Integrated design for electric powertrains

| Transport

Designing Electrified Powertrains
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DSD invests in electrified powertrain design to expand breadth of expertise for an integrated full system approach.

Drive System Design (DSD) made further investments to expand its electrified powertrain capability, enabling the consultancy to design, test and develop entire EV powertrains. The company has enhanced existing skills originally developed in the design and control of 12V actuation systems. In undergoing a strategic recruitment drive, DSD now has a growing capability that serves 48 Volt and high voltage traction systems.

“Electrification is the industry’s chosen route to improve CO2 emissions, and the most effective way to implement this is with a high degree of integration of the different elements of the electrified powertrain,” said DSD’s engineering director, John Morton. “In the past, neither transmission specialists nor e-machine designers in isolation have had the breadth of expertise to accomplish this effectively. By building on our existing experience and expanding our electrical test facilities, we are able to support the growing industry demand for this type of work.”

The company’s established whole system approach to engineering is the key to realising the benefits of an integrated design. Integrating the power unit and transmission greatly increases the opportunities for optimisation compared to the traditional process of marrying an engine with a driveline. Criteria, such as motor type and power density, can be traded off in some detail against transmission layout, ratio and, crucially, the degree of thermal and mechanical integration at the early concept stages of design. The process of assessing these trade-offs lends itself to DSD’s simulation focussed approach and is a crucial element in enabling its customers to design electrified systems that meet the demanding emissions and cost targets.

“System level thinking and integration of different disciplines comes naturally to our engineers,” said Morton. “Whether an actuation system or electrified powertrain, both applications prioritise efficiency very highly and both face ever increasing demands in their controllability and cost. Assessing crucial trade-offs at an early stage enables us to be confident in key decisions regarding architecture and also generate more gains in performance throughout the design process.”

In order to provide a full service, from the generation of concept designs to development of a final electrified powertrain solution, DSD is considerably expanding its test facilities. By the end of Q3, a 300kW, 800V battery emulator and two additional loaded test rigs will complement DSD’s driveline test facility. To further support the expansion and complement existing expertise, DSD continues to recruit engineers, contributing to headcount growth of over 40% in the last 12 months.

Recent DSD programmes signal sustained growth in demand for powertrain electrification, and illustrate the variety of work undertaken. Typical projects include the highly-integrated design, development and testing of complete electrified powertrains; the mechanical and thermal integration of a customer’s electric powertrain concept; and evaluating the trade-offs between induction and permanent magnet technologies. DSD’s approach to such projects, including first principle thinking and simulation-led philosophy, enables innovative solutions and concept designs that can help vehicle manufacturers achieve revolutionary improvements and performance for their electrified powertrains.

“Much of our success is based on applying and extending our existing knowledge base into new areas. For example, as the industry explores the use of multi-speed transmissions on EVs, the e-machine control requirements will become more demanding,” said Morton. “We’re accustomed to meeting much greater control challenges than those presented by a typical traction motor because of our existing experience in the control of high speed, high precision actuation. This means we can apply existing expertise to good effect in both familiar yet challenging, or new and innovative areas.”

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