Automotive industry

The role of temperature control testing in the automotive industry

Research and development processes, design and analysis, materials selection and prototype testing techniques are an essential part of the global automotive industry. Vehicles must operate under wavering stresses as well as varying pressures and varying environmental conditions such as ambient temperature, extreme rain, etc.

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The automotive industry needs to ensure that its products can operate in such a wide temperature range and with such rapid temperature fluctuations without failing or experiencing material fatigue.

An automotive test rig, also known as a test bed, is a setup used to validate the technical control or soundness of an automotive design or model.

Automotive diagnostic processes are as varied as test samples. Among several test procedures, thermal simulations ensure materials remain (dimensionally) durable at elevated temperatures or rapid temperature fluctuations, seals remain leak-free over a wide dynamic range of temperature and pressure, and pumps operate efficiently regardless of average temperature and viscosity.

History of temperature control in the automotive industry

The 1929 Ford Model A was the first automobile to provide cabin heat as a factory-installed option. These new vehicle heaters delivered hot air from the powertrain to the interior of the car, but the method had some drawbacks, including heating latency.

A crude type of air conditioning was not available as a factory-installed option until the 1939 Packard. The “Weather Conditioner” was a $279 accessory that required the Packard One-Eighty to be installed in an installation separated. Finally, Cadillac introduced temperature and comfort control, the world’s first fully automated climate control system, in 1964. It was a purely analog system with three thermistors.

Materials and methods

Temperature control is most commonly seen in test and inspection rigs, as well as materials testing, in the automotive industry. To ensure that all components of a car operate correctly and reliably throughout future use, they are subjected to extraordinarily high temperature changes. The temperature control test facility consists of temperature chambers of various sizes and features available.

Rapidly changing temperature control systems are used in component and sub-assembly testing on a vehicle test rig, allowing for precise conditioning and rapid temperature changes. Only perfect thermal management gives reliable and reproducible results.

Thermal management systems give constant temperatures or a complicated temperature distribution to the workbench via liquid media, either explicitly or implicitly. Temperature monitoring systems, in addition to controlling the intermediate temperature, also allow precise regulation of circulation and static pressure.

Static testing is often performed in a thermal control test chamber in accordance with ISO 12097-2, which includes airbag module testing.

Limitations of Temperature Control Tests

While these tests are essential, there are certain limitations and complexities associated with them. Above all, the cost and financial aspect is essential, because these processes are quite expensive due to the costs of equipment and components.

temperature, temperature control, automotive, thermal management, automotive

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Along with this, a rather complex measuring circuit is required, requiring a complex design with a strong current source. In most cases, the presence of a bridge circuit is necessary, which leads to increased costs. Sensitivity issues have also been observed in many cases, but the need for this process cannot be denied. This is the main reason why car manufacturers spend huge sums on these tests.

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According to the latest research, thermal management systems are widely used in two ways: to mimic outdoor climate conditions in a controlled room or to replace internal networks, such as the engine cooling cycle.

The latter allows the creation of real conditions on the test bench in which test samples are sprayed with coolant following operating procedures, such as in a car. Specimens, on the other hand, can be specially hardened and thus, for example, pushed to their load limits in the context of safety tests.

Another major aspect is the development of active thermal management systems after control trials. In modern automotive products such as cars, water-cooled proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) are incorporated.

A microcontroller, coolant, air conditioners, circulatory cooling system and two temperature sensors constitute the thermal energy storage system of the PEMFC application on the automobile. Temperature is efficiently controlled via circulating water which effectively dissipates heat to maintain a standard temperature ensuring efficient efficiency as well as long lasting uninterrupted operation.

Limits

The main limitations are the need for a separate workplace for effective testing. Along with this, the resulting control and management system is quite expensive and adds extra weight, which affects the overall performance efficiency of the product.

Integrating this new technology may require design changes, which is a difficult task that delays product manufacturing by reimplementing all stages including design, analysis, and testing.

Future outlook

According to the latest Market Research Future (MRFR) study, the automotive temperature control systems market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.04% during the forecast period (2020-2027). Many researches nowadays focus on incorporating semiconductors for these purposes.

The use of semiconductors is very advantageous for thermal management systems due to advantageous superior thermoelectric properties and affordable costs.

MEMS, IC sensors, and infrared temperature sensors are expected to be emerging innovations as luxury automobiles become more common around the world and wiring harnesses become smaller. MEMS temperature sensors are widely used in all major sophisticated applications for electric and conventional automobiles.

In short, it would not be wrong to deduce from this that temperature management and control tests constitute a major technological advance with significant upmarket potential in the future.

The references

Giampieri, A., Chin, JL, Smallbone, A. & Roskilly, A. (2020). A review of current automotive manufacturing practices from an energy perspective. Energy applied. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306261919317611

Julabo. (2021). Material and component testing. From Julabo: https://www.julabo.com/en-us/applications/industries/material-and-component-tests https://www.julabo.com/en-gb/applications/industries/material-and- component-tests

Zhang, J., Wang, YX, He, H. & Wang, Y. (2020). Active thermal management for an automotive water-cooled proton exchange membrane fuel cell using feedback control. Vehicle Power and Propulsion Conference (pp. 1-5). Gijon, Spain: IEEE. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Active-Thermal-Management-for-an-Automotive-Proton-Zhang-Wang/11078d5c8a0b3d9018119d02d861e7a5245f2b37

Zhou, F., Ren, Q., Yuan, S., Hong, S., Guo, W., Yu, J. & Qian, X. (2020). Optimization of temperature control strategy for vehicle fuel cell under real road conditions. IEEE China Automation Congress. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/9326876

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