Future urban mobility: Multi-modal and eco-friendly

Future urban mobility: Multi-modal and eco-friendly

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

Urban mobility is facing multiple challenges. The ever-increasing traffic volume creates traffic congestions, environmental and health burdens and an accelerating trend towards urbanisation. Against this background the innovation cluster “Regional Eco Mobility 2030” (REM 2030) investigated ways to make future traffic more effective and at the same time more sustainable. REM represents three institutes of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) as well as four Fraunhofer Institutes with focus on system and innovation research, chemical technology, optical system and image processing as well as materials research.

The hardware developed within the REM 2030 cluster activity focuses on the reduction of local emissions in the first place. Towards this end, the scientists developed a vehicle concept with zero local emissions that at the same time is optimised for urban mobility. The vehicle is designed around an energy-optimised powertrain. The permanently excited synchronous motor with single-toothed winding has been designed for maximum power density and efficiency. It achieves a torque of up to 90 Nm and a permanent power of 70 kW, which is transferred to the front axle through a two-gear transmission and an open differential gear. The concept intentionally does away with very sophisticated components, thus effectively reducing material cost. A methanol fuel cell serves as range extender, ensuring a driving range of more than 200 km (130 mi). Since the methanol is generated through a biomass reactor and the entire concept uses electric energy from renewable sources, the overall emissions are very low, explained project manager Lars Fredrik Berg.

Besides the motor and transmission, the REM 2030 team developed a high-performance lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 11.8 kWh, a power electronics unit that includes a DC/DC converter and the associated peripheral circuitry, a thermal module to keep the temperature of battery and passenger compartment in the comfort zone and a tank for the methanol water mixture.

But the vehicle hardware is just one building block of the entire project. “Our mobility approach includes three vehicle concepts: electric bicycles for short distances, minicars for cities and conventional vehicles for larger distances,” says Martin Wietschel who oversees the business segment energy economy at Fraunhofer ISI. To improve the acceptance and user usability of the concept, all building blocks need to be closely intertwined and integrated to the public transportation system and car sharing offerings. Only an intelligent, software-supported internetworking concept can motivate the users to accept and combine these mobility systems.

The research however unveiled shortcomings and lack of user acceptance. The latter gyrated around the fact the target group could not be convinced that electric vehicles are more environmentally sound than conventional ones.

The researchers conclude that urban individual mobility in the future will greatly depend on multiple factors – technology innovation, intelligent application design, economical efficiency and stronger consideration of user needs.

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