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Matthew Peach explores the use of powertrain simulation software in engine design


he powertrain is the set of components and devices between the driver and the road (or rail/sea/air, depending on the vehicle). These include control

systems, engine – whether petrol, electric or hybrid – gears, transmission, driveshafts, through to the wheels, or other drive mechanisms. At all stages, there is plenty of scope for simulation of engineering, design and processes to optimise and improve vehicle performance and handling. Until the mid-1990s, design

improvements based on simulation software were mainly about making incremental refi nements to previous models. More recently, signifi cant changes in both the market’s and manufacturers’ needs, coinciding with dramatic improvements in computing power and software design, have led to an upward shift in the power and versatility of powertrain simulation software. According to many suppliers, the market growth for this type of software is surpassing that of the fl atter markets for new vehicles themselves. The need for more economical

manufacture, higher product quality and performance, greater fuel effi ciency, lower pollution, and longer life expectancy have led to new powertrain designs. Examples of these changes include achieving higher internal engine pressures, greater mechanical forces and overall increased complexity. To better understand what is happening in powertrain simulation, Scientifi c Computing World has interviewed some leading developers of software dedicated to these technologies.


revolution The engine Mike Dempsey, managing director, Claytex

Claytex, based in Leamington Spa, UK, is the distributor for Dymola software, owned by Dassault Systemes.

Dymola has the power to simulate the whole powertrain system; from the combustion process through what the engine is doing, through to the gearbox, driveline and chassis. This package can cope with a lot of detail and simulate the design and performance of each part. Dymola’s differentiator is that it is multi-

domain, covering mechanical performance, fuel, airfl ow, thermal behaviour, cooling, lubrication, hybrid drives, energy storage and control systems. And there is sophistication in all areas because developer Dassault Systemes has many specialist partners including, for example, a research institute in Austria working on electric drives and partners in Sweden with expertise in fl uid systems and vehicle dynamics. At Claytex, we are also involved in

developing the intellectual property of Dymola; we support the engine itself and the rest of the powertrain mechanics. We develop specifi c application libraries for Dymola such as Engines, Powertrain, and Motorsport Vehicle Dynamics. Recent changes in Dymola have been

driven by extensions to what computers can do, which has allowed us to build bigger, more complex models. Considering the engines library, we have had to adapt to innovations such as biodiesel, LPG and hydrogen fuels as well as hybrid (fuel and

electric motor) and electric-only engines. Today’s models of equations are larger – even fi ve years ago, a typical simulation might have only a couple of hundred thousand equations, but today it is in the millions. Dymola is used by most of the

automotive OEMs, but at different levels. For example, BMW and Toyota are very big users whereas others may only have a few licenses. In the UK, Dymola is used by many of the Formula One team designers, typically to model hydraulics and dynamics. In the context of the Low Carbon Vehicle Technology Project, at Warwick University, Dymola software is used by companies such as Tata, Jaguar Landrover, Ricardo and Zytek.

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