We can change our paradigm of how the average vehicle is powered! We can break transport's addiction to oil!

But we have to face some hard facts:

a) The energy density and cost of batteries will never match liquid fuels.

b) Most consumers won’t compromise on purchase cost, range or convenience (TCO is not relevant).

c) Electric vehicle emissions are only as low as the source of electricity generation.

The sales of EVs stalled in 2019 and dived in 2020. Vehicle manufacturers are now hiding these sales figures because they don't look good. Following the Covid-19 pandemic, it is likely that EV sales will be one of the victims of the next great recession, despite so many people welcoming the reductions in air pollution due to the pandemic.

The graph below shows the total world vehicle production and the total electric vehicle production (=1.94m, 2% in 2019).

World Road Vehicle Production    

The internal combustion engine is here to stay for the 21st Century, but it needs to change roles in a marriage with electric motors. The average vehicle should be able to drive battery electric in our towns and cities, but use the engine as a range extender for high speeds and long distances. Power from the generator can bypass the battery, avoiding double energy conversion losses and battery degradation issues, but can also be used to recharge the battery when required. We call this the "SilkE powertrain" for self-charging electric vehicles.

The global average daily driving distance is only 25 miles (40km) mostly in congested, slow moving urban traffic. A battery sufficient to deliver this range is 1/10th of the size, weight and cost of a long-range EV battery. Self-charging electric vehicles will be cost neutral compared to conventional vehicles, dramatically reducing urban air pollution, rapidly accelerating the acceptance of electric vehicles and "breaking transport's addiction to oil, without compromise for the customer".

The Libralato R6 (rotary 6 phase) eco-engine is a completely new kind of rotary engine with a new thermodynamic cycle. The engine was first concept tested in 2011, followed by more rigorous proof of concept testing and analysis in 2014, which indicated that its revolutionary parallel 6-phase cycle is effective and is capable of exceptionally high efficiency and low emissions. The R6 eco-engine is predicted to be the most efficient compact engine in the world; with higher efficiency than a diesel engine (>50%) using gasoline, biofuels or hydrogen, but half the size and weight.

The size, weight and cost savings from the R6 eco-engine mean that all the electric powertrain components (including batteries) can be fitted into standard engine bays for less than the price of a diesel engine. The efficiency of the R6 eco-engine combined with full electric drive capability and regenerative braking can reduce average fuel consumption by 60% (heavy duty vehicle) to 78% (light duty vehicle), without range anxiety, without new charging infrastructure.

Since on average 66% of global electricity is produced from fossil fuels (average carbon intensity 475g/kWh, source: IEA 2019), compared to equivalent range fully electric vehicles, the SilkE powertrain can reduce well-to-wheel CO2 emissions by 7% (HDV) - 8% (LDV), through a combination of reduced vehicle weight and the exceptional efficiency of the R6-ICE. The key automotive growth markets of China and India are still heavily dependent on coal for electricity production, therefore running in ICE mode the SilkE powertrain reduces WTW CO2 by 29% (China) – 42% (India).

This initiative is not retrograde in terms of the goal of net zero transport emissions! Market leadership of self-charging electric vehicles can radically accelerate the global market penetration of EVs by eliminating the barriers to customer acceptance (cost, range and inconvenience). By the end of the 21st century the R6-ICE may no longer be needed for road transport, but other markets such as aviation and marine will still be relevant due to the low power density of batteries.

The automotive industry is very conservative. Paradoxically, because the R6 eco-engine is so radically new and different, it is not trusted and therefore Libralato Ltd. has struggled financially to develop the engine. As recognised by the ‘Renewed European Agenda for Research and Innovation’ ( “Compared to incremental innovation, breakthrough innovations tend to come from new entrants, often start-ups without existing assets or cash flows. They tend to entail higher risks, in terms of technology, market and regulation. Too few European start-ups survive beyond the critical initial phase of 2-3 years, due to lack of venture capital, a deep-rooted aversion to risk and an inability to exploit the scale of the Union”. The illustration below shows Libralato's market penetration strategy starting with low volume applications.

Market Penetration    

As stated by the UK Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) in Dec 2019, "Our strength in developing the latest powertrains and autonomous technologies demonstrate that we have the foundations to build a new British success story. We want to be leaders in the technological revolution that is reshaping our industry, producing ever cleaner, cutting-edge vehicles that are driven throughout the world and which are the embodiment of the quality, ingenuity and innovation that sits at the heart of UK automotive manufacturing."

Libralato Ltd. is supported by:

Seventh Framework Programme     European Commission     Innovate