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Continental Piezo Injector Technology Recognized for Fuel Saving Innovation

Continental, one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers, has received a 2008 Automotive News PACE (Premier Automotive Suppliers’ Contribution to Excellence) Award in the Product-Europe category for its groundbreaking gasoline piezo injector technology that saves consumers money at the pump while reducing emissions and improving engine performance.

“It is very satisfying to have one of our products that is contributing to environmental sustainability earn a PACE Award as this award is accepted around the world as the industry symbol of innovation,” said Bill Kozyra, president and CEO Continental North America in accepting the prize Monday evening in Detroit.

“The piezo gasoline injector from Continental achieves two goals: First, it helps automakers and consumers alike to achieve more fuel economy from gasoline engines and second, it improves engine performance. In a sense, this innovation has the potential to keep the gasoline engine around as a viable power plant into the future, making it competitive with diesel and hybrid power plants.”

The 14th annual Automotive News PACE Awards competition, presented by Automotive News, Microsoft, SAP and the Transportation Research Center Inc. (TRC Inc.), recognizes superior innovation, technological advancement and business performance among suppliers that contribute products, processes, materials or services directly to the manufacture of cars or trucks.

“Receiving this recognition demonstrates to our customers that they can rely on Continental for automotive powertrain breakthroughs and cost-effective solutions as they look to meet the fuel economy demands of the 21st century,” said Kozyra. “This is further proof that innovation that addresses consumer demands for increased efficiency and performance is alive and well in the automotive industry: The piezo gasoline injector from Continental can contribute an estimated 20 percent savings in fuel consumption and a 40 percent reduction in hydro-carbon emissions. It is part of the wide range of products that Continental can supply today — from optimized tires to electronics — that combined could reduce fuel consumption by up to 40 per cent.”

Continental’s Powertrain division is the pioneer of piezo injection technology. The company has used its extensive electronics and mechatronics knowledge along with its diesel piezo technology experience to achieve extremely fine control over gasoline piezo injectors. Production of the first generation of piezo injectors for diesel engines began in 2000. Production of gasoline piezo began in 2006.

The gasoline piezo injector from Continental is the industry’s first mass-produced piezo direct injection system for gasoline engines suitable for stratified charge. This completely new mechatronic system takes full advantage of the fast switching speeds and precise fuel metering of piezo technology, making it possible to use a spray-guided stratification combustion process in a gasoline engine for the first time ever.

During the combustion process, gasoline is directly injected into the combustion chamber near peak pressure to better utilize the fuel. This results in a combustible mixture formed in the upper part of the combustion chamber in the immediate area of the spark plug. In this way, the innovation creates the conditions for a stratified charge.

Spray-guided combustion, which is the most efficient form of stratified charge, is only possible with the performance features of piezo technology because a precise, constant and stable injection must be directed to the immediate spark plug area. The nozzle needle completes its full stroke in just 0.2 milliseconds, while the maximum deviation between individual injected quantities of fuel is 2 percent — even with the typically short injection pulses under driving conditions.

For cleaner combustion, extremely fine atomization of the fuel must be maintained. At an injection pressure of approximately 200 bar, the average diameter of the fuel droplets is only 15 thousandths of a millimeter. Together with injector nozzles that open into the engine cylinder, an optimally prepared cloud mixture at the edge of the spark plug is yielded under nearly all operating conditions. The innovation is the only solution on the market able to do this.

This spray-guided combustion process is a first in a gasoline engine, and as a consequence, the extent of operating conditions that allow stratified charge is considerably expanded. For example, high displacement engines are able to achieve greater fuel economy at partial loads, while ensuring optimum cylinder charging at full load. This, too, is a first, and makes the innovation a viable new technology for production vehicles.

The auto industry is already recognizing the importance of the innovation. For example, during the ceremony when the BMW 335i Twin Turbo 3-liter engine was named to Ward’s 10 Best Engine List of 2007, BMW specifically recognized the company and the innovation’s contribution, the only OEM of the top 10 to do so.

With targeted annual sales of more than EUR26.4 billion for 2008, the Continental Corporation is one of the top automotive suppliers worldwide. As a supplier of brake systems, systems and components for the powertrain and chassis, instrumentation, infotainment solutions, vehicle electronics, tires and technical elastomers, the corporation contributes towards enhanced driving safety and protection of the global climate. Continental is also a competent partner in networked automobile communication. Today, the corporation employs approximately 150,000 people at nearly 200 locations in 36 countries.

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