Sustainable Fuel ICE Tech Offers Heavy Truck Solution

An engine specialist is hoping to throw a lifeline to emissions-challenged heavy truckers with claims it has created a fully sustainable fueled ICE powertrain.

UK engine specialist Libertine says its tests conducted late last year proved its control platform could successfully vary a free piston engine’s compression ratio, leading to improved performance on cold start-up. This linear electrical machine and control technology platform could open up the use of sustainable fuels use in ‘hard to electrify’ heavy duty powertrains.

The company’s hybrid heavy-duty powertrains use a combination of renewable grid power and renewable bioethanol fuel that it claims could offer truck manufacturers a practical, cost effective solution to help achieve a vital transition to sustainable fuels on the path to ‘net zero’.

Its system briefly increases the compression ratio at start-up, compensating for chamber wall cooling effects that contribute to misfiring under cold start conditions. The tests were conducted by Mahle Powertrain at its Northampton test facilities using wet or ‘hydrous’ bioethanol fuel, a blend of 90% bioethanol and 10% water (E90W10).

For the tests, Libertine’s intelliGEN opposed free piston platform was modified for use with wet bioethanol, using a direct injection uniflow scavenged two stroke architecture. More than 100 tests were performed 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.

Libertine’s CEO Sam Cockerill, said: “Hybridization with renewable fuels such as bioethanol could play an essential role in the rapid decarbonization 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.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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