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Sustainable futures

Smaller, lighter – and better

Electric vehicles have made major inroads into the automotive market in recent years, challenging the dominance of the traditional combustion engine. That trend is set to continue as countries implement ever-tougher regulations for CO2 emissions in a bid to tackle climate change.

But many potential customers are still put off electric vehicles by one critical factor – range.

That is one of the challenges we are tackling with our research, which aims to extend the mileage of low-carbon electric vehicles by significantly enhancing the performance of their engines.

Working with GKN Automotive and Drive System Design, we’re developing a new integrated cooling method, using thermofluids to regulate the temperature of engine components. The eDrive system integrates an ultra-efficient power inverter featuring next generation power electronics, with a higher-speed electric motor and a gearbox suitable for application in both hybrid and battery electric vehicles – up to and beyond 20,000rpm, and with voltages over 800V.

"This means a more efficient engine that is more compact, while weighing less."
Dr Bo Li

This means a more efficient engine that is more compact, while weighing less. Our thermal management method enables the use of next-generation electronic components, ground-breaking integration and a high-speed motor – delivering more power density and efficiency, at lower cost.

Our work aligns closely with long-term government policy to have at least half of new cars meeting ultra-low emission standards by 2030, as part of its Road to Zero strategy unveiled in 2018.

It also forms part of University of Nottingham’s Propulsion Futures Beacon of Excellence, a significant planned investment into research driving the discovery and translation of new materials, components and technologies for the electrification of transport.

Bo Li

Dr Bo Li is a Senior Research Fellow in the Fluids and Thermal Engineering Research Group.

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