Air QualityCryoPowerFossil FuelsHeavy Duty & Off-highwayThermoPower

Dolphin N2 & University of Brighton collaboration & research for the recuperated split-cycle engine.

By December 16, 2021 No Comments

Dolphin N2 & University of Brighton collaboration & research for the recuperated split-cycle engine.

The relationships between Startup’s/SME’s & Universities are well known. Many great projects start with the research capabilities of a University & go on to become developed & accepted parts of our daily lives.

The University of Brighton & Dolphin N2 have been collaborating on the recuperated split-cycle engine since Ricardo Plc first developed the programme alongside the University.

The project is the latest phase of pioneering research at the university, which has been led for the past seven years by Professor Rob Morgan, Professor of Thermal Propulsion Systems at the university’s Advanced Engineering Centre (AEC) (1)

The recuperated split cycle engine produces near-zero emissions of harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) – a world first that has been pioneered by the university. (1)

Simon Brewster CEO of Dolphin N2 said “Without this discovery, the technology could still be seen as a dirty engine – with it, it can compete side-by-side with so-called zero emission power, except that our engine is cheaper of course.” (1)

The recuperated split cycle engines are defined by ThermoPower® and CryoPower®. The revolutionary step is to separate the “cold” and “hot” parts of the traditional internal combustion engine. (2)

In July 2021, Connected Places Catapult hosted a webinar titled ‘Knowledge exchange and collaboration between SMEs and Universities’ giving SME’s & Universities an opportunity to explore the value of their collaborations.

Dolphin N2 CEO Simon Brewster, Dolphin N2 Technical Director Nick Owen & Professor Robert Morgan of the University of Brighton discussed how their collaborations had developed the recuperated split cycle engine technology.

Simon Brewster – CEO, Dolphin N2

Simon Brewster CEO Dolphin N2 set the scene for the webinar, by exploring the journey which Dolphin N2 & the University of Brighton have been on together.

Dolphin N2 are a new company, founded by Ricardo in 2017. Having incubated the recuperated split cycle engine technology alongside the University of Brighton since 2017, Dolphin N2 have grown from a team of 7 – 35 people, based in Shoreham & Millbrook, Bedfordshire.

Having successfully spun out from Ricardo in December 2019 & being purchased by FPT Industrial, a subsidiary of CNH Industrial; the Dolphin N2 split cycle CryoPower recuperated engine is now on track for a full production launch 2025-2026.

Nick Owen – Technical Director, Dolphin N2

Nick Owen – Technical Director, Dolphin N2 gave a technical overview of the Dolphin N2 engine & how the University of Brighton collaboration has been key to moving the project forward.

With the world already embracing electrification for cars & short journey vehicles, the application cannot be sustainable for heavy duty & trucks. The fact that heavy duty haulage & trucks are mostly working 20 hours a day, often 365 days a year; the electrification route would leave little opportunities for charging opportunities to make the system effective.

Nick Owen posed the question “What if there was a better & more painless way to a smooth transition to net zero for heavy duty & haulage?”  The answer is a clean, efficient, fuel omnivourous engine; the recuperated split cycle engine, a new engine for a new era.

The recuperated split cycle engine not only recuperates waste heat & in doing so reduces NOx to sub-ambient levels; it also is fuel omnivourous, having already been hydrogen & biomethane validated.

The Dolphin N2 recuperated split cycle engine is not an evolution engine, it is an entirely new product, set for roll out production in 2025.

Non of the development would have been possible without the collaborations Dolphin N2 have developed over the years. As Nick mentions, if you need a 800°C / 70 bar recuperator, these are not items which are off the shelf. These items have to be developed alongside other SME’s, specialists in their fields.

With supply chain SME support from companies such as Hiflux, Zircotec & Bennaman, academic support from The University of Brighton, The University of Sheffield & Politecnico (Milan) & Consortium grants & private funding; the Dolphin N2 technologies have been developed with collaboration with a varied collection of SME’s, academia & investment partners.

Professor Robert Morgan – Professor of Thermal Propulsion Systems, University of Brighton

Professor Morgan began to explain that one of the ways in which him & his team were able to fathom the development needs of the Dolphin N2 engine technology, was through what is known as the Impact Factory.

When discussion about the banning of fossil fuel based engines began in earnest, the engineers at the University of Brighton began to consider their options & how to solve the problem.

The Impact Factory ethos uses the idea of problems being Tame, Messy or Wicked. “Messy or Wicked problems, are hard to explain or describe, until you know the question you should be asking”

Diesel engines problems are in their chemistry. Oxygen plus Fossil Fuel plus Nitrogen equals Power plus Heat plus GHG plus Oxides of Nitrogen. With the high compression ratio equalling hotter combustion & NOx; the Higher the efficiency of the diesel engine, the more NOx it will produce.

Having to un-learn 100 years of diesel technology & re-writing the rule book on diesel engines, the University of Brighton engineers were able to decouple the engine & with either water or liquid nitrogen; super cool the exhaust emissions, removing the NOx & in doing so eliminating tailpipe emissions.

When it comes to collaboration with the University of Brighton, their testing abilities have been vital for the development of the Dolphin N2 engine.

The University of Brighton has tested four Dolphin N2 rigs over the years. The mule multi cylinder 267kW unit has been utilised for alternative fuels & thermodynamic research. The Titan single cylinder rig has been exploring combustion & thermodynamics. The spray rig has been testing water, liquid nitrogen & diesel injectors & the Hydra, single cylinder compressor, has been exploring compression, cooling & thermodynamics.

Written by Katy-Jane Mason for & on behalf of Dolphin N2.

Attendees were attending the ‘Knowledge exchange and collaboration between SMEs and Universities’ webinar, hosted by Connected Places Catapult.


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