Electrification of heavy vehicles enables significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and performance improvements

The electrification of vehicles and machinery is an important step towards a sustainable future. The University of Oulu is developing electric axle solutions for heavy-duty vehicles that meet the challenges of energy efficiency, environmental friendliness, and customer needs. Even a small amount of electrification can boost performance.
Kaksi henkilöä kumartuneena kuorma-auton suuren pyörän viereen.
Researchers Aapo Hölsä and Isa Banagar.

The challenge in the electrification of heavy transport is to make new products economically viable while meeting customer needs. Researchers at the University of Oulu's Materials and Mechanical Engineering research unit are developing electric solutions that improve the performance of heavy vehicles and machinery, reduce energy consumption and at the same time meet customer requirements.

"Electrification improves vehicle manoeuvrability and precision of movement, but the challenge is increasing complexity and vehicle weight. We focus on solving the challenges of electrification, and in this project in particular on electric axles for heavy vehicles, where even a small amount of electric assistance can greatly improve performance," says Professor Emil Kurvinen.

For electric axle solutions, research focuses on system-level modelling to help identify the characteristics of different options. With this information, companies can choose the most suitable and cost-effective solution for their needs. "An electric auxiliary drive system can have an impact on vehicle fuel consumption, availability and performance, and thus on the payback time of the investment."

As a use case, the researchers are developing and testing an electric axle for a heavy-duty vehicle. A simulation tool, based on the customer's actual driving data, will help to compare different options.

"Heavy-duty driving tasks usually only require high engine power and multiple drive axles for short periods of time. However, the engine and traction method always have to be sized for the most demanding driving situations. By partially electrifying the power line, a relatively modestly sized internal combustion engine with a small battery capacity can provide good energy efficiency and performance for the most demanding transport tasks," says Otto Lahti, Chief Advisor at Traficom.

The researchers aim to develop system-level management expertise in the development of electric and hybrid powertrains, increasing the resale value of products and improving companies' chances of success in the global vehicle market.

Innovations in the research project include the integration of electrical simulation models directly into business operations. This will help companies to compare different power plant options.

"With this research, we are taking a step towards a more sustainable and energy-efficient future for heavy-duty transport. Through collaboration and innovation, we can change the future of transport – reducing emissions, saving energy and at the same time improving transport efficiency," says Emil Kurvinen.

The NO DAMAGE project is led by the University of Oulu, with VTT and Aalto University as research partners. Corporate partners include Danfoss Editron Oy, Kome Oy, Korsu Oy, Proventia Oy and Sisu Akselit Oy, with Traficom as an expert. The project is funded by Business Finland.

Illustration of an electric shaft in a truck trailer. On the left upper energy storage and on the left lower electric shaft.

Illustration of an electric shaft in a truck trailer. On the left upper energy storage and on the left lower electric shaft.

Last updated: 16.11.2023