Automotive Engineering - April 2021 - 29

POWERTRAIN SUPPLIER INSIGHTS

The world's piston maker
charts the ICE future
According to Mahle's research VP, the remaining development path for internal
combustion is clean, electrified and ready for alternative fuels.

MAHLE

E

lectrification nets the current headlines and Wall Street fervor, but the internal combustion engine (ICE) will soldier on
for several decades, serving as the core of many propulsion
systems. Until it is finally regulated out of existence, the ICE
will keep evolving under increasingly stringent emissions regulations.
" We'll need clean combustion engines in the future - preferably driven
by a certain share of renewable fuels. There won't be a single powertrain
of the future, " said Martin Berger, Mahle's VP of corporate research and
advanced engineering. Before taking on his current role, he spent more
than five years as Mahle's director of engineering services.
Berger explained that market environments, vehicle sizes, use cases and driving profiles are too diverse for there to be only a single
propulsion solution. " We have to have more than just one path, be it
battery electric propulsion, be it fuel cell or be it hydrogen, and alternative fuels in the combustion engine, " he told SAE International.
The ICE of 2030, according to Berger, will look like an extension of
today's program goals: " clean, electrified, and ready for alternative
fuels. " Mahle's optimized Modular Hybrid Powertrain [MHP] concept
pointed the way a few years ago. It showed " there is still a great potential in the combustion engine " by employing technologies such as
heat-resistant valves that allow high exhaust-gas temperatures, and
special pistons and rings to ensure low oil consumption and low particulate emissions. For transient-range operation, or in dynamic driving situations, the ICE is supported with an integrated electric motor,
avoiding the related emissions.
Synthetic fuel blends, " up to 100% for some applications, " can provide
cleaner combustion for both the current and future fleets, Berger said.
Berger uses the term " intelligent electrification " to characterize the
hybridized combustion engine of the future. Continuous power output " can be achieved using the [ICE] in a few highly efficient operating points. Cruising range and fast refueling are not an issue at all,
whilst transient power for dynamic driving situations is generated by
the electric motor, " he said. The result is " a much simpler, smaller,
cheaper and yet cleaner engine. "
As the industry shifts large resources toward battery electric vehicles (BEVs), Mahle is pivoting its expertise and product offerings.
" We are continuously expanding our portfolio in the field of mechatronics, electronics, battery and thermal management, " Berger detailed. " We simultaneously keep an eye on efficiency, packaging, and
resources. In R&D/pre-development, more than 85% of our resources
are dedicated to alternative drivetrains - including battery electric
vehicles and fuel cell. "
While Mahle shifts its advanced-engineering resources towards
new mobility approaches, the company will continue to support its
customers in the " traditional " markets " as long as needed, " he stated.

AUTOMOTIVE ENGINEERING

by Paul Seredynski

" The technological and structural transformation requirements are
always a great inspiration to Mahle on its way towards mobility of
the future - aiming to shape it! " explained Martin Berger.

More than 85% of Mahle's R&D
sources are dedicated to alternative
drivetrains - including batteryelectric vehicles and fuel cell.
Production also is affected by the shift. " We are
constantly keeping up with all kinds of modern manufacturing approaches, " Berger said, led by digitization
of plants and processes. 3D printing technologies are
being developed for engines, electric motors and peripherals. Mahle has applied this technology to the
Porsche GT2 RS pistons [https://www.sae.org/
news/2020/07/porsche-3d-printed-pistons] and its
applications " extend way beyond engine components
to include parts like charge-air coolers and electric
motors, " he noted.
April 2021 29


https://www.sae.org/news/2020/07/porsche-3d-printed-pistons

Automotive Engineering - April 2021

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