• Apr 3rd 2008 at 8:49AM
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Controlled Power Technology's Variable Torque Enhancement System (VTES) is currently being shown off in Stuttgart, Germany. According to Guy Morris, engineering director and chief technical officer, "From an idea first conceived in the year 2000, this technology has been progressively developed to the point where it is now a mature well-proven second-generation design, ready to be adopted by carmakers."

VTES can be useful for diesel engines as a near instant air supply to deliver a quick blast of torque with minimal particulate emissions, which could allow for more specific power and the downsizing of the diesel particulate filter (DPF). Additionally, for both gasoline and diesel applications, VTES would allow a smaller engine to behave like a much larger one for quick acceleration when necessary, while still allowing low fuel-consumption the rest of the time.

The technology which makes the VTES system possible centers around highly efficient 'switched reluctance' electric motors, which can run on the vehicle's standard 12 volt power system. In the future, the VTES system can provide the air supply for fuel cell electric vehicles, but what could be even more promising is "the potential for energy recovery during throttled operation of gasoline engines," according to Morris, "The motor can switch to generator mode almost instantly, the compressor can be configured as a 'cold air' induction turbine with efficiencies of more than 50 per cent being possible, while power levels greater than 150W can be readily generated at 14 volts." Lots more information is available in the press release after the break, but extra power, along with lower emissions sounds like a win-win scenario to us.

Press Release:

Controlled Power Technologies says supercharging is the answer to ever smaller engines

At a high level international automotive conference in Stuttgart this week Controlled Power Technologies will present the benefits of an innovative electric supercharging system developed for the smaller more fuel-efficient engines being progressively introduced by carmakers to reduce vehicle CO2 emissions.

CPT's Variable Torque Enhancement System (VTES), which utilises 'switched reluctance' technology, is ready for high volume production and can be applied cost-effectively to all types of gasoline and diesel engines including those already turbocharged.

For diesel engines, a near instant air supply enables delivery of high transient torque with minimal particulate emissions, offering potential for significant diesel particulate filter (DPF) downsizing. The technology also provides potential for energy recovery during throttled operation on gasoline engines and can provide the air supply for future fuel cell electric vehicles currently under development by the motor industry.

Guy Morris, engineering director and chief technical officer, will present CPT's new technology to an expert audience attending the Advanced Charging & Downsizing Concepts Congress being held at Steigenberger Graf Zeppelin in Stuttgart, Germany. The three-day international assembly of automotive engineers takes place on Monday 31 March through to Wednesday 2 April 2008.

"From an idea first conceived in the year 2000 this technology has been progressively developed to the point where it is now a mature well-proven second-generation design, ready to be adopted by carmakers," said Morris. "Uniquely the supercharger utilises a switched reluctance motor - a technology that is well-proven in other industry sectors but has yet to be applied by the automotive industry."

From the outset this new-type of electric motor - applied in this instance as a supercharger with other applications to follow - has been developed with the close involvement of carmakers in order to meet stringent automotive industry standards and vehicle manufacturer requirements.

"Seven years on and we've reached the final stage of product development and production readiness," says Morris. "The system offers a high level of vehicle performance because of the significant torque enhancement it delivers at low engine speeds. The switched reluctance motor, which operates using existing 12-volt electrical systems, is both highly efficient and responsive.

"Carmakers are especially attracted to the low level of engineering effort when applying the technology and in particular the minimal production investment required. It's a small compact system with fully integrated electronics that's easy to install – it's virtually plug and play.

"For the motorist it simply means having the economy of a small engine with the performance of a big engine. For example, in a high gear there is typically a 40 per cent reduction in 70-100kph (45-65mph) acceleration times. This is worth around seven seconds in a 1.2-litre car with a six-speed gearbox.

"When optimised, VTES can dramatically increase the engine air charge density over the first 10 combustion cycles of a low speed transient operation, hence enabling real improvements in both torque and emissions performance, where it matters most.

"Looking ahead, this technology also has the potential for energy recovery during throttled operation of gasoline engines. The motor can switch to generator mode almost instantly, the compressor can be configured as a 'cold air' induction turbine with efficiencies of more than 50 per cent being possible, while power levels greater than 150W can be readily generated at 14 volts.

"For fuel cell applications we're looking at a 2-stage high voltage (240+ volts) concept delivering approximately 4kW of stabilised power offering a more compact, lower mass and lower noise system than other solutions."

Controlled Power Technologies was created a year ago as a management buy-in funded by venture capital and recently completed the acquisition of its portfolio of production-ready solutions to the problem of automotive CO2 reduction. The company comes with the backing of a highly experienced team of automotive engineers and is funded by a number of prominent investors specialising in the energy and environmental sectors.

In addition to its production ready electric supercharger, CPT's family of low carbon powertrain related products includes an application ready stop-start system now moving close to production readiness, and an exhaust energy recovery system in an advanced stage of development.

The originality in all the products is that they utilise highly efficient 'switched reluctance' electric motors; an as yet untapped technology for the automotive sector, but widely used in many other industry sectors for their robustness and reliability.

"Switched reluctance motors are well suited to the requirements of the automotive industry," says Morris. "They can be produced for high volume series production at very low cost; they are manufactured mostly from easy-to-recycle steel and aluminium and avoid the use of exotic, expensive and heat sensitive materials. These compact motors are easy to package and offer excellent energy efficiency and controllability."

Controlled Power Technologies has secured an exclusive license from Switched Reluctance Drives Limited to develop its unique electric motor technology for the automotive sector. SR Drives is a UK company based in Harrogate and wholly owned subsidiary of Emerson Electric Company. A major multinational corporation headquartered in St Louis, Missouri, USA, Emerson is a Fortune 500 company providing engineering services and innovative solutions for customers in a wide range of industrial, commercial and consumer markets and is one of the largest engineering and conglomerate companies in the world.

[Source: CPT]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      150W ain't crap. That's less than 1/4HP. Even an electric leaf blower is 4x more powerful than that. Try aiming one at your air intake on your car. Feel the increase in power? Me neither.

      For a supercharger to have a meaningful effect, it's going to have to make a lot more effort. I would think perhaps 5% of the engine output is a good start (so a supercharger on a 200HP engine is taking about 10HP for itself).
      • 7 Years Ago
      @ Chris -

      using a compressor as a cold air turbine means it acts as a throttle, so the butterfly valve can stay wide open.

      The idea was initially floated as a way to keep turbo shaft speed high even when idling. The caveat is that you have to add ducts to reverse the air flow direction while in cold turbine mode.

      Of course, it could also be applied to an electrically powered centripetal supercharger. However, note that the press release only states that the *motor* can easily be put into generator mode, i.e. that the power electronics support two-quadrant operation. You still need that additional ductwork to exploit this feature.

      Btw, note that even with efficient switched reluctance drives, a 12V system cannot deliver a whole lot of boost power. Unfortunately, car makers are loath to increase system voltage unless there is a hybrid drive involved.

      Moreover, regular SLI lead-acid batteries could not support a centripetal compressor for extended periods, so you'd quickly end up with a series hybrid configuration involving the usually very inefficient alternator. This is much less of an issue if the engine also features a turbo and the electric compressor is only used in transient mode to mask its lag. Even then, an AGM lead-acid or better battery would probably be a good idea.
      • 7 Years Ago
      A car will have roughly a 80-100A alternator. That's only 1.2KW, far less than the 2KW you state here.

      Anyway, 2KW is still only 3HP. It's not going to produce a lot of boost with only 3HP of power. That's like blowing a shop vac into your engine. Surely no worse than a leaf blower, but you won't get a significant increase in air in the cylinders.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Pretty cool. http://www.b2belectricsupercharger.com/
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think the practical application seems to be low RPM power boost where it has a chance to push enough air (since the don't supply any flow or RPM numbers).

      Seems to me the PR spin here is that it can become a generator. I see this as saying, once the engine is requesting more air than we can push, it starts pulling us and we convert that pull into electricity. The pull here is an extra strain on the intake side of the ICE and in my opinion not the best place to get it.

      I'm not sure how efficient this device is but I guess it's more efficient than spinning a normal supercharger ALL the time. As for turbos, I always fancied that there is plenty exhaust pressure to go around and that's why they tend to have less parasitic loss than a standard SC. There is the issue of lag on the turbo side though whereas this device would be almost instant on. Greater minds chime in, please.

      All in all, I think the win/goal here is technology that allows for smaller engines...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Guys if this is used to power a turbine with something like a starter motor but only when climbing a hill or passing someone then it has to be a winner. You can stall a leaf blower by just holding the fan but if that leaf blower was being powered by a starter motor or something of equivelent power then you would wind up with shredded fingers. As this would only be used in short bursts then your average alternator and battery would be more than capable to run this supercharger just as they are capable of starting your car. I can't wait to get my hands on one.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Sounds like a really good idea if it works out well in practice. A super-charger than you can turn off so it doesn't impact fuel economy when just cruising.

      I wonder what tradeoffs it has compared to a normal Super/Turbo charger. Naturally a company PR is going to give the upside but there are always tradeoffs.

      • 7 Years Ago
      @why not the LS2/LS7 -

      the 150W figure refers to the power *generated* in cold turbine mode when idling.

      In boost mode, the device will surely consume a lot more than that, though 12V electrical systems tend to max out at ~2kW sustained - any more and the insulation on the wires starts to melt. The alternator usually isn't set up to deliver much more, either. As a way to mask transient turbo lag, it might be good enough.

      If the objective is aggressive downsizing (for fuel economy) with unchanged rated power and throttle response, you need something that is driven directly by the engine. Using an internal EVT so you can use an efficient centripetal compressor instead of a less efficient - and expensive Roots design is a good idea that is independent of the vehicle's electrical grid.

      • 7 Years Ago
      The big advantage for this "electro-charger" would be near instant response, no "turbo lag" and very fine speed/power control.

      Still, 12 volt operation puts a limit on power available, that was chosen only because all cars have it. A higher voltage system would likely perform better.

      The obvious idea to provide most of the extra electrical power the electro-charger needs would be an exhaust driven turbo-generator.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Haven't we seen these things on eBay and YouTube and laughed at them? Some guy that bolted a leafblower to his Civic or whatever? I suppose it can be done right, though. Unlike a turbo, this wouldn't be able to help / keep up at high RPM. But at low RPM, it certainly would give you some more toruqe.
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