Virtual Exhaust Prototyping

Motoring manufacturers may have been celebrating good news in the past few years as new car sales climb back towards their peak levels and the number of luxury models exported to Russia and China continues to grow.

However, at the same time they have been facing increasingly tough emissions targets which are prompting a rethink in how companies design and manufacture key parts of vehicles.

Engineers and researchers have been coming up with a number of ways to tackle this problem and reducing vehicles’ body mass is one area they have been exploring. Coventry University’s Centre for Manufacturing and Materials Engineering worked with Unipart Powertrain Applications and the Institute for Advance Manufacturing and Engineering to look into this issue.

Their Virtual Exhaust Prototyping System (VEXPRO) project focused on creating a lightweight exhaust system. To achieve this it encompassed areas of thermal, mechanical, acoustics, vibration, manufacturing and light-weighting analysis and design in a High Performance Computing (HPC) environment.

The project looked at finding the perfect balance between accuracy and computing time so that an algorithm – or a virtual prototype - could be created that would eliminate the need for physical prototypes during the design phase.

This virtual prototyping has positive knock-on effects as it shortens the time to create new products and reduces costs and weights of exhaust systems. Two new forms of software have already been created as part of the two-year project. In the long term, the impact of this prototype project will be far-reaching for both manufacturers and motorists.

The overall reduction in cars’ weights will reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, cut fuel bills and vehicle excise duty for the consumer and should also create employment opportunities as engineers will need to be trained for a variety of new roles.

And this will all provide more good news for vehicle manufacturers and drivers to celebrate.

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