'Going from BS IV to BS VI calls for a big jump in catalyst technology, from being a passive device to one with more systems approach.'

German supplier Continental Emitec will benefit as two-wheeler OEMs upgrade to BS IV says Rolf Bruck, VP — catalysts & filters, Continental BU fuel & Exhaust Management.

Amit Panday By Amit Panday calendar 22 Apr 2016 Views icon9095 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

Rolf Bruck, vice-president — catalysts & filters, Continental BU Fuel & Exhaust Management, and an R&D veteran with close to three decades of experience in developing catalysts and related technologies, speaks to Autocar Professional's Amit Panday on how the implementation of BS VI emission norms in India by 2020 would matter for his company. Excerpts:

How do you see the government’s decision of implementing BS VI emission legislations in India by 2020?

After Emitec’s merger with Continental, we have the access to the latter’s ecosystem. It is important to understand that when talking about future emission legislations, one has to consider the vehicle in its entirety.

The engine, engine management, engine control, control of the exhaust and other peripheries – everything has to belong together. Otherwise, there is no possibility to fulfil these requirements (BS VI by 2020). By having more stringent emission legislations, especially if you go from BS IV to BS VI standards, skipping one level altogether, there is a big jump for the catalyst technology from being mainly a passive device to one with a more systems approach.

So in BSVI or Euro 6 norms, to have the right emissions from vehicles, you need the knowledge of what the engine is doing such as if the driver is accelerating or deaccelerating and other actions.

The advantage we have within Continental is that we are the only automotive supplier with a full range of products up to catalyst technologies. However, for the OEMs in India, I am sure the upcoming legislations will be a new challenge.

As a supplier of emission-related technologies, how are you placed? Is this a challenge for Continental Emitec?

It is difficult to say what is a challenge and what isn’t. In Europe market, 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 back 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.

How would you define the active and passive elements involved in developing the technologies related to BS VI?

For a diesel vehicle, the first step is to use after-treatment – put in a diesel oxidation catalyst to take care of the hydrocarbons and the CO. You have to do nothing on your engine but only have to add the after-treatment system to the exhaust and it will minimise CO and hydrocarbon (including the particulate matter) emissions. It will do nothing to cut down the NOx emissions.

Continental Emitec mainly caters to the two-wheeler industry with its products and technologies, and also the CV sector to some extent. Do you plan to step into the passenger car industry?

I believe the main market in terms of volumes here is the two-wheeler market. Two-wheeler emission legislations already had some history. I believe there is a need for after-treatment systems and of course a market for it.

On the truck front, in Europe there were engine manufacturers who could just achieve Euro 4 emission norms just by working upon their engines. How much money would you would like to put in engine technology? Can you invest in EGR, which needs an EGR cooler? Can you invest in a two-stage turbocharger to get enough air into the engine which could help in getting the CO levels down?

So for Euro 4 or BS IV, there always was a decision on what to do on the engine side and what to do on the after-treatment side. So principally you can use one or the other.

For Euro 5 (or BS V), there is a decision about the after-treatment of PM or NOx because both are not possible to achieve just by working on the engine.

For Euro 6, there is a very clear answer –both are needed. You need after-treatment for particulates as well as for the NOx.

How to transfer Euro 6 after-treatment systems including sensors and engine technologies into the Indian BS VI environment with unique Indian applications is something that we are working on. This is the biggest challenge.

If we have the freedom for developing new engines with built-in features, then the engine becomes more expensive. However, we have to see where the compromise would be. In the current scenario, we have to see which engines are controlled via what features and what is available for 2020. It would be a huge task for the OEMs that by 2020 they will have to fulfil the legislations across all their vehicles. So they have to run the development for all the vehicles, and it’s not possible to develop a number of all-new engines for all vehicles at the same time.

As a result of this, we will see very modern engines, and vehicles on the street with highly complicated after-treatment systems and with more add-on solutions. By 2022-2023, I estimate, we would see a balance between the engine and the after-treatment technologies.

How do you plan to convert the whole Euro 6 setup including the onboard diagnostics and sensors and all other crucial elements available within Continental Emitec into the Indian applications under BS VI norms, while keeping costs efficient? Are you, along with your team, going back to the drawing board and redesigning the whole setup? And how much time this development ideally requires?

Two-wheeler emissions and the technologies involved are relatively simple because they are petrol engines. As regards fuel injection – carburettor or electronic -- in Europe, the trend is in the direction of 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. However, if it is hot, if there is fuel and oxygen, it takes everything it gets, which means it burns until it melts. This translates into relatively unprecise fuel injection and the risk of misfiring, where even a very effective catalyst will not survive.

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.

All BMW motorcycles in Europe are under control (of emission limits). These technologies add to costs but developing them is not a big challenge. However, for OEMs, who may understand things differently, replacing the carburettors with fuel injection systems requires a huge effort.

For diesel engines, assuming we have a turbocharged engine with an EMS (engine management system) onboard, then the only question would be the size of the engine. If it happens to be the same size as in Europe, it makes our job simple.

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.

A second example could be of a smaller engine but with same equipment. 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.

With the merger of technologies between Continental and Emitec, do you think the Group is now better placed to cater to India in the wake of the implementation of BS VI norms by 2020?

If we consider motorbikes in India, which run on carburettors, they have no sensors. This means there is only the need for add-on solutions. Even if we have the complete solution and know-how, there is no need to put it into the vehicle.

The philosophy at Continental is that we can offer our customers a complete system if they want it. However, if a customer is using products from a different supplier but is looking for a soot sensor, catalysts, after-treatment controllers and other products then of course we can supply those. We have markets where OEMs use SCR systems from competitors but controllers from Continental.

The next step could be the hybrids and mild hybrids. We are offering a great system of 48V mild hybrid where we have the after-treatment completely integrated as a strategy. We have electrically heated catalysts in this after-treatment, which allows running of the engine and the after-treatment.

We have a systems approach for hybrids within Continental, which is very important. Yes, in India, we do not see hybrids but I think hybrids would be an ideal system for the traffic conditions here.

In principle, we are offering our support based on the knowledge we have from Euro 6 applications and in terms of scales that are needed in the Indian market. The advantages are very clear as we have been working on the catalyst technologies for close to 30 years. 

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