JLR heads up new efficiency project

Jaguar Land Rover leads VIPER2 efficiency project for petrol engines; expected to be ready for 2025

Jaguar Land Rover is leading a project that aims to recover exhaust heat and recycle the temperatures to ensure petrol engines are more efficient.

Dubbed VIPER2 – Vehicle Integrated Powertrain Energy Recovery – the new project has so far received £2 million of investment. Partners include Nottingham University, European Thermodynamics and Ford.

The project aims to develop technology that can recover 300 watts of power from a petrol engine for use in driving a hybrid motor. Those involved with the scheme claim this could boost the fuel efficiency of new petrol cars by 5 percent.

Modern conventional petrol engines convert around one-third of their fuel into mechanical power, with the remainder lost to heat and friction. In comparison, classic engines – such as BMC’s A-series or Rover’s V8 – convert only a small percentage of fuel into mechanical drive; most of your £6 gallon of fuel dissolves with contemporary inefficiency.

VIPER2 developers hope to experiment with using exhaust gasses to heat one side of a superconductor, with a direct electric current generated should the other end of the device be kept cold.

Senior engineer Paul Chandler explained that it’s still only research: ‘The first stage is to prove that it works.’

The tech is expected to be ready for production by 2025 – but sceptics have questioned whether petrol engines will be deserving of investment at that time.

Megan Brown, a researcher at Edinburgh Napier University, said: ‘With Volvo announcing that it will cease production of petrol engines to focus on electric engines, other manufacturers will soon follow the trend. I doubt by 2025 that the internal-combustion engine will be worthy of primary investment to control carbon output. With the progress made by the likes of Tesla, and charging stations sprouting up across Europe and America, petrol engines will soon be so outdated that manufacturers will chose to focus on electric cars – as a PR stunt, at least.’

However, other commentators have pointed out that, with rising industrial demand from China and Third World countries, the need and use for petrol engines will remain strong.

‘Rising economic powers won’t yet start on electric cars, with this research capable of reducing waste and exhaust pollutants as economies grow,’ explained Chin Hun-Tan, an exporter of goods from Edinburgh to China. ‘However, whether this project can make a difference before engineering moves on will remain to be seen.’

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