Powering change

Name: Dennis Langervik, vp-product development, Volvo Trucks North America, Greensboro, NC. Background: Langervik worked as a car and truck mechanic before receiving a mechanical degree from Sweden's Gothenburg University in 1972. That year he joined Volvo as a project engineer, first working on charge-air cooled diesels. In 1985, he joined the company's truck and bus operations in Brazil. In 1989,

Name: Dennis Langervik, vp-product development, Volvo Trucks North America, Greensboro, NC.

Background: Langervik worked as a car and truck mechanic before receiving a mechanical degree from Sweden's Gothenburg University in 1972. That year he joined Volvo as a project engineer, first working on charge-air cooled diesels. In 1985, he joined the company's truck and bus operations in Brazil. In 1989, he became the OEM's chief engineer in charge of engine development. In 1997, Langervik began his current assignment.

As an engineer with nearly 30 years of international experience developing engines for commercial vehicles, Dennis Langervik is certainly up to the task of guiding Volvo Trucks North America (VTNA) through the seemingly never-ending thicket of federal emissions regulations. Next up, of course, are the 2002 regs.

“For us as a truck and engine builder,” says Langervik, “addressing the ‘02 regulations involves both developing engines to meet the new limits and integrating those engines into our trucks.”

As for engines, he says their combustion characteristics will have to change for ‘02. “There's always a tradeoff between NOx and particulate emissions,” he notes. “On top of that, there's a trade-off between NOx levels and fuel economy.

“Engine makers must address all of this with new technology,” Langervik continues. “It's a known fact that meeting these limits with existing technology will cost too much in fuel economy.”

And he says there's also the challenge of dealing with the complexity of adding subsystems to make internal combustion more efficient. “That means more parameters than ever must be addressed,” Langervik states.

“Fuel systems will change drastically with some engine makes,” he continues. “The timing and duration of fuel injection will change and controls systems will change to better balance how fuel is burned. In addition, exhaust-gas recirculation (EGR) systems will be added between the fuel and turbocharger system.

“All of these new parameters will have to be controlled,” says Langervik. “The result will be cleaner and more durable engines. But the main challenge is the shorter time frame we are working within — and the need to quality-assure all the new systems before they reach the market.”

Langervik notes that he “feels fortunate” that Volvo as a maker of both trucks and engines enjoys “early visibility” to meeting the ‘02 challenge. And he says the OEM's partnership arrangement with Cummins will help ease installation of that engine maker's ‘02 diesels into its non-Volvo-powered trucks.

When it comes time to engineer ‘02 engines into various truck models, Langervik expects cooling systems will be impacted. “A lot of heat will come from EGR systems,” he explains. “Depending on the engine, we could see an increase of 30% or more in the amount of heat that's transferred from the engine. Dealing with that will be a substantial challenge for all truck builders.

“Cooling capacity will have to increase,” he continues. “Radiators and charge-air coolers could increase in size, which could impact the packaging aspects of a truck's design. Fortunately, we feel we have already captured this issue quite well and will be able to develop our trucks without packaging or horsepower constraints. But the cooling package we use will be of a new type. And despite this new design, we don't expect any impact on cooling system maintenance.”

Moving back to the engine side, Langervik says it is still too early to predict how well the engine oils being formulated for ‘02 diesels will handle the relatively long oil and filter change intervals some fleets have grown accustomed to. “That will all be part of meeting the ongoing challenge of not having the customer pay more for maintenance,” he states.

Indeed, Langervik strives to keep engineering plugged into the real world truckers live in. “We, as everyone else supplying this industry,” he points out, “must respect how to use technology with reasonable — if any — cost impact on the customer.”




Each month this column looks at emerging truck technology issues through the eyes of some of the industry's leading engineers.

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