Fossil Fuels

The combustion engine. Is it time to show the world how ‘green’ it is?

By October 22, 2018 No Comments

The internal combustion engine. Is it time for the combustion engine to step back out of the shadows & show the world how ‘green’ it actually is?

As the first Green GB week still resonates around us, we are mindful of some of the messages which have been coming from the media & government feeds. The purpose of the Green GB week was to highlight how the United Kingdom is forging the way to combat climate change & how British businesses are paving the way with new technologies for clean growth.

In the wake of the IPCC report, which clearly focused on the Earths necessity to control carbon emissions & reduce the global temperature, one clear message was that this information was not just aimed at governments & policy makers; this information was aimed at everyone.

It is no surprise when we look back at the history of business, that our greatest innovations stem from the Industrial Revolution & industrialisation. If it were not for the pioneers of yesteryear, we simply would not have the technologies we have today & our business infrastructures would be a far cry from what they are now. However, as the Green GB week & the IPCC report emphasizes, we must now look forward to atone for the ignorance of the environmental impact our pioneering past has created.

Throughout Green GB week a series of events showcased how we can all become more responsible for our carbon imprint. Schools, Colleges, Universities & Industry alike, all took part in events to raise awareness of our global responsibility for climate change.

One such event was the ‘Accelerating Green Finance in Emerging Markets’, at which Ricardo announced it’s contribution to the Climate Finance Accelerator at the Tate Modern 17 October, as part of HSBC’s day of Green GB Week finance events.

“Speaking about the success of the Climate Finance Accelerator, Chris Dodwell, director of climate change & clean growth at Ricardo, said: “Globally the green finance sector is growing, but not fast enough to raise the trillions needed to meet the targets agreed in Paris. What the Climate Finance Accelerator has shown is that by establishing a focused dialogue between climate policymakers across the world and finance professionals in the City of London, we can speed up the process of accessing private sector finance for climate action, helping to overcome one of the greatest barriers to implementation.” (5)

There were however some mixed messages coming from government. One mixed message is making incentive cuts to the electric powered car market reducing discounts from £4,500 to £3,500 from the 9th November, yet as the BBC stated in its ‘Six climate questions for ‘Green GB’ that the sale of electric & hybrid cars is too slow & encouraging people to fly more by extending the Heathrow terminals “shows ministers haven’t grasped the scale of the climate challenge.” (2)

The Dolphin N2 team are one of the British innovators recognised as forging the way forward with Cryogenic Split Cycle diesel engine technologies. As industry media suddenly begins to report on the ways that conventional ‘combustion engines’ will be being used globally for many years to come; the Dolphin N2 technology sits carefully within this ‘Cleaner diesel’ ‘Zero emission diesel’ option.

Other combustion engine pioneers have started to be recognised by media sources. The Mazda Skyactiv-X vehicle, with it’s Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) system engine, combining the efficiency of diesel with a petrol engine; is set to hit the consumer markets in 2019. Cummins Inc’s Executive director of product management and market innovation Tim Proctor recently stated “With our technical advancements, we see diesel remaining as the primary source of power in the commercial vehicle sector for the foreseeable future”. With this in mind, is it time to re-evaluate the combustion engine?

A recent article by Dan Carney at ‘’ made a very poignant commentary about the current uptake on EV’s “There are lots of reasons why we’re not all driving electric vehicles now. You’ve probably thought of two or three already, but let me add one that I’m sure you haven’t. It’s a big obstacle to EVs, and it’s rarely remarked upon.

It’s the internal combustion engine, which is no sitting duck. It’s a moving target, and a fast-moving one at that.” (3)

Benjamin West, Operations Manager of Dolphin N2 said “The maturity of the ICE means that it is well aligned to current manufacturing processes and whilst it has more moving parts than an EV, they are parts that are well understood, easily manufactured and widely recycled.”

To further add weight to the combustion engine argument, Klaus Fröhlich, board representative for development at BMW recently commented about the about the demand for minerals keeping battery prices high in relation to the costs of EV vehicles “  “Never, never, never,” Fröhlich said when asked by Cars Guide whether electric vehicle costs could approach that of internal combustion vehicles. “It is very simple. If you are at full scale, one kilowatt hour of battery capacity will cost between 100 and 150 [euros]. So this means if you see a car with 90 to 100 kilowatt-hours, the cell cost alone will be 10,000 to 15,000 [euros].” (4)

There were plenty of additional activities being run throughput the UK last week, highlighting the Government’s Green GB drive.

The Clean Growth Innovation Summit: Technologies of the Future took place on Tuesday 16th October at County Hall, London. The key messages from this summit were innovation “Technologies of the future.” Some of the key questions posed at the summit were: How can we develop UK industries that are fit for the future? Where should we drive progress in technologies where the UK can become a world-leader in their research and commercialisation?

“Some of the UK’s biggest business names – from financial services to the high street – are among 30 firms pledging action to tackle climate change during first-ever Green GB & NI Week.

  • HSBC pledges £250 million investment in solar parks and wind farms, while the John Lewis Partnership commits to overhauling 500-strong fleet of diesel trucks
  • moving to a greener, cleaner economy is a key part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy

Top businesses across the UK have today announced significant pledges worth hundreds of millions of pounds to tackle climate change, marking the government’s first ever Green GB & NI Week.” (6)

Upon searching through the media feeds this morning (Monday 22 October) I am intrigued by a distinct lack of emphasis on the outcomes of Green GB week. One of the very strong messages to come out of the media streams is however the focus on ‘Clean Growth’ & how companies are being held accountable for their ‘Clean Growth’ policies & activities.

Yet, again, the news’ focus on transport solutions, most definitely centres around battery power & electrification. With the Government making another announcement about the banning of fossil fuel fuelled vehicles being brought forward to 2032, as opposed to the previous deadline set at 2040; one such article reported by the BBC stated:

A ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars should be brought forward by eight years to 2032, MPs have said.

The government’s current plans to ensure all new cars are “effectively zero emission” by 2040 were “vague and unambitious”, a report by Parliament’s business select committee said.

It also criticised cuts to subsidies and the lack of charging points.

The government said it aimed to make the UK “the best place in the world” to own an electric vehicle.

However, the report from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee said the government’s deeds did not match the ambitions of its words.” (7)

This adds another conflicting message from Government on the future of transport in the UK & the very “all eggs in one basket” mentality with a consistent focus on battery power & electrification, rather than creating discussions about a combination of low carbon fuels, with biofuel & artificially synthesized eFuels. The CONCAWE report evaluates how we would still be able to reduce the emissions by the expected & dictated levels by 2050, by using this three way low carbon fuel, biofuel & artificially synthesized eFuels combination.

So where does this leave us? After the first Green GB week are we any closer to zero emissions by 2040? Are THE UK citizens more climate aware having been part of the first Green GB? Have they been educated?

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