UTAC Millbrook’s new Variable Temperature Emissions Chamber (VTEC) facility makes testing more efficient and accurate with reduced set-up time
Built last year and having been under test alongside Millbrook’s earlier VTEC facility, UTAC has this quarter officially opened its new 4WD VTEC installation, offering heavy-duty vehicle powertrain engineers the ability to test emissions of a wider scope of vehicles than ever before. The facility is located at UTAC Millbrook in the UK and the new VTEC chamber can accommodate vehicles that are larger, heavier and more powerful than the original VTEC could handle, and offers electric and hydrogen powertrain testing capabilities.
Designed to accommodate off-highway and commercial vehicles, as well as buses and coaches, the VTEC enables emissions testing in a climate-controlled environment (from -20 °C to 50 °C). It can accommodate vehicles with a wheelbase up to 8m, with up to 20 tonnes axle weight. The new VTEC was part funded by a grant from SEMLEP’s Local Growth Fund.
As well as its impressive size, the new VTEC is the most capable facility of its kind in the UK. It offers power absorption of up to 450kW, more than double that of UTAC’s existing facility. It also has more than six times the continuous torque of the old facility (40,000N) and three times the inertia simulation (60,000kg).
Using the VTEC’s double and tri-axle capability, UTAC is able to offer a wide range of testing types, including Real Driving Emissions (RDE) testing simulation. It also has a dedicated particulate matter (PM) filter weighing chamber, and a four-phase bag analysis system.
Recognising the need to establish robust testing regimes for alternative and future powertrains, the facility has been designed with the capability of measuring the fuel consumption of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, as well as electric vehicle (EV) energy consumption and range capability. Such attention to the requirements of electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will ensure it gains high utilisation throughout the decade as the Government EV ambitions draw closer to their target.
Thermal performance isn’t only about fuel cycles and powertrains and so Millbrook has engineered in the ability test heavy-duty vehicles in extreme cold enables engineers to perform cold-start performance tests, as well as HVAC de-mist and de-frost tests for public transport, military and commercial vehicles. It also allows for extreme ambient testing of specialist transportation, such as arctic exploration vehicles.
According to Laurent Benoit, Chief Executive Officer at UTAC,, “The challenges that a heavy-duty vehicle powertrain engineer faces today are very different to when the first VTEC chamber facility was installed at Millbrook back in 1996. He believes that the introduction of the new 4WD VTEC facility is an important step in ensuring that UTAC remains at the forefront of automotive testing and development now and in the coming decades.
“In the development of the new VTEC facility at our site, our engineers worked hard to ensure that the commercial vehicle, off-highway, bus and coach sectors have everything they need to reliably test vehicle emissions in a wide range of controlled climates. It’s a testament to the commitment of our talented team that this exceptional facility has opened this quarter,” he concludes.