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Designing your way to low carbon emissions

With the growing interest within industry to lower carbon emissions, many major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have moved towards developing low carbon electro-mechanical drivelines and vehicle technologies.

According to the SMMT New Car CO2 report 2013, the UK average of new car CO2 emissions dropped significantly from 181 CO2 g/km in 2000 to 133.1 CO2 g/km in 2012.

As a result, the EU put in place a comprehensive legal framework to reduce CO2 emissions from new light duty vehicles as part of efforts to ensure it meets its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol and beyond. Car manufacturers are obliged to ensure that new fleet cars do not emit more than an average of 130 grams of CO2 per kilometre (g CO2/Km) by 2015 and 95g by 2020.

The fallout of this has seen major OEMs, led by some of the industry's biggest car manufacturers, actively developing low carbon electro-mechanical drivelines and vehicle technologies in order to address consumer demands while meeting the requirements of the EU.

Romax, an engineering and design specialist working across industries including automotive, aerospace, marine, off-highway, is an example of one such company that is working to help manufacturers to drive this trend in the industry.

It does this by utilising its virtual engineering simulation software, which allows vehicle designers to quickly and robustly create vehicle concept designs. This allows designers using the software to analyse vehicle performance, driveability, fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and many other aspects such as fuel economy effects on the driveline.

As a result of this Romax is able to provide customers with cost-effective solutions that allow the designer to reduce development time and cost during the vehicle development process while enhancing and optimising design capability - all while ensuring the highest levels of design and quality that support its mission to drive business sustainability.

Such is Romax's experience and expertise in the automotive industry it currently supplies simulation and analysis tools, as well as engineering services, to the top automotive OEMs worldwide.

In order to continue its support of efficiency improvement programmes for transmissions and drivelines, Romax works closely with a cross-section of carefully identified partners including universities and leading authorities in engineering and design, in order to continually position itself at the forefront of technology.

Examples of this can be seen with Romax's work with the University of Nottingham to collaboratively develop vehicle simulation software that could improve the understanding of noise, vibration and harshness. The result of this research allowed Romax to develop a detailed understanding of the dynamics of the whole vehicle and not just transmissions engineering.

Another example is Romax's sponsorship of a PhD student at Loughborough University who is carrying out a research project investigating the energy use within the powertrain of a hybrid electric vehicle and a smart EV during 'real-world' driving.

Most recently, Romax has been involved in a collaborative project alongside a number of automotive companies, aimed at looking at the simulation and optimisation of a highly integrated EV drivetrain. The three-year project will look at innovating the driveline components and the early analysis of efficiency, noise, and vibration through whole-system simulation, amongst other focuses such as housing integration, cooling lubrication, and power electronics.

By undertaking such projects Romax is able to stress the need for whole-system rapid analysis of a large number of candidate concept designs earlier on in the development cycle, in order to free design engineers to investigate competing solutions at the very earliest stages.

Changes at concept design stage are easier to implement and less costly than later on in the design process, and allow the designers freedom for creativity within the design process.

These ideals demonstrate Romax's desire to drive next-generation technology development across the hybrid and EV automotive markets. In light of increased legislation and consumer demands a greater emphasis is being placed on addressing efficiency across driveline technology. Romax is meeting these challenges by providing software and design methodologies to ensure that the next generation of hybrids and EVs is as efficient and refined as their customers will surely expect.