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11th April 2018, Mannheim

Catching the wind

Active aerodynamics and thermo-acoustic engine encapsulation based on nonwovens, technical textiles and composites are the key competences of Mannheim, Germany-headquartered Röchling Automotive.

In these times of ever more stringent legal emission requirements, the exploitation of aerodynamics is an important lever for the automotive industry.

Active Grille Shutter (AGS) systems regulate the airflow through the engine compartment. © Röchling Automotive

The lower the vehicle drag, the lower the energy requirements, and that ultimately means less emissions. The complete package of active aerodynamics components from Röchling Automotive reduces aerodynamic drag considerably.

Controllable intelligent Active Grille Shutter (AGS) systems which regulate the airflow through the engine compartment show great potential here. Röchling has been developing these systems for many years now and is the global market leader in the field.

“Ever since our technology was launched with a German premium manufacturer in 2002, our engineers have been constantly working on further perfecting the system,” says aerodynamics team leader Andreas Schmitt. “Our customers can decide for themselves where the system is to be positioned in the vehicle. This allows them to tailor it to suit the specific vehicle design in each case. Our technology is controlled by specially developed actuators.”

Air shutter systems have undergone considerable improvements in the course of the last few years. In the past, they were manufactured as a horizontal system and positioned in front of the cooling package. Today, however, they are more dynamic than ever and can be produced as vertical units which can be directly integrated into the radiator grille as well as into the structure of the vehicle. The results of countless simulations show that aerodynamic drag can be reduced most effectively if the system is positioned in a sealed environment as close to the front of the vehicle as possible.

In addition to improving efficiency, Röchling Automotive’s AGS system gives vehicle manufacturers additional design options. Wind channel tests have already demonstrated the potential of the AGS system to reduce the aerodynamic drag coefficient by up to 6%. For optimum results, an Air Grille Shutter system covering the whole surface can be combined with an engine capsule.

Here, the engine compartment is covered with a material that prolongs the engine cooling period and has a positive effect on noise development. Another technology used to optimise drag is the Active Air Blind. Here, a technical textile is moved up and down by a winding shaft with an integrated cable guide, both suspended in a frame. In addition to weight benefits, this technology ensures extremely low leakage thanks to the textile which covers the whole surface, as well as low packaging requirements.

Both the Active Air Blinds and the Active Grille Shutters shorten the engine warming-up period, and this in turn has positive effects on emissions and fuel consumption.

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