The problem of air pollution is today considered an apparent threat to the existence of all living creatures in the environment. Within the automotive industry, all stakeholders are investing serious efforts and money to address the increasing concern about air quality, through innovations in the areas of powertrain electrification and cleaner emission technologies. Faurecia, the global leader in automotive seating, interior systems and clean mobility, is one such company that is walking the talk to ensure a cleaner world.
In Delhi recently to sign a partnership with Clean Air Asia (CAA) to explore effective technology solutions to improve air quality and enhance industry awareness of clean city solutions, we met with Nicolas Franc De Ferriere, Asia Pacific Division LVE Product Line & CBU Director, Faurecia to know more.
Until recently, Faurecia was heavily reliant on internal combustion engines, but has now become powertrain agnostic. The idea is to have content for all types of powertrains, depending on specific demands from different markets/ regions. In fact, the Nanterre, France-headquartered company is undergoing a transformation. A year back, Faurecia Emission Control Technologies decided to change its name to Faurecia Clean Mobility to reflect its updated strategy, which essentially is to address the entire future mobility value chain. Clearly, the company wants electrification to be an opportunity, not a threat.
In recent times, the company has announced several new investments outside its traditional exhaust business, across multiple vehicle segments. For light vehicles, the company has identified fuel cells as a promising new opportunity, and has forged partnerships to drive growth in that area. With STELIA Aerospace Composites, Faurecia will develop and manufacture fuel cell tanks for electric vehicles. The company has acquired an exclusive access to the intellectual property and process know-how of composite hydrogen tanks from STELIA. The STELIA partnership, claims the company, complements the company’s investment in Ad-Venta for the development of high-pressure hydrogen tanks and compact valves.
It also signed a five-year agreement with the CEA (French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission) to collaborate in a R&D programme of fuel cell stack technologies. Faurecia expects to benefit from the CEA’s research and expertise in fuel cell stacks and key components such as bipolar plates. With Faurecia’s expertise in fluid dynamics and catalysis, the combined entity expects to develop, mass-produce and commercialise a high performance fuel cell stack that will meet auto industry expectations.
Faurecia’s 91.5 % acquisition of the Danish company, Amminex, is particularly interesting. Amminex’s Ammonia Storage and Delivery System (ASDS) has demonstrated its efficiency to almost completely eliminate nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollutants from diesel engines in passenger or commercial vehicles. ASDS, in essence, is a new generation selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology that uses pure ammonia stored in solid form in the vehicle. This solution substantially improves air quality by treating NOx emissions more efficiently in particular at low temperatures (below 180° C). It releases pure ammonia in gaseous form into the exhaust line within two minutes, converting NOx into non-polluting nitrogen and water even in winter conditions.
Faurecia, in fact, equipped hundreds of buses in Copenhagen and London with ASDS, and the results have been very encouraging for the company. Ferriere said the solution helped reduce NOx emissions in those cities by as much as 99 % on over 15 mn km of real-world use on buses, as compared to buses on the same streets using AdBlue, which resulted in an average of 32 % NOx reduction only. Seoul is the next city Faurecia is looking at experimenting with this solution.
For effective monitoring of the NOx reduction, the company has also developed a digital application called the NOx Tracker. This app gives one the ability to see in real time the emissions from all the buses and trucks fitted with the ASDS system, and monitor all relevant parameters. Ferriere said the company is also trying to expand the offer into having the ability to measure more than NOx, with multi-gas sensors. It isn’t easy to monitor particulate matter (PM) emissions in real time, he said, but confirmed Faurecia is evaluating the best solution possible to monitor PM as well.
THE CAA PARTNERSHIP
Faurecia’s partnership with CAA is focused on three key aspects across Asia. The ‘Clean Cities Initiative’ looks at utilising CAA’s extensive regional air quality network and its years of experience in guiding national and city-level air pollution reduction, while Faurecia will provide its leading air quality management solutions; Secondly, the ‘Clean Fleets Initiative’ will see Faurecia bring its expertise in eco-driving and emissions reduction solutions to support CAA’s Green Freight and Logistics Program. The final aspect is that of ‘communication’, where both organisations are committed to facilitate multi-stakeholder actions to manage air pollution at the city level. We want to be part of the ecosystem.
To ensure air quality management is effective, Faurecia and CAA are exploring the possibility of providing robust monitoring through sensors and software, and will firm-up concrete steps on what needs to be done in India and other markets.
India provides Faurecia with a significant opportunity in digital apps like the NOx Tracker, believes Ferriere – either as an OE fitment or as a retrofit solution. The partnership with CAA will build a foundation to understand the market needs, which will then be used to develop specific solutions for the market. It will logically start with diagnostics, he said, having the ability to measure air quality and develop emissions reduction solutions to improve it. The other opportunity clearly is in the retrofit market, he said.
TEXT: Deepangshu Dev Sarmah