Low cost system cuts emissions, fuel use in cars


London : An European project is developing a compact, fully integrated, low-cost start-stop system to replace conventional alternators in cars and cut down fuel use.

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This second-generation starter-alternator reversible system (StARS) is intended to enable the European automotive industry to meet new EU emissions norms and cut down fuel use without engine redesign.

A first generation of alternator-based ‘stop-start’ systems has already been in serial production with Citroen since 2004, on Smart cars since 2007 and on Mercedes-Benz A- and B-class vehicles as of the first quarter of 2009.

This system performs a comfortable stop-start function that is completely transparent to the driver: the belt-driven starter-alternator system shuts down the engine during idle phases and restarts the engine quickly and silently on request.

As a result, there is no fuel consumption, gas emission, vibration or noise at standstill. In the European standard driving cycle, fuel consumption is reduced by six percent; while in congested urban traffic, savings of up to 25 percent have been observed.

Additionally, the second generation system will fulfil global demands for more energy-efficient vehicles. Market forecasts indicate a million vehicles a year will be using these systems by 2010 with a four percent penetration rate worldwide in the auto market for such micro-hybrid applications in 2015.

European Union legislation is set to reduce average carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions for new cars from the current 160 g / km to 130 g / km in 2012.

This will lead to a 19 percent reduction in CO2 emissions and place the EU among the world leaders in fuel-efficient cars.

“Not only will it be possible to reduce consumption emissions, but this translates into a six percent saving in fuel use for the car,” said Derek de Bono, marketing director of project leader Valeo Electrical Systems in France, the firm behind the system.