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Punch Powertrain makes hybrid powertrain up to 17% more energy efficient

Under the umbrella of the EcoMechatronics project, Sirris and Flanders Make provided support for Sint-Truiden-based company Punch Powertrain in developing a more energy-efficient control strategy for hybrid vehicle powertrains.

In addition to an internal combustion engine, many hybrid vehicles have an electric motor and a battery in order to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. A smart powertrain controller should ensure that the right energy source is used at all times. In its quest for an optimum control strategy – i.e. one that minimises fuel consumption while being easy to apply to their hardware – Punch Powertrain sought advice from Sirris and Flanders Make.

Smart selection of control techniques

Based on a self-designed method for control selection, the EcoMechatronics experts from Sirris and Flanders Make recommended two control techniques: global optimal and real-time applicable powertrain control. With global optimal control the theoretical minimal fuel consumption is determined without limitations on computing power. Using dynamic programming techniques the controller assesses possible control actions at all times and selects the most efficient. This determines the optimal path for a pre-defined speed curve – in this case the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC).

The selected real-time applicable control – the equivalent consumption minimisation strategy (ECMS) – strikes a balance at all times between power from fuel and power from the battery, in order to minimise fuel consumption.

For the NEDC, the global optimal powertrain control resulted in a 17.2% fuel consumption reduction compared to Punch Powertrain's original, rules-based control strategy. The real-time applicable control had nearly the same performance, with a 16.5% reduction.