Wärtsilä has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with four leading Finnish universities to collaborate on developing world-class research into sustainable future applications for internal combustion engines. The academic institutions participating in the Engine Research Initiative (ERI) programme are Aalto University, Tampere University of Technology, Åbo Akademi University, and the University of Vaasa. The ERI aims to create an open research ecosystem wherein cutting-edge technologies involving internal combustion engines can be developed together with other partners and matured to meet the evolving future needs of the shipping and power production sectors. Speaking at the signing of the MoU, Kari Hietanen, Wärtsilä’s Executive Vice President, Corporate Relations and Legal Affairs said: “This type of ecosystem approach represents a unique cooperation between industry and academia, and is something that has never before been seen in Finland”. The ERI programme will foster a research culture aimed at creating demonstrators involving combustion engines that can respond to future operational needs with environmental sustainability as a central pillar of all platforms developed. The cooperation will also seek to optimise the use of research funding. Two projects are already being planned by the ERI programme. The first will seek to ensure the operational availability of engines in autonomous vessels through the use of big data, edge analytics, and optimal data communication via clouds. The second project involves hybrid systems with the integration of batteries and will be exploring the potential of homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI)-like combustion concepts applied on gas engines to minimise emissions at all operating loads and modes. Target is to start the combined research within 2018 and get a full demonstrator within a couple of years. HCCI is similar to the diesel process but allows much lower levels of NOx without the need for SCR while retaining diesel engine efficiency.