GRK 1856 mobilEM - Integrated Energy Supply Modules for Roadbound E-Mobility

Overview of the Graduate Research Training Group mobilEM

The challenge to drastically reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions despite growing energy demand requires decisive changes in energy supply, conversion and storage technologies. For the transport sector the electrification of the drivetrain combined with increasing electrical power generation from renewable sources is a promising approach to decrease the dependency on shortening crude oil and gas resources. However, the energy density of mobile electrical energy storage systems is still less than appropriate at present.

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Research Program

This demanding topic is addressed by the research training group “Integrated Energy Supply Modules for Roadbound E-Mobility” (mobilEM) at RWTH Aachen University.

The program explores the physical foundations of electro-chemical energy storage and its combination with novel fuel-operated range extender units. Fuel-operated range extenders allow a reasonable dimensioning of the electrical energy storage system size and its thermal conditioning. Additionally, an efficient air conditioning of the passenger compartment can be achieved.

The recently established Center for Mobile Propulsion (CMP) offers ideal prerequisites to the participants of the program in order to perform their experimental as well as theoretical research work. It provides real-time interconnected laboratories for the investigation of batteries, electro-mechanical and chemical-mechanical energy converters, and complete hybrid power trains.

Within a period of 4.5 years, the program gathers scientists from the areas of electrical energy storage, power electronics, combustion engines, electric motors, thermal management, and control engineering. One major focus is the interactions between the components inside the entire vehicle system.

The research training group consists of four research topics and a main field of interaction:

Electrical Energy Storage

Electrochemical cells can be seen as the key technology of the electrification of mobile drivetrains. This research area focuses on the new battery technologies li/air and zinc/air, which promise a significant increase in energy density compared to current lithium ion batteries.

Power Electronics

Power electronics are required for electrical energy transmission, both to couple the electrical components in the integrated energy supply module and to link a storage system to the grid. The main challenge is to increase power and efficiency in a reduced packaging volume and with reduced costs.

Range Extender Module

In order to realize commonly expected vehicle driving ranges, it is still necessary to support pure electric driving by a combustion engine module. Especially two concepts are in discussion: Either the mechanical power of a combustion engine is directly coupled into the drivetrain or a generator with minimized conversion loss is used, whose electric power is coupled into a pure electric drivetrain. The research will cover both internal combustion engines and electric motors.

Thermal Management

An integrated energy supply module makes high demands on the thermal management of the energy storage system and related components. To ensure reliable operation under all operating conditions, the temperatures of battery, e-motor and power electronics have to be kept within the limits by a suitable cooling system. The range extender module offers an additional degree of freedom for the conditioning of the battery system and is a central component of the overall vehicle thermal management.

Control and System Simulation

Researchers of this interdisciplinary field develop physically based, if necessary real-time models from the results provided by the examination of the components of the main research fields. Model based predictive controllers are investigated for optimized, energy-efficient operating of the complete system of range extender and energy storage.

Qualification Concept

As part of the program lecture series and custom qualification programs are offered. This enables the participants to improve their knowledge in their individual research fields as well as to collect additional trans-disciplinary basic knowledge in the neighboring research areas.

Spokesperson

Spokesperson for the Research Training Group is Professor Stefan Pischinger from the Institute for Combustion Engines (VKA) at RWTH Aachen University.

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