The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity in internal combustion engine (ICE) fuel reforming is driven by government regulations, emissions reduction, and fuel efficiency, and growing importance of technologies such as ean-burn technology and variable valve timing (VVT). In the last three years alone, there have been over 1.7 million patents filed and granted in the automotive industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in automotive: ICE fuel reforming. Buy the report here.

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However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilizing and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

300+ innovations will shape the automotive industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the automotive industry using innovation intensity models built on over one million patents, there are 300+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, integrated multi-motor drivetrains, electric power steering (EPS), and post-collision handling are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Variable compression engines, V2V distance monitoring, and turbocharger shaft bearings are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among the maturing innovation areas are kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) and plasma-jet ignition, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the automotive industry

ICE fuel reforming is a key innovation area in automotive

ICE fuel reforming encompasses the transformation of standard fuels like gasoline, diesel, or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) into a modified gas, such as a hydrogen-rich gas. This process is undertaken to enhance the effectiveness of an internal combustion engine, with the ultimate objective of diminishing emissions and boosting fuel efficiency.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 30+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of ICE fuel reforming.

Key players in ICE fuel reforming – a disruptive innovation in the automotive industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.   

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.  

Patent volumes related to ICE fuel reforming

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Liebherr-International 11 Unlock Company Profile
Rolls-Royce 21 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Heavy Industries 8 Unlock Company Profile
Magna International 16 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 70 Unlock Company Profile
GE Jenbacher 29 Unlock Company Profile
Futaba Industrial 9 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 23 Unlock Company Profile
Halliburton 15 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 30 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 33 Unlock Company Profile
Caterpillar 22 Unlock Company Profile
Shell 8 Unlock Company Profile
Renault 6 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Industries 6 Unlock Company Profile
NxtGen Emission Controls 8 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 20 Unlock Company Profile
Mazda Motor 8 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 17 Unlock Company Profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 12 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 19 Unlock Company Profile
Bayer 20 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 25 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 7 Unlock Company Profile
Korea Development Bank 8 Unlock Company Profile
Dynacert 56 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 22 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 9 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 23 Unlock Company Profile
WESTPORT POWER 28 Unlock Company Profile
ULEMCo 12 Unlock Company Profile
CGON 7 Unlock Company Profile
HD Hyundai 13 Unlock Company Profile
Hrein Energy 11 Unlock Company Profile
INNIO Jenbacher 7 Unlock Company Profile
Mcalister Technologies 19 Unlock Company Profile
Silicon Fire 11 Unlock Company Profile
Fuelsave 62 Unlock Company Profile
YANMAR POWER TECHNOLOGY 8 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Toyota Motor is one of the leading patent filers in ICE fuel reforming. The company's Dynamic Force Engine is designed to achieve higher thermal efficiency. This means that more of the energy contained in the fuel is effectively converted into useful work, resulting in improved fuel economy and reduced emissions. The Dynamic Force Engine is designed to improve the efficiency and performance of internal combustion engines, particularly in gasoline-powered vehicles. Dynacert and Fuelsave are some of the other key patent filers in this space.

In terms of application diversity, Boeing leads the pack while Magna International and General Motors stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Siemens held the top position, followed by Fuelsave and Bayer.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the automotive industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Automotive

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.