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Electromobility in Germany

More climate protection, new markets, less dependence on fossil fuels: mobility will be rethought in the future at the innovation location Germany. The further development of electromobility and the reinvention of the car as a “driving computer” with new functionalities via software updates are a central future topic of VEMAC GmbH & Co. KG.

With our rapid prototyping solutions and testing tools we are a strong partner at our customers’ side. Thereby we support OEMs, research institutions, medium-sized companies and start-ups equally and fully. Well networked at the innovation location Aachen, hand in hand with the renowned universities FH Aachen and RWTH Aachen, in Europe and also internationally, VEMAC continues to drive forward future topics of tomorrow, which already occupy us today.

In 2020, according to the Federal Motor Transport Authority, the number of newly registered e-cars in Germany has tripled. In 2020, a good 194,000 purely battery-electric passenger cars were newly registered; together with alternative drives such as plug-in hybrids, gas or hydrogen drive, the figure was just under 395,000 cars. The share of all alternative drive systems in new registrations rose to around a quarter. Our motivation is to continue developing alternative drive technologies. We see great potential in all areas of drive technology development. We have to differentiate between the various technologies in terms of their areas of application. This is where know-how and experience are important. VEMAC develops solutions that extract the maximum efficiency from the different drives – for the success of our customers.

Electromobility is becoming increasingly important for the energy transition in transport. And with it, the research, development and production of batteries and battery cells in Germany. In addition to performance, the sustainability of batteries plays a decisive role, in particular the fair and sustainable sourcing of raw materials, a high proportion of renewable energies as well as high energy efficiency in production, intelligent subsequent use and a closed resource cycle through recycling. The battery cells are thus considered in their impact from start to finish. As a test bench builder and testing service provider for software and hardware applications around electromobility, VEMAC is your contact and accompanies you from the concept to the implementation of your testing requirements.

Networked mobility

Cars drive quietly and emission-free through the city, none drives too fast or too slow. This prevents traffic jams from forming in the first place. No vehicle can ignore a red light or accidentally get into the wrong lane. Precise travel and arrival times can thus be planned even over long distances, traffic searching for parking spaces is a thing of the past, and resource consumption is reduced.

This scenario seems unimaginable today, but it has a real chance of becoming reality in the future thanks to networked mobility. However, the way there will develop evolutionarily and not revolutionarily. The intelligent networking of vehicles and digitization in and around the car will be the basis for an efficient transportation system. Networking makes precise control of traffic in its most diverse forms possible. What it will look like in 20 years is, of course, not yet clear today. What is certain, however, is that information exchange and communication will play a prominent role in networked mobility.
The technical innovations on which VEMAC GmbH & Co. KG are working on will achieve further progress in networking. VEMAC is developing powerful electronic systems that allow networking between service and service providers (OEMs and third parties), vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2X communication) and the Internet of Things to collect, log and calibrate data. We are already realizing the integration of additional information from the infrastructure, from other vehicles and road users. Our research project “STEP – Smart Traffic Eco Powertrains” in cooperation with the DBU (dbu.de/123artikel39140_2430.html) is one of many examples. For VEMAC, this development is no longer a vision of the future; we are already working today on the networking of tomorrow.

Hydrogen: Key element for the energy transition

For the long-term success of the energy transition and for climate protection, we need alternatives to fossil fuels. Gasoline, diesel, electric, hydrogen, e-fuels: What will our cars run on in the future? This is a question that concerns many in connection with the current climate protection targets and has prompted the German Federal Ministry for the Environment to promote the development of electricity-based fuels (power-to-X).

Hydrogen will play a key role here as a versatile energy carrier. Hydrogen produced in a climate-friendly way makes it possible to significantly reduce CO2 emissions, especially in industry and transport, where energy efficiency and the direct use of electricity from renewable sources are not sufficient.

In addition to the climate policy aspects, hydrogen technologies are also about many sustainable jobs, new value creation potential and a global market worth billions. German companies are already very well positioned in this area, for example in fuel cells and electrolysis for green hydrogen production. The aim is for Germany to maintain its global pioneering role in hydrogen technologies.

The strategy pursues the following goals in particular:
When hydrogen and oxygen react in the fuel cell, clear water and powerful energy are produced. The drive combination (range extender) of electric motor with hydrogen fuel cell can be a possible solution for emission-free transportation in the commercial vehicle sector. The focus is not only on road transport. Logistics is a big topic, but hydrogen fuel cell solutions can be used efficiently in many areas in the future. Maritime, heavy-duty, agricultural machinery, construction machinery – the range of applications is very wide.

To ensure the efficiency of such systems, sensors pick up important data on the fuel cell system: temperature, pressure, current voltage, efficiency. Developers measure which fuel cell is best suited for which application. The goal: environmentally friendly, efficient and suitable for everyday use. VEMAC already offers high-performance ECUs for the increasing demands on input and output signals. In addition, hydrogen has very poor lubricating properties. VEMAC has developed an H2-capable output stage that ensures smooth operation of H2 applications by controlling the injection systems without wear.
The only “waste product” produced during hydrogen and fuel cell operation is clear water. Hydrogen plus oxygen. It doesn’t get any cleaner than that. Compared to battery-electric mobility, hydrogen mobility offers two major advantages for heavy-duty vehicles from today’s perspective: a long range of around 800 kilometers and rapid refueling with H2.

It is important to VEMAC to strengthen the competitiveness of companies involved in future drive technologies by promoting research and development in innovative hydrogen technologies.

STEP – Smart Traffic Eco Powertrains

Development of a predictive control unit with integration of external signals and sensor data for efficiency increase and emission reduction in electric and combustion engines.

A research project funded by the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU) Az: 34299/01

The real emission values of motor vehicles with internal combustion engines often deviate greatly from the values measured during homologation. One of the main reasons for this is the significantly higher dynamic components in real vehicle use, in contrast to those in the currently mandatory driving cycles. Rapid load changes lead to unsteady states in the combustion process, which the engine control unit must continuously compensate for through control interventions. Despite sophisticated exhaust aftertreatment systems, the lack of knowledge of the driving profile is a major challenge. Intelligent control of the battery (SOC, State-of-charge) and a suitable recuperation strategy are crucial for the drive efficiency of vehicles with electric and hybrid drives. Here, the most accurate possible knowledge of the driving profile and anticipatory control are crucial.

Difference in carbon dioxide emissions in real traffic compared to manufacturer specification. © VEMAC GmbH & Co. KG; RWTH Aachen, Lehrstuhl für Verbrennungskraftmaschinen

In the predecessor project “NET-ECU – networked engine control”, which was funded by the DBU, it was shown that the control of combustion engine control systems can be significantly improved in terms of fuel consumption and emission values by adding environmental data such as the movement profiles of other vehicles and infrastructure data.

During the “STEP – Smart Traffic Eco Powertrain” project, VEMAC, RWTH and FEV as an associated partner have set themselves the goal of expanding the promising approaches of the predecessor project and testing them in real traffic situations. While the NET-ECU project exclusively used environmental data from vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication (V2V and V2X), the STEP project focuses, among other things, on the use of proprietary sensor technology such as radar, lidar and camera as well as the use of route and traffic information via online services. In addition to optimising combustion engine control, possibilities for improving longitudinal guidance and charging strategies for hybrid vehicles are being analysed on the basis of the same data.

Selected track in Aachen to demonstrate the predictive thermal management strategy. © VEMAC GmbH & Co. KG; RWTH Aachen, Lehrstuhl für Verbrennungskraftmaschinen

As part of the project, the OCT (Online Calibration Tool), a remote-capable development tool from VEMAC, was first extended to include interfaces for using the above-mentioned sensor data and online data.
For the development of the control algorithms, a simulation environment was developed that enables the development of the algorithms on different vehicle topologies. With the help of this simulation environment, different concepts of predictive vehicle control algorithms were developed and evaluated. Various studies were carried out for this purpose:

  1. for mild hybrid vehicles, the reduction of fuel consumption through pulsating & gliding driving was analysed.
  2. for battery electric vehicles, the drive energy demand was minimised by predictive speed selection.
  3. for diesel plug-in hybrid vehicles, a study was conducted to optimise energy management by incorporating predictive traffic information.

To validate the results, a test vehicle was equipped with the development platform in order to be able to test the previously developed algorithms on a closed test site as well as in real road traffic.

Animation, test vehicle with OCT in road traffic. © VEMAC GmbH & Co. KG

The Online Calibration Tool (OCT) was prepared for the use of additional sensor data via CAN, as well as the usability of online data from various data providers. In addition, the usability of the user interface was significantly improved, so that in future a flexible and cost-efficient platform will be available for the development of intelligent predictive control algorithms in real vehicles. The simulation model developed in the project can be used flexibly for the development of novel control strategies. Different vehicle topologies can be taken into account and different driving scenarios such as the WLTP or self-selected routes can be selected. Within the scope of the simulation studies carried out on this environment, the following savings potentials could be identified under certain boundary conditions:

1. mild hybrid vehicles: up to max. 14% fuel savings depending on calibration and traffic density (simulation).
2. battery electric vehicles: On average 15% traction energy at intersection approaches and crossings (simulation).
3. diesel plug-in hybrid vehicles: 1.4% fuel saving (simulation) and 19% reduction of Nox emissions (demonstrator)

Based on the simulation studies, significant savings potentials could be identified through the use of intelligent networked control strategies and confirmed on the test vehicle in real road traffic. It was shown that the control strategy of vehicle control units (VCUs) can be positively influenced with regard to energy consumption and emission values by adding environmental information. The sensor information required for this in the form of camera, radar and online data as well as vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication data is often already available in today’s vehicles, as this is needed for the increasing number of driver assistance and safety systems. With the Online Calibration Tool (OCT) from VEMAC, a cost-efficient development platform for the development of novel networked control strategies will be available now.
Find out more about our research project funded by Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU, article in german language):
dbu.de

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