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Solar thermal magazine University awarded £2.85m to develop low carbon engine technologies with Ford and Cummins

The University of Nottingham has been awarded a total of £2.85m to run two major engine related research projects for the development of new technologies in low carbon vehicles. The projects involve partnering with Ford and Cummins, both significant leaders in the field of automotive propulsion.

The projects are part of the recently announced Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), a government-industry initiative established by the Automotive Council, as the focus of a joint industry and government strategy. Its aim is to help the UK accelerate its leadership in advanced propulsion development and production.

The APC will see government and industry each invest £500 million in the sector over the next 10 years to research, develop and commercialise technologies for the vehicles of the future.

Four projects are receiving government funding as part of this APC announcement, with £18m being invested to support the research led by Ford and Cummins. Nottingham is the only university which will play a role in supporting two of the latest Advanced Propulsion Centre projects.

Helping to improve the efficiency of Ford’s EcoBoost

The Ford project, known as ACTIVE, is a collaborative R&D project centred on Ford’s award winning 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine. The project will accelerate the introduction of future-generation low carbon technologies, including advanced turbocharging, advanced combustion system development and variable valvetrain technology.

Professor Paul Shayler, Ford Professor of Mechanical Engineering at The University of Nottingham, said: “We have been working in collaboration with Ford for more than 30 years to help improve the performance of their engines. This project is another important milestone in our relationship with the company and our Engines Research Group will be involved in helping to further improve the efficiency of the EcoBoost engine.”

The second APC project which The University of Nottingham is involved with is with Cummins, a designer and manufacturer of diesel and gas engines and related technologies, including electrical power generation.

Known as FIRST, the project centres on the development of a novel, compact diesel electric propulsion system with energy recovery capability, improving fuel efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions. For operations with frequent stop-start cycles, such as buses and delivery trucks, there is an opportunity for fuel savings of up to 20 per cent.

Delivering the most advanced automotive power drivetrain
The University of Nottingham’s work will focus on its world class power conversion research to ensure the project delivers the most advanced automotive power drivetrain in the market which is compact, cost effective and reliable.

The Cummins Innovation Centre is hosted by The University of Nottingham’s Power Electronics, Machines and Control (PEMC) research group. With over 120 active researchers, it is one of the largest groups in the field and also hosts the hub of the EPSRC National Centre for Power Electronics. The APC project will consolidate the PEMC research group’s strong automotive and more electric transport research portfolio.

Christopher Gerada, Professor of Electrical Machines at The University of Nottingham, said: “We are very pleased to be part of the exciting Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) initiative. The Cummins Innovation Centre at The University of Nottingham is a UK centre of excellence in Electrical Machines and related technologies which focuses on both fundamental and applied research.

“In conjunction with our project partners Cummins, Dynex and Caslet, we will be developing cost effective and reliable electrical propulsion drivetrains, enabling significant fuel saving and emission reduction in hybrid vehicles.”

Strength of automotive propulsion research
Mike Carr, Director of Business Engagement at The University of Nottingham, added: “The fact that The University of Nottingham is partnering on two of the four APC projects that have been announced this week, demonstrates the strength of our research in automotive propulsion related technologies.

“We are looking forward to working closely with Ford and Cummins on both of these projects over the coming years, and I hope that we will also have the opportunity to work on other APC projects in the future.”

The competition was run for the APC by the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board. Apart from the consortia led by Ford and Cummins, other funding was also awarded to GKN and JCB led projects which all focus on improving fuel efficiency and reducing carbon emissions.

For more information about the services that the University provides to businesses, visit

ST Staff Writers
ST Staff Writers
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