In 2027, the fully phased-in EPA/NHTSA Phase-2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emission legislation for heavy-duty (HD) diesel engines will mandate a 5.1% reduction in fuel consumption for MY2017 tractor engines and a 4.2% reduction in fuel consumption for MY2017 vocational engines. Along with improvements in engine efficiency, manufacturers are likely to face a simultaneous challenge to achieve a significant reduction in tailpipe NOx emissions, as the ARB is expected to implement an ultra-low NOx emission standard in the 2024–27 timeframe. With this consideration, technology solutions for Phase-2 GHG will have to be NOx neutral or provide additional reduction in NOx emissions which is typically contrary to a reduction in fuel consumption.
In this study, various advanced engine technologies — such as engine downsizing and downspeeding, variable compression ratio, cylinder deactivation and turbocompounding — have been evaluated to improve engine efficiency with a goal to reach Phase-2 GHG engine requirements. Simultaneously, the impact of these technologies on engine-out NOx emission and aftertreatment inlet temperature has also been evaluated. The technologies were evaluated with a GT-Power model of a 7.7 liter medium HD diesel engine applied in vocational vehicles at steady-state operating conditions as well as over transient operating profiles. Significant fuel consumption reductions were observed with engine downsizing and engine downspeeding at the same engine-out NOx emissions as the baseline engine. Cylinder deactivation showed a moderate impact on fuel consumption while variable compression ratio and turbocompounding had a much lower impact on fuel consumption. In general, exhaust gas temperatures decreased with a reduction in fuel consumption, except in the case of cylinder deactivation where significant increase in exhaust gas temperatures was observed. The results of the study show that engine efficiency improvements beyond what has been mandated by the Phase-2 GHG regulations are possible without increasing the engine-out NOx emissions of a Phase-1 GHG compliant engine. However, if an ultra-low NOx emission standard is implemented as expected, some of the efficiency gains demonstrated in this study will need to be offset to achieve higher exhaust gas temperatures and lower engine-out NOx emissions.