An engine under the bonnet drives the wheels – this is the configuration that has been powering cars for over a hundred years. However, wheel hub motors – i.e. motors in the hub of the wheel, not under the bonnet – promise many advantages. Electric drive systems make this possible.
It has been said that, at the end of the day, a traditional car is nothing more than a horse-drawn carriage without a horse – just a lot faster, safer and more comfortable. But the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials (IFAM) in Bremen is not content with this, and hopes its research into wheel hub motors will bring about a change in the way the car is perceived.
As Felix Horch, Head of Electric Drive Systems at IFAM, explains: “In a motor car, the ‘horsepower’ is generated by the engine rather than a team of horses, but the principle is still the same: propulsion at the front, load at the back. The same as it has always been. This is where we come in and take the concept a step further. Why not have the drive system directly in the hub of the wheel?” The team on the joint ‘FSEM II – Electromobility Systems Research’ project is dedicated to exactly this question. They are working on air-cooled wheel hub motors with the potential for opening up whole new areas of application for electric motors.
Horch, as project coordinator, and Prof. Matthias Busse, Head of the Fraunhofer IFAM, are promoting this field of study in Bremen with plenty of ambition and motivation. After FSEM I, the preceding project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to the tune of €34 million, ended in 2011, the team decided to carry on with their research. They all agreed that the expertise gained, and areas of interest identified, over the 22 months of the FSEM I project should not go to waste. “On FSEM I, IFAM was responsible for the development of a wheel hub motor and the construction of FRECCO, the Institute’s concept vehicle. We developed numerous components for the test vehicle here in Bremen. Even then, our vision was conceived for the long term and had sustainability as a goal,” says Horch. “That’s why we and 15 other Fraunhofer Institutes decided in 2012 to continue the project, even without any further funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.”
Since early 2013, 16 Fraunhofer Institutes have conducted research into areas of electromobility with future potential as part of the joint FSEM II project. These include areas such as drive train/chassis, battery/range extenders and configuration/infrastructure. The project is managed and coordinated by Fraunhofer IFAM in Bremen. According to press spokesperson Martina Ohle, the joint project has great potential: “Hybrid and electric vehicles are delivering new solutions based on electric drive systems. Across all areas of application, for example in automotive engineering and agricultural machinery, electric drive systems are addressing the challenges of increasing energy efficiency, torque, performance and reliability, while lowering costs.”
That is why Fraunhofer IFAM’s Electric Drive Systems department has an interdisciplinary team that focuses on the entire development chain, from initial design to producing, testing and deploying drive system prototypes. Air-cooled wheel hub motors promise lower costs and energy consumption as they do not need many of the components of a traditional mechanical drive system. At the same time, they increase the amount of space available in the vehicle, and the individual torque settings of each wheel make active road safety concepts possible.
When the project started in 2009, Fraunhofer IFAM was to some extent entering uncharted territory. “We had experts and plenty of know-how in manufacturing technology, but the research into electric drive systems was entirely new to us. We successfully dealt with this challenge by attracting new employees to Bremen, and by acquiring knowledge over the years that has enabled us to become a technology leader in Germany. IFAM has a unique approach to bringing together manufacturing technology and electric drive systems, as we combine the two areas under one interdisciplinary roof,” says Horch.
One of the most important features of systems research is an open and cross-functional dialogue, and this is also key to the philosophy of the Fraunhofer Society, adds Ohle. “Not only do we think in terms of connecting research and practical application, we also actively encourage a dialogue between our employees at IFAM and those of other institutes.”
“Our ambition is clear: to develop the links between electric drive systems and manufacturing technology,” says Horch. This includes continuing their systems research in the field of electric vehicles at the site in Bremen. And this research is really paying off. It is Horch’s belief that electric and hybrid vehicles will gradually become the norm for all vehicle manufacturers. Wheel hub motors have several advantages over internal combustion engines: their simple construction means they contain only a few parts, and they offer high reliability with virtually no wear and tear. “The development and optimisation of manufacturing technology for electric vehicles and components remains relevant for the future, both from a research and an application point of view. The question we want to answer with our research, therefore, is how we can make this technology more affordable, more reliable and safer,” Horch concludes.
New concepts for electric vehicles could be on the cards. One possibility might be a modular system that could be varied according to use. Horch gives his imagination free rein: “If I was planning a day out with the family, I would use the family module. If I needed to transport furniture, I would select a different body. This would work particularly well in the context of car sharing. Even a radical redesign of the car would be a possibility.” This may still be a long way off, but Horch is sure of one thing: the objective must always be to maximise the utility to the customer. And Fraunhofer IFAM is making a valuable contribution to this through FSEM II.
Whether there will be a third project following FSEM II is currently still under discussion, but either way, electric vehicles and smart cities will remain a focal point of Fraunhofer IFAM’s work. “One of the great strengths of the Fraunhofer Institutes has always been the ability to react to current requirements and questions in society, and to examine relevant topics in order to initiate new research projects – and we will continue this approach once FSEM II has been completed,” Ohle adds.
In 2009 a path was chosen, and it has proven to be the right one. The FSEM projects are great examples of the type of applied research carried out at the Fraunhofer Institutes, where the focus is on the development of new technologies, processes and methods that have real-world applications. The employees have acquired so much advanced expertise that the IFAM is increasingly in demand as a specialist in the field of electric vehicles. “We help companies to use the technology efficiently. Bringing together research and practical application is the key added value that the Fraunhofer Institutes offer. Even after the project has finished,” Ohle adds.
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The depths of the ocean remain one of the last great mysteries on Earth. What is the precise composition of the seafloor? What flora and fauna inhabit it? Where has the delicate balance of the ecosystem been seriously disrupted? We still don’t have complete answers to any of these questions, but four young scientists from Bremen are aiming to change that.
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Bremen is known in China as one of the world’s major ports. But that’s just one of the factors attracting Chinese companies to our Hanseatic city.
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Mercedes-Benz in Bremen is the lead plant that manages C-Class production around the world. In addition to detailed planning and tight logistics, this also requires a good intuitive understanding of the market. Whether it is in China, South Africa or the USA, the sites around the world have to produce vehicles of consistently high quality. Find out here how the plant manages this.
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One day, astronauts will live and carry out research on the moon – and even a colony on Mars is no longer the distant utopian dream it once was. But how will people be able to live in an extraterrestrial environment? The Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM) at the University of Bremen is working on a solution.
You are or want to become self-employed – but you do not know where to start? In this video, we show you how the Unternehmensservice Bremen helps you to deal with official approval procedures, forms and funding.
When it comes to Brexit it’s not about a hard-fought international contest to attract relocating businesses; it’s about coming together to manage the change, says Andreas Gerber of Bremeninvest in our interview.
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Dr Zareer Dadachanji was not going to wait around for Brexit to happen, and has held a German passport since the beginning of the year. He firmly believes that Brexit has no plus points. He and his wife have chosen to locate their new business – Model Quant Solutions – in Bremen, despite the fact that the company’s customers are mainly based in the UK.
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Space technologies have advanced greatly in recent years, leading to increasing demands from the business and research sectors. To meet these requirements, Bremen University now offers unique master’s degrees in Space Engineering and Space Sciences and Technologies.
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Stathis Stasinopoulos was unable to find the perfect folding bicycle for his commute to work across Athens. So he developed his own. The bike, called ‘Folding Project’, is lightweight and comfortable and folds up in five seconds. This has given Stasinopoulos an unexpected new direction in life.
The research alliance ROBEX is sending robots up active volcanoes and down into the deepest and darkest seas. Working across disciplines, the 120 scientists of the 16 institutes involved are breaking new ground on this project. They have been eagerly waiting to find out what has happened to the TRAMPER diving robot, which has been exploring the deep seas around Spitsbergen for a year. Now they are ready to bring it back.
A growing number of companies are becoming more aware of their social and environmental footprint, and are looking for ways to act with greater environmental and social responsibility. Germany’s north-west is set to become the national centre for social entrepreneurship in logistics. A new platform is under development and the first round of events is being planned to achieve this goal.
This new master’s degree at Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences prepares students for the future and offers them excellent job prospects.
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Irina Lucke has been at the helm of WAB since December 2016. We talked about her role in the german-wide trade association and the challenges that an ever-changing business and regulatory environment poses for the international wind energy industry.
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A new process has been attracting attention in the food industry. Developed by the Bremerhaven Institute for Food Technology and Bioprocess Engineering, the new method enables deep frozen fish to be defrosted in record time. And the fish tastes as fresh as the day it was caught.
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Of all the states in Germany, Bremen has the highest density of major research institutions in relation to its population – a fact that also benefits those who study there. It offers a range of international education opportunities for prospective academics with strong practical relevance and research activities that span a diverse range of fields.
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Bremen has been twinned with the city of Dalian in north-eastern China since 1985. Find out more about the similarities and connections that the two port cities share.
Up to now, cricket has been very much a niche sport in Germany. But that is changing. In Bremen, a woman is calling the shots in this male-dominated sport – with great success. Her men’s team are the 2016 German cricket champions.
No fewer than ten Mercedes-Benz models proudly bear the seal 'Made in Bremen'. They range from standard saloons to sports cars and SUVs. Which one do you like best?
Wearables and smart glasses provide hands-free digital information. A visit at the headquarter of the global market leader for Industrial Wearable Computing, Ubimax in Bremen.
In 2016, companies invested a combined total of €229 million in the federal state of Bremen. Where do these investors hail from, how many jobs have they created, and what is their line of business? Our infographics provide an overview.
How will the UK’s impending exit from the EU affect the logistics sector? Günther Hörbst, Managing Director of the Via Bremen Foundation, on the economic links between the United Kingdom and the EU
The Chinese designer Haoyu Li combines his German design degree with Chinese business acumen. Now he is opening a design office in Bremen, with the aim of making it easier for Chinese products to enter the German market, and to bring German brands to China.
Keen to remain in Bremen? Then why not combine residency status with self-employment? Manuel Kühn from Bremeninvest’s welcome service knows all about how a start-up could allow British citizens to beat Brexit and kill two birds with one stone.
From initial idea to successful move. Andreas Gerber, who heads up the international relocation team at Bremeninvest, knows what international companies need to do to set up a business in Bremen. Here he tells us about the most important steps on the ...
BLG LOGISTICS GROUP AG & Co. KG’s AutoTerminal in Bremerhaven is a record-breaking automotive hub. Every year, the terminal handles some 2.3 million vehicles. But that’s not all.
Going it alone is rarely an easy option. Co-working enables entrepreneurs to work in a shared space and experience the benefits and synergies that come with this. There are nine co-working spaces in Bremen – which one is right for you?
Permits and authorisations, a mountain of applications and a language barrier too. These are just some of the difficulties you face when starting a business abroad. Luckily, an advice centre opened in Bremen in early 2015 that can help you through the jungle: Bremeninvest’s welcome service.
Geographical distance and cultural differences make it hard to relocate or start up a company in another country. Luckily, help is at hand from the team at the World Trade Center (WTC) in Bremen. They'll do all they can to make your international business a success.
In December 2016 ministers from the European Space Agency (ESA) member states met to determine the roadmap for the European space sector for the years ahead. Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Bremen submitted joint recommendations. In the following interview Dr Peter Vits, Bremen's State Coordinator for the Space Sector, talks about Bremen's strengths and opportunities.
The sky is not the limit, at least not in Bremen. All parts of the aerospace sector are represented in the city, from R&D to production. Aeroplane wings, Ariane rockets and Galileo satellites – Bremen is one of the leading locations in the international aerospace industry. Here are five factors behind Bremen’s story of success.
In 2015 Bremen won the right to host the International Astronautical Congress for the second time, after having successfully held the event in 2003. Its bid was the result of a collaboration between the Bremen regional government and Bremen’s space industry and space research sector. Event partners include the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the German Aerospace Centre.
Bremen knows how to make cars: the Mercedes-Benz plant by the Weser river has been in operation for almost 40 years, is the focal point of the city’s automotive industry and automotive clusters, and is now the company’s biggest global facility in terms of vehicle production numbers. Reason enough for an ever-growing number of suppliers and logistics firms to base themselves in Bremen.
For 30 years, the Cargo Distribution Centre in Bremen has delivered excellence – as an investment location and a logistics hub. Today more than 150 companies employing approximately 8,000 people are based at the site. It offers direct links to the ports, the autobahn and has a close proximity to Bremen City Airport.
Language barriers, unfamiliar legal and fiscal systems, qualifications that need to be recognised. There are many additional hurdles that entrepreneurs have to overcome when setting up a new branch or a new company in a different country. Bremeninvest is committed to offering you advice and support from the outset.
You might expect a Bremen-based company specialising in innovative instruments and implants for spinal surgery to be located at the Technology Park. But you'd be wrong. NuVasive Germany GmbH has its head office at the heart of the city centre next to Wallanlagen Park. Now employing a team of 44 people, the company generates annual revenue of more than €10 million – a figure that looks set to rise.