Learn how innovative companies use simulation to develop products in a climate-changing world
Rising demands from customers, government regulations and increasing competition is driving a new form of innovation based on system- and subsystem-level simulation; i.e. simulations covering entire systems as opposed to testing and simulating each component separately. The most innovative companies have used simulation at a component-level for years – now they are using it at a deeper level to enable them to deliver breakthrough energy innovation.
When working on energy innovations – meaning innovations that minimizes the energy consumption in product manufacturing as well as in the actual products and their use – there are five key areas to focus on:
1. Aerodynamic design
2. Effective lightweighting
3. Advanced electrification
4. Thermal optimization
5. Machine and fuel efficiency
Read why these five areas are significant and learn from real cases from some of the most innovative companies in the world below.
In the automotive sector, drag is a significant factor in the fuel efficiency, since it can account for up to 22 percent of a standard high-way truck’s fuel consumption. Similarly, it greatly influences the fuel efficiency for airplanes. In both industries, fuel accounts for a large part of the costs as well as their environmental footprint. Therefore, it is no surprise that it is an area with a lot of attention.
Typically, testing and product improvements have involved wind tunnels and complex instrumentation. This is a costly and time-consuming affair, since you need to book expensive facilities in advance and might have to go back for re-testing. By using simulation instead, both time and cost can be significantly reduced.
A real-life example is Piaggio AERO Industries. They decided to replace their existing, traditional testing processes with simulation. This has helped them improve lift-to-drag ratio by one percent – and it happened in one tenth of the time.
Another factor, which literally weighs in on energy consumption, is product materials. Usually, the heavier the product, the higher the energy consumption when it is moved around. Therefore, effective lightweighting – meaning either replacing traditional materials with lighter ones or redesigning the shape of a component to reduce excess material – can be crucial in a company’s efforts to make a breakthrough energy innovation.
A great example from the car industry is the KTM X-Bow sportscar. It was originally created without the use of simulation. But, for the second-generation, simulation was applied, and they managed to reduce the weight by an impressive 20 percent.
You can also look to The Carbon Freight Company for inspiration. They wanted to increase the sustainability on air transportation by reducing the weight – and thereby energy consumption – on air cargo. And so they did, as they have managed to develop 18 percent lighter air cargo equipment.
Due to high demands from consumers and politicians, many companies try to create more energy-efficient products and solutions with lower Co2 emissions. One way of doing so is to use advanced electrification to improve or replace existing products; i.e. creating electrically powered vehicles.
However, charging up the batteries on a car is still not cheap, and it is very complicated to design batteries with the needed reliability. In the United States., the U.S Department of Energy and General Motors are working together on reducing battery cost/kWh by 75 percent in a decade, from 2012 to 2022– an ambitious goal that supports the move towards green energy.
Machine and fuel efficiency
When working to increase machine and fuel efficiency, there are a lot of components to improve on. The challenge is to ensure that even after the modifications and improvements, the components are all still able to function together. Many components rely on other components, and too large modifications may put other factors, such as durability or performance, at risk. However, when the modifications are successful, there are great breakthroughs to be made.
A good example of a company that has increased fuel efficiency with simulation comes from aerospace manufacturer Pratt and Whitney. They have managed to reduce fuel consumption by 15 percent with their Pure Power engine design. This leads to a 3000-ton reduction in carbon emission per plane annually, which is one of the most significant advances in jet engines in the past 50 years.
According to the European Commission, heating and cooling of our buildings accounts for half of the EU’s energy consumption. Therefore, thermal optimization is another area that leaves plenty of room for breakthrough energy innovations. Also, in this area can simulation make a huge difference – both when it comes to testing advanced building materials to regulate temperatures and to focus on product improvements that reduce the energy consumption of heating and cooling products.
Whirlpool, that among others manufactures gas burners for cooktops and ovens, has been able to reduce the energy consumption and at the same time cut the development time by 35 percent for their cooktop model. That is a win for the environment and a win for the company.
Would you like to know more?
This blogpost has showcased companies that have been able to leverage their innovation processes and product design in order to create real energy breakthroughs that facilitate modern life with great products and at the same time take good care of our planet. All the companies have been successful because they have managed to make a move from using simulation on component-level to system- and sub-system level.
To learn more about how you can also use simulation to make breakthrough energy innovations, contact us or read more here.
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