Inspired engineering with Pauline Dumont
After joining Delta in early 2019, Pauline has become an instrumental part of the Cat Gen development team. Following our acquisition of the renamed Delta Cosworth in 2021, Pauline has continued to work on the programme and is becoming more involved with the control systems side of development.
What brought you to Delta Cosworth?
I was drawn to Delta as it opened the ability to work on and develop low emission technology, it’s something that I’m passionate about and want to keep advancing. Working at Delta Cosworth enables me to do more technical work and get more involved with control systems which was something I was missing from my previous role. I really enjoy the opportunities I have here to expand my knowledge as a Development and Integration Engineer.
Can you tell us more about your current role and what programmes you have been involved with?
I have been in this role since I started at Delta Cosworth and have worked on multiple projects, many related to the Catalytic Generator. Firstly, I started on the Ariel HiPerCaR (High Performance Carbon Reduction) programme, where I’ve been focused on the integration of the Cat Gen into the car.
I’ve also been involved in working on the emissions legislation around the Cat Gen within the Hipercar, the project is so innovative that there is no data or legislation around the technology so, we have to do everything from scratch to determine if it is a viable solution in this type of performance application.
The next project I started work on was within the defence sector. It’s a three-phase programme. Initially we built a standalone test rig with all the hardware built into it. We provided the rig to the client so they can run their own testing to determine the benefits and drawbacks of the technology.
From there we ran the integration phase of the programme to gain an understanding of how the Cat Gen will fit into vehicles, for example whether it is suitable for all applications and will it be universal across the field. From that, we are now in discussions on phase three of the project, which should result in a demonstrator vehicle being produced. It was really interesting to take more learnings from this sector, gaining an understanding on how best we can utilise the technology within the defence industry.
These two programmes have been important for the development of the Cat Gen. We have gathered data from opposite ends of the spectrum. From a performance road-going vehicle, where the charging and refuelling availability is very high, to a vehicle that may have to stay mobile for an unknown duration in harsh environments, without the ability to recharge and with no guarantee that the type of fuel that can be found will be consistent.
Can you tell us more about the TrueREEV project of which you have also been part?
The TrueREEV project enabled us to look into one of the most important parts of the industry and to bring it up to sustainable standards, the commercial vehicle sector. The vehicle we chose was a Ford Transit and we acquired 2 vehicles for the project.
We replaced the engine and generator with the Cat Gen, leaving the Ford battery in the first van and the second has an upgraded Delta battery, it covers a usable daily range, as the original Ford battery was very small. The engine and generator were also replaced by the Cat Gen in this second vehicle.
It’s been the most hands on programme to date, with full vehicle integration being the prime objective. It has been really exciting for me because it’s where we’ve been able to do the most work and really understand how best to fit our technology into a vehicle. With the demonstrator vehicle we will be able to get feedback from industry professionals on what they think about the solution we have developed.
Further to these three programmes we have also started doing research in the Marine sector. Working with one of our partners, Baltic Yachts, we have fitted a prototype/demonstrator Cat Gen into one of their sustainable sailing yachts. The entire yacht has been developed with sustainable materials and an electric powertrain. Currently the demonstrator Cat Gen is being tested in their yacht which is being used by Baltic’s customers. This great opportunity enables us to gather highly accurate real-world data for further development in this sector.
From being part of the engineering team behind the Cat Gen, what is your opinion of the technology and where do you think its place will be within the industry?
I think the technology has huge potential. As a company we want to help every sector of the transport and propulsion industry to become cleaner, produce lower emissions and become more sustainable. Alongside this, we also want to take thins technology into any industry that requires power generation, be that construction, defence, static power generation or auxiliary units. All these industries need to reduce their carbon emissions too. I believe the Cat Gen will enable us to achieve these goals. It may not be the only solution to move the industry forward, but it definitely is one of the solutions to help us improve.
It’s important to showcase different technologies to decarbonise the different sectors. We are going against the grain with the Gat Gen, everyone else is going fully electric, which has its own challenges.
By developing the Cat Gen, we are raising awareness that no solution is perfect however, there can be a better solution for different sectors. The universal nature of the Cat Gen, both in terms of fuel flexibility and being applicable to a multitude of sectors, gives the device a broad place within the market, it is not limited to one space in the industry.
Following on from the last question, why does the transport industry need to diversify its vehicle propulsion solutions?
When diesel came onto the market, everyone thought it was a great solution and the industry started looking at diesel as the fuel of the future. We then realised with using diesel was far from perfect and we had to go back to square one in finding a suitable energy source. This is why diversity is important, if we rush towards one solution, we may get to a point where we realise it’s not as beneficial as we thought, or there may be drawbacks that we are not aware of yet. We would then be stuck with the solution or forced to start again. If we diversify, we can have multiple solutions for a multitude of applications which also enables us to transfer the different technologies between sectors, especially if one solution isn’t as sustainable or useful as we once believed.
What drove you to developing the Cat Gen? What was the thought process behind going down that route?
Initially, we looked at the automotive industry and Delta developed an electric car, the E4. The car was small and lightweight and was a way for us to explore electric cars and their challenges, but also the technology behind it. That was in 2011 and we quickly realised there were issues with the infrastructure, charging times, finding charge points and the limitations of range. This prompted our team to look at different solutions for battery electric vehicles. We planned to downsize the battery, but still remain usable for the normal day to day activities, such as driving to work or the supermarket. For longer journeys, the team planned on using a generator to live in the vehicle and recharge the battery on the move to enable drivers to reach destinations further afield.
We needed a device that was small, lightweight, low emissions capable and cost effective for the automotive sector. This is a substantial list of requirements.
As a company we looked at all forms of power generation including current solutions on the market. This is the point at which we took a massive step away from piston engines which allowed us to question if an internal combustion engine is the best solution and if not, what would be? This is how we settled on turbine technology.
Turbine technology has been considered as a solution since the 1950s, however, in the past, the turbine has been mechanically connected to the wheels. Turbines are great at steady state running but not efficient in transient use, which is how it has been used in the past. The electrification of vehicles has really enabled turbine technology to be make a comeback in the automotive industry, because the wheels are driven by electric motors and energy comes from a high voltage battery. The turbine is decoupled from this system as it is used as an onboard charger and does not directly power the wheels, allowing the turbine to run at an efficient steady state. Turbines have great benefits, they can be small, lightweight, can use any kind of fuel and produce low emissions. That’s how we came to the beginning of the project that led us to the Cat Gen.
It’s quite important that people understand that we want to increase electric mileage. The majority of the time vehicles will be running on a pre-charged battery. The Cat Gen will be used to augment the system, when necessary, hopefully for only 5-10% of the time. We don’t want to produce emissions when we don’t have to and by using this technology, we can enable more people to look at electric vehicles as a real, viable option. The Cat Gen is a backup for unexpected or long journeys where you don’t have time to stop and recharge.
What are the next steps for the Cat Gen programme?
We will continue to work on the project, which will enable us to finalise the development. Durability is one of the final areas of development. In theory it can run continuously for an unlimited amount of time, as it has few moving, low-wearing parts however, we have still need to do long run tests to understand the weakest points that may need addressing.
Durability testing has always been scheduled to be one of the last stages. During the development phase, we are obviously in the prototype phase where we are restricted with the number of available parts. Now that we’ve optimised the design, we will start pushing the units, to find their breaking points and if necessary, make changes to maximise the lifespan of the Cat Gen units.
We are also in the strategy development stage. We will spend more time running vehicles, gathering data that will help us to optimise running strategies, when the Cat Gen starts and stops for example and what are the best solutions for emissions. Now we have the two TrueREEV vehicles in a working state we want to showcase the technology and keep learning about how far we can push our technology.