"China is the world's largest automobile manufacturing and consuming country, the internal combustion engine industry plays a significant role in China's national economic development, and developing energy-conserving and environmentally-friendly internal combustion engines with independent intellectual property and core technologies has become imperative," this is a quotation from the Opinion of the General Office of the State Council on Intensifying Energy Conservation and Emission Reduction in the Internal Combustion Engine Industry released last year.
Another realistic proof is the national IV emission standard in effect, concerns over the difficulty in standard implementation still linger after the implementation time was postponed again and again and finally fixed, the reason is lack of core technologies of internal combustion engines such as electronic control high pressure common rail. A consensus reached in the industry is that China's emission upgrading will be more and more difficult in China and independent innovation in the auto industry will be out of the question, let alone the fulfillment of the dream of becoming an auto power if these core technologies are not conquered as soon as possible and the situation that China's internal combustion engine has long been controlled by others is not resolved.
Conquering generic core technologies as soon as possible to independently develop high-efficiency, energy-conserving and environmentally-friendly engines has become the common pursuit of insightful industrial insiders. As a leading internal combustion engine manufacturer, Yuchai Group boldly bore the heavy mission. After two years' construction, the project of "State Engineering Laboratory of High-efficiency, Energy-conserving and Environment-friendly Internal Combustion Engines" undertaken by Yuchai has been completed and been accepted recently. Thus, China's highest-grade internal combustion engine R & D platform has emerged in Yuchai, which is of great significance to the development of the internal combustion engine industry.
Fill the industrial gap
According to sources, based on the pressing demand for the high-efficiency and low-emission development of the internal combustion engine industry, the "State Engineering Laboratory of High-efficiency, Energy-conserving and Environment-friendly Internal Combustion Engines" is an advanced R & D base as well as a platform for transformation and engineering application of achievements built for the internal combustion engine industry in order to develop generic and key industrial technologies in such aspects as energy conservation and emission reduction, noise reduction, light weight and control, lead industrial technical progress, narrow the gap from developed countries, and enhance the competitiveness of the internal combustion engine industry and national pillar industries powered by internal combustion engines such as vehicle, construction machinery, agricultural machinery and ship. The laboratory has filled a domestic gap, too.
"Yuchai obtained the qualification and initiated project construction in 2011 after filing an application with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and passing the evaluation," said Lin Zhiqiang, president of Yuchai R & D Center. This is a prudential decision made by NDRC after evaluating Yuchai's comprehensive strength including research strength, ability to organize development and industrial influence. "The country considered the enterprise's orientation and future development, evaluated whether it is capable of undertaking generic technology development, and evaluated whether it can establish a laboratory for the project, we need to meet a lot of conditions in order to obtain the qualification," he added.
"After being established, the laboratory will play an exemplary role in the country's implementation of new polices such as stricter emission regulations," Lin commented. As the highest-grade and highest-level platform in the industry, the laboratory is exclusive in the industry and is a national window to some degree.
Set a good example for emission regulations
At the 13th International Exhibition on Internal Combustion Engine (Engine China 2014) from September 1 to 3, Yuchai YC6L330-60 Euro VI diesel engine made its debut, attracting industrial leaders such as Wang Ruixiang, chairman of the China Machinery Industry Federation; He Guangyuan, former minister of machine building industry and Xing Min, secretary-general of the China Internal Combustion Engine Industry Association. Developed in 2011, the engine's prototype is China's first Euro VI vehicle diesel engine that has filled a domestic gap in efficient clean diesel engines.
Actually, a very important reason for NDRC to choose Yuchai to establish the laboratory is Yuchai's strength and capacity in energy conservation and environmental friendliness of internal combustion engines. "Yuchai took the lead in the country to develop engines up to emission standards from national I, national II till Euro VI now, all of which provided the basis for the country to implement emission regulations in order," said Lin.
In the coming three years, the laboratory will conduct in-depth R & D in technical fields such as new concept combustion system, emission control, hybrid power and alternative fuel combustion to develop a series of independent and internationally advanced high-efficiency and environment-friendly internal combustion engine products and technologies, and apply these advanced technologies in the internal combustion engine industry and related industries.
"This mainly refers to higher emission standards starting from Euro VI," said Lin. Take the Euro VI emission standard for example, there are currently a lot of technical routes for being up to the standard in the world, but they universally heavily depend on post processing systems. "We expect to reduce the high dependence of higher emission standards on post processors by applying new combustion concepts such as homogeneous charge compression ignition, or simplify the configuration of post processor to keep engines' harmful gas emission at a very low level," Lin noted. There are two benefits in doing so: one is reducing the high cost from use of mass precious metals in post processor manufacturing; and the other is substantially controlling real emission.
Researches in fields such as hybrid power and electric drive are preparations for next-generation internal combustion engine technologies and products. Global regulations on such aspects as fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emission have become increasingly rigid, hybrid power is a technical must in order to implement more rigid regulations, we will also increase input to do some generic exploratory researches on how to make hybrid power most energy-conserving," Lin gave an example.
Develop generic technologies, break the mode of following R & D
Now the laboratory is constructed in Yuchai's Yulin and Nanning bases, with a total completed investment of 1.1 billion in sophisticated experimental equipment. Through construction, over 30 engine test benches were added on the basis of over 50 existing test benches. The laboratory ranks 1st among domestic peers in the number of test benches, with its test benches covering micro, light, medium and heavy-power engines. The laboratory is capable of testing national V, Euro VI and Tier 3 engines, and conducting 16 categories of special tests of over 80 types of parts. Its test capacity has been up to leading industrial standards. The laboratory has brought together 12 most outstanding academicians, experts and professors in domestic and overseas auto industries and related industrial fields.
"Now are capable of verifying inlet & outlet system, cooling system, fuel system, electronic control system as well as subsystems such as steering system and lubrication system, and we are working on them," said Lin, adding, "In the next period, we will further increase the input in laboratory facilities for Euro VI emission regulations and off-road Tier 4 regulations in the next period. In terms of staff, we plan to increase the total number of developers and researchers by some 80 percent in three years." The laboratory will also make efforts in developing basic generic technologies such as electronic control high pressure common rail fuel system, and increase technical reserves in key parts of internal combustion engines.
The laboratory has established a mechanism of cooperation between enterprises and industries, Yuchai will also give full play to the role of the industrial platform. "Cooperation has three parts: I Cooperation with upstream and downstream enterprises, including joint development with suppliers, and a lot of cooperative projects arising from new product demonstration or preparation; II Intensified cooperation between engine manufacturers and vehicle manufacturers in powertrain matching; III Cooperation with some research institutes in more fields," Lin said, adding that Yuchai has planned to launch some open-end funds and projects annually to resolve difficulties of industrial generic technologies.
"There are few real independent and original products and technologies in China's auto industry. After all, we have just started in technical accumulation and development compared to Europe and America. The situation is relatively good in the field of internal combustion engines for commercial vehicle, most Chinese products and technologies are independently developed but basically follow Europe and America, which has brought about some problems. For example, our emission regulations refer to Europe's, mature European key parts suppliers can directly bring products to China, while domestic enterprises can meet regulation requirements only after great reforms and imitation," Lin told the reporter, adding that lack of originality of core technologies and the inability to achieve breakthroughs in key parts are currently the biggest problems of the internal combustion engine industry.
"We aim to break the current mode of following R & D taken by the internal combustion engine industry to form our own unique technical means and paths," Lin said. It is foreseeable that the laboratory will not only promote the progress of Yuchai's engine technologies by virtue of Yuchai's heavy investment in such aspects as R & D, talent, technology and equipment, but also substantially benefit the construction of relevant industrial alliances and make China's internal combustion engine industry up to advanced international standards.