In order to counteract global warming, it is necessary to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases and thus the consumption of fossil fuels as quickly as possible. The need for energy-saving solutions is further reinforced by rising energy costs.

In the mobility sector, these goals are being pursued through increasing electrification of the powertrain. This includes not only the switch to battery electric vehicles but also the use of fuel cell vehicles and the hybridization of vehicles with internal combustion engines. However, the mere presence of electric components in the powertrain is not enough - what matters is the optimal interaction of the components. For example, when driving a hybrid vehicle in mountainous terrain, the control concept should ensure that the battery's state of charge is low before a long downhill section. This ensures that the braking energy can then be used to charge the battery. This is where predictive systems come into play, based for example on information from planned routes, vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V) or vehicle-to-infrastructure communication (V2I), which form the basis for optimal control of the vehicle components.

Schematic of a stationary electric vehicle optimally supplied with power by a control system

Fuel cell Vehicles

Especially in the heavy-duty vehicle sector, where high performance and long driving ranges are required, the fuel cell is a promising alternative to the internal combustion engine. However, passenger cars can also benefit from this propulsion system due to fast refilling and low weight. To reduce the dynamic stress on the fuel cell, fuel cell vehicles are usually hybrid vehicles, i.e. they also have a battery. This results in the requirement for optimal energy management aiming at an efficient load distribution between the fuel cell and the battery. In addition, sufficient cooling of both power sources is a challenge, especially for heavy-duty vehicles, which calls for efficient thermal management. Regarding both topics, the application of sophisticated predictive strategies allows to increase the efficiency and to prevent component degradation.

Increasing the Efficiency of Conventional Powertrains

The greatest potential to meet short-term emission limits lies in the electrification of conventionally powered vehicles. This is not limited to expanding the powertrain with an electric motor. For example, e-turbos or electrically heatable catalytic converters allow efficiency increases or emission reductions, provided they are efficiently controlled. This requires again predictive information and sophisticated control concepts.


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Associate Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr.techn. Christoph Hametner

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