Common Wealth

Internal combustion engines are key to the decarbonised future many OEMs are working towards including Cummins.
The X15 agnostic platform for natural gas, clean diesel and hydrogen.

As part of its Destination Zero decarbonisation strategy, Cummins is taking practical steps now to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 rather than waiting for more advanced technologies to be ready to deploy. This is clearly evident in the all-new X15 platform.

The entirely new 15-litre platform, known as the X15D, will deliver the highest-ever outputs for a Cummins truck engine – up to 660hp backed up by massive peak torque of 2360 lb-ft — while achieving major improvements in fuel efficiency at ultra-low emissions levels the company said in a statement released last month.

“With the all-new X-series platform, Cummins is taking the internal combustion engine to a next generation level, capable of meeting future ultra-low emission standards with a low-to-zero carbon fuel capability,” says Mike Fowler, Director of On-highway business for Cummins Asia Pacific.

While there is no firm date for release of the X15D in Australia and New Zealand, an extensive field test program is now underway. In Australia it commenced back in 2021.

“The X15D will only be released when we are completely satisfied with its reliability and durability in meeting the harsh demands of the Australian B-double duty cycle,” says Fowler.

One of the key features of the X15D is its dry weight reduction of 225kg compared with the current X15.

A sculpted iron block and composite oil pan are among the weight saving features that result in the X15D having the highest power-to-weight density in the industry.

“The unique power cylinder design enables much higher peak cylinder pressures – 20 per cent higher than the current engine – and that enhances power density and overall efficiency,” says Fowler.

Featuring the latest evolution of Cummins’ XPI (Extreme Pressure Injection) fuel system, the X15D will be offered with ratings of up to 660hp backed up by massive peak torque of 2360lb-ft.

The highest rating eclipses the current X15 peaks of 615hp/2050lb ft and will enhance Cummins’ engine downspeeding strategy for improved fuel economy.

“This strategy is about reducing cruise rpm for fuel economy gains while at the same time providing the grunt to meet both driver and trip time expectations,” says Fowler, who noted that peak torque extends over a wide band, from 1500rpm all the way back to 1000rpm.

Cummins is continuing to advance the internal combustion engine technology it’s renowned for with further improvements in efficiency as well as compatibility with cleaner fuels like hydrogen, biodiesel and hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), also known as ‘renewable’ diesel.

Simultaneously, the company continues to innovate zero-emissions solutions like hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric technologies, spending around USD$1 billion per year on research and development.

The X15D is a key part of Cummins’ industry-first fuel agnostic platform which comprises diesel, natural gas and hydrogen internal combustion engines derived from a common base which facilitates high parts commonality.

The all-new 15-litre platform basically comprises one block and three-cylinder head options — a compression ignition head for diesel, and spark ignition heads for natural gas and hydrogen.

Internal combustion engines have a significantly lower upfront cost than fuel cell or battery electric installations, require little modification compared to today’s trucks, and provide familiarity for truck operators.

“The X15D will have the flexibility to operate on B100 biodiesel or renewable diesel to significantly reduce CO2 emissions further,” says Fowler.

B100 biodiesel enables up to a 70 per cent reduction in carbon. Meanwhile using HVO renewable diesel can achieve decreases of emissions by up to 90 per cent. HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil) has chemical and physical properties like those of diesel fuel, but its fossil-free composition and low carbon content provides a simple and efficient alternative to diesel.

Importantly, HVO can be blended and used in any proportion with diesel which allows for ease of transition.

The natural gas and hydrogen versions of the internal combustion X15 – the X15N and X15H – are expected to become available in Australia in the next two to four years depending on successful field testing. “There’s a lot of interest in both engines,” says Fowler.

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