On the Way to Greener Mobility

Battery or fuel cell, in other words, electric vehicle or hydrogen vehicle, instead of gasoline or diesel: it is not just experts who are keen to find out how we are going to get around in a way that is kinder on the environment in the future, without giving up our own personal means of transportation – the public want to know too. Röchling Automotive is covering a broad spectrum with its Engine & Propulsion Solutions Product Line and is open to customer requests of any kind.

The electric vehicle is currently on the verge of breaking through into the mass mobility market. Even though the advantages of electric mobility can only be fully exploited if renewable electricity is used exclusively and batteries can be recycled, many experts are convinced that the ecological balance sheet will continue to shift in favor of electric engines. Almost all large car manufacturers are preparing themselves for large-scale series production of electric vehicles.

The power for electric vehicles is stored as an energy drive in a battery. “Hardly any markets are growing as rapidly as the battery component market, and at Röchling Automotive, we want to make a contribution to give electric mobility an extra boost,” says Walter Kral, Director Product Area Propulsion. This is why Röchling is redoubling its efforts for the development of components and modules for the battery sector made from high-performance engineering plastics, which contribute to weight and cost reductions. This includes everything that is placed around the battery itself, such as the cell frame or the cell carrier. These developments have been met with particular interest by car manufacturers on the west coast of North America and in China.

The topic of fuel cell vehicles has been gaining in importance over recent months. These vehicles are fueled with liquid hydrogen instead of gasoline. The hydrogen is converted into electrical energy in a chemical reaction that takes place in the fuel cells. This energy then powers the vehicle. Automotive manufacturers such as Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, and Toyota, as well as large German OEMs have already launched various initiatives in the fuel cell sector. This is why Röchling is consistently focusing its research and development efforts on fuel cell solutions alongside battery-powered electric solutions for cars and lightweight commercial vehicles.

But even if a lot of progress is made quickly in the development of new drive types, we will still see cars powered by gasoline or diesel on our roads for a long time yet. “We have developed an electric compressor for this transition phase, which is expected to last many years. This component improves the dynamics of engines at low speeds and optimizes the performance of the combustion engine at the same time,” reports Fabrizio Barillari, Head of Product Line Engine & Propulsion Solutions. This saves fuel and reduces CO2 emissions. Unlike turbochargers, which are operated with exhaust gas, the electric compressor reacts immediately. This boosts engine torque at low speeds, eliminates turbo lag and improves vehicle acceleration. The innovation from Röchling also enables the combustion engine to be rightsized. The aim is to integrate the electric compressor into a 12- or 48-volt architecture. “As a system supplier, we want to offer our customers the complete air intake system design. We have seen a lot of interest from our customers in end-to-end solutions like these,” says Barillari.

Röchling is also showing its innovation prowess in other areas, specifically with a lightweight engine block with a number of innovative features. It is made of aluminum and thermoplastic material and is suitable for use in hybrid cars, i.e. for vehicles with a combustion engine and electric drive, for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and for range extender solutions in which the combustion engine functions as a battery charger or starting aid. “Since the majority of the materials used are thermoplastics and not metals or aluminum, the entire multi-material block can weigh up to 35 percent less than the comparable metal version,” explains Barillari. Moreover, the improved thermal behavior reduces the engine warming-up phase, which saves fuel and energy. A metal/plastic combination specifically developed by Röchling is what makes production of the ­innovative engine block possible. Several of the company’s ­customers have already declared their interest in this.

 
 

Fabrizio Barillari

Röchling Automotive, Head of Product Line

Engine & Propulsion Solutions

Phone: +39 342 642 86 54

fabrizio.barillari@roechling-automotive.it

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