2019 HEICE Symposium kicks off week of valuable engineering insights

Eighth-annual high-efficiency internal combustion engine (HEICE) symposium great lead-in for SAE World Congress, focusing on long ICE future.

The 2019 SAE High Efficiency Internal Combustion Engine (HEICE) Symposium kicked off a week’s worth of SAE World Congress events in Detroit on Sunday, April 7. Now in its eighth year, HEICE has become a staple on the calendar of propulsion system engineers, and a great lead-in to SAE’s World Congress. Primary sponsors for the 2-day HEICE 2019 event are Aramco and the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CUICAR), with additional sponsorship from AVL, FEV and Borg Warner.

This year’s symposium is focused on combustion engine system modeling and predictive simulation, with a full slate of speakers and topics acknowledging that ICE development continues and will remain crucial for decades to come. This year’s HEICE program topics placed special emphasis on the impact of real-world emission standards and costs, light-duty hybrid engine design, waste heat recovery on heavy-duty engines and lower-temperature combustion.

New heavy-duty testing procedures
The first portion of the conference’s first day, titled “Outlook for the Internal Combustion Engine” discussed pressures on ICE design, including increasingly stringent pollutants criteria, and movement to regulate real-world (off-cycle) emissions under all driving conditions. The second major topic captured by the first-session speakers was related to applying sobering lifecycle analysis (LCA) to battery electric vehicles (BEV), and how a holistic electricity-supply view will likely extend ICE applications.

Christopher Laroo, a specialist with the U.S. EPA was on hand to discuss heavy-duty engine emissions testing procedures, and how current “in-use” not-to-exceed (NTE) standards are expected to be supplanted by the Cleaner Trucks Initiative moving-average window (MAW) testing announced in 2018. According to Laroo, the current in-use program initiated in 1998 has proven very effective in reducing NOx levels at highway speeds, but at lower speeds and idle conditions when aftertreatment components cool off, the “vast majority” of NOx is being produced. The EPA last revised NOx standards for on-road heavy-duty trucks and buses in January 2001.

The new test procedures stemming from the 2018 initiative will see testing parameters based on actual-use cycles using MAW parameters, more closely aligning with the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) and Euro 6 requirements. The new procedure would eliminate the conformity factor in testing and create test routes determined by the engine application’s actual shift day. The changes are expected to decrease NOx by an additional 20%, and the intention is the new standards could begin by MY2024.

LCA for BEVs
The three other presenters on Day 1’s opening session on “Outlook for the Internal Combustion Engine” all shared a thread related to LCA of propulsion systems. In aggregate, the presentations provided a sobering look total BEV CO2, and how wrapping the electrical grid into our C02 calculations will be required to net any real-world greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions.

Bengt Johansson, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at King Abdullah University of Science & Tech provided some extremely thought-provoking if brief opening remarks, around “reasons why you shouldn’t buy a Tesla.” They included:

  • A claim attributed to Volkswagen that an ICE costs $1,400, so at current rates (~$200/kWh), the equivalent outlay will net you a 7kWh battery (or 14 kWh when the “halving of battery costs” come to fruition).
  • If we already have zero-emission zones, sub-zero-zones can’t be far behind, and BEVs can’t clean the air like a fuel cell or certain ICE technology.
  • Depending on the electrical source (and Johansson quoted some of the less-clean sources such as coal at 1,000g of CO2 per kWh), a Toyota Prius produces less net CO2 than a BEV.
  • Due to manufacturing energies, a 100kWh battery already has 20 tons of CO2 baked into it, creating a CO2 debt that takes tens of thousands of zero-emission-driving miles to repay (with that spec debated between presenters as somewhere between 70,000 and 80,000 miles).
  • Johansson also noted that a 100kWh lithium-ion battery will always weigh more than 260 kg (573 lb), and the current figure is around 650kg (1,433 lb) – presenter Senecal later noted this additional weight also contributes to particulate emissions via the brakes and tire/road interface.

Johansson’s short diatribe was fortified in far greater detail by presenter Neville Jackson, the chief technology and innovation officer at Ricardo. His specifics-rich deck entitled “LCA and Its Role in Sustainable Mobility” provided a wealth of data points to illuminate the total CO2 investment on alternative propulsion systems, including Ricardo’s own CryoPower recuperated split-cycle (cold/hot) concept. “Lifecycle analysis might have been an academic interest a few years ago,” Jackson explained. “It will be in the regulations in the future.”

The overall message of Jackson’s presentation was that we must look at the bigger picture to reduce environmental impacts and improve sustainability, and that BEV’s in particular should encourage us to apply keen LCA metrics to provide the optics necessary for often region-wide policy making. Key to any wells-to-wheels calculations will depend on the production efficiency of our electrical supply, he noted, and we should be urgently sourcing alternatives to rare-earth BEV components such as cobalt.

Kelly Senecal, a vice president at CFD specialist Convergent Science Inc., capped the entertaining LCA thread in his “End of the ICE Age? The Premature Burial of Internal Combustion” presentation, noting that there’s no silver bullet, nor picking winners and losers. His advice for the engineers on hand was to ignore the often misguided and over-simplified messaging espoused by the mainstream media, and to be your own source of accurate information. Senecal has taken this advice to heart by starting his own website: hugyourengine.com.

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