Schaeffler touts electrification, efficiency as its R&D focus

January 20, 2016 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Determined to get more involved into the automotive market, mechatronics group Schaeffler AG has aired its product strategy for next-generation powertrain technologies.

Besides mechanical improvements that help conventional combustion engines improving their fuel efficiency, Schaeffler puts emphasis on products and technologies that support the ongoing electrification process. Also thermal management techniques rank high in the company’s spectrum of R&D activities. In this context, the company regards its thermal management module (TMM) as an important element. The TMM controls the engine’s thermal balance and ensures reaching quickly the best operating temperature range for engine and transmission. Likewise it can control the thermal budget of batteries and hybrid components. For example, it cuts off coolant circulation during the cold run phase, which causes the engine to reach the operating temperature range significantly faster. In addition, it allows operating specific components at higher temperature than would be possible under a conventional thermostat control. Thus, the TMM has a positive effect on the lifetime of powertrain components. Plus, during peak load the engine temperature can be lowered, which reduces knocking and makes full load enrichment redundant.

Another approach towards better efficiency and lower emission is replacing hydraulic camphasers by electromechanical ones. Schaefller claims that with its electromechanical camphaser it is possible to get the camshaft faster and more precise into the desired position. At the same time, electromechanical systems feature a larger adjustment range, enable engine designers to implement innovative, highly efficient fuel burning concepts. Electromechanical camphasers also enable Electronic Control Units (ECUs) to adjust the engine’s compression which in turn leads to softer combustion start – according to Schaeffler an important feature for the stop-start system in hybrid powertrains.

Another product group from Schaeffler that significantly affects the efficiency of hybrid powertrains are the electrical components of such powertrains, in particular in P2 hybrids. The system is designed to be integrated in the gear bell housing and embraces a dual-mass flywheel and an automated separating clutch with actuator and electrical drive. The module can be configured according to user demand and be adapted to all