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Lower Carbon Emissions from Motor Vehicles for the Future

Info: 2844 words (11 pages) Dissertation
Published: 9th Dec 2019

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Tagged: Environmental StudiesMechanics

Assessment Title: Information Search & Literature Review
Literature Review Topic: Lower Carbon Emissions from Motor Vehicles for the Future.


This is a literature review done to know the latest technological advancements and challenges observed to move forward in direction of sustainable and green transportation system. The review begins with research areas for reducing the carbon emission from IC engines and then moves onto relatively newer areas like hybrid vehicles, battery electric vehicles and fuel cell technology as the other areas of research for lower carbon emission vehicles. Recent findings and challenges for the respective areas of research are highlighted in the sections of report. Highlights on recent government reforms to support the transportation sector to achieve ultra-low emission vehicle is also been discussed.




1  Introduction

2  Recent Technological advancements and challenges to lower carbon emissions

2.1 Research on Optimizing conventional IC engine design

2.2 Research on Hybrid and Electric powertrain technology

2.3 Research on fuel cell technology.

3 Conclusion

4 References and Bibliography



Figure 1    …………    UK GHG emission sector wise contribution.
(Source: BEIS 2018)

Figure 2    …………    Test results from the MAHLE downsizing engine with combined
eSupercharger; a) BMEP; b) Power. (Bassett et al., 2017)

Figure 3    ………….   Drive-cycle CO2 benefit from downsizing from 2.0 litre TGDI
engine to 1.2 litre engine in the VW Golf. (Bassett et al., 2017)

Figure 4    ………….   NEDC CO2 reduction potential comparison with downsized engine.
(Bassett et al., 2017)

Figure 5    ………….   Classification of EV based on propulsion elements and level
of combination. (Chau and Li, 2014)

Figure 6    ………….   Comparison of contribution by different powertrain to GHG.
(Wolfram and Lutsey,2016)

Figure 7    ………….   PHEV Energy Management Systems.
(Ding, Prasad and Lie, 2017)

Figure 8   ………….    Specific Energy comparison between supercapacitors and Li-ion battery
(Burke, 2000)

Figure 9   ………….    Efficiency comparison of Fuel Cell with other sources of propulsion
(Sharaf and Orhan, 2014)

Figure 10   ………….    GHG comparison between fuel cell and other sources of propulsion
(Sharaf and Orhan, 2014)




EV Electric Vehicle

FCEV                                            Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle

GHG                                              Green House Gases

HEV Hybrid Electric Vehicle

IC Internal Combustion

PEV                                              Pure Electric Vehicle

PHEV Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicle

REV Range Extended Electric Vehicle


The aim to lower the carbon emission in surrounding is the prime agenda highlighted by various global climate control regulatory bodies on timely basis. The agenda is justified to prevent the mother earth from ill effects of Global warming. In large platforms like, United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21 it was agreed consensually by different nations to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions. According to (COP21 – Paris Climate Conference 2015 | Gouvernement.fr, nd) , agreement is to limit the increase in temperatures to 2 degrees overall and 1.5 degrees by the end of the century.

According to (Stark Chris, Gault Adrian, 2018) progress report by Committee on Climate Change to parliament on reducing UK emissions .‘’Over the past ten years, as emissions in power and industry have reduced, transport has become the largest emitting sector of the UK economy, accounting for 28% of UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2017’’.

Figure 1.

Transportation system act as a media to move us from one place to other at the same time providing access to jobs, education and social interaction. The need of the hour is for substantial research in direction of sustainability, to reduce the carbon emission contribution of transportation sector. Motor vehicles use IC engines as source of propulsion which utilizes fossil fuel as energy source, thus delivering products of combustion like CO, NOx, and HC along with Carbon dioxide.

This coursework report tries to highlights recent technological advancements and challenges being faced in direction of development of sustainable transportation systems. Wide spectrum of research areas from optimization of conventional IC engine design to modern propulsion elements like batteries, fuel cells and complex Energy management systems are being discussed by means of literature review of data accessed through various web resources.

2. Recent Technological advancements and challenges to lower carbon emissions

Research is being carried out in a wide spectrum of areas with the sole aim of reduction in the carbon emission contribution of the transportation sector. Some of the key areas where a tangible amount of success is being achieved, in this direction are discussed in the following sections below. Recent research findings and challenges observed with respective technological advancement are also highlighted.

 2.1 Research on optimizing conventional IC engine design

Optimization in size of conventional IC engine is one of the key areas of research for lower carbon emission. Recent research (Bassett et al., 2017) shows that aggressive downsizing of engine with suitable turbocharger selection and charge cooling techniques , helps in improvement of fuel economy, power delivery along with significant reduction in carbon emissions. The study was conducted on a 1.2 litre, 3-cylinder engine (50 % downsizing of a naturally aspirated 2.4 litre engine) fitted with an esupercharger in addition to a conventional turbocharger. Figure (2) below shows the BMEP and Power comparison between standard and downsized supercharge version engine.

Figure 2

Improvement in fuel economy and carbon reduction potential can be seen from figures below in the downsized version of engine. There has been decrease in fuel consumption by 15 % and CO2 emissions by 15% as observed in NEDC cycle.


Figure 3.                                                                                     Figure 4.

Recent research (Nakata et al., 2015) shows that gasoline internal combustion engines can achieve thermal efficiency above 45% using lean burn (gasoline), cooled EGR, and boosting (with a motor-driven supercharger and turbocharger).
Similar outcomes are seen from research (Isenstadt et al., 2016),were Turbocharged engine market share increased by about 3 percentage points per year from 2010 (3%) to 2015 (18%).Potential challenges with downsizing of the engine are highlighted in research
(Payri et al., 2014). Key challenges are summarized in the points below:

•    On an average reduction in cylinder volumes from 500 cc to 150 cc rate of heat loss is approximately 8%.
•    On downsizing engine to lower cylinder volume around 450cc, finding turbochargers which can operate with high compression ratios at the low air mass flows required become difficult.

2.2 Research on Hybrid and Electric powertrain technology

With prime agenda of various global climate control regulatory bodies for a push towards sustainable and green transportation technologies, a significant amount of research in the areas of Hybrid and Electric powertrain has been seen in the last decade.

Recent research (Ding, Prasad and Lie, 2017),shows that with advancement in areas of power electrics, energy storage and charging capabilities EV and HEV provide competitive driving range and fuel economy in comparison to conventional IC Engine. Additionally, dependency of transportation sector on fossil fuel sources which as of now is 49% can be reduced. Classification of EV based on propulsion elements and their level of combination is shown in figure below.

Figure 5                                                                                     Figure 6

Figure (Wolfram and Lutsey, 2016) clearly shows the reduction in tank to wheel emission due to hybrid, electric and fuel cell vehicles.

Research (Ding, Prasad and Lie, 2017) provides in detail information in regard to modelling and control strategies used for the design of HEV, PHEV, and PEV. The limitations associated with each model are discussed in detail.


Figure 7
It has been observed that combination of Battery and IC engine as a propulsion system in a vehicle helps to attain maximum fuel economy and carbon emission reduction potential.

Research by (Burke, 2000) on supercapacitors gave idea on better charge/discharge cycle, minimum heat loss, and good reversibility which made them an area of research for utilization in alternative powertrains. However , experimental data (Farcas et al., 2009)  has shown that the Supercapacitor specific energy are less as compared to Li Ion battery thus limiting their use.
Figure 2 Figure 2

Figure 8.
The major cons associated  with  HEV and EV are present battery charging technologies, battery materials, charging infrastructure, increased cost of complex energy systems, after sale service related issues. Research is being carried out in those areas of shortcoming to make HEV and EV a potential resource for lowering the carbon emissions.

2.3 Research on fuel cell technology.

For 100 percent carbon free emission, research is under progress for utilization of Hydrogen fuel cell as propulsion fuel. This system generates only water vapor as final product of combustion. As per research (Sharaf and Orhan, 2014)  fuel cells have demonstrated efficiencies (from 53% to 59%) that are almost twice the efficiencies of conventional internal combustion engines, Additionally for fork lift application GHG comparison depicts  the carbon
reduction potential of fuel cell.

Figure 9                                                                                               Figure 10

Major disadvantage of fuel cells as alternatives to conventional power generation solutions are compromised by their high cost and low durability.

3. Conclusion

The coursework summarizes the recent research findings and challenges while moving in direction of international consensus of sustainable and green transportation systems.
Apart from the key research areas discussed in above section, a lot of research in the areas listed below is also a part of low carbon emission programme

  • Gasoline / Diesel blend bio fuels  (Denvir Brian,Taylor Richard,Bauen Asuilio,Toop Gemma, 2015)
  • Material for lightweight vehicle and  powertrain components
  • Charging infrastructure design for new modern cities (Den, 2011)
  •      Next generation battery technology
    (Horizon 2020 initiative of EU Energy conservation department)

Support through various reforms of government and international organization in form of funding and research grant is also been provided to achieve the goal of sustainability
and lower carbon emission in transportation sector. According to(ULEV team  Department for transportation, 2015) following schemes are made
available to citizens by UK government for promoting Ultra low Emission vehicle

  • The Plug-in Car Grant.
  • The Electric Vehicle Home charge scheme.
  • The Go Ultra Low consumer campaign.

Through the various reforms and push towards the low carbon emission vehicles
near future will see a major share of EV, HEV and PHEV along with existing optimized IC engine powered vehicle.



  • Bassett, M. et al. (2017) ‘Dynamic Downsizing Gasoline Demonstrator’, SAE International Journal of Engines, 10(3), pp. 884–891. doi: https://doi.org/10.4271/2017-01-0646.
  • Burke, A. (2000) ‘Ultra capacitors: why, how and where is the technology’, Journal of Power Sources, Vol. 91, pp.37–50
  • Chau, K. T. and Li, W. (no date) Overview of electric machines for electric and hybrid vehicles. Available at: https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/38055214.pdf (Accessed: 14 November 2018).
  • COP21 – Paris Climate Conference 2015 | Gouvernement.fr (no date). Available at: https://www.gouvernement.fr/en/cop21 (Accessed: 14 November 2018).
  • Den, W. (2011) A Method for Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Planning–Automation of Electric Power Systems201024. Available at: http://en.cnki.com.cn/Article_en/CJFDTOTAL-DLXT201024007.htm (Accessed: 14 November 2018).
  • Denvir Brian,Taylor Richard,Bauen Asuilio,Toop Gemma, A. S. (2015) Novel Low Carbon Transport Fuels and the RTFO: sustainability implications. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/417650/Novel_Low_Carbon_Transport_Fuels_Scoping_paper_vFINAL5.pdf (Accessed: 12 November 2018).
  • Ding, N., Prasad, K. and Lie, T. T. (2017) ‘The electric vehicle: a review’, International Journal of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles, 9(1), p. 49. doi: 10.1504/IJEHV.2017.082816.
  • Farcas, C. et al. (2009) ‘Modeling and simulation of supercapacitors’, in 2009 15th International Symposium for Design and Technology of Electronics Packages (SIITME). IEEE, pp. 195–200. doi: 10.1109/SIITME.2009.5407373.
  • Isenstadt, A. et al. (no date) ‘Downsized, boosted gasoline engines’. doi: 10.4271/2015-01-1896.
  • Nakata, K. et al. (2015) ‘Engine Technologies for Achieving 45% Thermal Efficiency of S.I. Engine’, SAE International Journal of Engines, 9(1), pp. 2015-01-1896. doi: 10.4271/2015-01-1896.
  • Payri, F. et al. (2014) ‘Assessing the Limits of Downsizing in Diesel Engines’, in. doi: 10.4271/2014-32-0128.
  • Sharaf, O. Z. and Orhan, M. F. (2014) ‘An overview of fuel cell technology: Fundamentals and applications’, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. Pergamon, 32, pp. 810–853. doi: 10.1016/J.RSER.2014.01.012.
  • Stark Chris, Gault Adrian, J. D. (2018) Reducing UK emissions. Available at: www.theccc.org.uk/publications (Accessed: 12 November 2018).
  • ULEV team  Department for transportation (no date) Ultra low emission vehicles in the UK: measures to support use and development, 2015 to 2020 – GOV.UK. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ultra-low-emission-vehicles-in-the-uk-measures-to-support-use-and-development-2015-to-2020 (Accessed: 14 November 2018).
  • Wolfram, P. and Lutsey, N. (2016) Electric vehicles: Literature review of technology costs and carbon emissions. Available at: https://www.theicct.org/sites/default/files/publications/ICCT_LitRvw_EV-tech-costs_201607.pdf (Accessed: 14 November 2018).

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