Automakers can improve fuel economy by selecting optimal coolant-circuit architectures, heat exchangers, and flow-control devices. The goal of this work was to warm up the drivetrain oils rapidly and run at a slightly higher temperature without additional hydraulic power. Kevin Laboe, who leads the Powertrain Thermal Management Team at Chrysler's Advanced Powertrain Group, Detroit, MI, and who led the simulation and testing teams, says the challenge was to distribute the heat in the most effective way.
All actuators needed to work in concert to heat the oil fast and keep the temperature steady. Opening the grill shutters or running the electric air fan consumes power. Controlling actuators in concert is a new way of addressing thermal management. While more complex, it enables the system to arrive at a steady temperature quicker and under all operating conditions, which extends the life of each thermal-control actuator, Laboe says.
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