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CPT invests £1M to industrialize switched-reluctance 48V mild hybrid technology; new durability test cells

UK-based Controlled Power Technologies, a developer of vehicle driveline electrification technology, has invested £1 million (US$1.4 million) to further industrialize its CO2 and NOx reduction capabilities for the global automotive and transport industries.

CPT specializes in the safe low-voltage application of switched-reluctance machines (SRMs) to a vehicle powertrain and driveline, providing intelligent electrification of the propulsion system with near full hybrid vehicle capability. (Earlier post.) The £1-million spend will support seven projects at the company’s new technical center in Coventry and at its headquarters in Laindon. A significant proportion of the funding targets product and manufacturing process maturity by capital expenditure in new durability test cells at Laindon and a low volume manufacturing facility in Coventry.

The environmental chambers will primarily test our SpeedStart and SpeedTorq motor-generators for 48V applications But we can also test at 12 volts for micro-hybrid applications, 24 volts for truck and bus applications, in fact anything up to 60 volts, which is considered the upper voltage limit for electrical machines before costly safety measures need to be incrementally implemented.

Seven years ago we defined a challenging durability cycle for a water-cooled electric machine operating in the harsh under-bonnet environment, combining the most damaging events experienced by both a starter motor and an alternator at 12V. In preparation for 48V applications this cycle has been further developed, which means that our four-month 2,000-hour test program can now fully validate products designed to meet series production requirements, as well as meeting the quality, service and price standards for advanced technology demanded by the automotive industry.

Consideration of the thermal environment is absolutely critical for both durability and real world performance of electrical machines. We can already run our switched-reluctance units at more than 12.5 kW for 30 seconds, so the test cells’ drive motor rating of 15kW and load bank power dissipation capability of 20kW will help accommodate future development of our SpeedStart and SpeedTorq motor-generators.

—Paul Bloore, CPT product validation and functional safety manager

The planned investment in production equipment will also enable low volume manufacturing of CPT’s COBRA electric supercharger currently being applied to a diverse range of heavy duty internal combustion engines and fuel cells.

CPT’s investment is supported by the Long Term Automotive Supply Chain Competitiveness (LTASC) program, which in turn is funded by the UK’s Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI). The LTASC programis mandated by the Automotive Council and Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) Industry Forum.

The Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative is a funding competition designed to improve the global competitiveness of UK advanced manufacturing supply chains, providing funding to support research and development, skills training and capital investment, helping UK supply chains achieve world-class standards and encourage major new suppliers to locate in the UK.

Whereas AMSCI is a scheme that provides support across a range of advanced manufacturing sectors, the LTASC program is automotive specific and as such is mandated by the Automotive Council and led by SMMT. LTASC and AMSCI are currently closed to new applications post the UK government’s comprehensive spending review.

CPT’s core competencies include low voltage power electronics, advanced control software and the application of low voltage switched-reluctance machines (SRMs) to gasoline and diesel powertrains. The business was established in 2007 to acquire Visteon’s advanced powertrain business.

With asset and technology acquisitions from Visteon, and the signing of associated licensing and collaboration agreements with Switched Reluctance Drives Limited, now part of Nidec Corporation, CPT gained immediate access to a portfolio of near-term solutions to the problem of automotive CO2 and NOx reduction and has since developed the technology to a high level of application and manufacturing readiness.

Following the successful sale of its VTES electric supercharger business to Valeo for applications in cars and vans up to 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight, CPT is now focused on bringing its liquid-cooled Cobra, SpeedStart, SpeedTorq and Tigers technology to mass market readiness.

Based on the same core SRM architecture, Cobra is a high speed (70,000 rpm) motor for electric supercharger applications which shares the same platform as the Tigers high speed (70,000 rpm) high temperature tolerant generator for the recovery of thermal and kinetic energy from fast flowing exhaust gases. SpeedTorq is a 20,000 rpm SRM designed for low voltage (<60V) mild hybrid applications in the driveline, thereby complementing the SpeedStart engine mounted starter generator. While Cobra is focused on trucks and buses, SpeedStart, Tigers, and SpeedTorq applications are aimed at a wide variety of cars and commercial vehicles.


Henry Gibson

Switched reluctance motors and generators are the lightest electrical machines available. Every automobile ought to be able to run a few tens of feet on electricity alone when in congested traffic and when starting from stops. SRM technology can do this with small powerful starter generators. LG very efficient, free piston, frame mounted, air-conditioning compressors can be used instead of engine mounted belt driven ones. MITI has had electric air lubricated turbo superchargers for years. The destination of superchargers is full turbine powered automotive vehicles as in Bladon Jaguar 75 and WrightSpeed and there is plenty of room for SRM technology in such vehicles as no expensive permanent magnet materials are needed. Starter/generators have already been incorporated into flywheels, and WrightSpeed transmissions need no clutches to shift gears but could use SRM motors instead of induction motors as in TESLA. Ricardo, Bombardier and Artemis are in a combination project to improve the efficiency of rail vehicles with flywheel energy storage which concept has long been proven by Parry People Mover Rail vehicles in revenue service now for many years. There is no reason why CPT cannot also adopt some Ricardo flywheel technology or other as they have been used in automotive racing for years now; no 48 volt battery is actually needed, just a big FIREFLY long life 12 volt one. Many years ago one very young man ran out of gasoline on a California freeway; he removed his spark plugs and drove the car off the freeway at the nearest exit using the starting motor; how about SRM motors to creep along in stopped traffic. ..HG..

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