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Burning passion for cooling systems

Thermal Management & HVAC

Unlocking the potential in passenger comfort, safety, and vehicle efficiency

The key to the widespread acceptance and resulting success of BEVs is determined by the factors efficiency, performance, sustainability and longevity of electric mobility, passenger well-being, health, safety and comfort. All these themes have a common denominator: thermal management and HVAC.

At AVL, we guarantee well-being for man and machine. Much like the human body, the vehicle is a complex system: E/E may be described as the nerve pathways transmitting information, the chassis as the bone structure, the powertrain as the muscles and the vehicle thermal management system (VTMS) as the skin, tissue and blood cycle, circulating and balancing energy and oxygen across subsystems. We combine industrialization competence with innovation capability to develop this function as a partner of major OEM and suppliers worldwide.

Managing thermal well-being for man and machine

Thermodynamics are universal. Thermal well-being is a cross-functional concern. All systems, at some point, require thermal management: as humans, we sweat or shiver as we thermally regulate our bodies, we put on cozy jackets or jump into the refreshing pool. It would not be practical to equip machines with stylish jackets, however we can develop measures such as heat protection, encapsulation, isolation, and (liquid) cooling. Same thing… basically. The main goal is to attain ideal operating conditions for optimal performance. On the vehicle level, we orchestrate SOP-turnkey projects. We develop products and their thermal potentials at system, module, and component level. Our methodology spans across AVL’s Open and Integrated Development Platform (IODP), including design, simulation, and testing solutions, quality, cost and production engineering, project and supplier management, functional development, geometrical and mechanical integration. We develop thermal management as a function and bring everything to the ideal temperature: man, machine, or whatever.

Thermal Conditioning

Our innovations include intelligent, resource-efficient systems, modules and components, space-saving, interconnected and need-oriented thermal architectures. Reducing the environmental footprint of conventional powertrains requires compact and weight-reduced solutions, as well as a thorough material use.

With hybrid or battery electric vehicles, range and reliability are key challenges. From cell to system, we ensure the best possible thermal conditions. With our virtual competencies and synergies from AVL battery development, we develop operational safety, including thermal runaway, venting, propagation, flammability, crush and swelling in accordance with international regulations. We analyze hot spots and develop requirement-specific cooling concepts (oil, water, air, refrigerant). From cell to pack and vehicle, we are responsible for thermal integration projects in electrification. As vehicles become more and more wired, basically computers on wheels, E/E, system, and component cooling (battery, E-drive, E-Axle, inverter, other power electronics) are critical success factors. Looking at the tip of the spear: in modern racing, cooling concepts and performance at the limit are the difference between victory and defeat. We bring this mentality to our solutions, every day.

Furthermore, optimizing aerodynamics and aeroacoustics can extend range, impact thermal load, and make for an overall more pleasant, quiet ride. As powertrains become silent, passengers become more receptive to their surroundings inside the cabin – which brings us to the domain of thermal comfort and the converging worlds of efficiency and experience.

Thermal Comfort

We strive to come up with energy efficient HVAC modules and A/C systems (R744). From the moment of air intake to circulation, demist, defog and outlet, we provide concepts tailored toward our partners’ vehicle targets. Airflow plays a crucial role, not only for passenger health and well-being, but also for vehicle energy management. In electrified vehicles, R1234yf heat pump systems can increase range by up to 30 percent. Beyond this “new normal” in electrified development, we research alternative refrigerants (R290) and benchmark latest product innovations with market-specific model attributes on the AVL scatterband.

Comfort and range should not be conflicting. Therefore, comfort needs to be personalized - with adaptive zone climatization, radiant heating surfaces, predictive cabin strategies, recirculation of air and data-driven, demand-oriented passenger experience. Within the cabin, we move toward solutions that feel just like home. We can track physiological characteristics such as heart rate or thermal stress and adapt air conditioning more precisely than ever before. We can monitor air quality inside and outside the cabin, develop sensors, filters, and preventive measures to identify and neutralize harmful particles ranging from carbon monoxide to airborne viruses.

Thermal Software & Controls

Mobility is rapidly changing. With advances in E/E and autonomous driving, new demands are being placed on comfort. Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2X) communications turn the car into a self-tuning intelligence, which has all the insights on environmental influences and passenger well-being. Cloud-enabled technologies, machine learning and artificial intelligence pave the way toward personalized comfort, or thermal conditioning by behavior. If you know when and where you want to go, your vehicle will be thermally pre-conditioned – for example by offering a cozy atmosphere within a pre-heated and passenger-focused cabin that accounts for significantly less energy consumption, or by ensuring optimal operating temperature for battery, E-drive, E-axle and other components.

​​​​​​​In the end, we cannot fully predict what the future of mobility holds for us. But we can certainly ensure well-being on our journey. With comfort, safety, and vehicle efficiency along the way.