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Sturman Industries has begun an attempt to convert a diesel truck engine so it runs on natural gas, enabled by Sturman Digital Hydraulic air controls.

This project is being funded by a USD1m grant from the California Energy Commission under its Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) programme.

Eddie Sturman, co-founder of Sturman Industries, said: ’The project will show that natural gas can achieve diesel-like efficiency by utilising state-of-the-art control techniques.’ Sturman will use its Hydraulic Valve Actuation (HVA) technology to increase efficiency and decrease emissions.

Dan Giordano, principal investigator on the project, said: ’The HVA system utilises proprietary ultrafast digital latching valves, which allows for precise control of the gas-exchange process.

’The Miller cycle will be employed to vary the effective compression ratio over the operating range.

’This approach allows us to take advantage of a high expansion ratio while avoiding knock.

’The flexibility will also allow us to achieve precise air-fuel ratios without the typical throttling losses associated with spark-ignited natural gas engines.

’Engine efficiency is expected to increase by 10-15 per cent, especially at light to medium loads.

’As part of this project, Sturman will use HVA to investigate the benefits of high turbulence and internal EGR through independent intake valve phasing and exhaust valve timing control, respectively.’ Performing the engine management will be Sturman’s Condor HVA controller and the Sturman Total Engine Controller (STEC) which closes the loop on combustion to continuously adapt to varying fuel quality.

The main benefit of Sturman’s HVA and closed-loop engine controls is their ability to adapt to varying fuel quality and continuously optimise the combustion process for maximum efficiency; this means that a single-engine architecture can be used for power generation, as well as on-highway and off-road mobile applications.

The bottom line is reduced up-front investment and on-going operating costs.

The core Sturman controls utilised in this demonstration programme are part of the Sturman Digital Hydraulics technology platform designed for practical and affordable large-scale production implementation.

Sturman Industries

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