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Energy for the Future – technology in brief

Geneva, Mar 02, 2005 Is hydrogen an “energy source” or an “energy medium”? What is a turbocharger, and what is an intercooler? The vocabulary of sustainable mobility is complex and often complicated. You will find the most important technical terms relating to DaimlerChrysler’s initiative “Energy for the Future” briefly explained in our compact “mobility navigator”.

BTL (biomass to liquid): Synthetic fuels, for the production of which any type of biomass can be used.

Carbon-dioxide neutrality: Plants derive CO2 from the air during growth. In the combustion of BTL, no additional CO2 from fossil sources is released. The atmospheric CO2 balance remains neutral, and the cycle is closed.

Charge air cooling: DaimlerChrysler’s state-of-the-art CDI engines are fitted as standard with a charge air cooler (intercooler), which enhances the charging effect. This unit cools the pressurized air from the compressor. The principle: since cold air is denser than hot air, a greater quantity can enter the inlet valves over a given time interval. The cooling effect is provided by the air stream and the engine’s coolant fluid.

Cold-starting fuel cell: The fuel cell’s inadequate ability to start at sub-zero temperatures was long seen as the greatest obstacle facing market introduction of this technology: when the fuel cell froze, the sensitive electrodes were damaged and the gas supply to the fuel cell stacks was also cut, so that the generation of electricity was immediately prevented. DaimlerChrysler achieved the breakthrough in 2004: the use of new materials and strategic modifications to the electrode structure prevent water from freezing as soon as it is formed in the synthesis of hydrogen and oxygen. DaimlerChrysler’s fuel cell vehicles will therefore be able to start at temperatures as low as –20 °C (–4 °F) in future.

Energy medium: Energy media include for example coal, natural gas and petroleum. Hydrogen is also an energy medium; it occurs in nature above all in bonded form as water and therefore must be generated. In terms of overall energy balance, the use of hydrogen only makes sense if it is derived by regenerative means. Such methods include hydrogen production by electrolysis with power generated from hydroelectric, wind or geothermal power plants, and the derivation of hydrogen from biomass.

F-Cell: Successor to the NECAR vehicles based on the Mercedes-Benz A-Class. Sixty of these cars are currently undergoing fleet tests with customers. The experience gained in these tests flows directly into the development of DaimlerChrysler’s future fuel cell vehicles.

Fuel cell: Power unit in which hydrogen and oxygen are subjected to a controlled reaction to produce water; this reaction also generates heat and electrical energy. GTL (gas to liquid): Synthetic liquid fuels derived from natural gas. GTL diesel fuel contains neither sulfur nor aromatic hydrocarbons.

Homogenous combustion: Especially in the diesel engine, the very even distribution of fuel and air in the combustion chamber gives rise to an even temperature distribution, which prevents oxides of nitrogen and soot particles from arising. DaimlerChrysler’s researchers achieve a homogenous fuel-air mixture through fine adjustment of the fuel injection and of the air stream within the cylinder.

Hybrid: The combination of two or more independent drive units (e.g. internal combustion engine and electric motor) is referred to as hybrid drive. By using the electric motor as a generator, energy can be recovered during the vehicle’s braking and deceleration phases and temporarily stored in the battery. Especially in city traffic with frequent stops and starts, this can bring about considerable savings in fuel consumption.

Hydrogen: Energy medium for fuel cell vehicles. Can be generated on a largely CO2-neutral basis from renewable energy sources.

Injectors: Powerful valves, actuated to regulate the injection timing and fuel quantity for each individual combustion chamber as required. In modern engines from DaimlerChrysler, the injection valves are controlled by special actuators (piezo crystals). When a current flows, the piezo element expands and triggers an injection of fuel. Thanks to the rapid reaction of the piezo elements, a large number of highly precise injections can be realized within a very short time interval. This enhances mixture formation and helps reduce emissions.

Renewable energy: Regenerative energy sources from wind, hydroelectric, geothermic or solar heat power stations, solar cells and biomass.

SunDiesel: DaimlerChrysler and VW’s designation of synthetic fuels produced from biomass in a specialized process. These fuels are chemically highly pure and thus give rise to only a minimum of noxious exhaust on combustion. They are also largely CO2-neutral, since the same amount of carbon dioxide released on combustion was derived from the air by the plants during growth.

Turbocharging: A method of enhancing the performance of internal combustion engines. An auxiliary aggregate (e.g. compressor, turbocharger) compresses the air required for combustion, so that the engine is supplied with a greater mass of air. At the same tine, the mass of fuel supplied to the engine can also be increased; this results in increased torque and power output. Engines with a smaller displacement can thus by used with no loss in performance, thereby reducing fuel consumption.