Jan. 16, 2009 — Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) will launch its second cooperative research program aimed at developing a high-efficiency gasoline engine for both the light-duty automotive and medium-duty engine markets. The four-year effort will expand on earlier efforts to improve gasoline engine technology for future emissions and fuel economy requirements.
The first HEDGE® (High-Efficiency, Dilute Gasoline Engine) consortium focused on high levels of exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) combined with supporting technologies such as high-energy ignition and advanced boosting systems to develop strategies for high efficiency.
EGR levels of up to 50 percent are the key element in the development of an aggressive knock mitigation strategy. "That showed we could significantly improve gasoline engine performance and efficiency," said Dr. Terry Alger, manager of the Advanced Combustion and Emissions Section in SwRI's Engine, Emissions and Vehicle Research Division. "Not only were we able to decrease fuel consumption, but we were able to lower emissions significantly. Our HEDGE engine fuel consumption is roughly the same as a modern diesel engine but with much lower emissions."
HEDGE II consortium members are drawn from members of the transportation industry in Asia, Europe and the United States. The members represent a broad industry cross section, including light, heavy-duty and off-road engine manufacturers, component suppliers and oil and fuel companies. The consortium will seek to extend the fuel efficiency and performance gains from HEDGE I and develop supporting technologies for high efficiency, including ignition technology, air handling systems and other hardware to address new combustion concepts for highly dilute gasoline engines. Participants will select the consortium work from a number of projects. Institute engineers and scientists recommend areas of interest based on SwRI's extensive automotive-related experience and on work initiated in the Institute's internal research program.
The projects will continue work undertaken in the first HEDGE consortium, with high levels of EGR again playing a prime role in developing an aggressive knock mitigation strategy.
"We will continue to develop these concepts that were initiated in the first HEDGE program and further develop the supporting technologies to implement this strategy in modern engines," Alger said. Consortium members also will look at advanced turbocharging systems and the effects of hydrogen and biofuels. "Many of the concepts that we have developed, you will probably see in production in the next few years," Alger added.
The advantage of consortium membership is that the impact of the yearly contribution is multiplied by the number of participants, providing substantially more pre-competitive research than would be possible with funding from a single client. In addition, SwRI's internal research programs involving control algorithms, advanced ignition technology and innovative combustion concepts will be shared with consortium members. These efforts often form the basis for focused research under the consortium.
As an independent R&D laboratory, SwRI has extensive experience in managing consortia. Since 1991, the Clean Diesel consortium has conducted research in low-emission diesel engines and in ultra-clean homogeneous charge compression ignition technology.