Cummins Inc says it will open a new Powertrain Test Facility at the Darlington, UK campus to help accelerate the move towards cleaner, next generation power technologies focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality. Ground preparation work for the new facility is now underway with the first phase of the £14 million investment expected to open for operations by May 2023. The facility is designed to be fuel-agnostic and will enable Cummins to develop and test a wider range of power technologies, including the latest universal engine platforms with variants able to operate on green hydrogen, renewable natural gas, or sustainable diesel. Installation and testing capability will also extend to hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric powertrains.
Highly advanced dynamometers will be able to test not only powertrains, but also chassis-installed powertrains and vehicles, extending in size from a compact SUV to heavy-trucks over 44 t or a double-deck bus. Off-road equipment, including construction machines and agricultural tractors, will also be able to be dyno-tested.
The news comes not long after the February 14 announcement from Cummins that it is expanding its industry-leading powertrain platforms, leveraging a range of lower carbon fuel types. As the industry’s first unified, fuel-agnostic engines, these platforms will use engine blocks and core components that share common architectures and will be optimised for different low-carbon fuel types. These new fuel-agnostic engine platforms will feature a series of engine versions that are derived from a common base engine, which means they have a high degree of parts commonality. Below the head gasket of each engine will largely have similar components and above the head gasket will have different components for different fuel types. Each engine version will operate using a different, single fuel. This new design approach will be applied across the company’s B, L and X-Series engine portfolios, which will be available for diesel, natural gas and hydrogen.
These new products are an important element of Cummins’ strategy to go further, faster to reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) and air quality impacts of its products and reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Two of the company’s environmental sustainability goals for 2030 goals include reducing scope 3 absolute lifetime greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from newly sold products by 25% and partnering with customers to reduce scope 3 GHG emissions from products in the field by 55 Mt.
“We are very excited to announce this significant investment in the new Powertrain Test Facility at Darlington, which will be an important element in Cummins Destination Zero strategy to deliver a broad portfolio of power solutions to meet the world’s sustainability challenges,” said Jonathan Atkinson, Executive Director of Cummins On-highway Business in Europe. “The new facility will further enhance the ability of Cummins European Technical Operations to introduce low-to-zero carbon power solutions and meet the forthcoming Euro VII very low emission regulations, likely to take effect around 2025,” added Atkinson.
Cummins’ focus on developing next generation, clean power aligns with the vision of the Tees Valley region to become a leader in alternative power production and technologies. Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, commented, “It’s brilliant news that Cummins is set to invest £14 million into their Darlington plant to build a new Powertain Test Facility. Teesside’s leading position as ground zero for net zero means there is no better place to develop the cleaner, healthier, and safer technologies of the future. We’ve already seen how Cummins’ position at the forefront of developments into hydrogen engines is securing hundreds of jobs at their facility and this new investment is another great example of how they are creating even more good-quality, well-paid jobs by developing and pushing forward net zero innovation in Teesside.”
The Cummins Darlington campus co-locates manufacturing, technical, testing and business services on a single site with around 1,500 employees. The establishment of the new Powertrain Test Facility will provide opportunities to upskill current employees as well as recruitment and training of new employees.
Covering a 738 square metre footprint, the two-story Powertrain Test Facility will significantly increase testing capacity with state-of-the-art capabilities at the Darlington campus. The new facility will not only help develop clean power solutions, but also generate its own sustainable power. The heavy-duty dynamometers and test cells will feature energy recovery systems to generate electricity. This will be exported to the ring main of the Cummins site, adding further capability for energy self-generation on-site. In addition, water consumption of the cooling towers will be reduced by harvesting rainwater, using a similar system already in place at the manufacturing plant.