Posted in Commitment to Community and Industry, on Tuesday Jul 18 2017
Author: Paul Enger; Director, Business Development Systems and Equipment
I was fortunate to once again attend the latest Engine Research Center Symposium at the University of Wisconsin – Madison in June. The biennial symposiums are focused on bringing engine design professionals from industry and academia together for several days to discuss the latest advances in internal combustion (IC) engine technology and how future client and governmental requirements will be met.
Usually the discussions center around improvements for IC engines, as you would expect, but to my surprise this year there was also a lot of talk about integration and designing components (engine, aftertreatment, fuels, turbocharging, controls, etc.) to work together as an optimized system. No longer can OEM’s and suppliers only optimize their individual components; instead the entire powertrain system needs to be functioning as an integrated and efficient whole to meet increasing government regulations and end user expectations.
The component integration examples were frequent, with talks about improved cooling systems to increase thermal efficiencies, using electric motors together with IC engines to improve load factors, higher octane gasolines that allow increased compression ratios, EGR reducing the amount of needed SCR, and complete cylinder deactivation during vehicle coasting.
One of the more interesting presentations discussed the recent joint venture between an engine OEM and a transmission OEM, with recognition by both companies that the future belongs to those who take responsibility to provide a system that is optimized together as a complete package. The proven integration of the two allows for efficiencies that previously would have been lost and increases the value added for their clients by saving their own typical integration efforts.
My surprise at all the integration talk was a pleasant one because in years past the presentations have been heavily focused on IC combustion and modeling technology. It was great to see that academic research of engine and powertrain design is paralleling the approach taken by the industry. Testing facilities also need to be designed as a system, integrated and optimized to meet the ever-increasing performance and data collection requirements. Since its beginning, ACS has focused on providing this needed integration so that all test systems (whether off-the-shelf or custom) operate as an efficient, effective whole.