Siemens Advances Three-Cylinder Gasoline Engines

Jan. 1, 2020
DETROIT - Siemens VDO has targeted September 2007 for introduction of a three-cylinder high-efficiency gasoline demonstration engine that will incorporate a number of features that showcase the company's technologies. Collaborating with Siemens is Lo
Siemens Advances Three-Cylinder Gasoline EnginesDETROIT - Siemens VDO has targeted September 2007 for introduction of a three-cylinder high-efficiency gasoline demonstration engine that will incorporate a number of features that showcase the company's technologies. Collaborating with Siemens is Lotus Engineering, the consulting arm of Group Lotus Plc.  Driving this effort is intense pressure on automakers worldwide to apply their expertise to the task of cutting fuel use - and thus, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions - in all vehicle operating conditions. The pressure is gaining in all areas, not just urban use where complex hybrids have gained public interest.  Adding to this is greater regulatory pressure on makers of larger and higher-powered cars with above-average CO2 emissions. The makers of smaller cars are troubled less by the drive for lower CO2, but many of them seek positions in the market for larger cars and must reduce CO2 across their product lines to meet new corporate average requirements. Michael Crane, director of Siemens VDO North American Powertrain Gasoline Systems, explains that a reduced-CO2, down-sized turbocharged three-cylinder gasoline engine with direct injection, variable valve action, lean operation and other features is being readied for public introduction in Germany in September in association with Lotus Engineering. The use of a three-cylinder configuration is significant because of the lower thermal and friction losses of three larger cylinders with the same total displacement of four smaller ones. This illustrates the fundamentals underlying the three-cylinder choice Siemens has opted for to achieve the least possible CO2 emissions at the least cost in all operating conditions - regardless of whether stop/start and hybrid systems are added. While Siemens does not indicate the displacement of its three-cylinder engine, the trend towards downsizing suggests, for example, that 1.8L four-cylinder engines now used in popular compact cars might be replaced with advanced three-cylinder 1.4L engines for "B" class cars to advance to yet higher gasoline mpg levels.  What remains to be seen is whether the Siemens technology demonstration engine will use infinitely variable valves - variable lift and timing - and enhancements such as roller bearings, which consultants FEV Group President & CEO Professor Stephen Pischinger recently said can improve engine fuel efficiency by 5 percent compared with plain bearings.  Taken together, it is clear that gasoline engine efficiency has taken on ultrafast-track development status, and while three-cylinder engines have been associated with the low end of the auto business, fuel efficiency and affordability in the new age of CO2 control effectively called for by the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision and regulatory initiatives shine new light on all systems with potential for higher efficiency.  Another indication of this trend are the 800cc to 900cc two-cylinder engines with turbocharging and variable valves for "B" class cars proposed by Harald Wester, chief technical officer, Engineering and Design, Fiat Group Automobiles, as reported by Automotive Engineering International. Siemens forecasts that gasoline engines with either port or direct injection will dominate the auto market for the next 20 years. Not the least of the reasons for this are increasing diesel costs and the complexity dictated by new emissions control requirements. Another straw in the wind is the $3.2 billion investment Marathon Oil Co. is making in its Garryville, LA refinery to increase production. According to a spokesman, the production level is now at 245,000 barrels per day (bbl/day), which could increase production by an additional 180,000 bbl/day. The new refining unit will produce 50/50 diesel/gasoline product mix rather than one-third diesel and two-thirds gasoline from the existing unit.  The reduced percentage of gasoline is said to reflect long-term improvement in gasoline vehicle fuel efficiency while commercial on-road and off-road diesels are not expected to achieve significant fuel efficiency gains. Also, the new production of diesel fuel at Marathon's refinery will provide additional byproduct gas oil (with consequent cost savings) now imported from offshore sources for gasoline production. (Source: Siemens VDO)

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