Continental Emitec eyes big opportunities under BS VI norms
The German supplier will also benefit as two-wheeler OEMs upgrade to BS IV. It is also venturing into the passenger car industry while strengthening its presence in the CV market.
Continental Emitec GmbH, which comes under Continental’s fuel and exhaust management business unit, is one of the few leading global suppliers of emission-related technologies that stand to benefit as India upgrades to BS VI norms by 2020.
The company, which is the largest supplier of metal substrates and catalyst technologies to the two-wheeler industry in India, also caters to the commercial vehicle segment but on a relatively small scale.
With BS VI emission norms coming into play in India, Continental Emitec aims to venture into the passenger car industry, thereby catering to the rising need for expertise and technological support to vehicle OEMs.
The company’s Indian arm currently designs and manufactures metal substrates, which are understood in terms of CPSI (cells per square inch). Conventional substrates for two-wheelers, currently in demand, fall in the range of 100-200 CPSI for BS IV requirements. While these provide lesser efficiency in emissions, substrates with a CPSI of more than 200 with structured foils (turbulent structure used to break down the polluting compounds) could adhere to the stricter emission norms. These substrates are
used in catalyst technologies that create turbulence in the exhaust gas, thereby reducing emissions.
Additionally, to upgrade the current emission norms prevailing for two-wheelers in India, company officials believe that technologies that work in reducing the pollutants on the engine side such as electronic fuel injection and others could also see demand.
In an exclusive conversation with Autocar Professional recently, Rolf Bruck, vice-president, catalysts & filters, Continental BU fuel & exhaust management, agrees that implementing BS VI emission norms in India by 2020 would be a considerable challenge for automakers in India.
However, for the Continental Group, which has Euro 6-compatible technology in Europe, the nature of the challenge would be different, mainly due to the inconsistent and unique driving habits and overloading of trucks in India.
Explaining the same, he elaborates: “In Europe, Euro 6 is implemented across cars and CVs, which means the technology is available. If we compare the engines in European markets with the ones used specifically in India, this would be a totally different development. This means while, for trucks, we have large, high-powered engines with limited weight in Europe, in India there are engines with almost opposite features. The powertrains here drive overloaded trucks and this makes sense if we understand in terms of the inputs from the engine to the exhaust systems, which give out CO and NOx emissions. The temperatures and oxygen content from the exhaust system is different even if you have a small engine powering an overloaded vehicle compared to a large engine powering a big truck driving at 80kph on a highway using load within its limits.”
“The challenge lies in terms of adapting the technology and principles known for Euro 6 in a market (India) with engines powering vehicles that are very different. There is a lot of difference also with respect to the cost of vehicles with this technology. For example, let’s say a truck costing 60,000 euros (in Europe) sees an add-on of a number of strict emission technologies including complex after-treatment systems. Compare this with adding many complicated and costly technologies on a small three-wheeler in India, which is also a sort of truck with multiple applications; I don’t think it would be affordable anymore. This is a huge challenge – to make BS VI technology affordable for the vehicles and engines used in the Indian market,” he further adds.
According to Bruck, the real challenge would be on the cost side, which will inevitably grow as technological additions to the engine and the exhaust management will happen in the vehicles.
On the two-wheeler front, its existing business unit, Continental Emitec is addressing the challenge of cost-effective manufacturing of metal substrates with higher CPSI with turbulent structures to keep the emissions low.
Providing details, Bruck says, “As regards fuel injection – carburettor or electronic – in Europe, the trend is towards fuel injection and away from carburettors. This makes it possible to inject very precise fuel. The next step is to install an oxygen lambda sensor, and for the catalyst we can use a standard catalyst with a three-way coating. The efficiency of a catalyst could be higher if we have the right fuel injection system. A catalyst is very effective. If we are to optimise the fuel side, the catalyst can be changed into a more efficient one, and this could be the simplest step to improve upon two-wheeler emissions. Further to take control of NOx emissions, an oxygen sensor is needed. The sensor gives the information to the injection system and to the mass flow measurement system, and this gives us lambda one.”
“These technologies add to costs but developing them is not a big challenge. However, for OEMs, who may understand things differently, replacing carburettors with fuel injection systems requires a huge effort,” Bruck adds.
Technologies for diesels
Bruck also highlights the particular technical areas that would require attention in the case of diesel engines. According to him, for diesel engines in India which are equipped with a turbocharger and an EMS (engine management system), given its size is the same as that of its European counterpart, the job for engineers would be relatively easy.
“In India, we are delivering a compact catalyst system, which is directly mounted to a turbocharger. It is a very specific design, which allows it to be used across all passenger cars of the same brand. On all engines, it’s the same catalyst. Just that it is modular, which means that for petrol engines, three-way catalysts are used and for diesels, it is the same substrate from us with a different coating. Though some add-on features are different for the US and Europe markets, the basic inlet and outlet elements, and the housing are all the same for all engines in this compact catalyst system. There are integrated sensors, which mean we are providing the substrates with a hole to put the oxygen sensor inside to measure the air mixture. These sensors also provide information about the aging of the catalyst system,” he adds.
However, in cases where the engine size is different but with the same equipment, engineers would have to work on scaling up the existing solutions for Indian conditions.
“We have many smaller engines in use in India which have common-rails and a turbocharger. I think such powertrains may need some updates on the onboard controls side, software side, functional side, and can be handled by adapting to their size. We can scale it down to the required size,” he explains.
Continental-Emitec is working on multiple areas and gearing up to address the anticipated demand for technological expertise and solutions. For Bruck, an R&D veteran with close to three decades of experience in developing catalyst and related technologies, his priorities continue to be two-wheelers over the next 2-3 years, apart from strengthening his company’s presence in trucks. He believes the existing technologies in India will start seeing major changes by 2020. With the industry serious about getting its clean act right, Continental Emitec is keen to be the catalyst of change.
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