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On the Road to a Zero-Emissions Future

Tags: Zero emissions
Mankind needs to reduce CO₂ emissions – including in mobility. Six examples of how technology by ZF can reduce emissions.
Martin Westerhoff , 10. April, 2018
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Martin Westerhoff studied technology journalism and writes since then about vehicles and technologies. He has a weakness for motorsports and racing car.
The task seems insurmountable: Although the economy is improving and the standard of living is rising in many countries, we also need to put the brakes on climate change. Global energy consumption alone is set to grow by 28 percent between 2015 and 2040, with the transport industry likely to need 30 percent more energy. CO₂ emissions are expected to increase by 0.8 percent per year, as the latest „International Energy Outlook 2017“ study shows. According to this study, fossil fuels will still continue to cover 77 percent of the demand up to 2040. Dieter Helm, renowned British economist and Professor of Energy Policy, is more optimistic. In his opinion, technological advancements will make fossil fuels superfluous even before the reserves of petroleum, gas or coal dry up. Helm sees electricity as the energy source of the future and electrification of transportation as a revolution.

Various energy sources in the mix

However, experts are unable to agree on whether there will be 100 percent electromobility in the future. Dr. David Bothe is one proponent who argues that for many countries, switching all existing engines and terminal units such as internal combustion engines and heaters to electricity consumers would not be the wisest option from an economic perspective. The energy expert from the Frontier Economics consulting firm has calculated that Germany could become CO₂ neutral by 2050 if we aim to achieve a mixture of energy sources and that this, when compared with all-out electrification, would save €300 billion. In this scenario, green electricity would be used indirectly: Part of it would be used to produce hydrogen, which would then be used with CO₂ to create synthetic fuels. This has advantages and disadvantages: Producing hydrogen in this way incurs energy loss of around 25 percent. Every additional process step further reduces the amount of energy from the electricity used that ultimately remains stored in the fuel. However, there are major benefits, including the fact that synthetic fuels can be used in existing and technologically advanced internal combustion engines. They can be blended into conventional gasoline or diesel, in some cases even without any technical modifications. In addition, there already is a well-established global fuel station network.
In order to be prepared for all potential future mobility scenarios, ZF is taking an open approach to technology. The company shows its expertise, particularly in system solutions.

Six examples of how technology by ZF can reduce emissions

1. Variable mSTARS axle concept

1. Variable mSTARS axle concept

Irrespective of which kind of energy accumulator is used, the mSTARS axle concept and its integrated electric drive can be used in hybrid, fuel cell and battery-powered passenger cars. mSTARS is also suitable for use with standard drive modules.
© ZF
mSTARS integrates the electric motor, transmission, differential and power electronics.

2. Plug-in hybrids as trailblazers

2. Plug-in hybrids as trailblazers

ZF has an open approach to technology and focuses on drives powered by electricity, hybrid modules , plug-in hybrid transmissions and drive systems are on offer for all-electric vehicles. Plug-in hybrids in particular have huge potential. With a comparatively small battery and equally low costs, they are able to drive electrically. They also fare very well in terms of CO₂ considerations, or 'euros per gram of reduction'. The plug-in hybrid transmission from ZF, which builds on the tried and trusted 8HP dual clutch transmission, is already on the market. It is a combination of a transmission and an electric motor and will be integrated into the new Porsche Panamera, to give an example.
This highly integrated plug-in hybrid transmission from ZF also permits purely electric driving

3. More efficiency for commercial vehicles

3. More efficiency for commercial vehicles

Commercial vehicles constitute a major challenge on the path to CO₂ neutrality. For city buses, ZF already offers the AVE 130 portal axle and the CeTrax central drive as electric alternatives to the diesel engine. With a maximum output of up to 300 kilowatts (408 horsepower), these are worthy rivals. The fuel consumption and therefore the carbon dioxide emissions of commercial vehicles with internal combustion engines can be effectively reduced. Many truck and bus manufacturers are already equipping their volume-produced trucks and buses with the highly efficient TraXon transmission or are opting for a hybrid option with a 100-kilowatt (136-horsepower) electric motor, which is also achieving respectable results: In trucks, it reduces gasoline consumption by about five percent over the course of a normal long-haul transportation cycle.
© ZF
Whatever the application, CeTrax is the ideal electromobility solution for city buses.

4. The powerful impact of lightweight components

4. The powerful impact of lightweight components

ZF's lightweight components also reduce CO₂ emissions, particularly in commercial vehicles. As a first step, integrating the functions into a classic rear-axle design reduces the weight from around 120 kilograms to 60 to 70 kilograms for the affected components. Requiring lightweight designs and lightweight materials can even bring this value down to roughly 35 kilograms. Given the typically long service lives of trucks, these actions will pay for themselves quickly. The saved weight also benefits a higher payload. This means each truck can transport more goods, which ultimately reduces the number of trucks on the road, thereby also reducing emissions.

5. Economies of scale through modular concepts

5. Economies of scale through modular concepts

"We are trying to use as many basic types of technology as possible", says Bert Hellwig, head of the E-Mobility Systems House at ZF. An example of this is the autonomous e.GO Mover, which resulted from the cooperation between ZF and e.GO Mobile AG, a start-up based in Aachen. The Group originally developed the control software used in its electric drive for commercial vehicles. This is an example of how effects of scale can be leveraged throughout ZF's comprehensive product portfolio using modular concepts and identical components. This helps reduce the costs for electric drives, which is an important prerequisite when the goal is to combine ecology and economy to help electric vehicles gain larger market shares.

6. Connected mobility with Openmatics

6. Connected mobility with Openmatics

The most sensible way to reduce CO₂ emissions is to make the routes as short and efficient as possible. The open Openmatics telematics platform contributes to this. A great range of apps can be installed on this platform. The apps enable the user to have an overview of the vehicle fleet, adapt routes centrally and produce consumption and load analyses. Using these data, manufacturers can optimize control of the driveline in accordance with the vehicle's weight. In the future, this system will be able to control the battery management of electric drives via their capacity. Thomas Rösch, the general manager of Openmatics, also has his eye on a very human factor: “One of our customers saves four percent in fuel and CO₂ alone because his drivers know that their vehicle data is being transmitted. This means that they drive with greater discipline and in a more forward-thinking manner.”
One thing is certain: When it comes to tasks performed by humans, they can only be made environmentally sustainable when everyone monitors their own behavior so that as few greenhouse gas emissions as possible are produced. In the meantime, ZF will continue working on the technology required to achieve these goals.

Three clever ideas for reducing CO₂ emissions

Summary: As the economy is set to grow and the standard of living is set to rise worldwide, experts are predicting that the demand for energy will rise by 28 percent by 2040. CO₂ emissions must be cut back in order to put the brakes on climate change. Via its technology and products, ZF contributes to achieving the target of zero emissions in mobility. Specifically, the electrification of the driveline in passenger cars and commercial vehicles, the use of lightweight components and connected mobility concepts ensure that less energy is consumed and therefore less greenhouse gases are emitted.

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