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02-03-2018 | Engine Technology | News | Article

Activist Jürgen Resch Surprises the Engine Elite

Andreas Burkert

The German Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig, Germany, has also ruled in favour of the "modern" diesel engine. When powered by synthetic fuel, the engine need not shy away from any limit. This was shown at the 5th International Engine Congress where Jürgen Resch’s proposal to the engine elite caused a sensation. 

There is “no emissions-related argument against diesel”, Professor Thomas Koch had explained at the ATZlive conference "Powertrain of Tomorrow" in Frankfurt only a few days earlier. Despite his highly respected opinion in German federal politics, the head of the Institute of Reciprocating Engines at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) was unable to persuade the judges at the Administrative Court. The judges have now made their decision, and their verdict has put a whole nation in turmoil.

Although the air pollution control plans were deliberated specifically for Düsseldorf and Stuttgart in Leipzig, the ruling will have far-reaching consequences for combustion engine mobility, since cities where pollutant limit values are exceeded will now be permitted to impose driving bans. The focus is on the EU limits for nitrogen oxides (NOx) and thus the diesel engine, which has been identified as the main source of NOx. It is the “final nail in the coffin” for the diesel engine, as one participant of the 5th International Engine Congress 2018 put it, commenting on the ruling.

Jürgen Resch surprises with his statement on the combustion engine

Nearly 450 managers from the fields of research and science met at the event to report on the progress of the internal combustion engine, and to find out in person from Jürgen Resch what he has against the combustion engine. After all, as executive director of Environmental Action Germany (Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V. – DUH), he is responsible for the ruling. Via a live Skype feed from Leipzig to the auditorium, Resch surprised his audience by saying that he has nothing against the car per se regardless of the powertrain fitted. However, if fraud is committed, legal action must be taken in his opinion. He also believes that there are alternatives. Wolfgang Maus, Managing Director, WM Engineering & Consulting, who together with Johannes Liebl, publisher ATZ / MTZ, moderated the panel discussion, wanted to know if synthetic fuels also fell into this category.

"They are currently only available in very small quantities and are still a topic for research and development," said Resch and again surprised the engine developers: "But I will support you if we can improve the air with synthetic fuels too." He then pointed out that there will be competition between different systems for a long time to come. "Since we will still have combustion engines for many years to come, we must do everything we can to reduce CO2 and nitrogen oxides," Resch said and thereby showed that the differences between him and the German automotive industry are far smaller.

The CNG drive will save the combustion engine

Otmar Scharrer, Vice President Corporate Research and Advanced Engineering at Mahle, also considers that a mix of powertrains is indispensable for the future, and his response to the best approach is: "We have a precise strategy but do not follow it blindly." This means that CNG (compressed natural gas) drive will soon be the focus for both suppliers and carmakers, also because synthetic fuels are hardly commercially viable at present. Ellensohn criticised the high electricity prices as one reason. At this point, Resch suggested, "Why not relocate power production to countries more suited to renewable energies?"

Power-to-gas technology would then also favour CNG drive. With this drive, the problems of a life cycle assessment would also be much less serious. Carsten Müller is a member of the German federal parliament and serves on the Committee on the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety. He views the battery-electric drive as an "attack on the environment", given overall CO2 exposure. He cannot envisage the abolition of tiered tax rates for fuels in the near future, whereas Resch pleaded for the so-called diesel subsidy to be abolished immediately in order to have “technology-independent taxation based on CO2 emissions". The money could also be used to "promote new, clean fuels to make them commercially viable".

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