Helping Ford create fuel efficient engines of the future
Passenger cars emit over 72 million tonnes of CO2 into the environment every year in the UK. Working with Ford, researchers from the Powertrain & Vehicle Research Centre in the Faculty of Engineering and Design are working to reduce the carbon footprint of passenger vehicles.
The collaboration has resulted in improvements in fuel efficiency across Ford’s range of vehicles, including A-rated models which produce less than 100g/km of CO2.
With the deadline of 2020 for the UK’s carbon targets looming, action is required to address the emissions generated from vehicle use. While alternatives to fossil fuels exist such as hydrogen fuel cells, electric vehicles and biofuels, these will not be ready to contribute to 2020 targets.
Small improvements with a significant impact
The research is focused on enhancing the fuel economy of diesel powered passenger cars and has already discovered that the accumulation of several small improvements can deliver a significant reduction in fuel consumption.
The improvements to fuel economy not only equate to savings in fuel costs, but also a reduction in carbon emissions. If the fuel efficiency of all vehicles on the road were to improve by just 1%, vehicle CO2 emissions would reduce by over 750,000 tonnes.
Through improvements to vehicle engine cooling systems, oil pump design and improved lubrication oil formulations, researchers have managed to improve fuel economy by around 6%.
Research in detail
The research seeks to help motor companies reduce the amount of fuel that is wasted, that does not contribute to driving the car on the road. This can be achieved through reducing frictional losses and improving combustion efficiency.
The researchers have found particular interest in rearranging the accessory drive at the front of the engine, which is used to drive engine accessories. Through rearranging a series of pulleys, chains and belts, researchers have identified a method of reducing fuel consumption by around 7%.
Making full use of the University’s facilities
“ Vehicles in five years will be noticeably different from the vehicles today. The improvements to oil pump, lubricant technology and improved accessory drives will become the norm on all vehicles. ”
Dr Chris Brace, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering
The University’s vehicle test facility (chassis dynamometer) has proven critical to the success of a number of projects, all designed to deliver fuel economy savings. Researchers have used an array of experimental facilities to achieve challenging objectives. This has led to a number of ‘how to look at it differently’ approaches to measure small but incrementally important improvements. These approaches are currently being transferred to the Ford Vehicle Test and Evaluation Facility at the Dunton Vehicle Centre in Essex.
The project focuses on new turbocharging strategies that can be applied to both petrol and diesel engines. This will be supported by a new £800K Turbo-Centre based on the University campus. It is hoped the centre will become the UKs Centre of Excellence for future downsized internal combustion engines.
When asked about the future of the project, Dr Chris Brace, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering replied, “Vehicles in five years will be noticeably different from the vehicles today. The improvements to oil pump, lubricant technology and improved accessory drives will become the norm on all vehicles.”
Professor Gary Hawley, Dean and Director of the Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre said, “Over this past 10 years we have come a long way to establish ourselves as the leading university research group focusing on fuel economy improvements. The work leads directly into the next generation production vehicles and the applied nature of our work has resulted in extensive industrial collaborations being established”.