A team at global power leader Cummins Inc. was recently honored by federal officials for its pioneering research to improve diesel engine efficiency, a key step toward reducing heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
The Cummins SuperTruck II team achieved 55% brake thermal efficiency (BTE) from a diesel engine equipped with waste heat recovery. Achieving 55% BTE has been an important goal of the SuperTruck initiative, a public-private partnership to encourage innovation in diesel engines, the workhorse behind freight transportation in the United States.
"Getting to 55% BTE was about optimally moving the needle in many areas,” said Jon Dickson, Cummins Principal Investigator for the SuperTruck II initiative. “The interactions among the engine subsystems complicated defining how to operate each of these subsystems to reach the optimum engine performance.
“Achieving the final objective occurred with careful hardware selection and a month of optimization of the engine and Waste Heat Recovery systems at the test cell,” he added. “There were a lot of people at Cummins that came together to make this happen, who never gave up, even when we were down to the wire, and I’m thrilled to accept this award in recognition of their perseverance."
The team was honored by the U.S. Department of Energy during its Merit Review conference earlier this year.
Cummins is taking a two-pronged approach to the world’s climate challenges, developing new low-carbon power platforms such as hydrogen fuel cells while working to improve legacy technologies like diesel and natural gas engines.
The company has been part of the Department of Energy’s SuperTruck initiative since it began in 2010 with the goal of improving heavy-duty truck freight efficiency. Brake thermal efficiency quantifies the fraction of the fuel's chemical energy that is converted into useful work by the engine system, and acts as an important measurement of overall engine efficiency. As the SuperTruck II program progresses, the Cummins engine with 55% BTE will integrate into a Peterbilt truck to ultimately demonstrate improvement in freight efficiency.
"Greater engine efficiency is still feasible, and our work will continue toward that goal,” Dickson said. "While we are all thrilled to celebrate this SuperTruck II achievement, we will continue to push ourselves to meet the needs of our customers and our planet."
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