Innovative rotary engine technology is poised to become an affordable and efficient choice of hybrid power following the exciting announcement that AIE (UK) Ltd, and their collaborative partners, have won significant funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) to develop an intelligent powertrain for low carbon vehicles.
The APC-6 competition, held through Innovate UK, has made available £62-million worth of funding for seven pioneering initiatives, all aimed at bringing UK low-carbon technology to market. Notably, it is the first time that APC funding has been awarded to a rotary engine project and a consortium entirely of SMEs.
Previous winners of APC funding include automotive heavyweights such as BMW Motorsport, Williams Advanced Engineering, Jaguar Land Rover and McLaren Automotive; making this announcement one of renewed confidence for the capabilities of innovative SMEs across the UK.
Adaptable and Affordable Powertrains; the Future of Hybrid
The successful SME consortium is led by Westfield Sportscars, and includes Advanced Innovative Engineering (AIE), SAIETTA and General Engine Management Services Ltd (GEMS), with support from the Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre, University of Bath.
Together, the consortium will work to develop an intelligent hybrid powertrain for next generation low carbon vehicles; utilising rotary Wankel engine technology and cutting-edge traction motors, electronics and controllers.
The powertrain will be unlike any other system due to the low mass and small-form of the rotary engine, allowing the system to be easily incorporated into the compact space of electric vehicles. Concerns over previous inadequacies of the rotary engine have been addressed through AIE’s patented technology, which will ensure the engine delivers low levels of noise and vibration, with high levels of efficiency and power.
In addition to the compact engine that is designed to increase the range of electric vehicles with minimal carbon emissions, the intelligent hybrid powertrain will provide a common drive platform for easy adaptability; allowing different generators, batteries and motors to be changed to meet the needs of a variety of applications.
Speaking about the benefits of the APC hybrid rotary engine system, Nathan Bailey, Managing Director of AIE noted: –
“We are extremely proud to be involved in the development of the first APC rotary engine project with our consortium partners. We believe that the operational flexibility of the new powertrain will encourage a broader adoption of low carbon vehicles, especially for niche vehicle manufacturers. At the moment, many small manufacturers are unable to invest in the sums necessary to replace existing engine platforms… our rotary-hybrid technology will instead provide an affordable option for niche vehicle businesses; helping them to meet their environmental and legislative responsibilities”.
Joining the Future of Rotary Engine Technology
With the final powertrain to be optimised for flexibility and affordability to customers, the result of this collaborative project aims to provide a valuable choice of motive power for niche vehicle manufacturers, from current high-performance road cars to future autonomous pods.
This opens up significant opportunities to help establish the UK as a leader in ‘green’ vehicles, as well as benefiting the economy through manufacturing and exportation, and of course, providing a number of environmental benefits through reduction of CO2 emissions.
More information of the advancements of AIE rotary engines can be found on the AIE technology web page.
Further details on the commercial opportunities of the APC ‘intelligent powertrain’ for niche vehicles can be provided by calling AIE on 01543 420 700.