Is ECT Extinct?

Decoding Technology December 2018 Emission Control Technologies
Is ECT Extinct?

Emissions Control Technologies (ECT) could have gone extinct if the predictions of conventional powertrains going extinct would have materialised. Nevertheless, the reality of the mobility industry is that vehicles with various fuels and powertrains will continue to co-exist for customers in different regions of the world meeting varying demands and regulatory norms.

The emission norms’ evolution has changed the paradigm of development and integration of ECT with vehicles in the ecosystem. The technologies, though different for gasoline and diesel vehicles or the variants of their fuels, are more carbon footprint-friendly and better positioned to reduce vehicle CO2. Diesel powertrains on the other hand, have a challenge of particulate matter, which is deciding the fate of their existence in the different markets, irrespective of the type of ECT deployment.

The ECT components and the sub-systems are more compact, lighter and their conversion efficiency is growing with every new generation of vehicles and fuels. To support their development and deployment, the fuels have changed tremendously too, for example the low and ultra-low sulphur content fuels for diesel technologies.

Critics of conventional vehicles are of the opinion that the recyclability, packaging, extra weight, thermal management, activation strategy, controls and integration of the ECT is not required in XEVs, since these vehicles are e-motor operated. The claim of cost and weight savings could be true to an extent but on the contrary the additional hardware in XEVs does not seem to hold that argument. The XEVs though without ECT have different challenges and opportunities.

EMISSION REDUCTION

In the realm of today’s global and local ecosystem, the measure of the success of an ECT is its ability to reduce tail pipe emissions to the lowest possible quantity with minimal cost and minimal weight addition to the vehicle. The opportunity for the mobility fraternity is to be able to standardise and develop components with a deployment matrix that is transferable between these two powertrains.

Current ECT is not transferable between gasoline and diesel vehicles due to their architectural aspects and electronic strategies. This could result in enormous cost savings through vehicle integration, of course in addition to logistics, warehousing and shipping costs, and operational savings through manpower and training to enhance skillsets.

CHALLENGES

The challenge in ECT progression is in finding and deploying skillsets that have cross-domain engineering knowledge that can holistically review and integrate a systems’ approach, though the basic building blocks exist with skillsets. The software and tools exist and have rapidly evolved to bring in adaptability, and simulate various heat maps, triggering strategies with different sequential component placements that are unique to different vehicle platforms.

The other challenge for ECT is to keep up with varying and new emission norms that have the ability to overlap OEM vehicle development and launch plans. With each change comes a big cost to the OEM that is passed on to the customer. Simultaneously, every ECT is challenged to be affordable and flexible enough to be ready to meet the next generation of emission norms. The balancing act to support the current range of vehicles’ norms and be on the forefront of meeting stringent emission norms is an interesting journey.

ECT, in its evolution, is more focssed today to carbon-friendly strategies and to contribute to OEMs achieving lower carbon footprint. Their development is synchronised with the development of powertrain technologies and embedded in the vehicle short-term and long-term launch strategies. They are continually challenged to be affordable and to bring in sustainability for the customer and OEM.