Research Area Energy Management & Drivetrains

Fields of Activity

  • Conception, simulation
  • Design and prototyping
  • Testing, verification, benchmark
  • Conventional drivetrains
  • Hybrid drivetrains
  • E-Traction

General information

One of our main fields of research traditionally 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 power and mobility increase, active safety, cost reduction and comfort increase are important factors to make up a drivers’ opinion.
We use modern development tools from the conception phase to the testing of the in house made prototypes.
Special utility value analysis methods, which were developed by our engineers for our special purposes, are very useful for the definition of new concepts and help us to sort out 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 be able to evaluate detailed technical characteristics of a new system as early as in the beginning of the concept phase, we simulate its longitudinal dynamics by using programs such as MATLAB® and SIMULINK® and its driveability by ADAMS®. Sophisticated simulation tools are very important for quantitative evaluations and the right decision for promising concepts.

Our 3D CAD constructions are completed by analysing and dimensioning the required components. If necessary, we also perform a computer-aided structural analysis and optimization by using FEM.
The prototype design 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.

The spectrum of our activities is completed by State-of-the-Art-studies, services for ministries, fleet-test coordination and finally by training seminars.

Have a look at our research projects here.


Fields of Activity

  • Powernet development and electrification of auxiliary units
  • fka powernet-profiling (co-)simulation & test validation
  • Powernet stability & -management, safety concepts (LV, HEV, EV)
  • RCP-tools (MPC565/NEC V850)
  • Customer specific hardware- and embedded software development
  • Diagnostics & functional safety


Fields of Activity

  • Model based consulting
  • Alternative technologies for cabin heating/cooling – design and testing
  • Heat management strategies design and optimisation
  • Heating and cooling of automotive components - design and testing
  • Design of cooling circuits
  • Test bench design

General information

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.

For the development of future vehicle concepts, e.g. battery electric vehicles, the thermal management will be even more important, as the demand for cooling will increase, mainly for battery climatisation. Furthermore, the available waste heat for such concepts will decrease. In addition to an increasing cooling demand, future car concepts will have a considerable heating and dehumidification demand, for both comfort and security reasons. Considering the decreasing waste heat, additional components, for heating and dehumidification purposes will be necessary. However, these units will as well increase the system costs as decrease the overall efficiency.

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.


Institute for Automotive Engineering (ika)
RWTH Aachen University

Steinbachstraße 7
52074 Aachen · Germany

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+49 241 80 25600
+49 241 80 22147