Virtual hybrid project rolled out by UK universities

Six leading UK universities are coming together on a three-year project that will see them virtually testing an entire hybrid powertrain while its various physical components remain in different locations.

The Virtually Connected Hybrid Vehicle (VCHV) project involves the Universities of Bath, Loughborough, Warwick, Newcastle, and Nottingham, as well as University College London. Each institution will focus on a particular area, with eight PhDs in total working across the project. The six different powertrain subsystems will be tested together virtually in real time while physically remaining distributed on independent test rigs at their host universities.

Two Bath PhDs will work on the internal combustion engine, with two PhDs from Loughborough focusing on hybrid control and communications. Warwick, Newcastle, Nottingham and UCL will all contribute one PhD each, working respectively on batteries, electric motors, power electronics and fuel cells.

“This is an exciting project designed to build collaborative links across the APC (Automotive Propulsion Centre) spoke network and with industrial partners,” said Professor Chris Brace, deputy director of Bath’s Powertrain & Vehicle Research Centre.

“The research tackles some of the most challenging aspects of digital engineering that must be addressed to deliver the clean and efficient propulsion systems of the future.”

According to Bath University, virtual testing only currently accounts for about five per cent of total powertrain testing, with most of this taking place in early-stage development. Distributed testing has the potential for major efficiency gains, helping OEMs shorten the development cycle by as much as 12 months and accelerating the time it takes to transfer fundamental research into industry.