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Cummins Announces Results of Half-Ton Diesel Engine Program

March 25, 2015

The Cummins four-cylinder ISF2.8 base engine was used as the base for the ATLAS program. Photo: Cummins 
The Cummins four-cylinder ISF2.8 base engine was used as the base for the ATLAS program. Photo: Cummins

Cummins Inc. is set to showcase the results of a four-year joint program with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) at this week’s Mid-America Trucking Show. The Advanced Technology Light Automotive Systems (ATLAS) program was initiated to develop a commercially viable diesel engine for the ½-ton pickup truck market that is capable of meeting future Tier 2 Bin 2 emissions regulations and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and stringent greenhouse gas (GHG) requirements out to the year 2025, according to the company.

The demonstration vehicle, provided by Nissan North America, is a 2010 Nissan Titan originally equipped with a gasoline V-8 engine. In addition to meeting fuel-economy and emissions requirements, the new engine needed to accomplish the same work as the large gas V-8, so maintaining a torque output of 385 lb-ft (522 N•m) was necessary. The Cummins team chose a four-cylinder ISF2.8 base engine to begin research, according to the company.

“When we launched ATLAS, the team understood that they had to think outside the box to achieve our targets,” said Michael Ruth, director/technical project leader, Advanced Light-Duty. “Specifically, we knew that weight reduction, advanced emissions control technologies, advanced thermal management and powertrain integration would be critical to meeting all of the requirements. The challenge was making those significant advancements while ensuring that the engine we produced would be commercially viable.”

The end result after the four-year effort was a 362-lb, 2.8-liter engine with an aluminum block, head and oil pan, a magnesium valve cover and an engine-mounted emissions control system. The ATLAS engine, including the on-engine after-treatment system, weighs in at approximately 80 pounds lighter than the original all-aluminum gasoline V-8, according to the company.

The Highway Fuel Economy Test (HFET) and FTP-75 Test (city) cycles demonstrated fuel economy over 35 mpg and 25.5 mpg, respectively. This is approximately a 53-percent increase in CAFE fuel economy at 28.9 mpg, as compared with the production gasoline V-8 fuel economy of 18.9 mpg. The Cummins said its team not only surpassed all fuel-economy targets, but also achieved criteria emissions lower than the stringent Tier 2/Bin 2 GHG levels.

The ATLAS engine uses advanced technologies to meet the future regulations. One of the most notable features is the aluminum block. While not visible from outward appearances, the engine is a through-bolt design with a structural cradle above the oil pan and another above the cylinder head, “sandwiching” the block and head and enabling very high cylinder pressure capabilities.

A “dual loop” exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system with both low- and high-pressure circuits and switchable valve timing improve light load emissions output and allow for increased power density of the engine. The overhead camshaft is driven by belt-in-oil technology. This lubricated belt system is designed to last the life of the engine. The ATLAS engine also uses ceramic glow plugs, a high pressure common rail (HPCR) piezo-style fuel system complete with a Bosch high-pressure pump and a VGT™ Turbocharger. The complete package is controlled by Cummins controls technology.

Another feature is the engine-mounted after-treatment. In partnership with Johnson Matthey, an on-engine catalyst was developed that has selective catalytic reduction (SCR) wash-coat technology applied directly to the particulate filter.

In addition to the state-of-the-art diesel technology, an 8-speed ZF 8HP70 kept the engine operating at an optimum speed, helping to achieve a more than 50 percent fuel-economy improvement over that of the gasoline V-8. The remainder of the truck’s original running gear was unchanged, according to the company.
Although the ATLAS engine is a research project, it was subject to all of the design standards and rigorous testing that Cummins performs on all products to ensure that the customer is receiving the most dependable and durable diesel engine available. On-road testing, towing, cold weather and chassis dyno testing, to verify that the ATLAS 2.8L met the U.S. emissions standards it was being measured against, resulted in a successful proof of concept. SAE International recognized the ATLAS team with the John Johnson Outstanding Research in Diesel Engines Award for their work, as published in the SAE paper Thermodynamic Systems for Tier 2 Bin 2 Diesel Engines (, according to the company.

Final plans to officially close Project ATLAS include a ride-and-drive event and final presentation at the DOE's 2015 Annual Merit Review, June 8-12 in Arlington, Va.


  1. 1. Cliff Downing [ March 26, 2015 @ 06:51AM ]

    Cummins seems to be leading the charge. They also used the 2.8L platform to make a E85 engine that also develops similar power and torque, yet only requires standard gasoline engine emission controls. A far better idea in my opinion. Either way, the pickup OEM's had better be talking with Cummins on a more frequent basis!

  2. 2. Bill Maxon [ March 26, 2015 @ 12:17PM ]

    What is the horse power and tork and can we see this engine in the Dodge Ram. Bill

  3. 3. Eddy [ March 27, 2015 @ 02:59AM ]

    As long as the average repair cost continues to exceed the cost to repower with a gas engine it's dead in the water


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