Looking back at the future of powertrains

With the seventh annual UK Future Powertrain Conference just completed it’s interesting to take stock of how researchers and industry have viewed the future of vehicle propulsion over the years. Back in 2014 the event’s main focus was on improving the internal combustion engine, whilst electrification was a minority theme. Over the years the focus has steadily shifted, but 2020 saw the biggest change as net zero goals put batteries and hydrogen high up the agenda. The fuel cell session was standing-room only, hydrogen was mentioned in almost every session – especially for large vehicles where hydrogen combustion also regained profile - and batteries were accepted by many as the technology of choice for light duty.  

Despite the enthusiasm for zero emission technologies, there was caution too as the realities of net zero hit home. For many of these technologies to succeed there needs to be abundant, low cost, zero carbon energy and we are very far from that today. Even if we crack that challenge, we must also minimise emissions in the vehicle supply chain. Lifecycle analysis will be key - what materials are in our batteries, where does the hydrogen come from, what is the use case for hybrids and e-fuels?

E4tech’s conference papers on hydrogen for heavy duty vehicles and lifecycle analysis can be viewed with all other papers at the FPC2020 website. With so much uncertainty, E4tech is able to help you to navigate the future, without forgetting the past and present.

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