Development and Applications of the Modular Automotive Technology Testbed (MATT) to Evaluate Hybrid Electric Powertrain Components and Energy Management Strategies

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Virginia Tech


This work describes the design, development and research applications of a Modular Automotive Technology Testbed (MATT). MATT is built to evaluate technology components in a hybrid vehicle system environment. MATT can also be utilized to evaluate energy management and torque split control strategies and to produce physical measured component losses and emissions to monitor emissions behavior.

In the automotive world, new technology components are first developed on a test bench and then they are integrated into a prototype vehicle for transient evaluation from the vehicle system perspective. This process is expensive and the prototype vehicles are typically inflexible in hardware and software configuration. MATT provides flexibility in component testing through its component module approach. The flexible combination of modules provides a vehicle environment to test and evaluate new technology components. MATT also has an open control system where any energy management and torque split strategy can be implemented. Therefore, the control's impact on energy consumption and emissions can be measured. MATT can also emulate different types and sizes of vehicles. MATT is a novel, unique, flexible and powerful automotive research tool that provides hardware-based data for specific research topics.

Currently, several powertrain modules are available for use on MATT: a gasoline engine module, a hydrogen engine module, a virtual scalable energy storage and virtual scalable motor module, a manual transmission module and an automatic transmission module. The virtual battery and motor module uses some component Hardware-In-the-Loop (HIL) principles by utilizing a physical motor powered from the electric grid in conjunction with a real time simulation of a battery and a motor model. This module enables MATT to emulate a wide variety of vehicles, ranging from a conventional vehicle to a full performance electric vehicle with a battery pack that has virtually unlimited capacity.

A select set of PHEV research studies are described in this dissertation. One of these studies had an outcome that influenced the PHEV standard test protocol development by SAE. Another study investigated the impact of the control strategy on emissions of PHEVs. Emissions mitigation routines were integrated in the control strategies, reducing the measured emissions to SULEV limits on a full charge test.

A special component evaluation study featured in this dissertation is the transient performance characterization of a supercharged hydrogen internal combustion engine on MATT. Four constant air-fuel ratio combustions are evaluated in a conventional vehicle operation on standard drive cycles. Then, a variable air fuel ratio combustion strategy is developed and the test results show a significant fuel economy gain compared to other combustion strategies, while NOx emissions levels are kept low.



Modular Automotive Technology Testbed, Hybrid electric vehicle