Energy-efficient air con – the key to greater mileage
Episode 10: How to ensure more available energy for the range of electric vehicles – using new sensor technology RWTH researchers are exploring ways to air condition vehicles more energy-efficiently.
In the worst case, air conditioning can reduce the range of an electric vehicle by a staggering 50 percent. Minimising this percentage is the objective of the research being conducted by Professor Christoph van Treeck and his team at the RWTH’s Institute of Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Building. Their approach is to investigate how energy – instead of being used to heat up or cool down the entire cabin of a vehicle – can be more efficiently dosed and deployed for the comfort of the individual vehicle occupant, for example via seats and footboards.
When Morpheus freezes
Human sensitivity to temperature varies. What one person finds pleasantly cool may be more than enough to make another person shiver. To determine the individual climate comfort of vehicle passengers, the group of researchers at the institute led by Daniel Wölki have developed a novel, holistic approach. Dozens of sensors and an infrared camera collect data on humidity and temperature and analyze human gestures. Based on this data, the current thermal state of the vehicle occupants is determined and compared with a model that evaluates the objectively determined thermal acceptance. This model is partially based on the so-called Morphable Human Energy Simulator – MORPHEUS for short – which is capable of realistically replicating human thermoregulation. The difference between measured data and model data is used to establish a control variable that can be applied to achieve efficient and individualised regulation of the air conditioning inside the vehicle.
“This project,” van Treeck explains, “is where our long years of research activities on thermal physiology, thermal comfort, and image recognition all come together – in the sensitive area of control engineering in vehicles.”
And who invented it? Professor Christoph van Treeck and his team at the RWTH’s Institute of Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Building. In Aachen, of course.
The RWTH Aachen's Institute of Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Building is researching into how future electrical vehicles can be heated and cooled more energy-efficiently. From the right: Professor van Treeck, Daniel Wölki and Henning Metzmacher evaluate images from the driving simulator.
(Photo: RWTH_Peter Winandy)