Log in | Subscribe | RSS feed

What’s New

Conference report: SAE 2014 Congress

30 April 2014

The SAE Congress was held this year on April 8-10 in Detroit, MI. This year’s Congress followed the formula introduced in 2010, with a three-day schedule of technical sessions and 20 minute presentations. The overall number of papers covering all areas of automotive technology has increased compared to the previous years. With more technical papers in the program, the number of alternative activities such as various open forums, keynote talks and “chats with experts” seemed to have been reduced. There was also some increase in the number of exhibitors, but the exhibition area actually appeared smaller than last year, due to a higher number of smaller size exhibits. The overall number of Congress participants exceeded 10,000 and was similar to the 2013 attendance.

Please log in to view the full version of this article (subscription required).

The stage for vehicle emission sessions was set by Tim Johnson of Corning, with his traditional overview of global regulatory and technology trends in emission technologies, engines and fuels [Paper #2014-01-1491]. In recent years, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been adopting an increasingly stricter stance on pollutant emissions—the agency classified air pollution as carcinogenic to humans and, in their newest estimates, linked air pollution to 7 million premature deaths annually (from cardiovascular diseases, cancer and other causes), which more than doubles the previous estimates. This assessment positions air pollution as the world’s largest single environmental health risk. On the other hand, reports by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) show that the policies to reduce climate change adopted by a number of countries have not been effective, and that global GHG emissions are actually accelerating—driven by population and economic growth—increasing the likelihood of catastrophic climate change.

New regulatory developments that will drive light-duty vehicle emission technologies include US EPA Tier 3 emission standards adopted last month and, in Europe, real-world driving emission (RDE) regulations. The Tier 3 regulations will require further reductions of cold start emissions in gasoline and also in diesel engines. In diesels, this can be achieved through the use of such technologies as NOx adsorbers (active or passive) and close-coupled SCR-on-filter (SCRF) systems. RDE emission limits, designed to address the issue of increased in-use emission levels compared to regulatory testing, are expected to come into force in Europe around 2017/2018. In the case of diesel cars, the RDE limits will require a wider use of NOx reduction technologies, such as urea-SCR, and more focus on emission performance during engine operation modes outside of the regulatory test cycles. In parallel with cleaner emissions, light-duty engines must improve their engine efficiency and fuel economy, both in the United States and in the EU. Large vehicles require most fuel economy improvement—SUVs will need to reduce their fuel consumption by over 30% to meet the European 2020/21 CO2 emission targets.

Heavy-duty vehicles in the United States are facing a second round of GHG emission and fuel economy regulations, which are expected to drive the development of more efficient heavy-duty engines. All engines developed under the US DOE funded SuperTruck program have reached 48% efficiency, while Cummins exceeded the 50% efficiency mark. In Europe, heavy-duty truck engines achieve 46% efficiency, while development programs target 50% brake thermal efficiency without the use of waste heat recovery (WHR) technologies. (The European CORE project explores CO2 emission reductions through such concepts as over-expanded cycles with variable valve timing or with turbocompounding, but without WHR. The NoWaste project is specifically devoted to WHR.)

While US EPA 2010 engines have reached what some like to emphatically describe as “near-zero” emission levels, another round of drastically more stringent emission standards can be seen on the horizon. California air quality predictions have shown that the current 0.2 g/bhp-hr NOx emission standard for heavy-duty engines is not sufficient to meet future air quality targets in the state. California has been considering a further reduction of the NOx standard by 90%, down to 0.02 g/bhp-hr. The 0.02 g standard is expected to become a voluntary certification limit in California. In the longer term, however, the 0.02 g limit may be adopted as the mandatory NOx emission standard both in California and at the US federal level. If adopted, the 0.02 g NOx limit would affect future emission technology and could present challenges in meeting future GHG and fuel economy requirements.

Conference website: sae.org/congress