Cummins’ ETHOS Demonstration Vehicle parked in front of Cummins Pacific, the exclusive California and Hawaii distributor for Cummins
Posted: Oct. 21, 2014
It may not look sleek and powerful, but Cummins’ ETHOS 2.8L Demonstration Vehicle still turned some heads as it cruised around California’s capital city this summer.
Built in partnership with the California Energy Commission (CEC), the vehicle’s engine and powertrain has reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by as much as 80 percent during testing compared to a baseline, gasoline-powered, medium-duty truck.
CO2 is the primary greenhouse gas (GHG) emitted through human activities, accounting for the vast majority of GHG emissions in the United States. The ETHOS 2.8L engine is designed to use E-85, a clean-burning blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, at diesel-like cylinder pressures to take full advantage of the favorable combustion attributes of the bio-fuel.
The engine delivers the power (up to 250 hp) and peak torque (up to 450 lb-ft) of gasoline and diesel engines nearly twice its 2.8-liter displacement.
“The Cummins ETHOS engine, developed through a research partnership with CEC, clearly demonstrates that by combining innovative engine design and combustion approaches with low-carbon alternative fuels, we can determine a path to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” said Wayne Eckerle, Cummins Vice President – Research and Technology.
“Cummins produces industry-leading emissions-controls technologies and products, and we continue to explore new ways to make our Company stronger and our customers more successful, while reducing our environmental footprint,” Eckerle added. “We are very appreciative of the CEC’s funding participation in this important effort.”
The project comes as Cummins begins implementing its most comprehensive environmental sustainability plan ever. The plan, announced in early 2014, builds on past successes to address the Company’s biggest opportunities to make a positive environmental impact – from the materials it buys, to the products it designs, to helping customers operate Cummins products more efficiently.
Using corn derived E-85, the high thermal efficiency and power-to-weight ratio of this engine results in 50 to 58 percent lower well-to-wheels CO2 emissions compared with the gasoline engine baseline. Using second-generation, lingo-cellulosic derived E-85, the powertrain’s efficiency features deliver 75 to 80 percent lower well-to-wheels CO2 emissions, depending on the drive cycle.
Cellulosic E-85 uses non-edible plant sources so it is less intensive to produce in terms of land use, tilling, fertilizing and harvesting than corn-based E-85. While it’s not available in high volumes today, cellulosic ethanol represents a promising production pathway for future fuels because non-food feedstocks are dramatically more abundant.
More than 1,500 hours have been accumulated on the ETHOS 2.8L engine over the past two-and-a-half years, demonstrating that this technology is capable of far exceeding the 50 percent CO2 emissions reductions outlined in the project’s goals.
The Cummins ETHOS 2.8L engine also incorporates an integrated stop-start system, which further reduces fuel consumption and emissions. In stop-start mode, the engine shuts down after the vehicle comes to a complete stop and the brake pedal remains depressed. As the driver’s foot is lifted from the brake, the system automatically starts the engine to seamlessly allow acceleration from a stop.
Cummins-integrated specific system controls, along with a robust starter, smart alternator and sensors, handle the additional stop-start duty cycle and maintain reliable operation over the life of the engine. Cummins worked closely with Allison Transmission to integrate the 2000 Series transmission for smooth and efficient stop-start operation. The transmission is equipped with hydraulic circulation features to ensure smooth operation and quick vehicle launch during stop-start driving.
Additional partners in the project included Valvoline, which provided NextGen engine oils specifically designed for lower CO2 emissions, and Freightliner Custom Chassis, which provided a prototype MT45 Class 5 step-van vehicle.
A final, on-road validation test phase took place in July in Sacramento, managed by Cummins Pacific, the exclusive California and Hawaii distributor for Cummins Inc.
Once the final test phase is evaluated, researchers will begin working on ways this breakthrough technology can be effectively used in commercial applications.
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