Libertine has secured funding from Innovate UK to advance the development of its range-extender concept for heavy-duty applications. Libertine says its free-piston range extenders offer the efficiency of fuel cells and the durability of conventional engines, and its intelliGEN control technology solves the free-piston motion challenge, optimizing combustion conditions from the first ignition cycle.
Libertine’s free-piston engine contains a pair of pistons that are free to slide within a linear combustion cylinder. The introduction of a fuel mixture and a carefully timed spark drives the pistons down the cylinder where they rebound off of air springs, enabling the cycle to repeat. Magnets in the pistons energize coils around the cylinder, generating electricity with efficiencies above those of conventional engines and generators.
“As a director of a major hauler, I have first-hand knowledge of the hurdles the industry faces in reducing emissions,” says Libertine CEO Sam Cockerill. “The impact of a pure electric powertrain on payload, productivity and up-front costs, combined with limited charging infrastructure and restricted new vehicle choice, are real challenges. The combination of a smaller battery and an efficient onboard generator using 100% renewable fuels has the potential to solve these pain points and drive significant uptake of net-zero trucks before the end of the decade.”
The 2021 development will integrate Libertine’s technology with MAHLE Powertrain’s pre-chamber ignition system to form a multi-cylinder opposed free-piston engine, optimized to run on alcohol fuels. The project will also integrate multiple enhancements for thermal management, durability and electrical power conversion efficiency, enabling performance validation against OEM-specified requirements.