Multi-fuel technology could reduce emissions from HGVs

A multi-fuel technology that mixes diesel with other fuel sources could cut greenhouse gas emissions from heavy-goods vehicles (HGVs).

Newport-based G-Volution has developed a multi-fuel technology known as the Optimiser that allows HGVs to be powered by a diesel engine that simultaneously combusts more than one fuel.

The current system uses diesel as the primary fuel source and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as the secondary source from a separate tank. Colin Gray, operations director at G-Volution, told The Engineer: ‘There is potential to mix diesel with greener fuels, such as liquefied natural gas, bio-ethanol, bio-butanol, methanol and hydrogen.’

The Optimiser uses a patented electronic control unit to determine how much diesel to release into the engine at any point in time. ‘We’re modifying the engine control unit [ECU] signal when it’s safe to do so to basically say “rather than inject 100 per cent diesel, reduce that by 20–30 per cent”. A signal is then sent to our system to say “introduce the secondary fuel”,’ said Gray.

‘Throughout the drive cycle, we introduce LPG at different ratios because we have to make sure it’s in harmony with the engine,’ he added. ‘In between an HGV being idle and at full power, there is a wide range of where we can introduce LPG as an effective supplement to the mixture of fuels.’

Gray claims that the current system delivers HGV fuel cost savings of between eight and 12 per cent. He said: ‘There is a reduction in operating costs because we are supplementing 30 per cent of a very expensive fuel [diesel], which costs £1.50 a litre, with LPG, which is approximately a third cheaper.’

He said that carbon savings of between six and eight per cent can also be achieved due to the extended range that their technology offers.

The technology can be fitted to existing HGVs, but Gray said that G-Volution hopes to install it on new vehicle models and is currently in talks with two unnamed vehicle manufacturers. G-Volution currently has its technology installed on a fleet of 50–60 vehicles.

After successfully obtaining funding through the Shell Springboard competition in 2008, Gray is optimistic that G-Volution can complete its next funding round of $2m (£1.2m) by the end of the year.