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The Evolution of Clean Technology and the Outboard Engine

 

 

The Evolution of Clean Technology and the Outboard Engine

We sat down with Jeff Wasil, Engineering Manager, Emissions Testing, Certification & Regulatory Development for BRP to talk about how the outboard market has evolved over the years with changes in environmental regulations. He gave us a little background on the industry and a glimpse into the future.

Not all that long ago, in the late 90s and early 2000s, the majority of outboard engines and personal water craft (PWC) were conventional carbureted two-stroke engines (99% of them according to EPA/industry data at the time). These types of engines had disproportionately high hydrocarbon emissions and poor fuel economy because upwards of 35% of the fuel and oil were emitted from the engine unburned. The conventional two-stroke engines did, however, perform really well on the boat as they were lightweight and had great torque and power for their size.

Because of the high emissions of these types of engines, the EPA first regulated marine outboard engines in 1998. Manufacturers began working on technologies to reduce emissions in order to meet the new EPA standards. Technologies included direct fuel injection two-stroke and four-stroke engine designs. The four-stroke outboard was an easier path to take from an emissions point of view, but had significant challenges with respect to weight, power, and performance. Adding direct fuel injection (DI) to the two-stroke engine solved the inherent short-circuiting of fuel out of the exhaust, but there were very few examples of production gasoline engines using direct fuel injection, preventing technologies from being borrowed or co-developed from the automotive sector. All of the development work needed to be performed in-house and these early DI systems were complex and not fully understood. Likewise, four-stroke engines struggled to meet consumer demands for performance as most boaters were very much accustomed to the performance of two-stroke engines.

Today, direct fuel injection outboards and electronic fuel injection four-stroke outboards emit over 90% fewer total hydrocarbon and oxides of nitrogen than these early engines and, automotive engines are now just finally starting to use direct fuel injection – nearly 20 years after the technologies were pioneered for the marine market. In many ways, early direct fuel injection outboards lead the way to the advantages of the direct fuel injection automotive engines we enjoy today.

What are the major concerns for boaters when it comes to the environmental impact of outboard engines?

As manufacturer’s we are continuing to improve upon the environmental impact of our products while expanding the technological user features and engine performance. Some of the fuel efficiency improvements made within the last couple years on outboard engines is nothing short of amazing. Some outboard engines are nearly 20% more fuel efficient than engines offered only two years ago. And yes, these technologies use direct fuel injection!

Beyond that, when I was working on an emissions inventory project in California, it became clear that the largest driver of emissions reductions from recreational boats come not from more stringent regulations on new outboards, but rather from retirement of older outboard engines. As an example, as of last year (2016) nearly 90% of the total emissions from recreational boats in California are coming from older two-stroke engines. So even reducing the emissions by another 50%, for example, on new outboards would result in nearly an undetectable difference in overall emissions as the market is still comprised of many older technology engines with very high emissions. Replacing only one conventional two-stroke with a clean-technology, direct fuel injection two-stroke or four-stroke engine is equivalent to removing 30 boats worth of emissions. Think about that when you consider replacing your old engine.

 

What emissions regulations apply to outboard engines and how will they change in the future?

Outboard engines need to comply with the US EPA, California Air Resources Board, Environment Canada, European Union Recreational Craft Directive, United Arab Emirates regulations and the optional Bodensee (Lake Constance – lake surrounded by Germany, Austria, and Switzerland) standards. Interestingly enough, not all outboard engine manufacturers make a fully “global compliant” outboard engine. Some manufacturers still produce conventional carbureted two-stroke engines for areas that do not have strict marine engine emissions regulations, such as Australia. A large percentage of the market is still comprised of these older technology engines which is disappointing because modern outboard engines emit over 90% fewer emissions and are so much more user-friendly, quieter, smoother running and more fuel efficient. Australia is, however, working toward a regulation that should go into effect starting in 2018 and will come with many benefits to the consumer and the environment.

What is the industry as a whole doing to address environmental issues?

As an industry, we are very much participating in the regulatory development process and leading many of the discussions with respect to recreational marine regulations around the world. We’ve recently completed a five-year industry test program, for example, in which we’ve tested, validated and approved a next-generation biofuel called biobutanol that comes with many performance and environmental benefits to marine engines. As you’re most likely aware, there is a push toward higher ethanol blends such as E15 (15% ethanol). Industry data indicates there are a lot of issues with ethanol such as phase-separation, corrosion, engine enleanment and even catastrophic engine failures. We wanted to be proactive and come up with a solution to the biofuels debate rather than simply just oppose biofuels such as ethanol. Think about it; consumers really do not have a choice when it comes to fuels, especially in non-attainment areas which all mandate oxygenated fuels (ethanol). Approving biobutanol fuel blends up to 16.1 % by volume gives the boating consumer an option for an ethanol-free fuel that is very much compatible with marine engines. Biobutanol does not phase-separate, has a higher energy content and behaves very similarly to standard gasoline. Since we’ve approved biobutanol fuel as an industry, there are several marinas and markets on the East Coast, with availability at gas stations in Texas, Arizona, Missouri and others coming soon. This is a great accomplishment for the industry and provides consumers, even outside of the marine market, with options for ethanol-free fuel, too. This is what we’re great at as an industry; working together for the common good to move the needle in meaningful and profound ways.

To Learn More Visit Evinrude.com Today!

 

 

Original Source:  Sportsmans Lifestyle.com

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