• Single-cylinder motor developed by ARPA-E consortium led by MAHLE Powertrain
  • Downsped motor utilizes automotive industry’s latest pre-chamber ignition technology
  • Helps combat inefficiencies of power generation and distribution


Tests have demonstrated that a residential combined heat and power (CHP) motor developed as an Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) backed venture through the Generators for Small Electrical and Thermal Systems (GENSETS) program offers at least a 20% improvement in efficiency over the current leading alternatives. The single-cylinder motor, which runs on natural gas (NG), has been developed by a consortium led by MAHLE Powertrain. It features the specialist’s low friction technology and manufacturing techniques, including the new MJI (MAHLE Jet Ignition®) pre-chamber ignition technology, which is already being demonstrated in automotive applications.

MAHLE Powertrain is supported in the project, which was announced in November 2015, by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Louthan Engineering, Kohler Company and Intellichoice Energy.

“Electricity generated at the point of use is an effective way of combating the inefficiencies of centrally produced power,” says Mike Bunce, Head of Research for MAHLE Powertrain LLC and Principal Investigator on the project. “CHP motors are a perfect solution for generating electricity and harnessing otherwise wasted energy for heating, for both primary power and heat generation or for use on an ad hoc basis during power outages. However, this technology has previously been cost prohibitive, inefficient and displayed suboptimal reliability characteristics. In testing, the 1kWe micro-CHP motor achieved 33% Electrical Conversion Efficiency; 20% more than the current leading unit in this power class.”

The single-cylinder CHP utilizes technology and automotive engineering principles already proven by MAHLE Powertrain’s work for major vehicle manufacturers. For example, MJI extends traditional limits of lean combustion to maintain lower gas temperatures and therefore reduce harmful NOx formation. This simplicity of design and manufacturing will reduce cost and increase durability.

“Downspeeding is a technique that, alongside downsizing, has brought significant efficiency benefits to the automotive and commercial vehicle markets. Alongside MJI, this has been the key to increasing efficiency of the new ultra-lean motor,” adds Mike Bunce. “The ability to efficiently generate and harness residential power represents a huge opportunity to help make our country, and planet, cleaner. The incremental benefits brought by evolving technologies help make CHP motors a more viable solution, which hopefully inspires a greener outlook that encourages the next steps towards an ultra-low emissions goal.”

MAHLE’s low friction expertise has been crucial for delivery of the GENSETS project. The final design incorporates a wide range of the company’s commercialized technologies, including its Evotec II piston, which is an award-winning, lightweight component to encourage enhanced efficiency. Finally, low temperature lean aftertreatment helps meet expectations for reduced emissions.


About MAHLE Powertrain


MAHLE Powertrain is a wholly owned subsidiary of the MAHLE Group – a leading international development partner in the areas of engine systems, filtration, mechatronics and thermal management. The group employs around 78,000 people and is represented in more than 30 countries with 170 production locations and 16 major R&D centres. MAHLE ranks among the top three automotive systems suppliers worldwide.

MAHLE Powertrain specialises in the design, development and integration of advanced internal combustion engines and electrified powertrain systems. As recognised experts in these fields, MAHLE Powertrain is engaged in the extensive research, development and application of new traditional and advanced drivelines into cost-effective, production feasible solutions for enhanced efficiency, improved fuel economy and lower emissions.

With eight technical centres strategically located in the UK, Germany, USA, China and Brazil, MAHLE Powertrain is well positioned to deliver innovative solutions around the globe. MAHLE Powertrain has around 450 employees worldwide.


For further information, contact:

Nevil Hall, Account Director

Phone: +44 1295 277050

Mobile: +44 7711 861662