Breaking barriers in automotive NVH powertrain research - KU Leuven

Breaking barriers in automotive NVH powertrain research: Test bench validation of simulation models made easier with CTRL Engineering at KU Leuven

Today's automotive industry is faced with numerous challenges in powertrain development as the transition to hybrid and electric vehicles has reshuffled the importance of vehicle level performance criteria such as noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH). LMSD researchers were able to develop advanced simulation models to virtual assess NVH performance which could be validated with a tailor made test bench designed by CTRL engineering, experts in automotive testing solutions.


The KU Leuven LMSD – Leuven Mechatronic System Dynamics – team has been conducting high-tech research in collaboration with TME - Toyota Motor Europe - to assess the NVH performance of the next generation of powertrain systems and components, such as gears and shafts. They have been striving to achieve cost-effective solutions by adopting advanced simulation techniques. However, to truly evaluate the effectiveness of their models and frontload NVH performance activities from the test track to the computer, they require the right test infrastructure for validation.


Fortunately, CTRL Engineering stands at the forefront of engineering innovation in automotive testing, constantly pushing the boundaries to advance the field. Their latest automotive testbed addresses the need for accurate validation of simulation models predicting NVH performance with unprecedented detail. CTRL Engineering's expertise in fast and highly accurate motion control and data processing technology has revolutionized high-speed, high dynamic testing of powertrain components on the testbench. Their latest test rig boasts impressive specifications, including an input torque of 180 Nm/225 kW, an output torque of 1800 Nm/240 kW and input dynamics reaching approximately 25,000 rpm/s, ensuring precise and realistic testing conditions. Notably, the testbed is designed with a very low natural frequency of less than 20 Hz, which enhances its accuracy and reliability.

Furthermore, CTRL Engineering has taken special care in designing the testbench to integrate seamlessly with MATLAB/Simulink, simplifying the process of model integration. The data acquisition system ensures synchronization and adequate timestamping of multiple fast sampling measurement sensors, operating at up to 50 kHz. This capability facilitates correlation and analysis of the collected data. In terms of the electrical setup, the testbed incorporates active front-end technology, enabling energy recuperation of up to 70%. This feature not only enhances the testbed's sustainability but also reduces overall testing costs.


By combining CTRL engineering’s advanced automotive testing methodologies with high-fidelity simulation models, valuable insights into component behaviour, wear and tear, temperature fluctuations, and torsional vibration analysis can be obtained. This comprehensive understanding empowers drivetrain experts at KU Leuven, as well as other major OEMs and Tier1s, to optimize powertrain designs for NVH and enhance product reliability early in the development cycle paving the way towards more efficient and reliable powertrain systems.