Powertrains and Energy Systems of Tomorrow 2024
14-05-2024 – 15-05-2024 – Chemnitz, Germany
Shaping the future open to all technologies
17th International MTZ Congress on Future Powertrains
28-03-2023 – 29-03-2023 – Berlin, Germany
Dr. Urban Keussen
Dr. Stephan Demmerer
ZF Friedrichshafen AG
Netze BW GmbH
Ceremony of the Sustainability Award in Automotive
Authors: Sven Eisenkrämer, Marc Ziegler
Conference Report from the 17th International MTZ Congress on Future Powertrains
Powertrains and Energy Systems of Tomorrow 2023
The technological transformation of individual mobility on the basis of renewable primary energy sources calls for a more in-depth exchange of ideas between leading representatives of the automotive and energy industries on the one hand and researchers and politicians on the other. For this reason, the focus of the 17th International MTZ Congress on Future Powertrains was on topics that not only describe the changes in vehicle powertrains, but also present technological solutions for the associated infrastructure, including the provision of primary energy. The discussions concentrated on the political framework, systemic innovations for the future and digital solutions.
A total of 130 participants from eight countries came to the conference in Berlin at the end of March. Prof. Peter Gutzmer, Editor-in-Charge of the magazines in the ATZ/MTZ Group and Scientific Director of the congress, spoke in his opening presentation about the challenge of achieving the necessary reductions in CO2 emissions. Simply setting targets for the number of battery electric vehicles will not result in climate-neutral personal transport.
SUSTAINABILITY AWARDS IN AUTOMOTIVE
The first highlight of the congress was the presentation of the Sustainability Awards in Automotive, which recognize outstanding examples of sustainable solutions in the fields of environment, social and governance (ESG) in the automotive and mobility industries. In 2023, awards were presented in seven categories. The winners were Autoneum Management AG in the Technology: Materials and Circularity category, Volkswagen AG in the Technology: Supply Chain category and Edag Engineering GmbH in the Technology: Full Vehicle category. The award in the Start-up category went to Mobility for Africa Ltd. In the Mobility Concepts: Business Models category, the prize was presented to Quantron AG, while in the Mobility Concepts: Infrastructure the winner was Numbat GmbH and in the Mobility Concepts: Services category AVL List GmbH.
The panel discussion was held in a fishbowl format, which allowed for much greater audience participation. The keynote speakers and moderators responded directly to questions from the auditorium. During the open discussion on electric mobility and the accompanying infrastructure, Prof. Johann-Dietrich Wörner, President of Acatech, called for genuine technology neutrality. “No one knows which technologies will be in use in 20 years’ time, but we must not close any doors. We need to give the market a chance!” Wörner was strongly critical of some vehicle manufacturers that have moved over completely to developing battery electric vehicles. Putting all your eggs in one basket at an early stage has never been a successful approach. ZF was chosen from amongst the audience as one example of a major automotive industry supplier that has not done this. The company has decided not to develop any new hybrid transmissions, but is putting greater emphasis on optimizing the existing technologies. Dr. Urban Keussen from EWE explained that technology neutrality comes at a price. It is important for us to decide whether we need to expand the electricity grid or the hydrogen network. “This type of investment covers a period of 40 years and will cost the country a lot of money.” Keussen questioned whether the political process for making this decision was fit for purpose.
FUEL CELL DEVELOPMENT
Prof. Tim Hosenfeldt, Senior Vice President Central Technologies at Schaeffler, described the automotive industry supplier’s approach to sustainable mobility along the hydrogen supply chain. The company puts the carbon footprint of the components and the reduction of the climate impact of all hydrogen-related activities center stage. The theoretical design of a fuel cell with a high power density at a low, ideally competitive cost for use in commercial vehicles was presented by Dr. Alexander Schenk, Lead Engineer PEM Fuel Cell System Architecture at AVL. An even more in-depth evaluation of fuel cell research was provided by Dr. Marius Zubel from FEV Europe GmbH, who gave a presentation on the current status of a new research project concerning an innovative compound-foil-based cell and stack design for a heavy-duty fuel cell, including a description of the theoretical cell design.
BATTERIES AND BIDIRECTIONAL CHARGING
According to Dr. Moritz Teuber, a battery expert from FEV, some people see solid-state battery development as an all-encompassing solution for many of the problems involved in electric mobility. “The question is not when solid-state battery cells will be available, but when they will have a sufficiently high energy density to be integrated into vehicle systems. We expect low-energy-density solid-state batteries to be launched on the market first and then to be improved,” said Teuber. He looked in greater detail at the pack and system design of solid-state batteries and at FEV’s plans to bring about significant improvements in the energy density of batteries. In the context of a research project, a 30-% increase in energy density has been achieved when compared with existing cells. This is the first of four stages in the planned research and development program. There are still many questions to be answered and it is by no means certain that solid-state batteries will function properly. The successful system integration of the batteries is the key factor.
The goal of the joint research project entitled Bidirectional Charging Management was to achieve a win-win situation for customers by enabling them to use bidirectional charging and reduce costs, as Mark Pilkington from BMW explained. The project investigated various use cases in the areas of vehicle-to-home, vehicle-to-business and vehicle-to-grid. Real-life demonstrations with 20 private customers and 30 business customers ultimately showed that bidirectional charging management worked “wonderfully.” “The vehicles charge and discharge quickly enough and we can regulate the process quickly enough too.” The standards worked effectively. “But we also realized that the use cases were always highly individual.” For this reason, bidirectional charging management will not be suitable for every potential BEV customer.