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Region gets a new unique powertrain testing facility

auto_14.jpgWMG at the University of Warwick has opened a unique £2.28m Vehicle Energy Facility (VEF) for the Midlands which will be the UK’s only purpose built hybrid powertrain testing facility for the automotive sector that is not owned and operated by an individual automotive company.

The new lab, which is being funded by Advantage West Midlands (AWM), the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the University of Warwick as part of the Birmingham Science City initiative, will provide the region with a state-of-the-art test and characterisation facility for hybrid vehicle powertrains.

The new facility will use two dynamometers with the advanced “Genysis” control system plus a Robot Driver to allow the testing of various hybrid powertrain designs. The two dynamometers are installed in parallel and can test electric motors Gasoline, Diesel, ethanol, and Bio-fuels based internal combustion engines.

The facility also includes: a battery simulator and test station and full exhaust emissions measurement capability. The VEF will test transmissions and powertrain systems, whilst simulating the powertrain components that are not available for test. These tests provide strategies for evaluating the optimisation of the vehicle’s powertrain and how it will operate in the real world.
Professor Lord Bhattacharyya, Director of WMG said: “We are delighted to be able to bring the Midlands a facility that will enable the British based manufacturing companies to engage in low carbon engineering, which will be vital in helping manufacturing companies improve products and compete on the world stage in low carbon technologies.”

Dr Ralf Speth, CEO Jaguar Land Rover added "This new facility further strengthens WMG's applied research credentials and we look forward to benefitting from the work undertaken there, especially in the incredibly complex area of significantly reducing vehicle emissions. There is also real potential for further advances in knowledge coming from supplier involvement which in turn generates additional research and results."

Much of the new Vehicle Energy Facility (VEF) has been constructed by specialist powertrain test equipment manufacturers Froude Hofmann. Their UK headquarters is in Worcester and they are expert in the design and manufacture of dynamometers, powertrain and control systems.

Richard Guest, Managing Director of Froude Hofmann, said: “We are proud to be part of this development which will provide Warwick with a facility that is in the forefront of global hybrid development technology. With many competing alternative-fuel and hybrid powertrain technologies now being developed internationally, this new facility allows Warwick to work with Tier 1 and Automotive OEM clients world-wide.”

Professor Paul Jennings from WMG said: “The VEF builds on the research work of WMG’s Hybrid Vehicle Research Group which, alongside its industrial partners, has created technical and cost modelling tools for hybrid vehicle development. These include WARPSTAR (WARwick Powertrain Simulation Tool for ARchitectures) which can be used to model the performance of any hybrid vehicle architecture, and is currently being enhanced to include real world driver behaviour.”

The creation of this new facility is part of the £10.5m Energy Efficiency & Demand Project, funded by AWM and ERDF under the Birmingham Science City initiative. It is a key part of a larger investment in the research infrastructure of the West Midlands region, which unites the Universities of Warwick and Birmingham in a newly-formed Science City Research Alliance (SCRA). The Energy Efficiency and Demand project is led by the University of Warwick.

If you are interested in utilising the VEF or would like to explore partnership opportunities contact Richard Seager via email r.seager@warwick.ac.uk