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AMF - Implementing Agreement on Advanced Motor Fuels

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Annex 43: Performance Evaluation of Passenger Car Fuel and Powerplant Options

Background

Road transport needs major de-carbonizing actions. However, there is no single solution that can solve this challenge. Therefore, we need to entertain multiple technologies in order to find the best-suited alternatives for each given set of boundary conditions. Fuel efficiency’s importance is seen to be growing. Engine downsizing, switching to diesel, and opting for hybridization contribute to fuel efficiency. Renewable energy can be introduced either through biofuels or electricity from renewable sources.

Passenger cars are a major vehicle class among road-going vehicles. Globally, around 60% of transport energy is used by cars. As the numbers of individual vehicle types, makes, and models are very large, the evaluation of future options is also quite challenging. This project proposal describes a research action that could deliver first-hand primary data for this kind of evaluation and could greatly improve the possibilities for making the right kind of choices among available options.

The number of technology options being offered is increasing, both regarding powertrain and fuel alternatives. Therefore unbiased data sanctioned by the International Energy Agency (IEA) on the performance (energy use and emissions) of new technologies is needed for decision makers at all levels.

Purpose and Objectives

The core of the evaluation consists of benchmarking a set of passenger cars of such make and model that offer multiple choices for powerplant and fuel (i.e., gasoline, flex-fuel [E85], diesel, compressed natural gas/liquid petroleum gas [CNG/LPG]) and perhaps also hybrid and electric vehicle (EV) variations. Examples of European vehicles that offer a multitude of fuel options are, for example, the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Passat, and Volvo V70. Other similar examples can be found, too, including vehicle platforms that offer hybrid or even EV versions.

The project would also demonstrate the differences in efficiency arising from engine type and size by testing engines of different power output offered to the same vehicle platform. A common presumption is that a large and more powerful engine will in normal driving operate at very low load, leading to inferior fuel economy. In addition, a car that is underpowered can lead drivers to pursue an excessively aggressive driving style in which the driver will try to keep up with the pace of traffic even if, for example, the acceleration capability of the car is not sufficient.

The test matrix must allow modulation of duty-cycle and ambient temperature in order to give more application/environment-specific data. One task is to develop test protocols that depict the true performance of vehicles representing a large variety of technologies. The evaluation will be based on a set of different operating conditions and applications (dutycycles) in order to make the assessment as realistic as possible. Using only, for example, standard-type approval cycles and normal ambient temperature could yield misleading information. This varying of conditions is seen to be crucial, as it is known from previous experience that cars tend to be optimized to the type of approval conditions and common driving cycles.

The primary objective of the project is to produce comparable information about different powerplant options on fuel efficiency, energy efficiency, and tailpipe emissions. By using selected vehicle platforms and basically performing “internal” comparisons between powerplant options, the vehicles themselves can be “nullified.” This approach will emphasize the differences between alternative engine technologies rather than differences between car models and makes. The project is also seen as a way to compare and develop different fuel options. Another objective is to enhance cooperation between research institutes, which in this case will include exchange of research personnel.

Activities

Main activities include harmonization of test protocols between participating parties; testing of vehicles on a light-duty vehicle test facility, preferably with cooling equipment and ambient temperature control; and comparison and evaluation of passenger car power plant options.

Sub-activities include include coordination of the project and gathering of information on different fuels’ well-to-tank (WTT) efficiency. Full fuel cycle performance will we calculated by combining well-to-tank data for various fuels generated in the current IEA Bus Project, and combining this data with the end-use performance for various light-duty vehicle and fuel technologies.

Project Duration January 2011 – December 2015
Participants  
Task Sharing Canada, CATARC (China), VTT (Finland), Japan, AVL MTC (Sweden), USA
Cost Sharing No cost sharing
Total Budget ~450,000 € ($594,135 US)

Operating Agent

Mr. Juhani Laurikko
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Biologinkuja 3-5
P.O. Box 1000
02044 VTT
Finland
phone: +358 20 722 5518
fax: +358 20 722 7048
email: Juhani.Laurikko@vtt.fi
web: www.vtt.fi