Drivetrain project could boost heavy-duty vehicle efficiency

The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has launched a £2.5m project to improve the efficiency of heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) by halving the amount of parasitic losses in the lower drivetrain system.

According to the ETI, parasitic losses in HDVs and off-road vehicle drivetrains can account for more than 10 per cent of overall vehicle energy losses. This project will look to improve the overall system design, with a focus on gears, bearings, surface treatments, lubricant flow and lubricant composition.

The ETI-commissioned and funded project is led by Romax Technology, which will work in collaboration with Castrol and ANSYS. Romax will be responsible for the lower drivetrain design and analysis; Castrol will work on oil development; and ANSYS will model the lubrication system with its engineering simulation technology.

Technologies advanced and developed through this project will then be available to be utilised across a portfolio of HDVs, including heavy-goods vehicles (HGVs), coaches, buses, tractors, back-hoe loaders, wheeled loaders and articulated quarry trucks.

This project is part of a £40m ETI programme designed to increase HDV efficiency. Officially launched earlier this year by business secretary Vince Cable, the programme is designed to look at improving systems integration and technology development across the HDV sector, including marine transportation, with an aim to increase efficiency in land and marine vehicles by up to 30 per cent.

Chris Thorne, programme manager for HDVs at ETI, said: ‘When we launched our HDV efficiency programme, we stated a belief that HDV carbon-dioxide emissions could be reduced by up to one third.

‘This next phase of the programme aims to take us closer towards that end objective. It is critical that we develop technology solutions that are affordable for the industry and meet the needs of the customers.

‘Vehicle fuel efficiency could be increased by two to five per cent if lower drivetrain losses could be effectively halved, which means this project has the potential to make a beneficial step-change to the HDV industry.’