Technology

Continental: 'Diesel is not dead'

German automotive giant Continental is bucking the general perception that diesel-powered cars’ days are numbered and declares that “diesel has a future”.

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The German tech and tyre company showcased the technology to assembled media, including CarAdvice, at its Continental tech Show 2017 in Hannover, Germany last week.

“The diesel engine will continue to play an important role in meeting mobility needs for the foreseeable future,” said José Avila, President of the Powertrain Division and member of the Executive Board of Continental, “so it is vital for us to develop the technology to support extremely low-pollutant diesel operation.”

In order to meet ever more stringent emissions standards in Europe, Continental’s engineers started by replacing a car’s standard injection system with its own Continental PCRs5 piezo common-rail injection system. Working under extreme pressure of 2500 bar and in conjunction with highly dynamic valve timing, the system performs multiple and very closely spaced metered injections of fuel per cycle. This allows for only the minutest amount of fuel to be injected into the cylinder after combustion and this fuel is only ignited after it reaches the catalyst, thus rapidly accelerating the vital catalyst warm-up function.

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Above: The Continental 48-volt Belt Starter Generator

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Above: Continental's electrically heated catalyst, EMICAT

Finally, Continental’s connected Energy Management (cEM) system helps the car operate at optimum efficiency by sending at receiving live data about traffic conditions.

“The beauty of ‘connected Energy Management’ is, that we can implement a more energy-efficient driving strategy simply by using an improved database,” said Dr. Oliver Maiwald, Head of Technology & Innovation with Continental’s Powertrain Division.

“When the cEM control unit is aware of the upcoming route (thanks to the navigation system or learning algorithms), it can decide in advance when the vehicle should coast and when it is best for it to recuperate braking energy, thereby saving fuel and emissions.”

The cEM also features a Traffic Light Assists (TLA) function which can predict when the next traffic light, whether visible to the driver or not, will be red. The cEM then uses this information to improve coasting, energy recuperation and braking management.

Above: connected Energy Management can alter driving dynamics based on live data updates

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“In other words we have resolved a classic conflict of objectives in diesel engine development,” said Avila, “showing that a clean diesel engine with emissions well within the legal limits doesn’t have to consume more fuel.”

CarAdvice spent some time behind the wheel of Continental’s test vehicle at the company’s Contidrom proving ground just outside Hannover.

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