The implementation of more stringent European diesel exhaust emission standards (e.g. EURO 5 and EURO 6) forces the automotive industry to use the Diesel Particle Filter (DPF) technology that is common in passenger cars in Europe. To enhance DPF regeneration, one of the main technologies uses an ‘on board’ fuel additive, called Fuel Borne Catalyst (FBC). In addition, post EURO 6 (EURO 6.c and the future EURO 7) will impose additional durability requirements to make the automotive industry develop clean vehicles, including vehicles running on biodiesel fuels from different sources. As things stand, increased use of biofuels may have side effects on the fuel injection system (e.g. deposit or even fouling/coking of key parts), reducing engine performance (increased pollution and fuel consumption), reliability and durability. As a result, a new technology is required to allow diesel engines to adapt to current and future EU emissions standards.
The objective of the LIFE AUTO project was to demonstrate the feasibility of a unique, environmentally-friendly system (combining chemistry, hardware and software), to replace the current diesel fuel filter, additive tank, dosing pump and electronic controller unit. This aims to improve fuel efficiency and compatibility with biofuels and reduce emissions of diesel engines.
Project actions were divided into two main phases. Firstly, the beneficiary aimed to define the best option for improved engine performance (fuel consumption and emissions) and protecting the fuel circuit elements. Based on these options, the molecules would be chosen and the chemical formulation calculated. One of the main goals was be to increase the stability of biofuels through improved resistance to oxidation.
Secondly, the project team aimed to combine the fuel dosage system and additives into so-called 'B-prototypes', that would be made according to real engine specifications and tested on full-scale test fleets to demonstrate the scope of the environmental benefits in the real-world.
The LIFE AUTO project demonstrated the feasibility of an innovative on-board storage and automatic additive dosing system for fuel additives that lower the environmental impact of diesel vehicles. This was completely integrated into the existing fuel filter of the vehicle. In order to meet this objective, the project team combined the expertise of two industrial partners: SOGEFI Filtration specialising in mechatronics and Solvay (Rhodia) specialising in chemistry. The AUTO system (named E-SIS) was successfully developed for two on-board fuel additives: Eolys PowerFlex and EasyFlex. The development of E-SIS® started with the testing of the system with Eolys PowerFlex, an additive manufactured by Solvay before the LIFE AUTO project. The second fuel additive, EasyFlex, was developed by the project team with the aim of maintaining engine functions over time. The confirmed compatibility of both kinds of additives with the E-SIS system covers all in-use diesel vehicles since 1998. Two market segments are thus covered: retrofit applications/aftermarket for existing vehicles and new vehicles.
From an environmental prospective, the potential reduction of CO2 combining both additives and the E-SIS system in new and existing retrofitted vehicles is estimated to be 19.95 million tons between 2018 and 2025 (13.04 for Eolys PowerFlex and 6.91 with EasyFlex). The use of Eolys PowerFlex with E-SIS would also enable diesel vehicles, released since 2010 (EURO-5) and operating without additives, to reduce their impact on the quality of urban air by limiting nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions, while reducing their fuel consumption.
Solvay’s main innovation was the development of an all-in-one injection system, for the accurately-controlled supply of the new EasyFlex additive. Tests confirmed that the EasyFlex additive was able to maintain an engine's performance and protect fuel injection by limiting deposit, wear and corrosion side-effects.
Potentials for market integration and transferability are good. The AUTO technology addresses both the carbon footprint of diesel engines and the problem of the air quality in cities (NO2, PM10 and PM2.5), while maintaining the attractiveness of the diesel technology (e.g. robustness and durability).
The project contributed to reaching the goals set by the Euro 5 and Euro 6 emission standards for cars, EU legislation relating to reduced greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, and Directive 2008/50/EC on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe.
Socio-economic effects of the project are mostly related to its favourable economic prospects. The beneficiaries concluded that diesel technology still has a bright future ahead, especially in developing countries in South America and South Asia, representing a huge potential market potential for less-polluting European diesel technology.
Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report (see "Read more" section).