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Aussie engine tech brings success

Gold award winner: The 'Over7' engine waste heat recovery system - developed at Deakin University - can reduce fuel consumption by more than seven per cent.

Deakin Uni team wins top SAE-A award and signs major deal for ‘Over7’ engine system

General News logo11 Jul 2011

AN ENGINE waste heat recovery system that can reduce fuel consumption by more than seven per cent – and which is now being developed by a car manufacturer for a new generation of powertrains – has won the gold award at the 2011 Society of Automotive Engineers - Australasia (SAE-A) Automotive Engineering Excellence Awards.

Known as ‘Over7’, the system redirects exhaust heat to rapidly bring engine oil up to its optimal operating temperature, thereby reducing warm-up times, fuel consumption and emissions.

Engine wear is also claimed to be reduced by up to 96 per cent.

Developed by a team of researchers at Deakin University led by senior lecturer Frank Will, the system has been adopted by a still-to-be-named car manufacturer for a new-generation engine series, and is being reviewed by other leading global vehicle manufacturers.

Two patent applications have been filed for ‘Over7’, which requires only small modifications to the engine lubrication system – basic piping, a valve and a new heat exchanger – and is claimed to be able to pay back the investment in less than a month if installed in the factory.

It can also potentially be sold as an aftermarket kit and is suitable for retrofits.

80 center imageLeft: Richard Dalla-Riva and Frank Will (right). Middle: The Bolwell Edge caravan. Bottom: Stephanie Radion and Michael Case.

Mr Will told GoAuto this week that he had signed a confidentiality agreement with the car-maker in question, but said “we are in the process to determine the best value-for-money configuration for their engine (and) that can vary a bit from engine to engine”.

He said the same applies for aftermarket conversions and that he was looking for a partner to develop and sell such a kit after a previous deal “with a well-known Australian company” fell through.

As well as reducing fuel consumption by more than seven per cent, tests by the researchers show that emissions can fall by up to 30 per cent.

They claim that, if Over7 is implemented in one per cent of the Australian passenger car fleet, 15 million litres of fuel and more than 36,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions will be saved each year.

The system, which heats only the ‘active’ oil in the engine lubrication system rather than all the oil in the sump, is also designed to be compatible with advanced technologies in areas such as hybrid, hi-tech diesels, bio-fuels and downsized turbocharged direct-injection engines.

Mr Will was presented with the gold award by Victorian manufacturing, exports and trade minister Richard Dalla-Riva.

GoAuto understands that further Over7 details will be revealed at the 2nd International Clean Vehicle Conference at Deakin University (Waurn Ponds campus) on September 20.

The silver award went to SMR Automotive Australia and the University of South Australia for its market-ready lightweight plastic rear-vision mirror – a program which, as GoAuto has reported, recently received $2.4 million from the federal government’s now-defunct Green Car Innovation Fund.

A branch of multinational manufacturer Samvardhana Motherson Reflectec Group, SMR Automotive Australia hopes to capture eight per cent of the global market with the new mirror, which it says will cut car fuel consumption and significantly reduce CO2 emissions.

The mirror has recently been approved by an unnamed North American customer for launch in 2012 and is being marketed to SMR customers – which include Australian car-makers – in key markets including Asia-Pacific, Europe and the US.

The bronze award went to GM Holden’s Gregory Linke for his ‘Bottleneck Indicator Tool’ (BIT) software system that aims to improve the vehicle manufacturing process.

The manager of Holden’s Virtual Manufacturing Engineering division, Mr Linke introduced his BIT software in a three-month pilot phase at the company’s assembly plant in Elizabeth, South Australia, and as a result increased production volume by 60 units a day.

The software, which builds on the ‘theory of constraints’ concept to identify bottlenecks in complex manufacturing processes, is now being considered for global deployment through General Motors, according to the SAE-A.

In other awards announced last week, a certificate of commendation was presented to Vaughan Bolwell for the Bolwell Edge Caravan – “a fully moulded fibreglass caravan combining light weight, strength and aerodynamics with the interior and outer shells bonded to create a rigid, frameless semi-monocoque unit”.

GM Holden senior engineer Stephanie Radion won the Young Engineer Award for her work as the lead seating engineer on the Chevrolet Police Patrol Vehicle export program, while second place went to Robert Bosch Australia’s Christopher Ebejer for his work on electrostatic discharge testing of electrical automotive-based components.

SAE-A judging panel chair Bill Malkoutzis noted the correlation between consumer demands for more environmentally friendly vehicles and the engineering projects entered in this year’s awards.

“Equally important, we welcomed entries based on projects designed to increase the flexibility and productivity of Australian manufacturing processes,” he said.

“This reflects Australian engineers’ ability to adapt to the increasingly competitive global vehicle manufacturing landscape.

“We know the face of the vehicle industry is changing with local manufacturing shrinking and imports increasing to over 80 per cent of Australia’s one million vehicle sales a year.

“Even imports of components have now increased to 44 per cent of all parts used in Australian-made vehicles.”

The judging panel is drawn from the automotive industry and engineering academia. As well as Mr Malkoutzis, who is an engineering consultant, this year’s judges included retired Ford Motor Company international executive engineer David Ford, DVExperts director Shane Richardson, RMIT University’s Prof Simon Watkins and Melbourne University’s Prof Harry Watson.

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