Rolls-Royce Power Systems has invested €40 million in new R&D testing facilities as a springboard to the development of next-generation combustion engines that stand out for their ecological soundness and cost efficiency. The first of the new test beds went into service this week at the company's main site in Friedrichshafen, Germany.
Rolls-Royce Power Systems is the new name for MTU after it was acquired from private equity concern Tognum by Rolls-Royce in January 2014.
"This move is making space for new developments in every sense of the word. Combustion engines of the future are going to be more complex so we have to make absolutely sure that we have the capacity to carry out tests and trials on our new products reliably and intensively," explained Dr Ulrich Dohle, CEO of Rolls-Royce Power Systems, at the opening ceremony.
Rolls-Royce Power Systems will be using the new facilities not only to test further developments on existing engine series, but to break into new territories. New combustion processes, advanced technologies for electronic regulation and control and, from mid-2016, alternative fuels such as gas are some of the latest developments that will be put under scrutiny at the test stands.
A special feature of the new testing facility is the gallery that has been erected above each test stand booth. This will play a role in the development of exhaust after treatment systems: "Exhaust after treatment is one of our technologies for MTU engines. We are making a major research effort in this area because we want to develop diesel particulate filter and SCR technologies as far as we can ourselves. That will put us in a position to provide customers with a complete systems package." Exhaust after treatment systems will enable engines to meet the strict emissions standards coming into force in the future.
Today's ultra-modern test stands are the prerequisite for tomorrow's cutting-edge technologies. Chilling machines, heat exchangers, steam generators and various fuel formulations allow a whole spectrum of engine operation scenarios to be simulated - from biting cold to tropical humidity. State-of-the-art measuring and analysis systems support test stand technicians and development engineers in their work by enabling them to monitor results and replicate and document them precisely.
Sophisticated technologies also come into play in the way the test stands themselves are run. In addition to conventional dynamometers, electrical gensets will also be used to simulate rapid load changes. The electrical power they deliver will also be fed into the factory's own power grid.
Construction of the 5-storey, 9,000m2 building that houses the test stands was begun in spring 2013 and recently completed. The first three test stands for testing 2,500kW engines were set up in the first phase. Now underway is construction of a gas supply network for gas engine research that is to go into service in mid-2016. Further test stands can also be installed according to requirements.