U.K. Effort Targets “Zero Emissions” Diesel

Posted on June 26, 2007

Combustion engine experts from around the U.K. are collaborating to develop heavy-duty diesel engines based on the HCCI (Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition) principle. Caterpillar Inc. is leading the major project to develop the combustion techniques needed to build a practical HCCI diesel engine, with assistance from the technology and product developer Cambridge Consultants and City, Loughborough and Sussex universities. The group has been awarded a £1.5 million grant via the U.K. Dept. of Trade and Industry-led Technology Programme.

"The benefits of developing HCCI technology are potentially enormous,” said Dr. Derek Wallis of Cambridge Consultants. “HCCI diesel engines will deliver near-zero NOx and particulate emissions, with minimal requirement for exhaust gas treatment."

Although the HCCI combustion principle has been demonstrated, there are many design problems and to-date nobody has managed to build an engine that can sustain HCCI efficiently over the range of real-world operating conditions. The project - which will run until December 2008 - will study the complete combustion cycle, focusing on the injection system, the in-cylinder design and combustion processes and the turbocharger systems.

The team members contribute expertise in a range of engine design areas. Cambridge Consultants will develop a predictive controller for management of the engine's air system. Loughborough University is working on the design of the fuel injector flow path and nozzle. City University is working on a model to simulate the nozzle flow and the spray characteristics inside the engine cylinder. Sussex University will model and control the combustion process and the exhaust gas temperature to better understand how HCCI combustion can be implemented on a commercial engine.

Caterpillar U.K. is the lead partner in the project, and will integrate the models into its own system simulator at its engine manufacturing plant in Peterborough, as well as evaluating the design ideas.