The most significant developments in propulsion in the automotive, marine, aviation and rail sectors are driven by changes in emission legislation related to CO2 reduction, noxious emissions reduction and taxation policy. A global shift is taking place as consumers and governments demand a reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions across all sectors. It’s crucial for all sectors to develop sustainable propulsion systems and fuel options, and this is likely to result in a diverse propulsion system mix. Propulsion system development also needs to align with the infrastructure required to supply the necessary energy in various forms. A subscription to RiCK™ can help you discover trusted propulsion market research and intelligence for the automotive, marine, rail and aerospace industries. RiCK™ includes over 300,000 references, including 100 journal and magazine subscriptions, conference papers and reports, news and articles from organisations such as SAE International (Society of Automotive Engineers) and IMechE (The Institute of Mechanical Engineers.)

What is propulsion?

Propulsion is the driving force of an object; for road vehicles, the propulsion system drives wheels that produce traction through a reaction against a road surface, and for rail locomotives, it’s a similar process. Propellers draw in and accelerate a fluid stream to propel ships and aircraft.

What are the key developments in propulsion?

Hybrid and Electric Powertrains
One of the most significant recent developments has been the electrification of powertrains, whether this is the development of electric vehicles themselves or the production of dedicated hybrid engines (DHEs) which take full advantage of being part of hybrid powertrains. The powertrain industry is evolving rapidly and has seen powerful technology innovations, intensifying competition and increased regulation. Component suppliers help the rail, marine and automotive sectors meet demand by providing expertise in transmissions and power electronics to produce optimised components and systems. Numerous initiatives have given rise to studies and analysis of low or zero environmental impact powertrains. Key technological developments include the downsizing and boosting of engines, the application of variable systems such as variable valve-timing and variable valve-lift, and the reduction of mechanical friction.

Sustainable fuels and Biofuels
There are many competing sustainable propulsion system and fuel options being developed and all will have a role to play within the diverse propulsion system mix. Sustainable fuels including hydrogen, biofuels and synthetic electro-fuels (or e-fuels) can work in different sectors. For some sectors electrification is difficult and sustainable de-fossilised fuels are essential. Heavy-duty transport is likely to use hydrogen as a zero carbon fuel with propulsion via ICE or fuel cell electric systems. RiCK™ can be used to locate the latest research in this area.

Lifecycle emission reduction
In addition to existing legislation there is an increasing focus on GHG reduction on a lifecycle basis and increasing propulsion system efficiency. Accounting on a lifecycle basis will include energy production (well to wheels) and vehicle production and recycling. This will see an increased focus on technology and process improvement throughout the supply chain.

Sustainable Fuels and Biofuels
Sustainable fuels are now also being seriously developed, from hydrogen to biofuels to synthetic electro-fuels (or e-fuels), which can address the existing vehicle fleet as well as new vehicles. For some sectors like heavy-duty transport and commercial aviation, electrification is difficult, and the sector is looking to use sustainable de-fossilised fuels Heavy-duty transport is focussed on Hydrogen as the only suitable zero carbon fuel with propulsion via ICE or fuel cell electric systems. 

How can a RiCK™ subscription help you discover propulsion research?

Quickly locate information relating to propulsion market developments and innovation with RiCK™. A subscription to RiCK™ can provide immediate access to trusted resources and valuable extracts featuring hybrid and electric powertrain reports, whitepapers, news articles and technical journal articles. The subjects included cover a whole range of topics such as engine performance, engine components, powertrain development, Emachines, transmissions and drivelines, sustainable fuels, hybrid and electric propulsion. These areas are all covered extensively by RiCK™ Information Experts, and the database covers the marine, automotive, off-highway, rail and aerospace sectors. The database also includes fuel and lubricant research and articles. Searching within RiCK™ can help you quickly identify insight and news to help you stay up to date with the propulsion developments and trends.

Entries are added to the RiCK™ database each month. Topics helping businesses gather propulsion insight include:

  • Propulsion market trends and forecasts.
  • Hybrid engines, Battery electric vehicles, ICE (internal combustion engines), and Hydrogen ICE reports.
  • The role of propulsion for specific applications including automotive, marine, rail, aerospace, and the off-highway industry.
  • Transmissions and drivelines design, battery and thermal management information.
  • The latest electric powertrain, hybrid powertrain and electric vehicle battery research and articles.
  • Emissions targets and how the use of different types of propulsion can help you to achieve them.
  • Propulsion Systems and components research, articles and papers.
  • The latest sustainable fuel and biofuel research.

What type of propulsion research might you find referenced in RiCK™?

Here is a small sample of some of the propulsion related reports you can find referenced or abstracted in RiCK™.

  • Euro 7 Impact Assessment: The Outlook for Air Quality Compliance in the EU and the role of the Road Transport Sector - An independent study undertaken on behalf of ACEA, Aeris Europe, Mar 2021
  • Development of a Marine two-stroke Diesel Engine MVEM with in-cylinder pressure trace predictive capability and a novel compressor model from Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, Mar 2020
  • Comparison of Hydrogen Powertrains with the Battery Powered Electric Vehicle and Investigation of Small-Scale Local Hydrogen Production Using Renewable Energy, Hydrogen Online Journal, Mar 2021
  • Arcola Energy and Consortium of Rail Industry Leaders will Deliver the First Scottish Hydrogen-Powered Train From Arcola Energy 
  • Fuel Cell: A sustainable clean solution for long haul commercial vehicles from Ricardo in December 2020.
  • Gear Ratio Optimization along with a Novel Gearshift Scheduling Strategy for a Two-Speed Transmission System in Electric Vehicle; Queensland University of Technology
  • A Review of Functional Separators for Lithium Metal Battery Applications from Chung-ang University
  • A Review of Battery Equalizer Circuits for Electric Vehicle Applications from the Universidad Autonoma de Queretaro.
  • Optimisation of Direct Battery Thermal Management for EVs Operating in Low-Temperature Climates From The University Of Warwick.
  • Power Scalable Bi-Directional DC-DC Conversion Solutions for Future Aircraft Applications From Blu Electronic And The Kyoto University Of Advanced Science
  • A Decision-Making Framework for the Smart Charging of Electric Vehicles Considering the Priorities of the Driver From The University Of Patras 
  • Assessing the potential for low-carbon fuel standards as a mode of electric vehicle support from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT)
  • Update on government targets for phasing out new sales of internal combustion engine passenger cars ICCT, Jun 2021

Dr Richard Osborne, Global Technical Expert – Sustainable Engines, Ricardo, says. 

“RiCK™ is an essential part of my work delivery. Whether I am delivering a key project, preparing a customer proposal or writing a technical paper, I find researching the published work in the field within RiCK is always a vital step of the journey. I regularly use RiCK to undertake literature reviews as part of research and development and customer projects.”

RiCK™ News Off-Highway


RiCK™ News Off-highway is a weekly email news alert curated by RiCK™ Information Experts to provide regular updates relating to agriculture, heavy-duty vehicle and construction powertrains. The update is aggregated from 80,000 trusted news and market sources, including Real Agriculture News, Construction Europe, Bloomberg, Business Wire, and many more. It’s an excellent source of news on powertrain developments for off-highway vehicles.

Fuel Economy News -  Technical Bulletin

Fuel Economy News is a monthly technical bulletin that summarises recently published literature on fuel consumption and Co2 reduction issues, and it includes a focus on powertrains. It covers the automotive sector and has some information relating to marine, rail and aviation.

Sources include technical papers, conference proceedings, journal articles and press releases.

Ricardo eStore
Ricardo eStore
Ricardo eStore