Sustainable Engineering: Belts Beat Chains for Sustainable Operations

Jan. 8, 2009
Independent study by FEV GmbH found that timing belts in automotive timing assemblies better reduced CO2 and gave more ride comfort than did chains. In a 1.6-liter gas engine, a belt drive reduced fuel consumption

An independent study by FEV GmbH found that timing belts in automotive timing assemblies better reduced CO2 and gave more ride comfort than did chains. In a 1.6-liter gas engine, a belt drive reduced fuel consumption by more than 1%, saving up to 1.5 gm of CO2/km.

Belt-drive-system suppliers Dayco, Gates, and ContiTech commissioned the study to determine the potential friction advantages of belt-driven timing assemblies. Tests on a straight-four gas engine showed a belt drive reduces engine friction by 0.04 bar compared to a chain drive. That represents a 30% friction advantage.

Testers recorded a 1% fuel savings at a maximum load. When driving at speeds of 20 to 30 mph, as are common in urban traffic, the reduction in fuel consumption exceeds 1%. As you might expect, lighter vehicles save more fuel.

FEV found the lower fuel consumption reduces CO2 emissions of a 2,500-lb medium-weight vehicle by as much as 1.5 gm/km. For a vehicle weighing in at 3,600 lb, CO2 emissions are down by 1.3 gm/km.

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