Energy Management & Drivetrains

One of our main fields of research is the development of conventional and alternative power trains. The development within this sector will continue to play an important role as the need for reduced environmental pollution, caused by automotive traffic is steadily rising. To satisfy this requirement, it is necessary to optimize already existing systems and moreover to develop systems with promising future concepts.

Searching for novel and optimized power trains we do not only consider conventional aspects such as energy consumption and emissions, but also focus on the customers’ requirements. Aspects like performance and mobility enhancement, active safety, cost reduction and comfort play a key role in researching the mobility of tomorrow.

Senario focused development

We use modern development tools in all areas, ranging from the conception phase to the testing of tailor-made prototypes.
Special utility value analysis methods, developed by our engineers, help us to identify optimum approaches to the problems. We try to meet the demands of different interest groups such as manufacturers, customers and legislators alike by benchmarking the developed approaches with regard to different scenarios.

To evaluate detailed technical characteristics of a new system early in its conception phase, we simulate its longitudinal dynamics by using programs such as MATLAB® and SIMULINK® and its drivability by ADAMS®.

Prototype manufacturing in house

Our 3D CAD constructions are completed by analyzing and dimensioning the required components. If necessary, we also perform computer-aided structural analysis and FEM optimization.

The prototype manufacturing of mechanical, hydraulic/pneumatic and electric/electronic components is carried out in our own workshops. Software-development tools for various programming languages are available.

Testing and final optimization of the new drive train prototypes are executed on component test benches (e.g. engine test bench, battery testing system, transmission test bench, drive shaft and joint test bench, brake test bench), on a transient drivetrain test bench, on several roller test benches as well as on our test track.

Although we are able to procure a complete development process from concept to prototype, our customers as well can choose only isolated development steps to receive an optimum research and development support for their own work.


For our partners we do not only offer the complete development process, but but also single steps within. Our standard range of services includes semi-automatic and fully automatic test bench investigations, which are run in 24-hour, 7-day-a-week mode, as well as simulation calculations and designs of all kinds. The spectrum of our activities is completed by State-of-the-Art-studies, services for ministries, fleet-test coordination, apprenticeship and in-service training.


The development of automotive energy systems ranges from the integration of new vehicle technologies to the development of innovative energy management mechanisms and backup concepts. For the design and analysis of technological approaches, the ika performs specific investigations using simulation tools, such as charge balance and voltage stability analysis, and studies energy systems for conventional, but also for hybrid and electric vehicles. The proving of the developed algorithms and the investigation of fault cases is then carried out in the electrical system laboratory or directly in the vehicle.

For the development of functional algorithms, the ika uses the MATLAB/SIMULINK tool. Automated C code generation for the use of the algorithms on microcontroller-based ECUs is carried out in the context of model-based pre-series and series developments with the aid of Targetlink. As a platform for implementing the algorithms in the vehicle, the ika distributes 16 and 32 bit microcontroller-based universal ECUs.

The connection to an in-house developed OSEK-compliant operating system via Targetlink enables convenient, user-specific configuration of the universal ECUs. Thanks to extensive expertise in hardware and software development, ika offers flexible implementation of customer-specific requirements in addition to its own product developments.


All drive train concepts involve a certain waste heat, which is currently used for heating purposes only. By means of innovative technologies and concepts these thermal energies can be used to reduce or even avoid the additional consumption for ancillary units, e.g. the air-conditioning compressor. Hence such concepts will improve the overall efficiency of the car through waste-heat recovery.

In the development of drive concepts, such as the purely electrically driven vehicle, thermal management will increasingly play a central role, as the cooling requirements will increase due to the necessary temperature control of the electrical storage units. In addition to an increasing cooling demand, there will be a substantial need for heating and dehumidification in future vehicles, both for comfort and security reasons. Considering those demands, additional components will be necessary.

To fulfil these rising requirements the Institute for Automotive Engineering (ika) focuses on several key-topics:

  • Adsorption based heat-pumps and chillers
  • Sorption and phase change thermal storages
  • Integrated overall concepts and innovative control strategies
  • Mechanically driven heat-pumps
  • Reduction of thermal demands

Business activities cover model-based design, prototyping, car integration and measurement.

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Damian Backes M.Sc.
Manager Research Area
Energy Management and Drivetrains
+49 241 80 25420

Equipment and test benches


Student theses

Selection of current theses:


Institute for Automotive Engineering
RWTH Aachen University
Steinbachstraße 7
52074 Aachen · Germany
+49 241 80 25600

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