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Whether mower or power saw, hedge trimmer or leaf blower, hand-held, motorised working tools make working in the garden easier and are thus being increasingly used. However, these applications also contribute to the global CO2 emission like passenger cars.
A consortium of scientific institutions and industrial companies meets this development and is conducting research ion the decarbonisation of small powertrains in the especially equipped ‘Research Centre for Low Carbon Special Powertrain’ (RC-LowCAP) within the next four years. Beside powertrain systems for the above-mentioned applications, drive trains for so-called personal mobility vehicles (motorcycles, quads and power-sports vehicles) and powertrains for light commercial vehicles are also put into this category.
Research on the use and influence of CO2-neutral fuels
“The use of CO2-free fuels by special powertrains is an overarching research field,” explains Stephan Schmidt from the Institute of Internal Combustion Engines and Thermodynamics at TU Graz. The leader of the consortium knows, however, that it will take “a few years until such fuels come onto the market”’. For this reason researchers are meanwhile dealing with ‘transitional fuels’, which already have a high content of CO2-neutral components and will be available earlier. “Of special interest for us are the advantages and disadvantages of these fuel mixtures with respect to conventional fuels. This allows drawing conclusions about how engines and exhaust systems have to be built in the future,” says Stephan Schmidt.
Expansion of hybrid drive technology
Research in the area of hybridisation in turn should contribute to using hybrid drive systems in small appliances and vehicles for individual mobility. There is practically no hybrid system on the market in this segment. For Schmidt, the reasons are complexity, heavy weight and excessively high costs. “Whereas the potential in the passenger car area is being slowly exhausted, there is still much more room for expansion in non-automotive powertrains.” Also, the spotlight should be increasingly shone on the use of electric powertrain components in the case of light commercial vehicles.
Development of the research and production location of Austria
In addition to application-based research, the project also comprises fuel-relevant basic research, CO2 life-cycle analyses in early development phases and basic-research relevant investigations in the areas of sensor systems and control systems.
Schmidt continues: “The COMET Project aims to strengthen the research and production location of Austria in the niche sector of special powertrain systems, increase our international reputation, and make Austria more attractive for highly qualified employees in research and development.”
At TU Graz: Institute of Internal Combustion Engines and Thermodynamics (Lead), Institute of Electrical Measurement and Measurement Signal Processing;
further scientific partners: University of Graz (Institute of Chemistry), University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria;
Company partners: AVL, BMW, BRP-Rotax, Continental-Emitec, Heraeus, OMV, Prüfrex, Stihl and Tsetinis Consulting.