AUTOMOTIVE
Aerodynamics 

AERODYNAMIC ROLLERS

As the first developer of active grille shutter systems and a global market leader in this area, Röchling Automotive has a vast knowledge of aerodynamics. As well as an individual design, the focus is also on function – air resistance is minimized and emissions are reduced. However, the aerodynamics experts at Röchling Automotive are not resting on the success of their grille shutter system, but are constantly searching for alternative solutions that are just as good as the familiar active grille shutters.

Intricate in the Details
In a very short development time, a new idea has now emerged from everyday life. It seems simple but is intricate in the details. The idea is modeled on roller blinds, which are fitted to many windows to ensure privacy and protection from the sun. The developers at Röchling Automotive were interested in the way in which a roller blind is opened and closed. In vehicle aerodynamics, the aim is to control the air in and around the car as needed. Why not use an active air blind instead of a grille shutter system? The idea for an active air blind was born.

The active air blind consists of a mounting frame, which acts as the system carrier and holds all the components of the air blind. A technical fabric is moved up and down by a winding shaft mounted in the frame with an integrated cable guide and a flange-mounted actuating mechanism. In the fully closed position, the air flow is deflected around the vehicle early on during driving to minimize air resistance. This results in reduced fuel consumption and emissions. The wind loads on the lowered technical fabric are delivered to the mounting frame, which takes on the loads via a support structure.

The technical fabric can withstand a maximum weight load of 65 kilograms.

The fabric can be rolled up and down at between minus 40°C and plus 100°C.

The technical fabric can be covered with an anti-mold layer to prevent odors.

“As soon as the vehicle and its units indicate a need for heat exchange and, for example, the air conditioning system or the cooling units need to dissipate heat, the central vehicle control system sends a command to the air blind, which opens partially or fully. This enables us to achieve more efficient driving,” says Peter Dill, Head of Product Line Aerodynamics & Encapsulation Systems.

Functional Modularity
Despite all its technical refinements, the modular system has a depth of only 16 millimeters and therefore requires surprisingly little installation space. It can also be installed variably. The same applies for the movements that can be made from top to bottom or left to right. Other advantages of the air blinds include the very low leakage due to the full-surface fabric and the low weight.

Karsten Grebel, System Developer for Innovation & Product Ideas, is particularly excited about the robustness of the material. “The technical fabric can not only withstand a maximum weight load of 65 kilograms on its surface but it can also be reliably rolled up and down at temperatures between minus 40°C and plus 100°C. It also stretches and shortens very little in the temperature window specified. However, we already have a solution for the worst case scenario, which compensates for possible stretching and shortening.”

That’s not all. The developers have also considered the impurities that can be deposited on a blind by the air flow. For example, when combined with moisture from the air, insect residue could lead to the formation of mold. If the air blind is involved in the air flow to the passenger compartment, this could result in unpleasant odors. To prevent all these problems, the technical fabric can be covered with an anti-mold layer, which does not have a detrimental effect on the technical properties of the blind, such as the roller behavior. “We are optimistic that the highly functional, modular air blinds will soon be in production,” says Dill in reference to the huge interest already shown by individual automotive manufacturers.

 
 

Peter Dill
Röchling Automotive
Head of Product Line Aerodynamics & Encapsulation Systems
Phone: +49 6241 844-588
peter.dill@roechling-automotive.de

Photos © Bocos Benedict – fotolia.com, Röchling