New engine technology could help heavy-duty vehicles go ‘fossil free’

Powertrain specialist Libertine has demonstrated new technology that could help truck manufacturers to make all heavy-duty vehicles fossil free by 2040.

Libertine’s innovation is a linear electrical machine and control technology platform which addresses the challenge of free piston motion control, a challenge which has so far prevented the widespread adoption of Free Piston engine technology that could enable sustainable fuel use in ‘hard to electrify’ heavy duty powertrain applications.

With Libertine’s technology, hybrid heavy-duty powertrains using a combination of renewable grid power and renewable bioethanol fuel could offer OEMs a practical, cost effective solution to help achieve a transition to sustainable fuels and carbon neutrality.

Libertine’s CEO Sam Cockerill. “Hybridisation with renewable fuels such as bioethanol could play an essential role in the rapid decarbonisation and electrification of transport, especially in heavy duty vehicle and off highway applications where battery technology and charging infrastructure could limit the pace of the transition to net zero.”

Tests conducted late last year established Libertine’s innovative control platform could successfully vary a free piston engine’s compression ratio, leading to improved performance on cold start-up.

More than 100 tests were performed by Mahle Powertrain in order to prove key performance metrics of the control platform, establish baseline combustion performance at a constant compression ratio and with a pre-heated combustion chamber, replicate cold start misfiring encountered in other studies, and finally to demonstrate improved cold start performance by using a variable compression ratio.

The project was supported through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) Sustainable Innovation Fund Competition which supports organisations to develop and demonstrate new products that help the UK’s clean growth led recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and accelerate UK’s transition to net zero.

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