Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


z-BURN Report Summary

Project ID: 781947

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - z-BURN (Zero-Emission Catalytic Burner for heating in Electric and Hybrid Vehicles)

Reporting period: 2017-07-01 to 2017-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Problem: With the proliferation of electric powertrains, a crucial problem is created, especially in cold climates as there is very little waste heat to be used for heating. Automotive vehicle heating is an important point of consideration when designing a vehicle, but commonly both the efficiency and emissions implications of heating solutions are overlooked. For Electric Vehicles (EV), many OEMs must install auxiliary heater unit (which are either fuel-burning or electric) to accelerate the heating of the cabin. This need is much more acute across alternate powertrain vehicles - Electric Vehicles (EV) such as Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV), Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV), Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV).
It is not only about passenger comfort, but cold climates also affect vehicle performance in terms of reduced efficiencies for both conventional ICE (Internal Combustion Engines) and EVS. The fuel efficiency of conventional ICEs can drop by up to 22% and those for PHEV/HEV can drop by up to 34%. The range of BEVs can drop by up to 60% in cold temperatures of -7°C (which are common rather than extreme) compared to standard temperature of 25°C. For example, a Nissan Leaf with a certified range of 84 miles can be completely depleted in just 36 miles in cold temperatures.
A potential solution is to run an electric heater but as the power source is shared (the same battery used to power the electric motor is used to power the heater), the driving range on a single charge is vastly reduced and aggravate the cold temperature performance drop-off rate.
Conventional Auxiliary fuel-operated heaters avoid reducing electric range, but as these are fuel-operated they increase the vehicle emissions. Recent changes to emissions monitoring and regulations such as the Real Driving Emissions (RDE) testing, now take into account all aspects of the vehicle and various driving conditions in all-year round temperatures when measuring emissions. These new tests in combination with the strict emissions targets, are forcing OEMs to take action to improve efficiency.
This is also a core problem in the commercial truck market – until recently, truck regulations on emissions were scant. However, trucks must meet Euro VI emissions standards at present, and from 2019 must meet even stricter post Euro VI standards. From 2019, a number of tools and tests will be implemented for trucks to monitor CO2 emissions – this will also consider all aspects of driving from low to high load and hot and cold temperatures. A new tool VECTO (Vehicle Energy consumption Calculation Tool) will take account of all components and variables when calculating emissions and efficiency. This will mean that all the systems implemented to achieve Euro VI standards such as SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) which uses chemicals (Urea) to reduce NOx emissions from truck exhaust gases. However, while these have proven useful for Euro VI – these systems need to be made more efficient in all driving conditions to meet post Euro VI standards required from 2019.

The z-BURN project focuses on commercialising our novel solution to the problems described above. We have developed a novel burner that uses catalytic combustion which offers a clean, flame-less and complete combustion. Our burner can be fuelled with any liquid fuels including biofuels and boasts a superior efficiency rate and achieves zero emissions. Our burner can be used in automotive heaters – to avoid the increase in emissions from using off-the-shelf auxiliary heater and to avoid the rapid battery depletion caused by electric auxiliary heaters. For passenger vehicles, z-BURN offers a world-beating solution that can minimize the impact of cold climates on passenger comfort and vehicle performance. For commercial vehicles, z-BURN provides a solution across multiple applications: cabin heating, battery heating as well as heating of exhaust aftertreatment systems.
The overall objective of this Phase 1 Pr

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

This Phase 1 action has allowed us to push the commercial aspects of z-BURN forward. We now have a more robust, sound and well-informed view of the market opportunity that has enabled us to develop a well-thought out strategy for commercialisation.
Specifically, we have:
• Undertaken a robust review of xEV and PHEV markets. Before the project, we assumed that PHEVs would provide the best opportunity and following the market review we are convinced that this remains the case. We reviewed multiple sources of market data to understand all opinions on market growth. After careful review of data sources such as Frost and Sullivan, Bloomberg and others – we are confident that the market for PHEVs will continue to grow until an inflection point is reached, whereby growth of BEVs will surpass. This is estimated to happen between 2025-2030. We have identified the Total Available Market (PHEVs) as ~17m units over 7-years of which ~6.1m units are our Serviceable Available Market. We have completed voice of customer with over 5 Large Global OEM Groups and a number of Tier 1 Suppliers. This VoC has also enabled us to identify a brand new and lucrative opportunity that was not on the radar at all – trucks. Just through one OEM, we have an opportunity for ~70-100k z-BURN units per annum. This has informed our market strategy will which focus on PHEVs and Trucks across Europe, North America and then the APAC region in the long term.
• Completed a review of the legislation surrounding emissions and vehicle efficiency as these are key enforcers of EV adoption. We have understood that CO2 emission targets for passenger vehicles are to get stricter and increasingly many countries will ban the use of conventional ICE vehicles in inner cities – many countries have announced timelines to enforce a full switch to EVs. The legislation for both passenger cars and trucks is becoming more robust – with emissions tests to focus on the entire vehicle including components and various driving cycles. These changes are spurring OEMs into action.
• Completed a manufacturing investigation which has highlighted that the most optimal choice to implement is a contract manufacture model. This allows Zemission to remain lean and agile and ensure that we can have full control of the market opportunity and sales of z-BURN. However, a license and royalty model may be needed for OEMs that require large volumes as they may wish to select their own manufacturers. These cases will be rare but will be negotiated to ensure that Zemission can still supply core components.
• Developed a thorough understanding of the required supply chain and we have already kicked-off discussions with suppliers that can have capacity for up to 1m unit/annum which is far beyond the immediate accessible opportunities.
• Undertaken a review of the Intellectual Property and protection measure in place for our Key IP and knowledge.
• Created a business plan that builds on the newly acquired intel from our core prospective customers and includes a robust and realistic forecast.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

This action has enabled to progress our preparations for commercialisation, and we are now aiming to use our in-depth knowledge to design a project to complete the required activities to productionise z-BURN for the automotive market. This project plan will form the basis of our SME Instrument Phase 2 project. By the end of this compete action, we will have:
• Completed all productionisation of the core z-BURN technology;
• Completed and developed the control software that is central to the novelty of z-BURN that can integrate directly into the ECU;
• Implemented the z-BURN into live demonstrator vehicles to gather in-depth and validated performance data to verify the expected benefits;
• Introduced the full z-BURN concept to the market place through the dissemination of our technology and project results at industry leading events.
Wider Benefits
Vehicle emissions have been core to the issue of climate change. Emissions reduction has been on the agenda for many years, with numerous legislations introduced to enforce Vehicle OEMs to reduce vehicle emissions in order to adhere to more and more stringent legislative standards.
Worsening air quality by vehicle emissions is an issue that is both widely reported and researched. Research by the World Health Organisation has identified a strong link between outdoor air pollution and a variety of cardiovascular diseases. WHO have also identified that PM pollution is highly carcinogenic and closely linked to increases in incidences of lung cancer. Official statistics from the European Environment Agency, show that air pollutants are responsible for 491,000 premature deaths across the EU-28. The most deaths are across Continental Europe – France (52,600); Germany (72,000); Italy (84,400) Poland (47,300). The ‘mortality burden’ of London air pollution is the equivalent of 9,500 people per year. NOX and PM are emissions that are most detrimental to health. Even though legislations have targeted these emissions, the current testing cycles have meant that only tailpipe emissions are measured and monitored. This allows auxiliary devices such as fuel-heaters to fly ‘under-the-radar’ and not be held to any specific legislations. In some cases, this has led to fuel-heaters with higher emissions than the entire vehicle.
z-BURN addresses these issues as it can be described as a zero-emission burner. The novel catalytic combustion results in complete combustion with a flameless process, delivering extremely low emissions, which would meet any future emission legislation. z-BURN also enables improved battery performance in PHEVs/BEVs. z-BURN removes the need to use an electric heater as the z-BURN heater can be operated efficiently to ensure that the vehicle emissions do not exceed limits under RDE regulations. The most important deciding factor for new purchasers of EVs is the achievable range. Replacing electric heaters with a z-BURN heater completely removes the risk of rapid battery depletion and allows for maximum range to be obtained.
Also, z-BURN is a multi-fuel burner and can be operated with a number of liquid fuels including bio-fuels. This flexibility in fuel means that if the burner uses bioethanol or bio-diesel, it results in z-BURN being CO2 neutral. z-BURN offers a way to remove the reliance on fossil-fuels for auxiliary heaters, with a beneficial caveat that means even if fossil fuels are used it is with ultra-high efficiency and ultra-low emissions.

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