Regulations for reduced emissions from diesel engines are impacting many companies before the European and U.S. laws will impact the environment. Meeting these new goals is a major challenge for those designing engines and components, one that can only be met by simulating various changes in the combustion process to see how fuel can be burned efficiently.
Modine Manufacturing Co., which makes thermal management systems and components, responded with an old-fashioned approach, consolidating its analysis engineers into a new Virtual Technology Group so they could communicate easily. A high-tech change came with the adoption of 3D CAD and finite element analysis tools, used jointly to design liquid-cooled heat exchangers.
The integrated tools brought dramatic savings — up to a 20- to 30-percent reduction in design time for liquid-cooled charge air coolers and the elimination of prototype tests that cost $10,000 on a previous generation. Even so, engineers spent so much time on workstations that they called the lab their campsite.
An example was a project to optimize the flow and pressure drop in a liquid-cooled charge air cooler. Tom Reiss, an Engine Product Group application engineer, used five versions of a design, completing his CFD designs in 20 minutes. He estimates that in the past, this design would have cost at least $10,000 and required significant queue and set-up time for physical testing for just a couple iterations.
Now, Modine is working with its key universities to make sure engineering graduates are familiar with tools from its key suppliers.