Creating a new diesel engine for professional use is a delicate balancing act. The engine has to comply with the strict emission regulations and offer improved fuel economy while still having a good, responsive feel when working. How does AGCO Power tackle these challenges – along with a few others? We asked from the experts.
Engineering Department Lead Markus Iivonen has been working at AGCO Power with EAT (exhaust aftertreatment) for 14 years. He says that for years, the development team as well as the product development timelines have been tied by one thing: emission regulations.
“Each time the limits get stricter, it gives us an interesting engineering challenge: how to cut down emissions while keeping the customer experience at least as good as before or preferably even better?”, he says. “It’s important to weigh in the demands from different directions.”
From injection to exhaust
One of the key elements to combining good and responsive engine performance with low emissions is the good exhaust aftertreatment system.
“The better the exhaust gas is cleaned, the more freedom we get to adjust the engine parameters for optimal performance”, Markus says. “Much of it boils down to a choice of aftertreatment system components and a smart way of controlling it.”
In the long run, optimizing the engine fuel injection system as well as the combustion process have been efficient ways to reduce emissions and fuel consumption. But according to Markus, the engine and the aftertreatment system must increasingly work seamlessly together.
“Controlling the system as a whole with optimized models is the key”, he says. “We can make the engine control more accurate and adjustable to different operating conditions to support the aftertreatment system performance.”
Besides engine, there are less obvious ways to improve the fuel economy and reduce emissions – as well as working time.
“On the AGCO corporate level, we can optimize not only the engine but the entire machine control system”, Markus points out. “We can make the most out of the working hours and soil use – for example, by making sure the same spot of the field is not plowed twice.”
From simulation to test bench
There are still many ways left to raise the engine efficiency without compromising usability.
“We always have something new up our sleeve”, Markus grins. “We improve performance step by step – and sometimes start from scratch to create something completely new for future needs.”
Luckily, not every idea must be tried with a working engine. “Simulation is an excellent way to choose which concepts are put into practical tests in a lab”, Markus says. “We have invested in increased computational power to enable more accurate simulations.”
The power of collaboration
As one of the key development partners of AGCO in emission control, Proventia has been working in close collaboration with AGCO Power for nearly 15 years. Proventia’s emission control engineering, testing and component sourcing has enabled fast and efficient development of aftertreatment systems.
“We take care of the integration and structures of the exhaust line, letting AGCO Power to concentrate on the engine, catalyst technology and controls of the system,” says Arno Amberla, Technology Director at Proventia. “AGCO’s standards are very high, always demanding more efficiency in smaller space, and we live up to those demands.”
Proventia’s expertise in exhaust lines results in more efficient heat insulation and smaller space consumption. The efficient insulation enables better fire safety and enables the catalytic converters to work more efficiently due to hotter exhaust gas temperature inside the aftertreatment system. The small size improves the usability of the machine.
“Proventia’s role is to make the products as invisible as possible to the end user – no service, no obstruction, they just work,” Amberla sums it up. “Not having to worry about the exhaust systems enables the users do their job better.”
What comes after diesel?
Account Manager Heikki Hihnala from AGCO Power knows the engine market inside out. He believes there is plenty of life left in the diesel engine, but the research for future fuels is also done in many fronts.
“Every alternative has its upsides and downsides”, Heikki says. “It’s also hard to make any long-term decisions when the legislation isn’t consistent, so we must have many development lines active at the same time.”
Besides politics, also the engine pricing is a factor. “Every improvement comes with a cost”, Heikki reminds. “The engine application also defines, whether the costs will come mostly from purchasing the machine or using it.”
A cleaner future
Despite insecurities, the megatrend is clear to both Heikki and Markus.
“Everybody wants their children to have clean air to breathe”, Heikki says. “And everybody wants to reduce greenhouse emissions. We try to make good decisions for tomorrow”.
Markus agrees and reminds that great progress has already been made. “With the emission-reduction-driven engine development, there have been some unexpected bonuses,” he smiles, “such as lower noise levels and reduced smell of the exhaust gas. New engineering challenges will come – and we are prepared for them.”