Issue: Oct 2011


Traditional oil pump is moved, and becomes a vacuum pump as well



by Nick Palmen

In the constant quest for improved safety, better fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions the industry is having to take a critical look at all components, even the seemingly immovable and insignificant. One such is the oil pump. 

Automotive Industries (AI) asked Georg Wolf, CEO of ixetic, what is unique about the new ixetic tandem pump launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Wolf: Until now oil pumps have been connected directly to the camshaft. But, engines have had to become “flatter” in order to meet the standards for better pedestrian safety. Our solution is a tandem pump. Located in the oil sump, it supplies the engine with oil for lubrication and cooling, and is also a vacuum pump. The vacuum pump, which is connected to the brake booster, can be switched on and off as needed. The oil pump can be controlled fully-variably or in steps, depending on customer needs. This means that the pump delivers either fixed amounts of oil at different volume levels, or optimally adjusts the amount supplied in line with requirements.

AI: What benefits does this offer OEM’s?

Wolf: Around 10% less space is required than using two individually-driven units, despite the presence of a patented mechanical clutch integrated into the drive shaft. The pump requires little more space than a conventional vacuum pump. Tests have shown that, with defined shifting strategies and driving cycles, the savings are 4%, or 5g of CO2. So the benefits are saving room in the engine compartment and CO2 reduction. 

AI: You have also introduced the world’s first demand-dependant variable cartridge-type transmission pump. How does this work?

Wolf: At the end of 2004 we started to introduce the vane pumps in transmission applications, and we are now the world leader in vane-type transmission pumps. We are very much involved with the latest developments with ZF, Daimler and Chrysler using conventional vane pump technology. Our new solution is much more efficient. We can mechanically control the oil volume and the oil stream. We control the displacement of the pump, which makes it possible to save a significant amount of energy on the transmission. The pump is on when it is needed to cool down the motor or to shift gears, and off if you are cruising on the highway.   

AI: Is the pump suited for both automatic-transmission and dual-clutch gearbox applications? 

Wolf: Both require a pump for hydraulic functions such as clutch actuation, converter supply and the cooling and lubrication of transmission components. The pump can be used in normal transmissions and wet double clutch. The savings are again 2.0g of CO2 per km. 

AI: What are your efforts / plans in the field of electric mobility?

Wolf: First of all there is electrification of the powertrain, which requires the electrification of the pump functions. At present, we have electrical vacuum pumps and electrical transmission pumps to allow for functions such as the stop/start function.
Then there is the fully electric car. Many years ago we started with the development of the CO2 technology, which was later stopped by the OEM’s. We are applying this CO2 knowledge to full electric cars. One of the biggest problems with electric cars is the driving range. There was a report last year in Germany by TUV where they compared different electric vehicles under certain conditions, and what they found was that in cold conditions the driving range is reduced by half. 

We have a solution in a production-ready thermal management system that significantly increases the range of electric vehicles. In practical tests the system enabled a Mitsubishi i-MiEV and a Smart fortwo electric drive vehicle to cover significantly more miles per battery charge.

A standard Mitsubishi i-MiEV and a smart fortwo electric drive vehicle were retrofitted with the modular thermal management system. In August 2011, the company successfully demonstrated the range of the i-MiEV increased as a result. In the tests, the remaining range with our concept was 85%, without heating output being impaired, compared to that of a standard vehicle.

The system takes care of the entire thermal management of an electrically-driven vehicle. This includes the cooling of electric motors and lithium-ion batteries, as well as the air conditioning of the interior. It is highly efficient, and the exchange of heat between the individual units is virtually loss-free. The heart of the system is a small heating/cooling module in which carbon dioxide (R744) circulates as an environmentally-friendly refrigerant. A special compressor was designed for this purpose. Thanks to a standard interface, the module can be seamlessly integrated into every mass-produced vehicle. 

We see a big future CO2, because as a refrigerant it can work in very low temperatures -20C, which of course is not possible with other refrigerants. This is our contribution to electro mobility, and we are totally convinced from a technical stand point that we are ready for production. Our thermal module can be used for heating and cooling in other industries like trains, or heating and cooling tooling machines. The big difference to previous CO2 systems is that our system is completely closed. No servicing is needed. 

AI: Is ixetic able to meet the demand? 

Wolf: The design is finalised. There is no really a challenge in the production of the parts. The only thing that is missing is a contract. We are ready for series production, and expect to start in two to three years. 

AI: Is your globalisation strategy on track?

Wolf: The first steps we took after our independence from Schaeffler Group was to restructure the company completely. We built a new plant in Bulgaria. In parallel, we started the internationalisation of the company by going to India. We have our first contract there already. The next step was to go to China. That is also done with a contract in the Shanghai area from a European customer. Next on the list is North America. We have contracts with transmission producers like ZF and Chrysler who are expecting an answer from us as to when we are going to be ready for production in North America. Our target is 2013. 

AI: What else can we expect from ixetic in the future?

Wolf: When we became independent, we had an older product portfolio, which consisted mainly of steering pumps. Now we have fully converted to electric systems. We have a completely new product portfolio for the next five years. We are extremely active on the engine side, with vacuum pumps and oil pump applications - solo or tandem, electric pumps for CO2 reduction or transmissions. We produce many different vacuum pumps for 6-8 cylinder engines and, as we have engine downsizing at the moment, there is a big focus on four-cylinder engines. We also have a completely new business on the transmission side, and are working with most of the well-known transmission companies. There will be new products like the thermal module for the electric car. We are also looking for business on the non-automotive side for products in the powertrain area.  ixetic’s strength is in our technical expertise in the area of electrification.



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