The invention is seen as one of the most significant advances in engine design in years. Simon Brewster, CEO of Dolphin N2, said: “FPT Industrial is the ideal partner to take this revolutionary technology to market. We knew the technology had world-leading efficiency, but it was the research at Brighton that also showed incredibly low levels of NOx emissions.
“Without this discovery, the technology could still be seen as a dirty engine – with it, it can compete side-by-side with so-called zero emission power, except that our engine is cheaper of course.”
Annalisa Stupenengo, CEO of FPT Industrial, a brand of CNH Industrial, said: “The powertrain industry increasingly needs evolution in terms of efficiency and respect to the environment, and this agreement will enable us to provide ultra-efficient and ultra-low emissions solutions, in the beginning focused on heavy-duty applications.
“The co-joined development of this disruptive technology, to join soon our portfolio, will lead a faster shift from the concept to a commercial level. This acquisition complements our alternative propulsion investments, which are part both of our mission as a sustainable solution provider and of our goal to be a full-line player with the most advanced technologies in all industrial fields.”
Professor Morgan, from the university’s School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics, said the new technology, available in two variants called “ThermoPower” and ‘CryoPower’, is expected to significantly reduce the amount of fuel consumed: “It will be suitable for heavy duty vehicles including long-haul trucks, stationary power, off-highway equipment and self-powered multi-mode railway traction, engines that are, at present, unsuitable for battery-electric propulsion.
“Unlike with cars, a long-haul truck would need to use a sizeable proportion of its cargo space to house the number of batteries needed to propel the truck if it were electrified.”
He explained how the new engine works and stressed that the technology is likely to save operators many thousands of pounds in reduced fuel costs: “The Recuperated Split Cycle process combines the recovery of otherwise wasted exhaust heat with a complete re-design of the engine’s core four-stroke principle, splitting the cold and hot parts of the cycle. We have far more control over both efficiency and emissions than any other type of engine”.
Professor Morgan said the new engine produces extremely low emissions “making pollution and air-quality issues virtually disappear”. He said: “Test results, carried out as part of the StepCO2 programme, have shown that we have a near-zero emissions capability.”
The Recuperated Split Cycle was originally conceived as a means of enabling otherwise unachievable improvements in fuel economy and reduced CO2, targeted at achieving at least 60% brake thermal efficiency. Professor Morgan said early development work carried out on the test rig at the university not only validated this potential but also demonstrated highly-impressive low-NOx emissions, credentials of the unique combustion process.
He said: “Our research has taken a completely new approach to the design of the combustion system, focusing on achieving the conditions for ultra-low emissions. This enabled us to unpick the ‘normal’ way of designing an engine and to come up with a different set of answers.
“Our split-cycle engine combines the findings of our high efficiency research, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, with our low emissions research ideas. On the test bed, we are getting engine out emission much lower than a fully optimised modern truck. With some after-treatment, you would get to very low-level emissions that are actually cleaner than the air going into the engine.”
The StepCO2 project was developed through a partnership with Ricardo, Hiflux Ltd, and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, based at the University of Sheffield. The University of Brighton’s research has been underpinned with funding from Innovate UK and the European and Physical Sciences Research Council.
You can watch Professor Rob Morgan explain his research on YouTube.