Future-proof test facility for every...

Future-proof test facility for every type of powertrain

Climatic test chamber with mobile solar simulation for Mahle Powertrain

Mahle is a leading global development partner that provides the automotive industry with the mobility of tomorrow. The company required a new test chamber at its Northampton site in order to be able to put vehicles with combustion engines, battery-electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles through their paces. Weiss Technik UK has created a flexible chassis dynamometer with partly ATEX-approved safety equipment and mobile solar simulation.

Longstanding partnership based on the highest standards

Mahle has at least one component in almost every second car around the world. Weiss Technik is the market leader in the field of environmental simulation technology. Both companies have a long-standing and robust engineering partnership. One example is the Mahle Powertrain subsidiary in Northampton, England, which has been using a Weiss Technik altitude simulation test chamber in its research and development centre for many years. The company was very satisfied with this solution, which is why it approached Weiss Technik UK again when it looked to expand its test capacities with a second, versatile test chamber.

Flexible, economical and future-proof

The requirements for the test chamber were clearly defined by Mahle: The new chassis dynamometer had to be able to perform emission and range tests under a wide variety of climatic conditions, including solar simulation. Cars with conventional combustion engines, battery-powered vehicles and fuel cell vehicles are all to be tested. In close cooperation with Mahle's engineers, the specialists at Weiss Technik developed an economical, flexible and reliable testing solution that will ensure the testing facilities at Mahle's development centre are well equipped for the future. 

Mobile solar simulation

One of the technological highlights of the chassis dynamometer is the mobile solar simulation system, which Weiss Technik developed and built entirely in-house. It was designed as a mobile system with cost-effectiveness and flexibility in mind. This means that it can be used both in the new test chamber and in the existing altitude testing facility that is used to test the stress placed on the vehicles by solar radiation. The solar simulation system meets the requirements of the FTP-75 SFTP SC03 test cycle in terms of its spectrum and homogeneity and offers a maximum irradiance of up to 1,000 watts per square metre.

Safety for all applications

Due to the various powertrain solutions that Mahle intends to test on the new chassis dynamometer, test safety was a particularly important aspect. Appropriate safety equipment was included for tests carried out on vehicles with lithium-ion batteries. An additional safety concept was also required as hydrogen can escape from fuel cells and the chassis dynamometer with the solar simulation lamps involves potential ignition sources. This includes an automatic extraction system with a ventilation flap in the chamber roof that allows any hydrogen produced to be quickly extracted upwards and a slanted chamber ceiling under which hydrogen can collect.

Optimal test conditions in a confined space

One challenge was the spatial integration of the chassis dynamometer in the Mahle Research and Development Centre, as there was only a very small room available. In addition, a large air blower with a maximum air speed of up to 160 km/h had to be integrated alongside the solar simulation. This ensures that the test facility is also suitable for demanding tests involving high-performance vehicles. The drive-in test chamber with a test space volume of 459 m³ allows tests to be carried out at temperatures between -20 and +60 °Celsius, and the humidity can be set between 5.5 and 15.5 grams per kilogram of air. In order to test the load on batteries during driving, a battery emulator was also integrated that electronically simulates charging and discharging.

Planning, assembly and service from a single source

When planning and installing the new chassis dynamometer, the environmental simulation experts at Weiss Technik applied their cumulative experience and expertise in battery testing to create a versatile test chamber that is dedicated to making tomorrow's mobility more efficient, comfortable and environmentally friendly. Mahle also relies on Weiss Technik UK for the service and maintenance of the system. "With the fast pace of our work, reliability is a must, and Weiss' technology offers just that.", Paul Heald, RDEC & VEC Supervisor at MAHLE Powertrain Ltd, expressed his satisfaction with the technology partnership with Weiss Technik.


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