In the second edition of our new monthly feature in which we celebrate something or someone that has achieved something truly extraordinary in the world of green motoring, we shine the spotlight on a UK-based company that has introduced some highly innovative technology.
This month’s green hero is Controlled Power Technologies, which has created the SpeedStart system (see article) designed to boost the capabilities of start-stop engines. In announcing the award, we spoke exclusively to Nick Pascoe, the company’s chief executive, about the new technology and the company’s future plans.
What is SpeedStart?
The SpeedStart System is a belt-integrated starter generator. It has been developed for 12, 24 and 48 Volt applications and is the first liquid-cooled switched-reluctance motor generator designed for start-stop.
It has caught the headlines after test data revealed it was capable of 1.2million start-stops in the new generation of micro mild hybrid cars: far surpassing conventional starter motors that are capable of around 30,000 start-stops; and current generation systems that achieve 300,000 start-stops.
Why is this so special?
SpeedStart is seen as a potentially vital innovation in the efforts to make hybrid cars more affordable by helping to increase vehicle life as modern cars become capable of around 250,000 miles during their lifespan; while also boosting the vehicles towards their fuel economy goals.
According to Nick Pascoe, start-stop technology is one of the most cost effective solutions for low fuel consumption, following the simple philosophy of stopping the engine at every opportunity.
“The recent completion of more than two years of continuous testing to validate CPT’s belt-integrated starter-generator for 1.2 million stop-starts, sets a new industry standard and is the final step in homologating this advanced technology for series production,” he said.
“Future fuel economy targets by global legislators will demand significantly reduced stop-inhibits, currently deliberately imposed by carmakers for fears of poor product reliability with first generation stop-start systems, which severely limit the number of stop-starts and creates the dreaded ‘driver change of mind’ problem. SpeedStart permits seamless and frequent in-gear stop-start events in crawling traffic as well as significant additional functionality such as torque assist during acceleration, tip-in and coast-down strategies.”
Brake energy recuperation
Another key innovation of the technology is that it is not only limited to enhancing start-stop capabilities: it also acts as an efficient motor generator and boosts brake energy recuperation.
“During testing, despite the frequency at which the engine was continuously stopped followed by immediate re-starts, and with a regularity which the average motorist is unlikely to experience even in the most heavily congested urban traffic, the SpeedStart units still had sufficient time to generate more than three times the amount of electrical energy required to restart the engine following each stop event,” Pascoe continued.
“Such was the rate of generation that over the two-and-a-half year test period two SpeedStart units on test regenerated 35 Gigajoules of electrical energy, which is approximately 10MWh and enough to supply a typical UK household for six months and a typical US home for almost five months. In terms of chemical energy it’s the equivalent of combusting six barrels of oil.
“For a vehicle to recover that much kinetic energy it requires an efficient electrical machine, which is almost as important as exceeding the industry’s durability requirements.”
So is this just for hybrid cars?
Of course, start-stop systems are not only prevalent in micro hybrid cars: they are also a key feature of vehicles powered by larger internal combustion engines too. According to Pascoe, SpeedStart could become a feature of mass market, large family saloons because it can achieve impressive performance and will help enable aggressive downsizing and down-speeding.
However, he believes that micro-mild hybrid cars are definitely the future because they retain the internal combustion engine and won’t require a major redesign or electrical system.
“First generation micro hybrids deploying simple stop-start systems have already become virtually a standard fitment on European cars, because of the typical five per cent reduction in tailpipe CO2 emissions achieved over the New European Drive Cycle, which also provide consumers with official fuel consumption figures for comparing one model against another over the same test cycle,” he said.
“The combination of engine downsizing and SpeedStart technology for a new breed of low voltage ‘micro-mild’ hybrids, as we’ve now dubbed them, can provide more like 20 per cent reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.”
When will it be available?
According to Pascoe, we won’t have to wait too long to see SpeedStart incorporated into the vehicles we drive: he expects the technology to be on the road from 2015 onwards as the EU tightens its CO2 emission requirements and introduces heavy penalties for non-compliance. Indeed he states that there have already been discussions with major OEMs to feature the technology: something that could be good news for UK industry as a whole.
“CPT is working closely with major vehicle manufacturers in Europe, the US and Asia as well as prominent universities and leading independent consulting engineers to develop a whole range of innovative applications of its technology focused on low voltage hybridisation and energy recovery,” he said.
“That’s also why it’s recruiting more test and development engineers to increase the strength of its UK team, so it can accelerate development of its technologies and in particular work on potential applications with a wide range of global vehicle manufacturers including those in the truck and bus sector.”
So for its SpeedStart system – as well as other exciting technologies forthcoming such as the Cobra electric supercharger and the Tiger gas energy recovery system – Controlled Power Technologies, we salute you.
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