In less than a decade, China has become a world leader in motor vehicle sales and production, prompting the Chinese Government to impose strict vehicle and fuel standards to maintain air quality. 1
This has created opportunities for Perth-based engine and vehicle systems company Orbital, which is helping Chinese manufacturer Chang'an Automobile develop low-emission, four-cylinder petrol engines. The project aims to modify the existing Chang'an engine to meet a Chinese Government requirement for car manufacturers to reduce their CO2 emissions by 20 per cent over 2009 levels by 2012.
While Orbital could deliver the most of the targeted CO2 reduction comparatively easily with its FlexDI™ system, however the last few per cent were only possible with technological breakthroughs in how the system was matched and integrated with other technologies and control algorithms.
Orbital's patented air-assisted direct injection technologies enable low emission engines to run on small drops of vapourised fuel.
"In June 2011, our support team went to China to demonstrate to Chang'an that our technologies could help it meet its target," Nicholas Coplin, Orbital's Manager for the Chang'an project, says. "In July, Chang'an replicated our results in its own testing and passed a review by the Chinese authorities."
In 2009–10, Orbital was awarded around $440,000 through the Australian Government's Green Car Innovation Fund to support its research and development activity, supplementing Orbital's own $2 million-plus investment.
The grant also enabled Orbital to recruit two graduate engineers specialising in engine management system development.
"It was a sound investment in smart technologies with considerable export potential," Coplin says. "The cost of development is a huge burden on us. Cooperation between government and industry is key to developing technically advanced products in Australia."
"We are now entering the project's next stage which aims to ensure that Chang'an follows through on the technical achievement and becomes a commercial success," Coplin says.
1 F Fung, H He, B Sharpe, F Kamakaté, K Blumberg, 2011, Overview of China's Vehicle Emission Control Program, International Council on Clean Transportation, Executive Summary, page 1.