Ricardo will be a key partner in the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Green Vehicle Initiative project ‘HDGAS’ – a project that aims to design and test advanced powertrain concepts for dual-fuel and pure natural gas-powered HGVs.

The global engineering specialist said long-haul trucks are an essential element of the transportation mix of modern, industrialized society. They are, however, less amenable to the type of electrification and hybridization strategies that are already contributing to reduced carbon emissions and potential long-term sustainability for the light vehicle sector.

The primary objectives of HDGAS are to deliver improved fuel efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions whilst also meeting current Euro-6 emissions standards. It aims to develop technologies to address this need whilst also meeting or exceeding the latest Euro-6 regulated emissions standards, as well as achieving in-use compliance under real-world driving conditions and CO2 or greenhouse gas emissions reduction.

Ricardo is one of 19 collaborating EU commercial and academic partners on the HDGAS project.

Particular areas of focus for the company will be the development of engine and aftertreatment systems that offer the prospect of delivering real driving emissions well below Euro-6 limits for heavy duty vehicles. Specifically, the aim of the new systems is to demonstrate improvements of around 10% in torque, power, fuel efficiency and GHG emissions reduction.

Through extensive use of simulation methods, Ricardo aims to create a heavy duty natural gas version of its direct injection combustion system that has already been used to great effect in ultra-clean gasoline engines. Technologies that will be investigated in this endeavour include a conceptual study of liquid natural gas direct injection and the application of high energy ignition system based on corona discharge.

Advanced dual-fuel and pure natural gas aftertreatment specification, development and testing is also a critical part the work of the HDGAS project, and an area where Ricardo will lead several partners of the consortium.

This work will aim to provide important knowledge around the challenge of controlling tailpipe methane emissions and the impact of natural gas on some of the conventional aftertreatment technologies that might be applied, such as the risk of methane poisoning of SCR catalysts.

Having specified the system requirements based on simulation and analysis, this information will be used as the basis for rig testing and development followed by incorporation of the technology on the four new heavy duty natural gas powertrains developed within the project.

“For future heavy commercial vehicles, reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a critical priority,” said Andrew Noble, Ricardo head of heavy duty engines. “A promising route towards this goal is the more widespread use of natural gas as an alternative to conventional liquid fossil fuels such as diesel. However, the adoption of natural gas power for commercial vehicles faces several technical challenges which are being addressed by the HDGAS project. Ricardo is very pleased to be a partner in HDGAS, contributing innovative technologies in collaboration with the other partners. We look forward to working towards the goal of demonstrating efficient lean burn engines and aftertreatment systems for all the candidate mono- and dual-fuel natural gas engine types.”