A UK-based low-carbon engine technology company called Controlled Power Technologies (CPT) has retrofitted an ordinary 1.4-liter VW Passat TSI with technology that boosts its fuel economy to about 50 mpg. Better yet, this kind of performance comes through the use of technology that is a lot simpler than resorting to a full hybrid setup.

The car CPT developed is part of what it calls a LC Super Hybrid programme conceived to show that significant efficiencies are available through electric hybridisation at low voltages (12 to 48 V) complemented by the major breakthrough of high-power density lead-carbon batteries.

A view of the electric supercharger.A view of the electric supercharger.The vehicle includes production-ready electric supercharger technology that French tier 1 supplier Valeo has acquired. The electric supercharger also uses switched reluctance motor-generator technology ( licensed from Nidec Corp. of Japan) not yet currently employed by the automotive industry in mass production.   The motors are relatively simple and use steel, aluminium and copper, but no permanent magnets or rare earths. The LC Super Hybrid delivers CO2 emissions of less than 130g/km compared with 140g/km for the baseline Passat 1.4-litre TSI model - generally considered an industry benchmark for fuel economy in this size of vehicle - and an even more significant reduction when compared with 160g/km for the 1.8-litre TSI model.  This represents a reduction in CO2 emissions of 8 and 23% respectively. Similarly, the 50mpg represents a 11 and 24% improvement respectively when compared with 46 mpg for the 1.4-liter TSI and 41mpg for the 1.8-litre TSI also measured over the standard European drive cycle. 

CPT  is currently focused on bringing three switched reluctance automotive technologies to market.  One, called Cobra, is a water-cooled electric supercharger for commercial vehicle and off highway applications.  SpeedStart is a water-cooled starter-motor and generator able to provide torque assist to the engine and harvest kinetic energy.  Third, CPT technology known as Tigers is a water-cooled turbine-integrated exhaust gas energy recovery system. 

CPT says brake energy that can be harvested in a car like the Passat is worth more than 60 kJ/km accumulated over the New European Drive Cycle.

 Stop-start starter (upper right) and belt tensioner.Stop-start starter (upper right) and belt tensioner.Already developed for 12 volts, the CPT SpeedStart system is a belt-driven starter-motor and generator with its control and power electronics fully integrated into the liquid cooled device. CPT says it’s also the world’s first liquid cooled switched reluctance motor-generator developed for automotive stop-start.  TheSpeedStart technology is expected to be in the next generation of cars reaching dealer showrooms in 2015. Meanwhile, CPT anticipates having a 48-V SpeedStart technology demonstrator running in 2013. Bench testing has indicated an increase in transient performance to 10 kW of generation power, depending upon system specification. And the motoring power through direct torque assist to the engine has similarly increased, though duration becomes a critical parameter. The engine breakaway torque at zero rpm can also rise to 95 Nm – enough to start even large automotive engines.

Advanced lead batteries in the car.Advanced lead batteries in the car.Also, the Passat carries special PbC lead-carbon batteries, which avoid the need for higher cost battery technologies or super-capacitors, and higher gear ratios to reduce engine speed. .

EngineeringTV.com featured the CPT Passat in coverage of the 2012 Battery show.EngineeringTV.com featured the CPT Passat in coverage of the 2012 Battery show.