Green plant growing from an exhaust pipe

Virtual Exhaust Prototyping System (VExPro)


Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Innovate UK

Total value of project

£394,947 (EPSRC)
£323,882 (Innovate UK)

Project team

Dr Christophe Bastien, Dr Jesper Christensen


Unipart Group, TWI The Welding Institute

Duration of project

12/01/2014 - 30/11/2016

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Project overview

The aim of this project is to optimise the throughput of multi-disciplinary and multi-physics optimisation problems. The project will focus on optimising a lightweight exhaust system encompassing areas of thermo-mechanical, mechanical, acoustics, vibration, manufacturing and light-weighting analysis and design in a High Performance Computing (HPC) Environment.

The project will explore the aspect of numerical accuracy and uncertainty between physical principles, theory, mathematical modelling and analytical methods. This will be achieved by "scaling" model complexities in order to "harmonise" multi-physics computing requirements, run time and accuracy.

Project objectives

The project aim is to investigate the potential trade-off between accuracy and the computing time in a multi-physics and multi-disciplinary optimisation context by defining, developing and validating (against physical experimentation) an optimisation algorithm for HPC computing with an ultimate aim of eliminating the use of prototypes.

  • UEES are scheduled to supply over 200,000 exhaust systems to the UK automotive industry in 2014. This represents approximately 0.5% of the worldwide new vehicle market of 63 million (OICA-2012). OEMs world-wide are facing increasingly stringent emissions targets and are tackling this problem in a number of ways, one of which is to reduce the vehicle body mass. By embarking on an aggressive programme of weight reduction in its exhaust systems supported by the TSB, UEES can help OEMs meet their goals but also create a competitive advantage for itself.

    Current empirical approaches incur significant cost and time penalties such that optimum solutions are not reached until well into the development cycle. Computing multiple iterations by virtual prototyping will 1) Shorten overall development leadtimes; 2) Reduce development cycles and costs by removing the need for "mule" vehicle exhaust prototypes costing ~£100k per vehicle/powertrain variant. In context Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) have around 30 vehicle development projects running concurrently and 3) Reduce the weight and potential costs of exhaust systems with all of its associated benefits.

    The market for exhausts is not dominated by a single company and is very price sensitive. UEES, which concentrates on the luxury car market in the UK, is a joint venture with Eberspacher GmbH which is the world's 4th largest exhaust manufacturer. The UK manufactured 1.46m new vehicles in 2013, exporting approximately 80% of which half went to EU countries (SMMT). New car sales have been climbing back towards the levels achieved at the height of 2007. Growth in the export of luxury brands to Russia and China is fuelling the desire to increase production.

    Based on an average sales price of £150 for a cold end exhaust system for the luxury car market where UEES operates it is estimated that UEES can generate cc £11m of new business within 2 yrs of the project concluding through producing 90,000 additional units and saving 10kg per system. 5yrs post project this is estimated at 190,000 additional units saving 15kg per system and generating cc£27m of new business. This does not include benefits to UEES's supply chain estimated at £2m and £4m respectively. This new business of £27m provides a good return on a total estimated project cost of £780k with a requested grant contribution of £585k from the TSB/EPSRC. In addition UK Plc can realise estimated savings of up to 135m tonnes of CO2 based on a vehicle design life of 250,000km and assuming that on average, 100kg mass reduction achieved on a passenger car saves 9 grams of CO2 per km (European Aluminium Association).

    Economic benefits will be seen for component suppliers at the beginning of the supply chain through to OEMs. This will have the effect of increasing market share for UEES leading to employment opportunities at the Coventry site and in its supply. For Coventry University, there would be licensing opportunities of IP development via the design tool for exhaust system weight reduction with additional research work. Outside the consortium others would benefit from the dissemination events, with other Tier Ones outside UEES's market territory benefiting from early sight of the developments with opportunities for licensing the approach.

    An overall reduction in the weight of a car will reduce fuel consumption and reduce its CO2 emissions. This will have the effect of reducing fuel bills and vehicle excise duty for the user. Employment opportunities will result including the requirement to train engineers on the shop floor to operate machinery and part testing as well as creating highly skilled engineering positions in exhaust system design. Environmental benefits are significant where UEES could generate up to 135m tonnes of annual CO2 emissions savings for vehicle manufacturers.

  • Elsayed A (2017) International Journal of Enginering and Manufacturing in Enhancing Noise Attenuation in Exhaust Mufflers on Response to Baffle Configuration.

    Cirstea R (2018) Modelling of a Coupled Catalyst and Particulate Filter for Gasoline Direct Injection Engines.

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