PCRL Facilities

"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is." Jan L.A. van de Snepscheut

The Powertrain Control Research Laboratory is comprised of two distinct laboratories; DynoLab and SimLab. The research focus in DynoLab is on the experimental aspects of powertrain system research. This laboratory houses the transient engine dynamometer systems that have been developed in PCRL. The research focus in SimLab is on powertrain system modeling, analysis, and algorithm development. SimLab houses most of PCRL's computer workstations.

DynoLab gears


SimLab mouse

PCRL DynoLab



PCRL DynoLab:

PCRL DynoLab (located in rooms B1143 and B1151 of the Mechanical Engineering Building) houses the experimental facilities of the Powertrain Control Research Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This laboratory facility consists of three individual test cells (rooms B1143 A-C), a hydraulic power supply room (room B1151) which provides power to the transient test systems, an electronics build room (B1143D) for specialty electronics fabrication, and a general laboratory space (room B1143).

Engine Test Stands:

Transient test system control, engine control, and data acquisition:

All of the transient powertrain test systems that are used in PCRL were designed and built by members of the laboratory to replicate very rapid transients, such as those experienced in operation of the vehicle. These hydrostatic systems have extremely low inertia, excellent transient control, transient motoring and absorbing capabilities, and can achieve slew rates on the order of 10,000rpm/sec. These devices are hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) systems that integrate real time dynamic models of the powertrain with the engine hardware to replicate operation of the engine as if it were in the vehicle. Primary control of both the transient test systems and some of the engines is by means of dSPACE hardware and software. Secondary or redundant control of these systems is by means of FANUC PLCs, which have their own separate sets of sensors to monitor the systems. This redundant approach to control of these system is crucial because of the high power levels applied to extremely low inertias.

The single-cylinder transient test system is especially unique, as it integrates three new systems to provide not only rapid transient operation, but also simulates the dynamics that would be present in a multi-cylinder engine. These three systems replicate (a) transient engine rotational dynamics, (b) transient gas exchange dynamics, and (c) transient heat transfer dynamics in one system. Each of these subsystems are HIL systems that incorporate real time dynamic models to provide multi-cylinder engine operation on a single-cylinder engine. Several patents have been issued or are pending on these new technologies, and no other similar systems with these capabilities are known to exist in the world today.

PCRL researchers have also built and tested the first engine that uses real time gas dynamic models for the intake and exhaust gas processes in order to determine the in-cylinder charge composition on a running engine. In this engine there are no volumetric efficiency tables or other means to determine the cylinder charge density and composition. This approach allows for much greater control of engine processes, and accomplishes individual cylinder control as opposed to estimation of average air and fuel flows currently used on engines. This methodology is especially useful on variable cam or camless engines where the current approach to engine calibration requires vast amounts of time given the new degrees of freedom in the engine (cam-less, VGT, EGR, aftertreatement, etc.). This methodology significantly decreases the calibration effort necessary to properly set up the engine for optimal performance, and utilizes observers to improve the engine performance in both steady state and transients. Patents are currently pending on this methodology and its application. Be sure to see the PCRL DynoLab photos to get a better sense of this world-class facility.

PCRL SimLab:

SimLab has moved to a new location in room B1180 of the rennovated Mechanical Engineering Building. This new location provides students with an excellent environment to pursue their powertrain research interests, its location is in close proximity to the PCRL DynoLab experimental facilities, and SimLab is home for PCRL's engine and powertrain system dynamic modeling program. This program has supplied dynamic powertrain models to many agencies, corporations, and other universities. These include the National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS), the US Army's Automotive Research Center (ARC), US Army TACOM Propulsion Division, and many other major truck, automotive and engine manufacturers worldwide.

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