In a world where everyone is talking about electric mobility being the ‘now’ it is inevitable that we will be moving on from the internal combustion engine (ICE) to electric mobility soon in the future. However, contrary to popular belief, a lot of engineers claim that the ICE still has a lot of life left in it before we can consider it obsolete in its entirety.
At the 40th Vienna Motor Symposium, Continental is displaying a new innovation using a tweaked method of traditional forced induction which they claim will reduce emissions, and also improve fuel economy. Continental calls it the world’s first “ring catalyst turbocharger”.
Time to get Nerdy!
How it essentially works in comparison to e traditional turbo is that the exhaust gases quickly expand as they leave the turbine when it leads into the exhaust pipe. This leads to fluid dynamic losses and impacts efficiency. The system from Continental improves this system with a conical mixing pipe that allows for a controlled expansion of the exhaust gasses when it exits and allows for reduced back pressure. Additionally, the gasses from the wastegate is fed through an annular gap around the mixing pipe. This helps in low-loss mixing with the exhaust gas flow leaving the turbine impeller. This helps in bringing the temperature of the exhaust gasses to an optimum level when it reached the catalyst.
Basically, the exhaust gasses from the turbo flows into a conical mixing pipe which is redirected and passed through the ring-shaped 3-way catalyst which surrounds the mixing pipe. Consequently, the ring catalyst turbocharger system is notably economical in operation.
Rolf Brück, head of Catalysts and Filters at the Powertrain Components business unit at Continental says that If we combine it in hybrid vehicles with EMICAT electrical heating technology, which in this case use power from the 48V mild-hybrid system of a vehicle to heat the catalyst, then it not only improved emissions even during cold starts and after prolonged engine-off phases but also helps in fuel saving.
There are small innovations like these that can cohesively make a huge impact on bringing down emissions from ICE and improve their performance. While the automakers around the world have invested heavily in electric mobility, they still have not given up on the ICE. If you look at some of the biggest performance car manufacturers who create such small technology innovations that aide performance, those innovations eventually trickle down to smaller cars.
While the world is downsizing, Swedish hypercar manufacturer Koenigsegg still uses a 5.0-litre twin-turbo V8 which has been developed year on year and is now capable of generating well over 1,500bhp efficiently and consistently. Aston Martin with Cosworth is using four different catalytic converters on the hybridised V12 engine for the Valkyrie, essentially mating four 3-cylinder engines together to generate over a 1,100bhp (before electrification) for road legal use. Additionally, Koenigsegg is also investing heavily in new electronically/pneumatically controlled valve train system called ‘Free Valve’ with Chinese company Quoros which will lighten, shrink and improve the existing ICE, thus, prolonging its life further.