Invited Research Lecture on Low Carbon Vehicle Technologies : Downsized Engines, Electrification and Future Technologies

Date: 02 Apr 2012 - 02 Apr 2012

Venue: Training Room 2, 3rd Floor, Tower Block, 71 Nanyand Drive, Singapore 638075


The transport sector is both a vital element of modern economies and a major source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In 2007, transport globally was responsible for 6.6 Gt of CO2 emissions, around 23% of all energy-related CO2 emissions. This could grow by about 40% by 2030 on the IEA’s “business as usual” scenario. Some 73% of these CO2 emissions in 2007 were due road transport, the main focus of this presentation.  
Transport is a relatively costly area in which to achieve big CO2 mitigation savings compared to some other sectors, such as power generation and buildings efficiency. But, given current understanding, transport emissions will have to be addressed to meet both the global and UK GHG emission reduction targets, which aim to “prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”. 

Improving the efficiency of vehicles with conventional powertrains is a no regrets and relatively low cost option for transport carbon saving. A significant CO2 reduction (perhaps 50% of the current fleet average), should be achievable with known technology and with less than perhaps 20% increment to vehicle costs. This is mainly through efficient, down-sized, light-weight engines, light-weight materials, and reduced vehicle size. Fleet efficiency standards – such as those being set for the EU – are a good way of driving this.

Alternative fuels and novel powertrain technologies will be essential to achieve very low levels of GHG emissions since there are physical limits to the maximum efficiency that internal combustion engines (ICEs) on their own will ever be able to achieve. 

Electrification of the powertrain, in the widest sense, is an attractive option for light duty vehicles because it can open the door to a family of very efficient and flexible vehicle options. These include ICE hybrids, plug-in ICE hybrids, fuel cell hybrids and electric vehicles. Between them they offer considerable flexibility in terms of consumer choice and of the national low carbon transition plan. Most of the savings from plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles will depend on the success of the Government’s strategy for de-carbonising power generation

Low Carbon Vehicles and challenging emissions standards are pushing , the engine boosting system beyond the limits of current technology with the aim to aggressively downsize the internal combustion engine. This approach is one of the most promising engineering solutions to achieve a rapid, large scale decarbonisation of road transport. However, a detailed analysis of boosting options and matching techniques is essential if we expect to meet the needs of heavily downsized small capacity engines and future hybrid power trains (including range extenders).
The actual state of the art for downsizing has moved towards the introduction of more complex systems; such as double stage turbo compressor system, a combination of turbocharger and volumetric compressor or electric assisted supercharger/turbocharger combination. These go well beyond the traditional optimization of single stage turbocharger; an increase in complexity leads to an increase in cost that introduces further challenges in the selection of the components.

About Presenter

Ricardo Martinez-Botas has an MEng (Hons) Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Imperial College London. He obtained a DPhil at the University of Oxford University in 1993 with a thesis entitled Annular Cascade Aerodynamics and Heat Transfer.

He has developed the area of unsteady flow aerodynamics of small turbines, with particular application to the turbocharger industry. The contributions to this area centre on the application of unsteady fluid mechanics, instrumentation development and computational methods. 

In 2010 and 2009 he was awarded the best paper award by the Turbomachinery Committee of ASME and in 2011 has been given the Dugald Clerk Prize by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (UK) for contributions to internal combustion engines.  He is a Visiting Professor in the University Teknologi of Malaysia. He has published extensively in journals and peer reviewed conferences.

He is currently a Reader in Turbomachinery and the Theme Leader for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles of the Energy Futures Lab at Imperial College.

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