ECT 2019 sees industry experts debate emission tech for BS VI and beyond

by Nilesh Wadhwa 15 Nov 2019

The topic of clean mobility and emissions continues to make headlines every other day, what with the need to address pollution levels, energy conservation or reduce India’s humungous fuel import bill. To discuss the challenges and opportunities for automakers in India, adopt the best solutions and technologies to meet not only upcoming BS VI emission norms but also go beyond them, ECMA (Emission Control Manufacturers Association) organised the two-day conclave on ‘Cleaner IC Engines for Sustainable Environment with Innovative Emission Control Technologies (ECT 2019), in Pune on November 14-15. The event drew strong representation from all stakeholders including captains of the auto industry captains, NPOs, OEMs and suppliers.

ECMA is a non-profit association comprising the world's leading manufacturers of emission control equipment — Albonair India, BASF Catalysts (India), Corning India, Cummins Emission Solutions, Emitec Emission Control Technologies India, Ibiden India, Johnson Matthey India, NGK Technologies India, Nippon Steel and Sumikin Materials India, Sud-Chemie India, Tenneco Automotive India, Umicore Autocat India and Unifrax India.  

ECT 2019 was inaugurated by Rohit Kataria, president, ECMA; Dr SSV Ramakumar, director (R&D), Indian Oil; Dr H Revanur, vice-president, ECMA; Saeed Alerasool, vice-president, BASF Corp; Sudipto Basu, executive director, ECMA and Dr Anup Bandivadekar, passenger vehicle program director, ICCT.

In his welcome address, Rohit Kataria said: "We had started the event back in 2006. In 2016, the government gave the industry a challenge to develop, validate and build BS VI solutions in a short span of three years." He expressed happiness that the industry has successfully been able to face the challenge, and meet the April 2020 target.

"The theme of the conference this year is very topical, Delhi is suffering smog and the honourable Supreme Court has asked us to look at hydrogen as a fuel. As the country's largest oil company, in the coming future, we see 3 important things – BS VI implementation, fuel economy standards and RDE (real driving emission)," said Dr SSV Ramakumar.

Sharing his perspective on the automotive industry in India, Dr Anup Bandivadekar said: "Five years ago, we didn't believe that the industry would be here today (in terms of preparedness for BS VI). In terms of global emissions, the share of transportation is rising." In his presentation, he exemplified how various cities and countries have adopted stringent emission norms to reduce tailpipe emissions. Comparing India's upcoming emission norms with Europe, he mentioned how Euro 6 norms were still evolving, and how the technology will need to be continuously developed. 

Representing one of the largest chemical companies, Saeed Alerasool of BASF spoke on how the industry needs to get prepared as there is "more coming after BS VI". Speaking on the company’s close ties with the automotive industry, he said: "While BASF ranks 19th globally in the automotive supplier list, we are No. 1 chemical supplier to the auto industry."

Session I: Light Duty – Aftertreatment Technologies

L-R: Unifrax’s David Kneale; Manoj Panda, technical team manager – EATS (Powertrain Controls & OBD), FEV India; ARAI's Dr SS Thipse; P S Gowrishankar, GN and Head Regulations, VATS Operation Engineering Research Centre, Tata Motors; and Nikolas Kuhn, director - product management, Umicore Autocat India.

The focus on aftertreatment solutions becomes sharper when it comes to the commercial vehicle (CV) segment, given the fact that for a price-sensitive market like India, CV buyers will seek affordable solutions.

The first session saw participation of P S Gowrishankar, GN and Head regulations, VATS Operation Engineering Research Centre, Tata Motors; David Kneale, Unifrax; Manoj Panda, technical team manager - EATS, Powertrain Controls & OBD, FEV and Nikolas Kuhn, director - product management, Umicore Autocat India, and the session was chaired by ARAI's Dr. SS Thipse.

In his opening remarks, Dr SS Thipse said the growth in sales trend of passenger vehicles and two-wheelers is on the back of growing demand for personal mobility. While the energy mix is dominated by petrol-powered vehicles, there is an increasing acceptance of alternate fuels like diesel, CNG, HCNG and LPG.

Representing Tata Motors, P S Gowrishankar spoke on the commonality and difference between the European and Bharat Stage norm implementation. Referring to  the European CV market, he said the transition for commercial vehicles to meet new emission standards (over the years) there had seen a phase-wise adoption. In India, the upcoming BS VI norms will be implemented across the light duty CV range. He said, "India is following the same series of standards for BS VI."

He presented interesting data on the reduction in different pollutants from tailpipe with the introduction of BS VI vehicles versus older vehicles.

Sharing his thoughts, David Kneale spoke on how Unifrax is doing its bit towards helping the auto industry meet the new and stringent emission norms. He spoke on how the global specialty fibre company has developed the 'Ecoflex 500' substrate support mat, which has been engineered to achieve optimum performance in challenging emission control mounting mat applications, just like the need in BS VI vehicle applications.

Kneale said Ecoflex 500 is suitable for the full spectrum of exhaust after-treatment applications, right from ultra-thin wall substrates, oxidation catalysts, selective catalyst reduction, diesel to gasoline particle filters. A key advantage that Ecoflex 500 offers, compared to other available polycrystalline fibre support mats, is its higher holding force when installed on applications with a large relative gap expansion.

FEV India's Manoj Panda took the stage and shared how the German engine specialist saw the automotive industry. He said, "Diesel powertrains play a key role in OEM strategies to meet tighter CO2/CAFE norms. Modern diesel engines keep the advantage despite more complex emissions controls systems." He further detailed out how different technologies in emission controls have evolved and how did FEV expects them to see market penetration. Panda said there is a strong case for 48V technology to further help reduce emissions.

Umicore Autocat India’s Nikolas Kuhn spoke on the three key factors — upcoming legislation, effect on petrol vehicles and requirement for future petrol particulate filter — behind Umicore's future focus areas. He said that globally there is a push in regulation for OEMs to provide improved fuel efficiency and stringent emission limits are being put in place. There are stringent criteria being demanded for setting up OBD, new cycles and real-driving emissions. This has affected the kind of technologies being incorporated by OEMs and suppliers for exhaust solutions.

He spoke on how Umicore is continuously working to improve catalyst performance. He cited an example of present solutions for high TWC (three-way catalyst)-activity on gasoline particulate filter, which is a new technology for closed-couple exhaust after-treatment. He said, "Current solutions  have to withstand temperature above 1,000 deg C. It needs to be optimised for light-off behaviour by inlet zone, high-temperature stable carrier oxides and increased palladium concentration. Reducing NOx emissions is done by outlet zone, high temperature stable OSC materials and increased Rhodium concentration."

Session II: Two-wheelers and small engines – BS VI challenges

Session 2: Two-Wheeler & Small Engines – BS VI Challenges: Dr Ravi Damodaran, CTO, Greaves Cotton; Harjeet Singh, executive advisor - Technical, Hero MotoCorp; SR Marathe, former director, ARAI; Dinesh Kumar, vice-president, R&D - Air Purification, SUD Chemie India; and Joel Beecham, development manager -- Motorcycles, Johnson Matthey.

It is impossible to discuss the Indian automotive market without including the two-wheeler segment, which sell in excess of 21 million units each year.

The second session saw participation from Harjeet Singh, executive advisor - Technical, Hero MotoCorp; Dr. Ravi Damodaran, CTO, Greaves Cotton; Joel Beecham, development manager - Motorcycles, Johnson Matthey and Dinesh Kumar, vice-president, R&D - Air Purification, SUD Chemie India, which was chaired by SR Marathe, former director, ARAI.

SR Marathe spoke on the average speed of vehicles falling substantially in crowded cities, which ranged between 8-20kph in a city like Pune, Maharashtra. On the other hand, because of the lack of inspection and measurement regime, the emission variation has gone as high as 250-300 percent between different parts of cities.

Sharing his perspective, Harjeet Singh first outlined how the development focus for OEMs and engineering team is between European and developed countries, compared to India. "Indian two-wheeler engineers are more focussed towards offering higher fuel efficiency, while their European counterparts are focussed towards offering more power."

He spoke on how India has adopted and progressed rapidly when it comes to emission norms for two-wheelers in compared to Europe. "Indian emission norms for two-wheelers have been tightened periodically every five years. The country's norms are more focussed towards keeping the high level of fuel efficiency intact." Comparing the country's progress towards adopting BS VI emission norms, he cited the example of the EU taking all of 42 years to reach Euro 5 standards starting from 1979, compared to what is a significantly short time from India.

Representing Greaves Cotton, one of India’s leading engine manufacturers, Dr Ravi Damodaram, shared statistical data on how just adopting rapid electrification would not be actually in favour of the country. He said that electrification could be called a path to avoid investments towards reducing emissions, but the well-to-pump and well-to-wheel scenario are completely different from what one may believe.

He said that going towards complete electrification in India today would not be energy efficient and will produce more greenhouse gases. Dr Damodaram said that the present energy mix (energy production) in the country sees 70 percent of energy produced coming from non-renewable sources. He estimates that by 2040, India would still see "49% of energy produced still coming from non-renewable sources."

Joel Beecham gave a presentation on the BS VI catalyst technical challenges associated with two-wheelers. According to him, the three key challenges for two-wheelers to meet the new emissions norms include meeting the varied operating conditions, engineering and meeting the legislation. He said the design of the system is very important when it comes to conserving heat energy.

Beecham said, "There is a need for new BS VI washcoat technology, which will help reduce PGM through improved catalyst performance. Substrate type, CAT position and engine calibration improvements have been made during development, but the cost of PGM needed to be reduced. We have developed new materials that are resistant to higher temperature, has improved activity during cold start and at high speeds, specifically designed for two-wheeler customers in India."

Sud-Chemie's Dinesh Kumar spoke on the need for durable catalytic converters, which requires superior thermal stability of the wash coat and use of improved oxygen storage materials permits the catalyst to be mounted closer to the engine for better cold start activity. He mentioned how the company had established various test bench cycle that helps OEMs and partners to come out with the desired solution.

Session III: Addressing CO2 reduction

L-R: Samir S Kale, DGM - Engines PD, Head Pune Centre, Ashok Leyland; Sumiya Satoshi, LDD, Principal Scientist, Johnson Matthey; K K Gandhi, Consultant and Advisor, TVS Motor Co; Dr Christian Teich, vice-president, Head of Development and Application Powertrain Solutions, Bosch; and Milap Patel, manager, Gasoline Engine Calibration, FEV India.

One of the key targets for India and the world is to address the increase in harmful gases in the environment. The automotive sector, despite being one of the lower contributors, continues to be   targeted to further drive down emissions, an initiative met by the industry.

The session saw participation from Samir S Kale, DGM - Engines PD, Head Pune Centre, Ashok Leyland; Dr. Christian Teich, vice-president, Head of Development and Application Powertrain Solutions, Bosch; Sumiya Satoshi, LDD, Principal Scientist, Johnson Matthey; Milap Patel, manager, Gasoline Engine Calibration, FEV India, and was chaired by K K Gandhi, Consultant and Advisor, TVS Motor Co.

Representing one of the country's leading commercial vehicle makers, Samir S Kale said that in principle the emission from motor vehicles (by volume) are greenhouse gases (CO2, N2O), which contribute to climate change, but not all vehicles have the same impact. He said that the level of CO2 emission by vehicles is linked to the amount of fuel consumed along with the type of fuel consumed. He said that the CO2 regulations worldwide are becoming stringent with the global commitment towards achieving better air quality.

On the other hand, during his presentation, Kale mentioned that while India has mandated new fuel efficiency norms for Light and Medium duty vehicles, which come into effect from April 2020, the fuel efficiency norm for heavy duty vehicles are still under discussion.

He further said that there were numerous technologies being considered to reduce CO2 emissions including using low carbon fuels (bio-fuels), advances in diesel engine technologies and electrification of drivetrain. Kale said that for a common technology to be incorporated to reduce CO2 across segments, "the main concentration should be on ancillary units optimisation and ICE optimisation."

Presenting the view from component major, Dr. Christian Teich applauded the journey the Indian auto industry undertook in a short span of time. He said that the industry had successfully navigated through the stress test put out in front of it.

Dr. Teich said, "The large amount of regulatory requirements and new market trends will drive technology and product adoption for India."

He explained that with the new norms, the country is looking at addressing a number of issues at one-go, despite the short three-year period for transformation. Dr Teich said Bosch in a short period had developed the necessary infrastructure and competencies. The supplier base upgraded themselves, incorporating changes in product strategy and focus on locations with a high degree of innovation and fast validation. 

Sumiya Satoshi shared his views on the topic of CO2 reduction. He explained that while it is important to appreciate the efforts taken to meet BS VI norms, it is equally important to look at the future emission requirements. He said that when it comes to CO2 reduction strategy for meeting the CAFE 2 norms, both diesel and petrol powertrains will need further development, and that's why it is important to manage BS VI introduction with RDE simultaneously.

Speaking on the after-treatment system (ATS) related countermeasures, he said while EVs do not need ATS, they would take time for successful industrialisation. On the other hand, while hybrid technology is a successful proven solution in developed markets, it is associated with a high cost. The other option for India being improving engine efficiency and vehicle improvement.

FEV India's Milap Patel said that the when one views the Indian legislative cumulative emission limits, the petrol engine turns out to be a forerunner for emission reduction, which makes them a preferred choice. As petrol engines require less complex EATS for emission control, it brings down overall cost of product development.

He further mentioned how India is on par globally with the developed parts of the world, when it comes to targeting CO2 reduction from tailpipe emission. Patel said that when one sees the recent development in technologies for reduction in CO2, GDI (gasoline direct injection system) emerges as a superior solution. Comparing MPI (multi-point injection) system with GDI, he said "The higher compression ratio in GDI leads to better thermal efficiency."  He also spoke on how the FEV had developed a CNG direct injection system for a leading European OEM.

The event not only provided the audience an interaction opportunity with the best of industry minds when it came to emission technology, but also gave a glimpse towards how each one perceives and is gearing up to play their role in the evolution of India's automotive future.