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POWERTRAIN


CHOICE M


MULTIPLE


With piston engines still very much with us, alongside alternative fuels, hybrids and pure EVs, the powertrain industry has fragmented into a fascinating mass of technology choices. This engineering consultancy has operations across all these areas and more


ahle is a multinational company with just shy of 80,000 employees spread across 170 locations. It’s


organised into large business units, with smaller profi t centres, many of which carry out extensive research programmes. Here Mike Bassett, chief engineer for Research and Advanced Engineering from Mahle Powertrain, explains where technology is now and where it is going.


IS THERE MUCH INTEREST IN


ALTERNATIVE FUELS? We’re working with the oil companies to research biofuels, it’s defi nitely something we’re interested in. For example, we do a lot of work in Brazil


22 www.engineerlive.com


with bioethanol. We’ve also built a CNG engine that has a very high specifi c output. However, the legislation isn’t helpful


here as it focuses too much on exhaust emissions without considering the bigger CO2


picture. It’s the same for EVs


– the legislation takes no account of the energy used to extract the lithium and manufacture the batteries. We’ve been trying to get this message across but when you get so many parties involved it becomes quite political and complex. I hope this will change, especially as if you take bioethanol as an example, it’s an ideal fuel for an engine. All you need to do is ensure the rubbers and plastics are able to withstand it and you can even take advantage of its properties by raising the compression ratio, enhancing effi ciency.


HOW MUCH MORE


EFFICIENT CAN PISTON ENGINES GET?


Our focus at the moment is on a pre- chamber design, where we are seeing quite signifi cant gains in fuel economy with really quite modest changes.


Part of Mahle’s combustion optimisation process


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