What’s the biggest challenge facing the powertrain industry?
Governing bodies across the globe are implementing increasingly strict fleet emissions targets based either on fuel consumption or carbon dioxide emissions per kilometer. At the same time, the customer wants these changes to have no adverse effect on the drivability of their new car, and vehicle manufacturers want the cost of implementing these low-emissions technologies to be less than the cost of simply paying the fines that they would otherwise incur.
Do legislators help or hinder?
A little of both. At the same time these emissions targets are coming into place, legislation is also introducing a new, more stringent drive cycle test procedure, which is the standardized method for assessing key vehicle characteristics such as emissions. The new WTDC and RDE is more comparable to real-world driving conditions than the current NEDC, which will make the EU’s 95g/km emissions targets harder to achieve.
On the other hand, speaking as a representative of a UK-based company, our government has established several grant-awarding bodies to aid manufacturers and technology developers in the task of creating new low-emissions technology. So legislators are also providing ample support for us to achieve these new goals.
What technologies is Aeristech working on at the moment?
In short, investigations with our collaborators show that a sufficient reduction in CO2 emissions can be achieved with a greater level of engine downsizing. However, conventional turbos and superchargers create compromises such as turbo lag, which negatively affect the driving experience. Other mechanical systems such as multi-stage turbochargers may compensate for that, but the complexity and resulting cost make them unfeasible for implementation in economy-range vehicles.
Aeristech’s patented control technology allows for high-density variable-speed electric motors with incredibly fast response and continuous high-speed operation. When applied to our bespoke centrifugal compressors, our devices achieve the higher level of boost required for greater engine downsizing without turbo lag, with sufficient packing efficiency and with practical cost. Aeristech’s eSupercharger technology is currently being validated in a Mahle demonstration vehicle, while our Fully Electric Turbocharger Technology is currently in development with support from a UK-based vehicle manufacturer.
How will your work evolve in the next 10 years?
Aeristech’s business model is based around technology development and licensing. At present we have focused on designing electric forced-induction devices intended for the C-segment vehicle market. In the next 10 years we foresee expansion into other automotive vehicle segments, commercial vehicles and possibly some aerospace and marine applications.
How will powertrain technology have changed by 2030?
We predict that the most significant growth will be in the downsized gasoline engine market. Premium vehicles with larger power requirements and higher production budgets are more likely to adopt a combination of downsized engine technology with a greater level of hybridization. There are several excellent examples of this currently being produced.
There will also be some legislation-driven growth in the fuel cell and battery electric vehicle markets, but current energy industry infrastructure will be a great barrier to that growth unless there is a significant technological development between now and 2030.
Aeristech can be found on Stand 3320 at the Engine Expo 2016, which runs from May 31 – June 2 at the Stuttgart Messe.