IMAGINE a future where, depending on the job to be done or the price of a fuel source, you could switch a module in your engine and shift between hydrogen, natural gas, electric or diesel combustion.
While rigorous debate about the best type of fuel technology continues, powertrain developer FPT Industrial have assumed there will be no clear winner, instead believing multiple fuels will have a place on our roads and farms depending on the situation.
FPT Industrial took the opportunity of its annual technology day, held in Turin, Italy, to launch a corporate strategy, styled the “cross industry 4.0 evolution” along with an accompanying Cursor X engine concept.
A division of CNH Industrial, parent company of Case IH, New Holland, Magirus and Iveco, FPT Industrial is arguably the largest engine company in the world, producing over 600,000 powertrains each year, equating to more then one per minute.
In agriculture, the company provides the powertrains for about 40 per cent of the grain harvesters in the world.
Speaking at the event, FPT Industrial, brand president, Annalisa Stupenego said she imagined the future of fuel technologies would be mixed, with different technologies co-existing on the market.
“Frankly I do not see a single energy solution in our future,” she said.
“The energy sources have different characteristics and answer to different needs.”
Ms Stupenego said the speed of innovation was exponentially accelerating and the 4.0 strategy spoke to the need for all FPT products to be smart and connected.
“Powertrains have become a mechanical device with a digital brain,” she said.
“The next step of this digital evolution will be represented by smart and connected powertrains.
“Connectivity will change our research, development, production and service.”
FPT Arbon research and development centre, head of basic technologies, Philip Scarth said the use of virtual validation and simulation was key to the development of innovative technologies and the 4.0 evolution.
“Traditional development methods are no longer able to cope with the higher levels of complexity reached by advanced powertrain development,” he said.
“We are further developing our simulation capabilities to create a virtual framework in which a multitude of possible variations can be validated in real-time.”
“The benefits are huge, highly complex situations and extremely accurate models bring a more robust design with reduced time to market versus traditional methods.”
Cursor X concept
FPT Industrial, head of product engineering, Pierpalol Biffali said the Cursor X concept engine epitomised the 4.0 strategy and virtual testing.
Developed by the FPT Industrial product development team in conjunction with the CNH Industrial design centre, Mr Biffali said the Cursor X was a concept of a modular engine, designed to be used with multiple power sources and for varying applications.
“It must deliver energy for traction, auxiliary systems, implements and power take offs, for any kind of industrial vehicle or machine like the engine of today,” he said.
“We don’t know details on fuel prices, infrastructure, raw material availability, any technology option should remain open.
“The module will be smart and connected, it will be a new form of artificial intelligence.”
Ms Stupenego said ultimately the consumer should expect a transition into new forms of energy.
“But do not expect it will be quick or simple, in the short-term internal combustion engines will continue to prevail in most of the industrial applications,” she said.
“We will be called to further reduce emissions, we think an increasingly important role will be played by natural gas, because this is the only green answer fully available now.
“Electric technology represents the next wave, initially we don’t see it as a real alternative, rather as a way to further improve the performance, efficiency, sustainability of the thermal solutions.”
Ms Stupenego said in the longer term, FPT saw hydrogen fuel cells as the most promising technology for industrial, heavy duty applications such as long-haul.
The author traveled to the Tech Day 2018 as a guest of FPT Industrial.
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