The ICE has long been acknowledged as being the key emitter of emissions in the transport sector.
In the UK we are all aware of the Government target of banning the sale of all new ICE’s from 2030. However, as is more commonly understood, the ICE itself is not the problem, it is the fuel which goes into it that is.
On the 3rd April 2019, The Advanced Propulsion Centre featured ‘A messy solution to a messy problem; Can combustion ever be clean?’ as part of their Future of Tech Series.
Their title for the session included the introduction to the session:
“There are two challenges we need to address if internal combustion engines can have a place in addressing the carbon challenge.
Oxide and nitrogen emissions – we can solve that problem and it’s all down to chemistry. The chemistry is already there to reduce emissions.
How can we cut the carbon emissions? The good news is we already have the answer.” (1)
As part of the session, Professor Robert Morgan of the University of Brighton fought the case for the ICE and stated “We can solve the toxic emissions with combustion engines! If you take control of the chemistry, you can take control of emissions”
Based on the recent news coming out of Europe, this quote and this episode of the Future of Tech Series from the APC could not be more relevant.
While attending the recent Future Propulsion Conference, it felt extremely relevant timing that while attendees discussed the eclectic mix of technologies required to decarbonise the transport sector; that Germany and several other EU countries were seeking a reprieve for the ICE.
On the 28th February 2023, Euractiv reported that Germany had announced that they would abstain from the vote on the EU’s ban on new petrol or diesel cars as of 2035 unless the European Commission proposes how new combustion engine cars can be registered even after that date if they run exclusively on e-fuels. (2)
Transport Minister Volker Wissing told journalists that Germany would only agree to the agreement if the Commission made a proposal on how vehicles with internal combustion engines running only on e-fuels can be registered even after 2035. (2)
“The European Commission must deliver, to enable a registration of combustion engine vehicles even after 2035”, he said. “We need all options,” including battery-electric, hydrogen and combustion engines running on e-fuels, he added. (2)
Since 28th February the push to incorporate the ICE as a continued transport option, albeit running on e-fuels, has been adopted by several other EU countries including Italy, the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia with transport ministers from each country meeting on Monday 13th March to discuss changes to the EU plans. (3)
However, with companies across the globe already developing sustainable drop in liquid fuels and e-fuels, the argument from the automotive industry seems sound; why try and reinvent the wheel, when we have the technology to decarbonise the transport system already?
Although it is agreed that electrification works in certain settings, it is not the only solution to the larger issue of emissions from the transport sector. An eclectic mix of technologies having already been developed are available now and can be used already to reduce emissions dramatically.
However, with a seeming fixation on electrification for the future of ultimately all road transport, there are still questions about the availability of an infrastructure suitable for all EV users, the LCA of the electric car and it’s ultimate environmental impact and of course the environmental impact of the energy sector being ramped up to accommodate the expectations of an EV future.
The Future Propulsion Conference showcased some of the arguments for the EV and some leading academics and engineers put forward some compelling insights into the latest technologies in this sector. However, an underlying conversation in the networking arena identified and recognised the shift in Europe and acknowledged the place the ICE still has in the future of the transport system.
Written by Katy-Jane Mason for and on behalf of Dolphin N2.