TU Darmstadt and TU Graz are intensifying their research into how electrical machines can be decisively improved through computer simulation. To this end, the first German-Austrian Collaborative Research Centre/Transregio (TRR) 361 has been approved. The German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Austrian Science Fund FWF are funding the TRR “Computational Electrical Machine Laboratory” with a total of over eight million euros.
For decades, electrical machines have played a central role in energy conversion, not only as generators for producing electrical energy, but also as motors, e.g. for electric vehicles. They account for more than half of total energy consumption. Modern power electronics have brought about numerous new operating and application possibilities for such motors, and together with new materials and manufacturing techniques, this opens up great potential for innovation. Supported by advances in design optimisation and control, new propulsion systems offer enormous potential for contributing to the achievement of climate targets.
Current design methods for electrical machines are based on a limited number of parameters and operating modes, typically at constant speed or constant torque, thus neglecting considerable optimisation potential. The scientists want to make use of this potential in the newly approved TRR 361 (“Computational Electrical Machine Laboratory. Thermal modelling, transient analysis, geometry description and robust design”).
The research work in Transregio 361 is carrying out a paradigm shift towards new integrated simulation and design approaches in order to exploit the potential of modern electric drives. These approaches take into account all important aspects of an electrical machine from the outset, for example shape and topology, time-dependent operating cycles, complex material behaviour, parameter uncertainties, robustness and noise generation, as well as new cooling techniques to push thermal limits. The modelling, simulation and optimisation of such a complex system poses extreme challenges for computational engineering (CE).
CE is an interdisciplinary scientific discipline with links to applied mathematics, computer science and engineering sciences, and has established itself as the third pillar of gaining knowledge in engineering alongside theory and experiment.
The approved TRR 361 project is the first joint German-Austrian research association in the funding line of Collaborative Research Centres (DFG) / Special Research Centres (FWF). In the future, the Technical University of Darmstadt (TU Darmstadt) and Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) will deepen and advance their joint research work on the simulation of electrical machines here. Professor Sebastian Schöps, head of the Computational Electromagnetics (CEM) Institute at TU Darmstadt, as spokesperson for the German side, and Professor Annette Mütze, head of the Electric Drives and Machines Institute (EAM) at TU Graz, as spokesperson for the Austrian side, have already been working together in this field for several years. The consortium of scientists from TU Darmstadt and its strategic partner TU Graz as well as Johannes Kepler University Linz includes not only proven experts in the participating subject areas but also numerous young scientists.
TRR 361 is closely integrated into the structures at both universities, such as the Centre for Computational Engineering (CCE) at TU Darmstadt and the Graz Center of Computational Engineering (GCCE).