: gasoline and diesel cars and a diesel hybrid bus. The target is a 4% reduction in CO2 by 2015, rising to 15% by 2025.

Weight reduction remains a very significant route to reduced emissions, and AluMatCom (Aluminum Matrix Composite Materials for Vehicle Weight Reduction) is a consortium project that aims to do just that. Jaguar leads members including Composite Metal Technology, Textile Center of Excellence, and Antich and Sons. The project will examine the potential for using reinforcing fibers in cast-aluminum components to provide a material with the potential to deliver the strength and stiffness of steel but with the weight of aluminum. Members of the consortium will endeavor to demonstrate engineering, manufacturing, and commercial feasibility of the materials.

A range of technologies was shown at the Millbrook event, including a flywheel hybrid system for premium vehicles (FHPSV). It can add up to 60 kW of recovered energy to a vehicle, with 20% fuel-economy gains. Compared to conventional hybrid systems, flywheel hybrids reduce the number of energy conversions on board the vehicle, improving the efficiency of the regenerative braking system.

Rather than converting kinetic energy into electricity for storage in a battery, a small CVT (continuously variable transmission) connected to the car’s rear differential transfers the energy directly into a compact, high-speed flywheel. When the accelerator pedal is reapplied, the CVT transfers energy back to the wheels.

Project partners include Jaguar Land Rover, Flybrid Systems, Ford, Prodrive, Ricardo, Torotrak, and Xtrac. Flybrid Systems’ flywheel reaches 60,000 rpm to achieve a very high energy density, which allows it to be of compact design for efficient packaging. The CVT manages the flywheel’s speed and flow of kinetic energy. It is built by motor sport specialist Xtrac using Torotrak’s traction drive technology.

“Initial studies suggest that the cost will be half that of an equivalent battery-electric system," said Torotrak CEO Dick Elsy. "The flywheel system provides a lot of scope for different operating calibrations. For example, in economy mode, it could be kept half charged to optimize energy recovery. In sport mode, it could be kept fully charged to deliver additional torque.”

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