3 Emerging Trends in Automotive Engineering

Battery Systems

Battery management systems are being designed to meet performance, life, and warranty goals for both batteries and their monitoring and management systems. “Automakers need to fully understand how varying operational limits affect the life of battery systems through extensive testing and modeling, followed by developing sophisticated algorithms to track and predict various parameters, such as state of charge and state of health through the life of the battery,” comments Rizzoni.

In order to expand battery operating range and reduce costs, some researchers are designing and testing new battery chemistries and subsystems. Advanced chemistries could allow batteries to operate through greater temperature extremes, last longer, and reduce weight and cost. Other efforts are being made to reduce the cost of the ancillary systems, such as cooling, to further reduce the total cost of the battery system.

Downsizing and Turbocharging

The two main benefits in downsizing anĀ internal combustion engineĀ are thermodynamic and mechanical. “From a thermodynamic point of view, the engine operation will move towards higher loads, at which the engine efficiency is higher,” says Rizzoni. “From the mechanical point of view, the positive aspect lies in the reduction of the friction in the piston units, together with the reduction of the number of cylinders.”

Downsized engines are lighter than conventional engines, thereby reducing vehicle mass and the improving vehicle fuel consumption. Turbocharging recovers the energy of the exhaust gasses to increase the inducted charge, therefore increasing the power-to-displacement ratio. “A downsized and turbocharged engine has the potential to have the same or better performance as a non-downsized, normally aspirated engine, with the advantage of a significant increase of fuel efficiency,” says Rizzoni.

Advanced Combustion Modes

Engineers are working to increase the efficiency of internal combustion engines by developing several advanced combustion modes. One of these modes is called (homogeneous charge compression ignition) HCCI. In the HCCI combustion, a highly homogenized mixture of air, fuel, and combustion products from the previous cycle is auto-ignited by compression. “This combustion mode aims at combining the advantages of modern diesel and gasoline combustion processes, namely low emissions and high efficiency,” states Rizzoni.