IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE - The information on this site is subject to a disclaimer and a copyright notice
Banner Research
English
 
  European Commission   > Research > Growth
 
 
Homepage Competitive and Sustainable Growth - Making the European Research Area a Reality
Graphic element
Graphic element
Graphic element
Graphic element Research > Growth > Research projects > The VCR project - targeting car engine efficiency
Graphic element
The VCR project - targeting car engine efficiency
    26-02-2003
 
Image
Graphic element

With CO2 emissions still increasing and concerns about depleting oil resources at an all-time high, improving the fuel efficiency of passenger car engines has never been a more critical issue for the automobile manufacturing sector. At the same time, the market still expects vehicles that can deliver the kind of quick, high-torque performance that drivers have come to expect.

Conserving oil stocks and reducing harmful emissions requires the development of improved combustion engine technologies. These new technologies must be able to meet future emission standards while still improving the drivability of vehicles.

An alarming trend
 

Since 1751, roughly 277 billion tonnes of carbon have been released into the atmosphere as a result of the consumption of fossil fuels and related production. Half of these emissions have occurred since the mid-1970s. As a signatory to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the European Union is committed to reducing the emissions of six greenhouse gases by 8% of the 1990 level by 2008-2012, but if current trends continue, emissions look set to increase instead, mainly due to increased road traffic.

One of the most promising approaches to reducing fuel consumption and emissions involves car engine down-sizing, lowering engine speed, increasing load and reducing the loss of efficiency associated with pumping and friction. Making this kind of configuration work requires the development of small supercharged engines.

 
Innovation key
 

The VCR project's 'Variable Compression Ratio' (VCR) technology allows a smaller 'flexible combustion engine' to optimise the efficiency of the combustion process under different load and speed conditions. "This is the major innovative feature of the VCR project," says FEV MotorTechnik's Gerhard Lepperhoff. "A down-sized, highly boosted engine featuring VCR can potentially deliver a 30% fuel savings compared to a 1998 model vehicle with comparable performance, while at the same time emitting lower amounts of exhaust gases."

The goal of the project is to demonstrate the benefits of VCR technology through single-cylinder investigations with different VCR mechanisms as well as a multi-cylinder test bench and in-vehicle investigations. The industrial and economic feasibility of such an engine concept will also be demonstrated.

 
Results to date
 

"Two cars running on different types of VCR engines are currently being tested at Peugeot Citroen and FEV," says Lepperhoff. "Compared to a state-of-the-art turbocharged gasoline engine with a constant compression ratio of 8.9, we are seeing a reduction of fuel consumption of up to 9% with an engine running under VCR. An additional fuel savings of up to 18% can be obtained by down-sizing the engine by 40%, keeping torque and performance constant through high boosting. So, an overall fuel consumption reduction of up to 27% can be envisaged using the new technology."

One major disadvantage still remains to be resolved - with down-sizing, low-end torque is reduced, meaning the engine struggles to get the car moving from a stationary position.

 
Broad benefits
 

These vehicles will feature reduced fuel consumption through down-sized engines, without loss of torque and vehicle performance, a market precondition for cars with smaller engines.

The benefits of fuel conservation and CO2 emissions reduction are obvious, not just for car drivers but for the wider public and the environment. VCR will also place European gasoline engine and car manufacturers and their supply industries in a leading technological position. Research is now being planned on combining VCR technology with direct injection (DI) gasoline and diesel technologies.

 
International dimension
 

The VCR project comprises a consortium of four industrial partners, including Germany's FEV, Peugeot CitroŽn and Renault from France, and Sweden's Volvo , as well as a commercial research company, Le Moteur Moderne, and the Aachen University of Technology. Thus, partners cover the whole spectrum from basic research to the end user, including research institutes and companies, engine development and prototype manufacturing companies, car engine manufacturers and automobile companies.

"Each partner has brought specific knowledge to the project," says Lepperhoff. "This is something which could not have been achieved by any single country working alone."

 
An alarming trend
Innovation key
Results to date
Broad benefits
International dimension
   

Key data

Research in the area of cleaner, more efficient vehicle engines has been supported under the Growth Programme's Land transport and marine technologies key action.

Project

VCR - Variable compression ratio for CO2-reduction of gasoline engine (G3RD-CT-1999-00004).

     

Homepage Graphic element Top of the page