Founded in 2021, Clean Propulsion Technologies (CPT), was a co-innovation endeavor in which 15 consortium partners, with the support of Business Finland, secured over 15 MEu to establish a global technology leadership position of the Finnish powertrain industry by creating a common vision and sustainable business solutions. The project responded to the need to create a critical mass for powertrain research and development by combining the resources of two domains strategically positioned in the Finnish economy – the marine and off-road industries. According to Project Leader, Prof. Maciej Mikulski, if we want to keep the privilege of thinking independently in powertrain development in Finland, we need a different co-innovation model than the one established by a globalizing automotive market.
CPT provided 21 new solutions and innovations, ranging from accelerated model-based design methodologies, progress in combustion and aftertreatment control, to hybrid energy management solutions. The solutions were implemented in several demonstrators. Examples include: (i) an ultra-clean reactivity controlled compression ignition (RCCI) marine engine; (ii) an innovative lean-burn hydrogen engine platform for the off-road sector; and (iii) electro-hydraulic-hybrid demonstrator platform sWille.
These demonstrators culminate the efforts of over 100 researchers and engineers working on the project in 68 closely interconnected milestones. Based on the milestone realization, Mikulski estimates the project completion rate at 98% compared to the original plan. This is a major success, considering that the project has run during turbulent times, with both COVID and the war in Ukraine impacting the consortium’s supply chains.
CPT was more than just its technological impact. It produced 47 high-impact research papers and theses within the three years of its duration. Noteworthy, CPT has initiated a successful societal campaign to provide an unbiased and research-based understanding of powertrain development in the marine and off-road sectors. The deliverables of this campaign are a set of 30 news articles positioning the importance of combustion-based propulsion for sustainability. According to Mikulski, results of increased social awareness is already visible in Finland, and the CPT consortium’s “voice of reason” has been picked up internationally.
The project ended in 2023 but Mikulski emphasizes that the long-term ambitions of CPT, as encapsulated in the joint roadmap, live on. The project has created over 50 new positions in academia and industry. It is responsible for at least 10 new doctorates and several new professorships. The common roadmap has already spanned four new research projects that directly pick up the deliverables of CPT bringing further new recruitments. The initiative has triggered several strategic infrastructural investments in new powertrain research facilities in Finland. A new critical mass project is also cementing this legacy.
Photo: Riikka Kalmi