Tuesday, 29 July 2014
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Supercharged engine to cut exhaust emissions

A project to cut large car engine CO2 emissions by more than a third has received £2.2m from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB).

A consortium led by Jaguar Land Rover will attempt to develop a supercharged petrol engine half the size of a current 5.0L V8 model but with the same performance and a 35 per cent reduction in tailpipe emissions.

The three-year ‘Ultra Boost’ project will cost a total of £4.2m and will involve contributions from the universities of Bath, Leeds, and Imperial College London, as well as Shell, Lotus Engineering, GE Precision Engineering and CD-adapco.

‘The essential thing is to get the engine to behave as if it’s a small engine most of the time when you don’t need the high power output,’ Chris Brace, project investigator and senior lecturer at Bath University, told The Engineer.

‘And you’ve got to manage the transition effectively so that when you need the power it arrives quickly without hesitation and in a way that delivers refinement.’

Part of the challenge for the team will be developing supercharging technology that increases the density of air entering the engine sufficiently to increase the power output, without it impacting too heavily on the engine size or commercial constraints.

‘You don’t want to be driving a lot of air-charge management equipment at times when you don’t need it,’ said Brace. ‘[You want] to get the very high power density at some points but to prevent that from becoming a parasitic loss on the engine at other times.’

The project will use an air-charging facility developed by Dr Sam Akehurst of Bath University’s Powertrain & Vehicle Research Centre to investigate how to vary the flow rate, temperature and pressure of the air entering the engine.

Researchers at Imperial will design the supercharger while Leeds will provide expertise on combustion to ensure the engine responds at the specific high outputs required.

Jaguar Land Rover’s chief engineer, Malcolm Sandford, said: ’This hugely challenging project will help provide a range of technologies that will form the core of our engine downsizing, down-cylindering and down-speeding strategy.’

The project is funded as part of the second TSB competition under its Integrated Delivery Programme, which aims to reduce CO2 emissions and accelerate the introduction of low-carbon vehicles onto the roads.


Readers' comments (15)

  • When will people realise that power has a direct ratio to fuel consumption for a given fuel. Reduce the engine size but keeping the same power will very likely result in the same fuel consumption.

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  • Surely this is what Saab has been doing since the '80s with their range of 2 litre turbocharged cars. Their developments were such that it was deemed unnecessary to include a 3.0 litre 6 cylinder engine since the turbo was doing the same job.

    Engine power requirements are not constant so a system which acts like a small engine when low power is required but can then instantly transform to a high bhp engine when required will save fuel overall.

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  • If the engine is to meet both sets of requirements (good, responsive power and low emissions at all power levels) it will be necessary to insulate the exhaust manifold right up to the supercharger inlet. This allows ongoing reactions to change more of the exhaust gases into more stable (and less toxic) partially-combusted gases. It should also help get rid of more of the particulate.

    I wish the team well as this type of project is what we need in many engines, as long as an adequate amount of insulation is provided.

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  • A supercharger is usually driven from a mechanical source, like a belt pulley, unlike a turbocharger. so it won't be "necessary to insulate the exhaust manifold"

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  • The people who buys these cars hand over their money for something that will impress the gullible. We could save all this development cash by simply banning all the cars that are not capable of even achieving 30mpg.

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  • Jim White, what are you talking about? All they are doing is controlling the speed of the blower.

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  • I wish this development well.
    Could it incorporate the technology already developed which shuts down some cylinders when cruising and high power is not required?

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  • If you use the horses you have to feed 'em.
    Problem is that nobody nowadays will let the oversupply of horses take it easy.
    They just have to use 'em all.
    Current fuel usage per vehicle is really no better that that of 40 years ago.
    There is technology to halve fuel usage, but the good folk on the roads don't want to mediate the performance, insisting on elevated performance in all vehicles.

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  • Ref. the comments above. I understand the primary difference between supercharging and turbo-charging to be that 'Super' uses a mechanically linked air compressor whilst 'Turbo' utilises an exhaust gas driven turbine powered air compressor, therefore 'Super' should not require exhaust system lagging. Either method has the same intent, to increase the amount of air entering the combustion chamber and provide more power for a given engine capacity. Careful control of this extra air will provide a more efficient combustion resulting in an increase in the efficiency. Given that even modern 'high-efficiency' internal combustion engines are even now not very efficient overall, then any increase in efficiency can be traded for either increased power or better MPG, or a combination of both, which is where I believe Jaguar's development is leading. VW already has a 1400cc Turbo & Super-charged petrol engine producing very high power outputs at better than current average efficiency, so I believe Jaguar are aiming at a similar result with a larger cubic capacity engine suitable for cars requiring more bhp and torque.

    However, because of its faster burning speed and lower calorific value, petrol requires more revs/minute than diesel to produce similar bhp/torque figures and therefore generally more fuel used per mile travelled. Therefore I suspect that Jaguars’ (& other’s?) efforts are driven as much by the fuel providers’ economics as by actual power and efficiency requirements. With the continuing trend toward highly efficient small, high speed (4500+ rpm) diesel engines, the oil refineries around the world will need to provide the lighter elements of their production (petrol, etc) for other than combustion purposes, which may conflict with current 'green' objectives. A bit of a conundrum for motor manufacturing industry perhaps?

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  • You know, I was always taken with the supercharger on Mad Max that could be engaged and disengaged by the driver. Unfortunately that was just the "smoke and mirrors" of cinema but if I can get a grant by claiming it's "green" I may be able to get one yet!

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