VTT invests in development of electric vehicles

“The electrification of vehicles and machinery will come to play an increasingly visible role in VTT’s research projects,” says Research Professor Nils-Olof Nylund, “combining, for example, expertise related to materials technology, electrotechnology, electric machines and vehicles. Our approach is based on the needs of the Finnish industry. In other words, we will focus on projects with actual business potential.”

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has expanded its research environment to allow development of future electric vehicles and machinery, battery systems, and components of various types. The laboratory is also suited to testing and developing heavy vehicles. The test bus, assembled on Kabus Oy’s bus chassis by VTT Metropolia and Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, will accelerate the development of Finnish components.

The new investments provide VTT with an opportunity to develop technologies ranging from components to entire vehicles and machineries.

VTT’s vehicle laboratory and the new battery laboratory will now provide an opportunity to study electric vehicles and their powertrain as an entity, including electric motors, electronics and batteries. Integration of testing into VTT’s powertrain modelling competence will speed up the design of new vehicles.

VTT will increase the operations in its vehicle laboratory in Otaniemi to best meet the development needs of electric vehicles and electric traffic. The power supply unit mounted in the vehicle laboratory is capable of both simulating the battery system of a heavy electric vehicle under vehicle testing conditions and performing full-scale battery charge-discharge cycles. In addition to the expansion of the vehicle laboratory, a totally new battery laboratory will be introduced in September 2012 to support R&D of electric commercial vehicles.

The battery laboratory operations will be divided into R&D of battery cells, battery modules and large ready-to-use battery systems. The performance of energy storage systems suited for electric vehicles can be measured in a repeatable manner under variable controlled circumstances, such as extreme cold of -70 degrees Celsius. Testing of battery cells and battery systems under variable conditions corresponding to actual use and in various modes of operation will help the development of safer and more efficient products for various purposes.

The development of electric and hybrid vehicles for passenger traffic is highly active around the world, but competition in the development of heavy vehicles remains limited. The Finnish industry has potential for reaching good competitive positions in this sector. In addition to development of vehicles and machinery, VTT’s renewed battery and vehicle laboratory also supports the electrotechnical component industry, with several plants throughout Finland.

ECV – A new Finnish networking project

The operations of the laboratory provide excellent support for new Finnish networking projects. One example of these is the ECV project entity, launched this autumn, which develops electric commercial vehicles. The extent of the networking project, launched under Tekes’ EVE programme and coordinated by VTT, is some 10 million euros, involving 25 to 30 research organisations and companies.

Parties involved in addition to VTT include Aalto University, Tekes, Ministry of Transport and Communications, Metropolia, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Rovaniemi University of Applied Sciences, Veolia Transport, Normet, Rocla, Fortum, Kabus, Vacon, European Batteries, Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) and the City of Espoo. The partners have international targets: in addition to aiming for international business activity, the project is currently seeking admission to various EU projects to network with European R&D projects.

eBus electric test bus to be introduced on 5 September in Espoo

Industrial components can now be tested and developed in their actual user environment with the help of the electric test bus developed in the eBus project. The eBus test bus was designed by VTT and assembled on Kabus Oy’s bus chassis by Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. With the help of the bus mule, component manufacturers can test and demonstrate their batteries and component products and compare them with those in the market. The eBus test platform will be displayed for the first time at the ECV project exhibition in Espoo, on 5 September 2012.