Carbon-zero truck engine

Engineer Live News Desk

After keeping things under wraps for nine months, heat management specialist Zircotec is proud to announce its involvement with Dolphin N2, now owned by FPT Industrial, and Brighton University, on an exciting project to develop a new internal combustion engine that has the potential to transform the commercial powertrain market, with its near zero emissions.

Zircotec provide thermal coatings and precision, ceramically coated components, along with its encapsulated heatshields that meet the very high demands of this recuperated split-cycle, next generation engine.

Graeme Barette from Zircotec saud: “We’re really proud to be involved with this ground-breaking project and to be part of the carbon-zero engine revolution. This is a massive project for us to be involved in and our involvement demonstrates the trust we have earnt over many years working with some of the biggest automotive performance brands. 

“This technology is perfect for long-haul trucks, agricultural vehicles, self-powered railway traction and even ships – engines that are, at present, not suitable for battery-electric propulsion. We’re seeing the electrification of personal vehicles, but for something like a long-haul truck or ships, they would lose a chunk of their cargo space to house the batteries required to propel them and that makes the electrification of these unviable.”

Two versions of the recuperated split-cycle engine are being developed, called ThermoPower and CryoPower. Likely to run on diesel at first, the new technology is expected to significantly reduce the amount of fuel consumed. The new collaborative project, called RE-ARMD (Recuperated Engine – Advanced Route to Market Demonstrator) will demonstrate that it can also run on carbon-free hydrogen fuel. 

The engine separates the “cold” and “hot” parts of the traditional internal combustion engine (ICE). A first set of cylinders draw in air and compresses it – in the CryoPower version, liquid nitrogen is injected at a temperature of almost -200oC to keep this process cool for maximum efficiency; the simpler ThermoPower omits the use of liquid nitrogen and uses water. Then the compressed air passes through a recuperator, where the engine’s exhaust heats it up – saving fuel which normally has to do this. The air now passes to the second, hot cylinder set, which are thoroughly insulated – unfeasible in a normal ICE where the same cylinder handles hot and cold processes.

The Zircotec coatings massively reduce the temperatures in the areas of the engine where heat is not wanted, reducing heat transfer, keeping the heat in the hot part of the engine. Through the retention of heat in the combustion cycle, significantly less energy is lost through the cooling system, thus a high-performance efficiency is produced. The heavy duty thermal propulsion system offers fuel-cell levels of efficiency (55% brake thermal efficiency) and near-zero emissions (5% EuVI NOx).

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