Concepts for Innovative Gaseous-Fuel Drive Systems

Time and again IAV has played a pioneering role in the development of gaseous-fuel vehicles and engines – starting with initial gas-powered vehicle projects in the 1990s to new engine concepts that will go into volume production in the future. Increasingly, this is letting natural gas become established as an environmentally friendly and low-cost alternative to diesel and gasoline.

Gas-powered engines are environmentally friendly and low fuel prices also make them very inexpensive to run. IAV was quick to focus attention on alternative propulsion concepts and, for example, in the early 2000s developed the first gas-powered vehicles with a bivalent gaseous fuel/gasoline drive system for the Volkswagen Group as part of turnkey projects – from gas-powered engine durability, engine management, electronics, exhaust gas aftertreatment, vehicle body and tank system modification right through to validation, crash tests and homologation.

Ever since then, IAV has continued to drive forward the development of innovative concepts and new components. At the moment, for instance, we are working on new tank systems that will replace the conventional compressed-gas steel tanks and extend the traveling range of gas-powered vehicles. Here, the particular focus is on concepts that permit better adjustment to the vehicle body and optimize weight. A further aim is to increase storage capacity using chemical storage processes.

In research projects, IAV is also working on the gas-powered engines of tomorrow: Direct-injection gas-powered engines, for example, promise better fuel economy and higher torque. But we are also working on the development of gas-powered engines which use unconventional combustion processes and are also capable of setting new standards in efficiency.

The interest in gas-powered engines is growing particularly fast in the commercial-vehicle segment because they allow fleet operators to make considerable cost savings. IAV is working on new dual-fuel concepts for engines powered by diesel and gaseous fuel on the diesel principle in which the natural gas is ignited by diesel spray. Depending on the given filling station infrastructure, dual-fuel concepts permit simultaneous operation on natural gas and diesel or on diesel only. Existing diesel engines – such as marine engines – can also be converted to use this technology, bringing down running costs and opening up potential for improving overall emission behavior here as well.