£1.2m new research funding to develop greener cars

The University’s Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre (PVRC) will receive £1.2 million to fund its ground-breaking automotive research as part of a £133 million Government and industry investment in the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC).

On a recent visit to the Ford Technical Centre in Essex, Business Secretary Vince Cable announced a major investment into projects led by the APC, a joint industry and Government body set up by the Automotive Council. Its aim is for the UK to become a hub of excellence for advanced powertrain technology, including improvements to fuel efficiency and reduction in carbon emissions. The initiative has the potential to secure jobs linked to producing engines, while creating many more in the automotive supply train. Alongside the Government, Ford, Cummins, GKN and JCB are the automotive manufacturers investing in the APC.

Vince Cable said: “The next generation of cars, buses and diggers will be powered by radically different technologies and I want them to be developed here in Britain. Over the last few decades the British car industry has been transformed and today a new vehicle rolls off a UK production line every 20 seconds.”

He added: “To capitalise on the success of our motor industry these projects will be the first of many to receive funding from the new £1 billion Advanced Propulsion Centre, which we set up to turn technologies into products. The Government’s industrial strategy is giving business the confidence to invest, securing high-skilled, long-term jobs and creating a stronger economy.”

Situated in our Department of Mechanical Engineering, the PVRC has been awarded £1.2 million to carry out research as one of Ford’s project partners on the ACTIVE project. ACTIVE is centred on Ford’s 1.0 litre EcoBoost Engine, which is expected to win the International Engine of the Year award for the third consecutive year in 2014.

The project will accelerate the introduction of future generation low-carbon technologies with the target of making substantial CO2 savings, including advanced turbocharging, advanced combustion system development and variable valvetrain technology. The project is led by Dr Sam Akehurst with Professor Chris Brace, Professor Gary Hawley, Dr Colin Copeland and Dr Richard Burke.

Professor Hawley, Dean of our Faculty of Engineering and Design and Director of the Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre, attended the meeting with Vince Cable and said: “Our involvement in this project continues the high-impact contribution that we made to the development of the EcoBoost engine and builds on our unique capability to emulate the performance and behaviour of complex technologies and systems to drive down the CO2 footprint of car engines.”

ACTIVE brings Ford’s global R&D resources to the UK to develop advanced technologies with four of the UK’s leading automotive research universities and engineers at Ford’s Engineering Centres. It will also engage the existing UK supply chain, presenting opportunities for participating UK-based component and equipment suppliers to further develop their businesses.

Vince Cable announces automotive research funding at the Ford Technical Centre

Mark Ovenden, Ford of Britain Chairman and Managing Director, said: “As well as benefitting UK industry, this project will see direct benefits for consumers through even further improved engine efficiency, reduced CO2 emissions and improved performance.”

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