The NOx and Particulate Matter emission standards are becoming more stringent by the day, forcing auto makers to effect technology improvements into the automobile designs. There is an increasing need to curb emission levels and to take up the levels of total system performance while keeping a check on the costs incurred. Exhaust aftertreatment technology avoids the release of harmful emissions which are generated from the combustion process, into the atmosphere, contributing to a cleaner emission. Most of the modern cars are equipped with catalytic converters which filter and clean the exhaust gases by creating chemical reactions which reduce the levels of harmful emissions. Automobiles which use Diesel engines feature a Diesel Particulate Filter which filters the harmful particulate matter from the exhaust. Mercedes-Benz
GL class features a Blue Tec diesel powertrain which uses injections of AdBlue, the urea solution to break harmful nitrogen oxides in the exhaust into nitrogen and water.
A stop-start system automatically shuts down and restarts the internal combustion engine in an automobile to reduce idling, contributing to fuel efficiency and reduced emissions. The feature, most helpful in case of traffic jams, switching off the engine, avoiding wastage of fuel and by stopping the noise generated. The engine seamlessly restarts when it is time to move on. The technology, employed mostly in hybrid electric vehicles, benefits to the extent of 5-10% in case of non-electric vehicles. Citroen has used the technology in its C2 and C3 superminis during 2006 after which the technology has been used by other car makers including the Vauxhall Corsa ecoFLEX. Honda Motors has used the technology during the last decade and has used it in its PCX 125 CC scooters which is sold in Europe from 2010.
Brake Energy Regeneration
The name of the technology itself indicates the utility of employing it. The brake energy regeneration system automatically switches an electric motor into a generator as the vehicle slows down. Whenever a vehicle brakes, coasts or decelerates, the braking energy is absorbed to recharge the batteries, increasing the range of the automobile. It is a well known fact that using the brakes too much causes wastage of valuable fuel, though it cannot be helped at times. The brake energy regeneration system is used extensively by the hybrid cars
. Formula One cars use the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System), which uses a similar technology, storing energy to provide power boost for a short time. The technology, when employed in a non-hybrid road car, is sometimes referred to as micro-hybrids, though the stored power is not used for driving.
Aerodynamics is a branch of dynamics which studies the motion of air, especially when it interacts with a moving object. The word is used synonymously with gas dynamics or fluid dynamics. The aerodynamics employed in a car impacts the comfort levels and fuel efficiency in a big way, encouraging car makers to use it extensively in their latest offerings. The pressure on the engine can be reduced when a car is designed with a low aerodynamic drag, giving enhanced fuel efficiency. Active aerodynamics with spoilers that extend close the grille vents at certain speeds, improving efficiency and stability.
Car makers are extensively working on reducing the weight by using lightweight materials to enhance fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. Lightweight high-strength materials reduce the weight of the cars without compromising on the cost, performance, safety and reliability and re-cyclability. As the car makers enhanced the luxury features in their offerings, it was seen that the cars grew bigger and heavier, reducing fuel efficiency. The regulations necessitating adoption of environment friendly technology however has changed the focus of car makers, shifting to lighter versions without compromising on the quality and cutting out the weight. Manufacturers are experimenting with light weight materials including aluminum, carbon fibre and carbonfibre reinforced plastic in the expensive models like the McLaren MP4-12 C super car. The 2006 Chevy Corvette effected 34% weight reduction by using a Magnesium engine cradle instead of an aluminum one.