Research

New automotive facility set to open at Bath

A dynamometer has been installed at the University of Bath as part of a ground-breaking new Centre for Low Emission Vehicle Research.

A dynamometer is a rolling road which allows vehicles to be analysed in a series of real-world driving conditions, but within a precisely controlled laboratory environment. This is essential to allow accurate, repeatable analysis of vehicle performance.

State-of-the-art emission measurements

The new facility will allow academic researchers and the automotive industry to carry out state-of-the-art emission measurements for vehicles, ensuring that the emissions from cars out on the open road are not different to those established by traditional laboratory analysis. This is essential with EU targets for automotive emissions demanding a 40 per cent reduction in CO₂ by 2021, based on 2007 levels.

The dynamometer will also allow analysis using a robot driver which can be programmed to perform using a range of driving methods as driver behaviour can have a significant impact on the fuel efficiency and emissions of vehicles. Additionally, the facility will analyse vehicle performance at a range of temperatures, from -10ºC through to +50ºC, and allows for the analysis of emissions when four wheel drive functions are used.

While the new dynamometer looks simple, its extensive capabilities will allow significant progress in automotive research.

Hybrid vehicles can also be examined using the dynamometer, with two power supply racks for battery emulation, giving faster analysis with highly repeatable results in a safe environment.

Fundamental research alongside applied industry investigations

Professor Gary Hawley, lead investigator for CLEVeR and Dean of the University of Bath’s Faculty of Engineering, said: “This unique new facility will open avenues of automotive research that were not previously possible. We have established a platform where fundamental academic research can be undertaken alongside applied industry investigations in a world-class environment. CLEVeR will address many of the future research challenges associated with current and future low and ultra-low carbon vehicles under real world driving conditions.”

Professor Chris Brace, automotive propulsion expert from the University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, said: “After the long and detailed planning phase, it is exciting to see the dynamometer installed and the new facility take shape. We look forward to delivering some ground-breaking research from this newly upgraded state-of-the-art laboratory.”

The new Centre, called CLEVeR, is the result of a £1.8m equipment funding award from the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and £600k from the University of Bath.

The facilities are being created to establish a UK centre of excellence in low carbon vehicle research, where Professors Gary Hawley and Chris Brace, and Drs Sam Akehurst and Chris Bannister will undertake investigations.

Final work is being undertaken to complete the CLEVeR facility over the summer, with it fully operational and taking on initial investigations from October 2015. The dynamometer has been supplied by AVL, emissions measurement equipment by AVL, Horiba and Cambustion, and other equipment by Stahle Robot Systems.

89 per cent of the research carried out by the University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering was ranked ‘internationally excellent’ (3*) and ‘world-leading’ (4*) by the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), an independent assessment of UK university research activity.

For more information about the CLEVeR facility, see: http://go.bath.ac.uk/clever

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