European carmakers are eyeing technology that promises cleaner, simpler and less expensive diesel engines.
By mid-2007, diesel cars equipped with pressure-sensing glow plugs that will bring dramatic reductions in NOx (oxides of nitrogen) emissions are expected to hit the road. Proponents hope the devices may even allow designers to dispense with bulky and costly NOx aftertreatment systems.
German supplier Beru and other suppliers, including a Siemens VDO/Federal-Mogul collaboration, are developing pressure-sensing glow plug systems.
The devices will "open new doors in diesel engine operation" as automakers prepare for strict new diesel-emission laws in Europe and the United States, said Michael Weissbaeck, a diesel specialist at AVL, a powertrain engineering company in Austria.
"The real driver for this is the U.S. market," Weissbaeck told Automotive News Europe, which, like Automotive News, is published by Crain Communications Inc. "With pressure-sensing technology we will be able to meet (upcoming emissions) standards and maintain this performance for 120,000 miles and 10 years."
For more than 30 years, gasoline engines have used oxygen sensors in the exhaust to monitor engine fueling and ignition in a feedback loop, giving engine-management systems actual measurements. But until now no such system existed for diesels, so control systems had to work with only predictions of internal conditions.
Bernd Last, head of cold start systems r&d at Beru, says the feedback system of pressure-sensing glow plugs can correct tolerances to match the aging of the injection system - and open possibilities of wholly new combustion principles.
Beru will launch its product in 2007, Siemens VDO in 2008.