Advancing into a New Era

The IAV experts at the Physical-Chemical Laboratory (PCL) have enjoyed an excellent reputation for many years. Now, the tried-and-tested laboratory is expanding its spectrum: In the future, staff and measurement technology will also be available for topics relating to advanced propulsion systems – for example, for testing high-voltage batteries and fuel cells.

One thing remains the same even in the biggest upheaval in the automotive industry: Without physical-chemical expertise, neither conventional nor alternative drivetrains can be developed and tested. That’s why the 30 or so employees in Jochen Schäffner’s department believe they are ideally positioned for the mobility of the future. “We are made up of 50 % scientists and 50 % engineers, who combine high competence and application-specific knowledge in the field of exhaust aftertreatment”, says department head Schäffner. “We can also use both for new tasks in the field of electric and hydrogen mobility.”

This also applies to the equipment in the physiochemical laboratory (PCL) in Berlin. For example, when testing catalytic converters, the focus is on how the samples interact with the exhaust gas. Very similar questions also arise in connection with fuel cells. “Here we want to know, among other things, what influence pollutants from the ambient air have on the performance of the fuel cell. These findings can be used, for example, to improve the efficiency over the service life of the cell and thus also reduce hydrogen slip”, says Schäffner. “We can measure this precisely with the existing systems.” This is because, in addition to the experience gained from numerous customer projects, the PCL’s unique selling point includes a broad portfolio of measurement technology – all of which are “Best in Class”.

«The transfer to the field of new drives helps our customers enormously.»

Jochen Schäffner — Department head

There are also parallels in the aging processes of catalytic converters and fuel cells. At high temperatures in the furnace, it is possible to simulate how catalytic converters later lose their performance over time due to surface processes in the vehicle. In fuel cells, the surfaces of the anode and cathode, the distribution of precious metals on them and the wear of the membrane also play an important role in the evaluation of aging. “We can measure them using the same methods as for catalysts”, explains Schäffner. “The transfer to the field of new drives helps our customers enormously.”

Simulations with artificial intelligence

Besides measurements, simulations are part of the PCL team’s core business. So far, the experts have mainly modeled catalysts, filters and sensors. In the future, fuel cells and batteries are to be increasingly added. One focus of battery simulation is, for example, the power prediction of a cell under transient load and temperature. “We measure real components for this purpose and then provide our customers with a model that they can use as a digital twin in development”, says Schäffner. This is where artificial intelligence(AI) is expected to play a greater role in the future: Although simulations based on physiochemical equations are very precise, they require a great deal of effort. In contrast, AI models learn from training data and are characterized by high speed.

«We will continue to bridge the gap between basics and applications for our customers in the future.»

Jochen Schäffner — Department head

Despite all the changes brought about by new drive systems, classic topics will also be on the agenda of the PCL team in the future. “New limits for CO2 and pollutants, synthetic fuels or hydrogen engines are important trends here”, reports Schäffner. “In this area, too, we are at the cutting edge of technology – for example in the simulation of WLTP measurements in the laboratory.” One of the highlights of the PCL laboratory is the possibility of simulating the sweep operation of gasoline engines with its high dynamics. “Regardless of whether classic drives or new forms of drive: We will continue to bridge the gap between basics and applications for our customers in the future”, summarizes Schäffner.

IAV Cross – now also optimizes hydrogen burners

IAV Cross

The proven IAV Cross (Injection Analyzer) is now also investigating the quality of hydrogen (H2) injectors using real gas. In the future, hydrogen will become increasingly important as an energy carrier for engine combustion as well because it does not release CO2. With the new development of the IAV Cross, injectors for combustion processes with external mixture formation (MPI) as well as direct injections into the combustion chamber can be analyzed in detail.

After almost 20 years of market success and continuous further development, the next evolutionary stage of the device, which is geared towards hydrogen applications, with special and secured measurement technology, enables a fast, cross-functional analysis of injectors under conditions as close to reality as possible. The new generation of instruments takes the physical properties of hydrogen into account and is based on IAV’s Cross Type P for gaseous fuels.

The IAV Cross measuring system, which is unique in the world, consists of the hydraulic unit, the electronic measuring and control unit and the software. IAV Cross also differs from comparable products in the measuring method chosen, the tubular indicator principle. Its greatest technological advantage is also the fact that it can measure both injection rates and injection quantities simultaneously, thereby mapping the injection rate with high precision. This makes development much easier and leads to faster and better results.

The article was published in automotion 02/2020, the automotive engineering magazine of IAV. Here you can order the automotion free of charge.