AN award-winning Edinburgh firm that developed a digitally-controlled hydraulic pump for use in offshore wind turbines has introduced the technology to a standard, diesel commuter train.

In an industry first, Artemis Intelligent Power – which three years ago won the MacRobert Award for its work – has collaborated with ScotRail to help reduce the fuel consumption of trains and off-road vehicles.

The company predicts the “straight swap” will save more than 9000 litres of diesel per carriage every year and will help trains cut their carbon emissions.

It said that up to 73% of a commuter train’s energy is lost through inefficiencies in braking and transmission and if digital displacement technology was used throughout its entire transmission instead of simply auxiliary systems, the overall fuel use could be cut by up to 30%.

To test this, the company is also involved in a project aimed at reducing fuel consumption and improving engine performance by combining digital hydraulic transmission with on-board energy storage.

This could potentially improve acceleration, reduce dwell time in stations and enable operators to switch off the engine when the train is stationary, which could help to lower urban emissions.

Artemis has also turned its attention to off-road machinery, the majority of which still uses standard piston pumps that offer efficiency of around 30%.

Diesel is the only feasible option for many of these vehicles, which operate in remote locations, while others are used in urban environments where emissions can present significant challenges.

Field tests Artemis has completed with a 16-tonne excavator fitted with a digital displacement pump in place of the standard one showed a 21% reduction in fuel consumption, while productivity increased by 10%.

The pump produced a productivity rise of 28% in the machine’s productivity mode, and a fuel saving of 10% over the original pump.

Artemis ultimately aims to make a “fully digital” excavator, replacing the whole system with its digital displacement technology, which should reduce fuel consumption by more than 50% and allow smaller engines and significant CO2 savings.

The firm’s managing director, Niall Caldwell, said: “We are very proud of Artemis’s achievements, and the recognition of the MacRobert Award has been and continues to be a superb endorsement of our team and our technology.

“The Royal Academy of Engineering identifies and rewards the best of modern UK engineering with global significance. Winning the award underscores our confidence that Digital Displacement technology has massive potential to transform the efficiency of a wide range of applications around the world.”

Tom Smith, project engineer for the ScotRail Alliance, added: “The installation of this new hydraulic pump is a great milestone in the development of sustainable technology, and a rail industry first.

“The Artemis pump has re-imagined the traditional mechanical control of pistons and has the potential to save over 9000 litres of fuel per train carriage each year.

“Using technology to digitally control the pistons means we are able to consume fuel much more efficiently by only using it when needed, similar to turning the lights in the house off when they’re not being used.”