Houston Heavy Truck Engines

The heavy truck engines activity focuses on increasing heavy-duty diesel engine efficiency significantly above current levels, as well as addressing efficiency penalties resulting from technologies employed to meet increasingly stringent emissions standards. Reduced engine efficiency results in higher costs to truck owners and consumers of products delivered by truck. Improving heavy truck fuel efficiency will help reduce petroleum demand together with the associated cost.

Research Goal

This activity’s long-term (2012) research goal is to develop the technologies that will increase the thermal efficiency of heavy-duty diesel engines to at least 55% while reducing emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) to near-zero levels.


The heavy truck engine activity takes an integrated approach involving engine design, fuels, and aftertreatment technologies to address fuel efficiency and emissions. Major elements of this approach include the following:

  • Define baseline engine designs in enough detail to identify areas requiring technology advancement;
  • Optimize mechanical design and combustion systems for maximum efficiency;
  • Develop and integrate cost-effective waste-heat recovery technologies;
  • Improve (a) the fundamental understanding of diesel combustion/emissions formation processes and exhaust aftertreatment systems, and (b) predictive simulation capabilities to effectively optimize performance;
  • Develop and exploit advanced fuel injection and engine control strategies;
  • Improve turbocharger and/or air handling systems and controls;
  • Continue to refine designs for engine components that contribute to friction losses;
  • Develop accurate, robust sensors for control systems; and
  • Conduct R&D in support of increased engine efficiency.

Research in this area supports the goal stated by the 21st Century Truck Partnership to develop and validate a commercially viable, 50%-efficient, emissions-compliant engine system for Class 7 and 8 highway trucks by 2010.


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