How the Automotive Industry is using GT-Power to deal with Zero Emission Norms - Part 1

Legislative or governing bodies all across the globe have a major role to play. In fact, they have started taking the issue critically, especially after the Dieselgate incident (Volkswagen Emission Scandal) that came under the limelight back in 2017. The emission norms have become stricter as they are moving from the laboratory to real-world conditions. A vehicle that is tested in the laboratory will attain some values regarding the pollutants and emission norms. But now, the values must match with the data attained after testing the vehicle on the road as well. 


Real Driving Emissions (RDE) norms are due for India as of 2023 when we move to the Bharat Stage VI norms. The upcoming RDE norms will provide legislative bodies with the power and authority to examine on-road vehicles to see if they comply with the zero-emission norms. This will act as a confirmatory measure between the laboratory and on-road conditions.

What are the Zero-Emission Norms?

Nowadays, whether it is the legislative bodies or the country's media networks, the automotive industry is receiving a significant amount of flack for not achieving the agreed-upon emission norms.

Zero-emission norms imply that whatever be the fresh air intake for the combustion process, the same amount needs to be put back to the atmosphere. I.e., if a vehicle has an intake of 40m3 of Oxygen from the atmosphere, it should only output 40m3 of Oxygen as exhaust thus having a net zero-emission. 

Current technological advancements are capable of achieving the goal of 'zero-emission' norms, along with maintaining customer expectations at the same time. Here are some of the consequences that emission norms have brought about across the globe:

  • More control on the pollutants emitted by automobiles 
  • Emission of NOx reduced to 0.4 g/kWh from 4.5 g/kWh.
  • Emission of Particulate Matter (PM) reduced to 0.01 g/kWh from 0.02 g/kWh.

While it is possible to keep up with zero-emission norms, the automotive industry must tackle some challenges to comply with the legislation.

RDE (Real Driving Emission) Compliance Challenges Faced by the Automotive Industry

Inconsistency in On-Road Conditions

Abiding by the RDE norms is quite challenging for vehicle manufacturers as they have to maintain both 'in-lab' and 'on-road' emissions within the conformity factors. 

While considering the on-road conditions, engineers must look into the randomness in vehicle operating parameters:

  • Driving Pattern: It can be aggressive, moderate, or soft.
  • Ambient Conditions: Pressure, temperature, relative humidity, etc.
  • Road Conditions: Altitude, gradient, and road surface.
  • Traffic Conditions: City, rural, or motorway.

Hence, it is a tiresome task for the manufacturer to calibrate the vehicle's engine according to different conditions.

Typical Engine Configuration for Complying with Emission Norms

As RDE norms are soon going to take over, the manufacturers are facing the real challenge of achieving a perfect engine calibration. A significant number of variables can be seen as far as the configuration of a typical engine is considered:

  1. Engine Speed: The speed of an engine can't be expected to be constant. It varies continuously from idle to max. For example, for a bike engine, it varies between 1000-1200 rpm.
  2. Fuel Injection System: Variables can be injection pressure, starting of injection, pilot quantity, etc
  3. Turbocharger: In this case, the rack position plays a vital role
  4. Vehicle: Gear selection and vehicle speed
  5. Variable Valve Train System and EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) System: Valve timings and duration, valve lifts, valve diameter, bypass valve, etc. stand to vary as per the vehicle operating condition.

Expectations of Customers

Most of us will agree that customers don't care about the emission norms implemented by the governing bodies as well as the emission characteristics of the vehicles they want to purchase.

An average consumer cares about the following parameters than the exhaust emission standards.

  • Mileage
  • Aesthetics and ergonomics
  • Safety features
  • Reasonable cost
  • Low maintenance

Therefore, the responsibility to abide by the emission norms lies on the shoulders of the manufacturers.

What is the Solution?

The big questions that arise in front of the automotive industry before reaching an economically productive yet law-abiding solution are-

  • How to reduce time, efforts, and cost of development?
  • Is it possible to use a simulation approach and front load activities?
  • Do physical prototyping and simulation go hand in hand?

With the onset of the Bharat Stage-6 (BS-6) era, there is a lesser margin for manufacturers who opt for the 'physical testbed' model. There is only a three-year window available for Indian companies to switch from BS-4 to BS-6. Not only will it be a time-consuming process, but it's also economically impractical. 

For this reason, automotive manufacturers are now extensively using a simulation tool: GT-Power. 

Simulation technology such as GT-Power allows you to test your product with all aspects and features in mind before jumping into the market. That is why simulation goes hand-in-hand with physical prototyping.

Closing Thoughts

Day by day, emission norms are becoming stringent all over the world. The world is moving towards a zero-emission policy, and it needs to be taken very seriously by the automation industry.

Companies that are at the top of the sector really can't afford customer dissatisfaction and losing their hold over the market in any capacity. As such, the development of a product that complies with the norms is not just about selection; its also about the validation and durability. 

When it comes to following the RDE norms, it is the sole responsibility of the company to find a way to make the most of simulation technology. In doing so, they can ensure that no mechanical failure is observed on-road.  You can read the second part of this blog - here.

GT-Power is a 1-D system simulation tool that is extensively used in the automotive industry in the domain of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). To learn more about GT-Power, take a look at our course on GT-Power.


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