Friday, 25 July 2014

Warwick University wins auto industry Hub

The new Hub location of the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) will be at the University of Warwick, site also of the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) and its chairman Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya.

 APC supports a 10-year, £1 billion industry and government commitment to the development of low carbon propulsion systems.

It is claimed the central Hub (due to open in the autumn) with a national Spoke structure will provide the UK automotive industry with resources and facilities to develop advanced propulsion systems and supply chains.

In doing so the aim of the APC, in partnership with industry, is to secure and grow over 30,000 UK jobs currently engaged in the research, development and production of vehicle powertrains as the industry transitions to a low carbon future for all modes of transportation.

APC claims an open and rigorous process selected the Hub’s location, overseen by an independent, industry-led assessment panel. The final decision was based on the requirement to have a suitable facility for rapid start-up with: Ease of access with good communication networks; access to capable skills; independence and flexibility; scope for physical expansion as the APC gains momentum; and provision for world class showcasing of UK capability in advanced technologies.

The University of Warwick is consistently ranked as one of the UK’s top research universities.  There is much automotive research activity on site, and someone, somewhere will have made a contribution to JaguarLandRover's Ingenium I4 gasoline and diesel engine family, manufacturing of which is being prepared at the i54 facility near Wolverhampton, UK. so it is a site of "wheels within wheels". Much of its automotive research is undertaken in WMG, one of the world’s leading applied technology research groups. It has been investing in automotive and propulsion research for more than 15 years and continues to grow its activities in this area. And at Warwick it is very much about 'wheels within wheels, which is why it has played its part in the development of JaguarLandRover's Ingenium engine famly.

The APC aims to help forge partnerships between those with good ideas and those who can bring them to market. The services provided by the APC will enable projects which provide profitable growth and sustainable opportunities for the partners involved and contribute to the UK’s economic prosperity, it is claimed.

The APC has already committed more than £130 million of new investment into the UK economy this year. By the end of the year an additional round of project funding will allocate up to a further £75 million as part of the “rapid action being undertaken by the APC team”.

The first round of investments by the APC was announced in April 2014 and covered four project consortia:

·       Ford and its partners receive a £13.1 million grant for a £100 million programme to upgrade the award winning EcoBoost engine, accelerating the introduction of advanced low carbon technologies to deliver improved fuel efficiency and lower emissions.
·       GKN Land Systems and its partners receive a £7.5 million grant as part of a £16 million project to apply motorsport energy recovery technology for use in buses. The Gyrodrive system is designed to save the braking energy of a bus as it slows for a stop and use it to accelerate the bus back up to speed. By avoiding wasting the energy every time a bus stops the system is projected to deliver fuel savings in the order of 25 per cent.
·       Cummins and its partners receive a £4.9 million grant for a £9.9 million project to deliver significant reductions in carbon emissions from bus engines through the development of new stop-start diesel engine technology set improve fuel consumption by 15 to 20 per cent.
·       JCB and partner Flybrid Automotive, now part of Torotrak plc, receive a £3.3 million grant as part of a £7.3 million project to apply Formula 1 technology for use in construction equipment diggers. This will reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions resulting in a substantially reduced carbon footprint for construction projects using this machinery. On average, the carbon emissions of a single 20 tonne excavator will be reduced by an estimated 16 tonnes per year.

(As an aside, and unconnected with APC, Ricardo plc’s Torqstor flywheel energy recovery system – KERS – promoted in the latest issue of the company’s RQ magazine, is said to “improve fuel economy by up to 10 per cent”. Ricardo’s vice president David Rollaston, adds: “The most important factor we believe, is that a flywheel is a totally mechanical means of storing energy, so will not have the stigma of electrical hybrid solutions, the resale value of which are sometimes severly impacted in certain markets.” It is known also that in Formula 1 fires have taken place with electrical (battery) hybrid energy recovery systems. Ricardo had pre-production prototypes available at the end of last months for OEM customers “willing to commit to working with Ricardo” to integrate the flywheel system into prototype machines. Also, and separately, Flybrid Automotive’s flywheel KERS is being installed in a WrightBus vehicle to improve fuel economy in stop-start applications.)

The Advanced Propulsion Centre was created from the collaboration between industry and government through the Automotive Council. The APC is a central pillar of the Industrial Strategy published by the Council in 2013. The Automotive Council is co-chaired by the motor industry and government. Professor Richard Parry-Jones, CBE, is Co-Chair of the Automotive Council with UK Business Secretary Vince Cable.

The University of Warwick of course welcomed the news that the APC’s Hub will be located on campus. Vice Chancellor Nigel Thrift said: “We are delighted to be selected to host the APC hub. The University of Warwick’s own commitment to a multidisciplinary research programme focused on global challenges means that we will provide not just a home but significant opportunities that will help the APC create a range of effective research partnerships.”

(As a further aside, Warwick is also the site of Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC) plc, established in 2005 as a 100 percent subsidiary of Tata Motors. TMETC's 200-strong workforce in Warwick complements Tata Motors’ skill-sets and helps provide European and international standards of delivery to the company’s passenger and light commercial vehicles. The company is an active partner in a number of low carbon technology collaborative programmes. It is also actively engaged in the design, development, assembly and commercialisation of the Vista EV and Ace EV vehicles on behalf of Tata Motors.)

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