27% Fuel Savings Projected as 2/4-stroke Research Prototype Engine Completes Initial Testing

Mar 25, 2008, 01:00 ET from Ricardo Inc.

    VAN BUREN TWP., Mich., March 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Ricardo and a
 consortium of automotive partners today announced the completion of an
 advanced prototype research program based on the highly innovative 2/4SIGHT
 engine concept. This gasoline engine concept uses novel combustion,
 boosting, control and valve actuation technologies to enable automatic and
 seamless switching between two- and four-stroke operation, with the aim of
 delivering significant performance and fuel economy improvements through
 aggressive downsizing.
     The 2/4SIGHT engine concept uses a direct injection gasoline combustion
 system in which the design of intake and exhaust ports, combined with
 appropriate changes in boost supply, fuel injection, ignition and valve
 timing, enable operation both in two-stroke and four-stroke modes. An
 advanced control system coupled with flexible valve actuation manages
 driver demands and coordinates operation of the boost system, valves and
 fuel injection equipment at an individual cylinder level. This enables
 smooth transitions between two- and four-stroke operation without torque
 interruption in both transient and constant torque conditions.
     Prototype engine configuration
     The research prototype engine is based on a single bank of a 2.1-liter
 V6, which in 6-cylinder 2/4SIGHT configuration is intended to deliver
 levels of performance and drivability more usually associated with a 3-4
 liter V8 gasoline engine. In order to enable the project team to assess
 control strategies in a completely unrestricted manner, an
 electro-hydraulic valve (EHV) actuation system was used for the prototype
 development rig. The air handling system of the 2/4SIGHT concept is based
 on two-stage boosting and intercooling using a Rotrex supercharger and
 Honeywell turbocharger. For simplicity in the initial test bed prototype
 configuration however, boosting is provided by an external compressed air
 supply. The engine control system of the prototype is a DENSO rapid
 prototyping system working with DENSO gasoline direct injection and
 ignition components. The prototype engine was built at the Ricardo Shoreham
 Technical Centre and installed for testing at the Sir Harry Ricardo
 Laboratories of the University of Brighton, UK.
     Development test results
     Testing of the prototype 2/4SIGHT engine has enabled development and
 validation of the combustion system which has been optimized for operation
 in both two and four-stroke modes. The flexibility of the advanced control
 system -- developed jointly by DENSO and Ricardo -- allows rapid changes to
 high level code which, coupled with the flexibility of the EHV valvetrain,
 has enabled the project team to develop and optimize a new control strategy
 for the 2/4SIGHT engine, including the management of two-four-stroke
Highlights of the development test results include: -- Smooth and reliable switching between two- and four-stroke modes under both constant torque conditions and transient operation. -- Control strategies amenable to implementation in cost-effective mechanical valvetrain hardware. -- Extremely high two-stroke specific torque demonstrated of 150 Nm/L at 1000 rev/min and 230 Nm/L at 2500 rev/min, opening the prospect of highly aggressive engine downsizing using the 2/4SIGHT engine concept. Significant improvements in fuel economy Following completion of the test program, Ricardo has carried out a vehicle drive cycle and acceleration performance simulation based on the steady state fuel consumption and full load performance of the 2/4SIGHT engine. The study was carried out using the Ricardo powertrain blockset in the MSC "EASY5(TM)" software package that allows detailed modeling of engines, transmissions, drivelines, tires and aerodynamics. The baseline vehicle for the study was an 1800 kg passenger car sold in the European market with a 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V6 gasoline engine and 5 speed conventional automatic transmission with torque converter. To verify the validity of the models and input data, the baseline vehicle fuel consumption results were compared with published data, which were reproduced by the model to an acceptable accuracy of 1%. The simulation results indicate that vehicle acceleration performance, including launch from rest, can be maintained with a 2.0-liter V6 2/4SIGHT gasoline engine replacing the 3.5-liter baseline powerplant. This would deliver fuel savings of 27% over the New European Drive Cycle (NEDC) and would reduce the vehicle CO2 emissions of the baseline from 260 g/km to 190 g/km. Excellent cost-benefit trade-off In parallel with the prototype engine development effort in the UK, Ricardo engineers at the company's Detroit Technology Campus have designed a patented mechanical cam switching system which is capable of delivering the required switching performance for the control strategies developed on the test bed using the EHV system for the 2/4SIGHT engine. This not only opens the way for packaging and integration of the 2/4SIGHT engine into a production vehicle but also represents a highly cost-effective means of implementation of this highly efficient combustion concept. As such a future gasoline engine equipped with 2/4SIGHT technology offers the prospect of superior performance and lower production cost than other advanced gasoline and diesel powertrains, and straightforward compliance with gasoline engine emissions standards. Having completed development of the prototype 2/4SIGHT engine, the partners are currently negotiating potential sources of funding and support for a vehicle demonstration program. Commenting on the successful completion of the prototype engine development program, Ricardo technology director, Neville Jackson, said: "The completion of the prototype engine development program of the 2/4SIGHT engine and demonstration of its two-/four-stroke switching capability is an important milestone for the project partners. While significant further research and development challenges remain, not least in the vehicle demonstration of this advanced engine concept, the initial prototype development project has demonstrated the potential of 2/4SIGHT to offer improved gasoline fuel economy and reduced CO2 emissions, while also maintaining or improving vehicle performance. In addition to validating the 2/4SIGHT concept, the research project is also delivering significant benefits in terms of its many constituent technologies which are likely to see application in the more immediate term." The 2/4SIGHT project team The 2/4SIGHT project was led and coordinated by Ricardo. In addition the company was responsible for design and development of the prototype engine and integration of its systems. DENSO was responsible for development and supply of the direct fuel injection and advanced engine control systems. Ma 2T4 contributed its knowledge and expertise of valvetrain switching technology. Brunel University, UK, carried out single-cylinder engine testing and development. The University of Brighton, UK, carried out multi-cylinder engine testing and combustion and cooling system analysis. The 2/4SIGHT project was part-funded by the British Government through the Technology Strategy Board. The Board's mission is to promote and support research into, and development and exploitation of, technology and innovation for the benefit of UK business, in order to increase economic growth and improve the quality of life. About Ricardo Ricardo the Eco-Innovation Technology Company, is a leading independent provider of technology, product innovation, engineering solutions and strategic consulting to the world's automotive, military, transport and new energy industries. The company's skill base represents the state-of-the-art in low emissions and fuel-efficient powertrain technology, and can be best summarized: "Ricardo is Fuel Economy." With technical centers and offices throughout Europe, the U.S. and Asia, Ricardo provides engineering expertise ranging from vehicle systems integration, controls & electronics, hardware and software development, to the latest driveline and transmission systems and gasoline, diesel, hybrid and fuel cell powertrain technologies. Its customers include the world's major automakers and suppliers as well as manufacturers in the military, commercial, off-highway and clean energy sectors. The company also serves in advisory roles to governmental and independent agencies. Ricardo's U.S. operation, Ricardo, Inc., is headquartered in Van Buren Township, Michigan. Ricardo plc posted sales of $344 million in financial year 2007 and is a constituent of the FTSE TechMark 100 index - a group of innovative technology companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. For more information, visit www.ricardo.com.

SOURCE Ricardo Inc.