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Thermal management for alternative powertrain vehicles

19 May 2021

With over 100 countries around the world pledging to be carbon neutral by 2050 the race is on to find ways to achieve this.

The UK Government has decided to phase out the sale of new cars and light commercial vehicles (LCVs) that run on traditional fuels by 2030 (hybrids by 2035) with step two being for all cars and vans to be fully zero emission at the tail pipe by 2035. 

According to a report produced by KPMG, the UK’s environmental and health policies are arguably the biggest motivation for consumers going electric. These include higher vehicle excise duty on diesel and petrol cars and the probable roll-out of the London Low Emission charging infrastructure in other major city centres throughout the UK. 

Electric vehicles are currently more expensive to buy when compared to their equivalent petrol or diesel engine models and the total cost of ownership is also higher. However, this is not the same for LCVs due to fleet scale economies and higher usage which could make going all electric a good decision.

In Europe, it has been mandated that from 2025 all Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) – the largest producers of harmful emissions – will be forced to reduce their emissions by 15% and by a further 30% by 2030.

To the manufacturers and operators of heavier commercial vehicles these targets are setting a stiff challenge due to the large battery sizes required for long-distance haulage and also the time off the road required to charge and recharge the batteries. Whilst some alternative fuels such as natural gas are currently being used, for many, the focus on using hydrogen remains an extremely realistic alternative.

For example, one major HGV manufacturer has been working alongside a Japanese automotive company and a leading global fuel supplier exploring various hydrogen options. These include using hydrogen as a fuel to power the combustion engine and using a hydrogen fuel cell to power the electric motor. In both these cases, a 100% reduction in carbon emissions is possible. 

Whether it’s battery electric (BEV), plug in hybrid (PHEV) or fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV), thermal control for the subsystems of the powertrain is critical to maintain battery or fuel cell performance, loss of degradation and ensured operational safety

With all the major on-road and off-road vehicle manufacturers and their tier suppliers firmly focused on the challenges ahead, technological advances are gathering pace, with thermal management solutions playing an increasingly important part of these new developments. 

Experts from Norgren’s Commercial Vehicle team have been working in the automotive industry for more than 40 years and they have developed numerous cutting-edge solutions for vehicle manufacturers around the world.

UK Commercial Vehicle Account Manager Martin Bevan explains: “Our philosophy and focus has always been on building close working relationships with our customers, ever since our founder, Carl Norgren started his air preparation business from his kitchen table nearly 100 years ago in 1927. Understanding our customers’ engineering needs has proved that our experts use their skills and know-how to develop and deliver high quality products to meet the most demanding engineering challenges. As a world leader in fluid and motion control, we constantly seek and identify new challenges and this led us to working in the automotive industry with a particular focus on commercial vehicles. Now, forty years later, our experience is vast. For example, we already have a range of standard off-the-shelf products that meet tomorrow’s carbon neutral needs and we also have the capability and resources to develop new products to meet even the most demanding engineering challenges.”

Norgren’s Buschjost range of motorised coolant valves bear testament to its experience and knowledge in both conventional and alternative powertrain technology. These thermal management solutions were originally developed to help extend the range and increase the battery life in electric vehicles. Designed to help keep the batteries temperature between 22-26ºC – the optimum temperature to achieve maximum range – these valves are also proven to extend battery service life by up to 40% and reduce charging times. Compatible with temperature ranges of -40º-120ºC and all common coolant fluid, these valves are both lube free and easy to maintain thanks to their separate motor eliminating the need to strip down or disconnect. With a CANbus option coming soon, these standard valves come with a two-year warranty or one million cycles.

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