By on April 10, 2014

EGR Buick Regal Gets 40 MPG

The current Buick Regal is an excellent car. I know, because I have one parked in my garage (it’s sweet). Still, it could be better- and the guys at the SouthWest Research Institute (SWRI) have figured out a way to enhance the mid-range Buick so that it produces fewer harmful carbon emissions and gets better fuel economy.

Can’t beat that!

Far from being pie-in-the-sky thinking, however, the motivation for building this 40 MPG ultra low-emission Buick Regal comes out of necessity. Namely the 2025 CAFE regulations that will force automobile manufacturers to achieve a 54.5 miles per gallon EPA rating across their product range. At the same time, the EPA is also expected to release new, more stringent emissions standards in a bid to improve air quality and save lives. Those two factors mean there is considerable industry focus on improving both emissions and fuel efficiency without incurring huge R&D costs- and the EGR system built into the SWRI team’s 2014 Buick Regal might play a big part in that.

EGR, for those not in the know, stands for exhaust gas recirculation. In the case of the Buick Regal tester, the 2.0 Liter engine was modified so that exhaust from one dedicated cylinder is run with a rich mixture of fuel and air to reform hydrocarbon fuel into carbon monoxide and hydrogen. The reformulated exhaust gas is then cooled and looped into a patented mixer where the exhaust gasses are mixed with fresh air before going into the engine intake. “By running one cylinder rich, the excess fuel is reformed into hydrogen and carbon monoxide,” added Chris Chadwell, manager of SWRI’s Spark Ignition Engine R&D section. “The in-cylinder reformation slightly reduces the carbon dioxide and water vapor while producing large volumes of carbon monoxide, which is a good fuel, and hydrogen, which is an outstanding fuel. That provides an octane boost and a flammability boost, and extends the EGR limit of the engine.”

It’s all pretty trick stuff, in other words- and it’s not that far away from being a production-ready piece. Let’s hope the next generation of Buick Regals- heck, let’s hope they build a new ROADMASTER!- has enough slick SWRI stuff on it to still be legal, then. In the meantime, you can check out an under hood shot of the SWRI EGR-equipped 2014 Buick Regal, below. Enjoy!

 

egr-buick_1

 

Source | Photos: SWRI; Originally published on Gas 2.

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40 Comments on “EGR-equipped Buick Regal Hits 40 MPG...”


  • avatar

    If I was head of GM, they’d have built an AWD Lacrosse with the engine from the Chevy SS and an optional manual…

    …and it would probably be in recall right now… SMMFH.

    • 0 avatar
      alsorl

      Tool

    • 0 avatar
      Eyeflyistheeye

      Thankfully, any car company you would be the head of would go bankrupt in about an hour, so that people won’t have to die from driving your crazy contraptions or the collateral damage from them being on the road.

      “Who cares about side impact beams or a cooling system that doesn’t catch on fire? Put a V12 in the Cruze!”

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I thought that “EPA rating” usually referred to the one used for the window sticker, and that when talking about CAFE rules (like the 54.5 MPG standard mentioned in the article), you specifically said something like “CAFE MPG” to distinguish between the two standards. (The CAFE standard is a lot easier, so 54.5 MPG isn’t as crazy as it sounds.)

    I expect the mainstream press to fail to make the distinction, but given how much coverage is given to CAFE here, I’d think an article on TTAC would make sure to distinguish between the two.

    • 0 avatar
      paxman356

      You are correct. The CAFE rating of 54.4 works out to roughly 40mpg real world.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Maybe you should read that paragraph again. The CAFE rule requires that fleet economy average 54.5 mpg EPA rating, according to the way he stated it. This means that if trucks are going to get by with 25mpg or even 30, then cars will need to average 80mpg or higher.

      Now, if you ask me that implies that many more cars will need to be BEVs or use some alternate to hydrocarbon fuels within ten years. I hope GM kept all their research data from their all-electric Oldsmobiles from the early ’90s.

      • 0 avatar
        yesthatsteve

        The commenters above are reading the paragraph correctly – they’re questioning its accuracy.

        CAFE and EPA fuel economy ratings are two completely different beasts.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          In what way are they “two completely different beasts”? One sets the goal they must achieve, the other measures the ‘expected’ gas mileage of the vehicle under supposedly-normal driving conditions. So far, I’ve been able to exceed EPA ratings on every vehicle I’ve driven by a minimum of 20%. Others are lucky if they can even reach that EPA rating simply because of the way they drive.
          So, does the CAFE set a goal based on Possible, or Realistic driving?

          • 0 avatar
            raph

            It always seemed to me future CAFE regs were lofty pie in the sky goals based on what’s possible by a bunch of white coats. Then as the looming regs approached a lot of money, free trips to expensive places, and favors pulled would occur and those lofty CAFE goals would be adjusted to account for lagging technology and revolutionary ideas secreted away by the automobile and oil companies the latter of which was explained to me by my poor neighbor Mr. Phish who spent all his life savings on an ultrasonic fuel atomizer.

          • 0 avatar
            sirwired

            For an individual vehicle, the number recorded “on the books” for CAFE is not the same number you see on the window sticker.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            Beating EPA highway by 20-40% is very possible. The V8 can see a 20d improvement and the turbo-4’s can see about 40%. Just pumping up tire pressures and a good alignment along with smart driving could pay dividends.

            My 2-cylinder sport bike can also see the 40% improvement.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @sirwired: Not logical; but whoever accused our government of being logical?

          • 0 avatar
            yesthatsteve

            They’re figures created by two different federal agencies that currently use two completely different methodologies.

            EPA is the standard created by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).

            CAFE is the standard created by NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration).

            In the 70s, both numbers were identical. However, the EPA’s methodology has undergone two revisions since then. The first came in 1985, when the 55 mph speed limit was abolished, and the second came in 2008. The CAFE methodology has not changed since the 70s, hence the difference between the two standards.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @yesthatsteve:
            In order, No, and yes.

            EPA isn’t really a standard per se, it’s a figure based on MPG measurement of an example of a given specific vehicle over what they consider an ‘average’ person’s drive that includes both city driving and highway driving over a fixed course. While I’m not completely up on the methods used, I believe they take three sets of measurements during one lap of that course, separating city from highway and then one ‘averaged’ number for the entire course (i.e. measure mileage through the city portion of the course through amount of fuel used to complete that portion, separately measure the highway portion, then combine the total fuel used to get the overall reading). Each vehicle model (with different engine/transmission options) gets a representative rating for the given option set. This is then marked on the window sticker along with the extreme high and extreme low for all vehicles in that general type (i.e. subcompact, mid-sized sedan, pickup truck among others). It is NOT a “standard”

            CAFE is a “standard” set as a goal before any vehicles are built to reach that goal. CAFE then, is a destination where the EPA is already here.

          • 0 avatar
            sirwired

            Both CAFE and EPA are both standards. One standard (EPA) is used for the window sticker. The other standard (CAFE) is an old copy of the EPA standard with some “hacks” made to it (i.e. Flex Fuel, adjustments for vehicle size, etc.) and used for pushing automakers to make meet certain numbers.

            The CAFE law sets certain goals for the CAFE MPG. Once those cars are build, they go through the CAFE test (along with the EPA test) and those numbers are punched into the law’s requirements for whatever consequences the law has for those requirements in that year.

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        There are two entirely separate methods for recording the fuel economy of the car. The “EPA Rating” which is the one that goes on the window sticker, and the CAFE rating, which consumers never see but is used for enforcing the CAFE regulations. The CAFE MPG of the various cars in the company’s fleet are mungled together in obscure ways to produce the corporate CAFE number.

        The Wikipedia article on CAFE explains all this rather well and even has a nifty table comparing the two. For instance, a 2025 full-size pickup has to have 30 CAFE MPG, but only 23 “Window” MPG. A small car needs a CAFE number of 61, but a window sticker number of only 43. Those are not, in any way, aggressive goals. (Which is why the auto companies didn’t kick up too much of a fuss over them… they’ll have little trouble meeting the goals, and they know it.)

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        Dupe. Whoops.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Ahh, an engine that brings beck the nostalgia of the 70’s, an ICE with more plumbing that a Saturn V.

    Bring on EV’s powered by wind and solar (as much as feasible) for everyday commuting – with the money saved, have yerself some ICE fun on the weekends if you wish.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Sounds more like an infomercial, our product SAVES LIVES!!!*
    *Ignoring lives weren’t taken to begin with.
    *Only on Saturdays

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    In other news, Toyota said by 2025 it will come out with future, fuel efficient engines that are more simple to maintain and less costly to repair for the consumer …

  • avatar
    dwford

    Is this 40mpg combined or 40 mpg highway?

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      More like 35 mpg highway. The Regal GS would see that now if it wasn’t riding on 255mm rubber with heavy 19″ wheels.

      Lots of videos and more detail explaination:

      http://www.greencarcongress.com/2014/02/20140225-degr.html

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Didn’t they know they could have gotten the same results with a TRIFECTA TUNE?

  • avatar
    greaseyknight

    I wonder how this is going to effect the durability of the engine? Running rich is bad for a motor, as it washes down the cylinder walls, and causes the motor to be unbalanced.

    The Ford 6.4 Powerstrokes do something sorta similar for emissions in that they inject a bunch of raw fuel into the rear two cylinders to cook off the soot in the DPF, also called regen cycle. Its been known to cause quite a few problems, like cooked turbo, and fried pistons.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Pretty well all modern diesels with particulate filters execute their regeneration cycle using the same method, they inject extra fuel on the exhaust stroke to be burnt in the filter. This act in itself shouldnt cause melted pistons, but the 6.4L powerstroke is a special case.

      The reason the 6.4L melts cylinders 2 and 8 is because of a poorly managed crankcase ventilation system that allows excess oil accumulation in the charge air cooler. Regen can cause oil growth because of cylinder washdown, which supplies the excess accumulation in the intake piping and cooler. Because of the intake manifold design, cylinders 2 and 8 consistently overfuel. In a gasser “lean is mean”, but in a diesel rich is mean and melts pistons.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Just how rich are they running that one cylinder? I have durability concerns.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      Came here to post this. It’s common knowledge that too-lean can burn up pistons and exhaust valves, but too-rich washes oil off the cylinder walls leading to high piston, ring, and cylinder wall wear, and the carbon buildup fouls piston rings and can hang up exhaust valves from closing properly, leading to burned exhaust valves.

      The engine in question has direct-injection, so maybe they are using injection-timing trickery somehow to get around this.

      I suspect that the alternate technologies using (or approaching) HCCI will be more viable.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I agree that HCCI is looking more promising now that other expensive alternatives like complicated cooled EGR systems are starting to hit gas engines.

        As I understand it, HCCI gas engines can actually have lower NOx emissions than a typical sparked gas engine in spite of having a much higher compression ratio. And higher compression ratios are good for everyone.

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    the article says the cylinder is dedicated. i wonder if it means that only one cylinder receives the richer mixture or if it skips around cylinders such that each cylinder receives “the treatment” in an equal fashion.

    if the former i would expect premature engine failure. if the latter it would be a lot less likely.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      I’ve read some of the underlying technical papers. One cylinder is dedicated to this. The exhaust from that cylinder physically enters a different pipe from the other three cylinders and that pipe leads back (through a heat exchanger) to the intake manifold (which feeds all four), and it’s all on the high-pressure side of the turbocharger. The exhaust from the other three cylinders go through the turbocharger and out.

      I foresee massive carbon build-up and stuck rings on that cylinder …

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Same here. Modern EGR systems already have carbon buildup issues, I can only imagine how it would work out on a single dedicated EGR cylinder without some serious thought about how to mitigate it.

        Also, the more I read about this idea, the more I can’t help but think of this:

        http://www.blogcdn.com/www.autoblog.com/media/2007/11/dei.jpg

        Sorry for the AB link, mods.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    Reads and looks like a maintenance nightmare.
    Want efficiency?
    Prius and Atkinson cycle.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I thought 70s/80s cars with absurd smog plumbing had too much under the hood…that looks like they took part of the engine apart and snapped a photograph. No thanks.

    Gimme a car that works like a diesel-electric locomotive, with an engine powering hub motors.


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