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Improving IC powertrain

The majority of road vehicles will continue to be equipped with Internal Combustion (IC) engines for several decades to come.

And diesel will remain the reference fuel for industrial vehicles and heavy trucks.

In line with market reality and the tightening up of regulatory standards, IFPEN is conducting research aimed at improving the efficiency of IC engines while reducing pollutant emissions, via the optimization of existing technologies and the introduction of breakthrough solutions. In terms of percentage, double figure fuel consumption savings are still possible.

 

3D software solutions for combustion accessible to industry

As part of its R&I programs, IFPEN develops 3D engine combustion modeling software tools, which it uses for its own requirements or to support industry.

                                       3D modeling with Converge software

These tools are marketed via its partner, Convergent Science Inc.
In August 2016, following 18 months of work with IFPEN, the developer successfully launched the new version of its Converge software for CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) simulation of reactive flows in engines. For the first time, this version integrates a catalog of gasoline and diesel combustion models stemming from IFPEN research.

In addition, in 2015, IFPEN launched the ACCESS-LES consortium for a period of three years. This consortium brings together four industrial partners around a program aimed at developing LES (Large-Eddy Simulation) of internal combustion engines. Operational since the end of 2016, the software platform offers promising potential for the prediction of combustion instabilities and cycle to cyle variations in engines. For the price of an entry ticket, participants in the consortium will enjoy free access to the LES code, available in SaaS (Software as a Service) mode, as well as hardware for the implementation of this tool.

 

Gasoline powertrains

In order to comply with regulatory objectives in terms of global CO2 emission reductions, further energy efficiency improvements need to be made to gasoline engines in order to establish them as a viable alternative to the diesel ones.

To this end, in 2015, IFPEN and one of its industrial partners developed a solution aimed at urban goods transport vehicles (6-19 tonnes). Thanks to the technology developed, these vehicles now have access to a gasoline powertrain with a performance level similar to that of a diesel engine. The other advantage of this approach is that it avoids the need to employ complex pollution after-treatment systems.
  

A European project to improve the efficiency of gasoline engine

IFPEN is leading the Eagle (Efficient Additivated Gasoline Lean Engine) project, launched in 2016 within the context of the European Horizon 2020 framework program

Bringing together nine partners for three and a half years, this project aims to develop a gasoline powertrain for a hybrid application, delivering peak efficiencies of 50% while reducing emissions, including ultra‑fine particles. Several technological avenues have been identified.
   
In 2017, research will focus on obtaining lean-burn, stable and efficient combustion, and reducing thermal losses at the walls.

         
In addition, within the context of its historic partnership within the GSM (Groupement scientifique moteurs bringing together IFPEN, Renault and Groupe PSA), IFPEN pursued its research efforts aimed at delaying the onset of abnormal combustion phenomena, evaluating, in particular, the impact of local wall temperatures, cyclic combustion variations and the nature of the lubricant.

                  Optical test bench for study of spark ignition engines via compression.

 

Diesel powertrains

Diesel continues to be the reference fuel for industrial vehicles (off-road - agricultural and site machinery) and heavy trucks. This is a sector that is seeing significant changes due to the tightening up of the highly restrictive Euro 6 and Euro 7 environmental standards, and US Tier 4 standards in the United States.

In this context, IFPEN’s R&I approach is designed to improve the efficiency of diesel powertrains while reducing emissions at source.

Its research concerns:

  • the thermodynamic cycle,
  • the combustion system,
  • and engine control of transient phases.

Diffusive combustion is one of the avenues being explored by IFPEN to improve thermodynamic efficiency.

Research is also being conducted to simplify after-treatment systems.

The GSM's research has led to improvements in terms of efficiency, pollutant emissions, after-treatment activation and transient behavior. These results have been obtained thanks to the original application of a variable valve technology making it possible to effectively optimize the engine combustion system.

In addition, IFPEN is pursuing research launched several years ago on the two-stroke engine, which has emerged as an interesting technological avenue in terms of fuel consumption, pollutant emissions and drivability. A first demonstrator was produced within the context of the European Powerful project. IFPEN has now joined the European Reward project which goal is to develop a new two-stroke diesel powertrain architecture aimed at vehicles in C segment and above.

Finally, in its capacity as an independent expert, IFPEN was commissioned to take part in the Board of Inquiry examining NOx emissions from diesel vehicles, set up by Ségolène Royal, French Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs, in October 2015. For this purpose, IFPEN is conducting additional tests alongside those implemented by the Utac (French Technical Union for the Automobile, Motorcycle and Cycle Industries).

 

Advanced combustion systems

In addition to the research being conducted on conventional engine technologies, IFPEN has also set out to achieve ultra-high efficiencies, with a target of 50%. One of the avenues currently being explored concerns advanced combustion processes, particularly via the analysis of combustion boosters – looking at both fuel and oxidizer –, in order to make it possible to fully exploit the potential of combustions with highly diluted blends.

Within this context, IFPEN is taking part in the Cicco project, supported by ANR, set up to examine the potential of using ozone as a combustion booster. Thanks to its oxidizing capacity, ozone significantly reduces the self-ignition temperature of fuels, including low-cetane fuels. For this project, IFPEN is responsible for numerical and experimental assessment of the impact of ozone on advanced combustion modes.

                       IFPEN analyzes the potential of ozone as a combustion booster.

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Partnership

  
When we approached IFPEN about a potential collaboration, we thought that we would be able to take advantage of their knowledge in combustion and after-treatment modeling, and also make use of their experimental data. It has been a very good relationship for us. We feel that we have really improved our modeling capability, in particular in the combustion area, and have made significant strides in our software Converge. IFPEN brought a lot of expertise and has been able to help us validate some of their state-of-the-art models that are widely used throughout the world. By putting these models together with our CFD code, we can now offer our customers a really enhanced package for their combustion and after-treatment simulations.”
  
Peter Kelly Senecal, Vice-président of Convergent Science Inc.

Key figures

25%
of global energy demand relates to transport.

3 to 4x
Increase in global individual mobility 2050 (IEA).

x 2
Predicted increase in the number of light-duty vehicles on the world's roads by 2040.

70%
Market share of gasoline engines in vehicle powertrains in 2020.