Research partnership aims to use exhaust energy to improve bus fuel economy and reduce CO2

Research partnership aims to use exhaust energy to improve bus fuel economy and reduce CO2
13 April 2011

A Gemini 2 Hybrid Electric Vehicle from The Wright GroupA UK consortium led by Wrightbus and including Queen’s University Belfast, Revolve Technologies and Ricardo is to carry out research in a complex project, which aims to further reduce power consumption and CO2 emissions in hybrid diesel-electric buses.

The three-year “TERS” (Thermal Energy Recovery Systems) project will utilise market-leading technology to research, design and integrate pioneering thermal managing concepts into hybrid diesel-electric buses. The project aims to reduce vehicle CO2 emissions by 10 per cent through the use of waste heat recovery systems while also reducing the average power consumption of air conditioning systems by half, further improving fuel consumption.

The TERS project partners have secured the necessary funding for this important work from a research and development competition managed by the government-backed Technology Strategy Board. The objective of the partners to demonstrate the opportunity for improving bus fuel consumption and reducing emissions through the capture and use of heat otherwise lost during bus operation, was seen as a potentially important step forward in public transport technology.

Mark Nodder, Wright Group Managing Director, said: “Wrightbus is a company where innovation and technology is at the core of everything we do, and we have led the way in the practical development of hybrid technology in buses over a number of years. TERS brings an interesting new dimension to the development of hybrid bus technology and seeks to find responsible solutions to the world’s environmental challenges. This exciting new initiative, in close co-operation with our TERS Project partners, is a key strand of our on-going work to deliver the next generation of hybrid buses.”

Professor Roy Douglas, who leads the research team at Queen’s, said: “The TERS project is the latest development in the University’s longstanding research partnership with Wrightbus. In this concept, we are capturing heat energy that would normally be wasted and converting it into useful power. The challenges are huge but the potential for fuel economy improvement is also huge.

“The targets for the project are to reduce fuel consumption by 10 to 20 per cent on top of the 30 per cent already delivered by the hybrid technology. It is this new hybrid technology that is the key enabler for waste heat recovery. Queen’s has been developing this research for many years, and it is very exciting to have the opportunity to put it into practice.”

Ricardo project director for research and collaboration, Nick Owen, said: “Heat lost in the exhaust of a modern diesel engine can represent up to 40 percent of the available chemical energy content of the fuel used by the vehicle. A major current focus of Ricardo’s R&D efforts is therefore on the development of robust and cost-effective solutions aimed at harnessing this currently wasted energy in order to improve fuel consumption and reduce CO2 emissions in both hybrid and conventionally powered vehicles. We are extremely pleased to be able to play an active part in the TERS project research, which will see the tangible demonstration of technologies on a modern hybrid bus.”

Paul Turner, Technical Director at Revolve states: “Revolve Technologies has vast experience in many alternative energy and Hybrid environments. With a firm focus on energy recovery and maximisation, CO2 efficiency and Powertrain Technologies of the future, we are very proud to be part of this highly skilled TERS system collaboration combining industry leaders and innovators.  Investing in state-of-the-art testing equipment and capability to meet today’s stringent CO2 industry demands, Revolve has achieved immeasurable successes and gained invaluable knowledge across the Automotive Hybrid Technologies arena. With the combination of shared expertise and knowledge base, this TERS research and development project, will provide invaluable solutions to not just the modern Hybrid bus, but to the future of all powered vehicles.”

The TERS Project has already created four new jobs at Queen’s University Belfast – three postgraduate and one post-doctoral position. All four graduates will be mentored throughout the development by University staff. In addition, six existing Wrightbus employees will also be heavily involved in the complex scheme, along with engineers and technical specialists from Revolve Technologies and Ricardo.

Getting the first generation of devices safely up and running will be no mean feat. The consortium aims to have a production ready system available within a six-year timeframe.

Ends

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