Core competence "drive systems"

Our core competence “drive systems” comprises solutions for electric drive trains and internal combustion engines. The systems are designed, constructed, simulated and validated through testing at Fraunhofer ICT. In addition, we validate mobile and stationary energy and thermal storage devices. In the field of internal combustion engines we are investigating synthetic fuels and additives in our research engines.

Waste heat and energy recovery: Testing of the waste heat recovery system on the hot gas test stand
© Fraunhofer ICT
Waste heat and energy recovery: Testing of the waste heat recovery system on the hot gas test stand

Electric powertrain concepts

In the field of electromobility, we research and develop various types of electric powertrain components. An essential part of this work is the development of electric motors and transmission systems for future battery-powered electric vehicles. We focus on the development of solutions with a high weight-specific power density and high efficiency. For this purpose we investigate alternative cooling concepts and winding types, as well as manufacturing technologies for potential use in efficient, large-scale production processes.

In the field of high voltage traction battery system develop - ments, our research focuses on safe, lightweight solutions with integrated functions, which meet the demands for high energy and power densities while fulfilling all safety requirements during fast charging and discharging. An essential part of these developments is the conception, design and simulation of efficient thermal management systems, which are necessary for the heating and cooling of the battery systems during operation.

Internal combustion engine concepts

Due to their very good overall efficiency (well-to-wheel) and the high gravimetric and volumetric energy density of the fuels used, combustion engines will continue to be a dominant drive concept in transport and individual mobility in the coming years. In the field of combustion engine concepts, we aim to develop technical solutions in the entire drive train for mobile applications. We research and develop combustion engines both as the sole drive unit and in combination with an electric engine, as a hybrid drive system. The objective of all our developments in this field is to reduce fuel consumption and emissions from internal combustion engines and to make the overall system safer, more flexible, more readily available and, above all, compatible with affordable mobility. For this purpose we work with highly efficient combustion processes, alternative engine concepts, improved engine mechanics and the use of residual energy. With our comprehensive research expertise and the cutting-edge equipment in our pilot plants, we are setting new trends in exhaust-gas cleanup, synthetic fuels and construction materials. Our researchers use various simulation and optimization tools, as well as modern laboratory equipment and automated test stands.

Design of an experimental single-cylinder lean-burn engine at Fraunhofer ICT
© Fraunhofer ICT
Design of an experimental single-cylinder lean-burn engine at Fraunhofer ICT
Research cylinder head before assembly of the poppet valves for charge exchange
© Fraunhofer ICT
Research cylinder head before assembly of the poppet valves for charge exchange
VW e-Golf on the acoustic all-wheel drive dynamometer of KIT-FAST
© Fraunhofer ICT | Mona Rothweiler
VW e-Golf on the acoustic all-wheel drive dynamometer of KIT-FAST

Design competence

Drawing on our design competence, we carry out new developments of complex systems for our industrial and project partners. For example, we design and produce prototypes to validate new operating principles or layout concepts for traction batteries and electric engines, up to complete systems such as combustion engines and turbines. Our competence starts in the idea and concept phase. We develop drafts and create detailed designs and drawings with a view to production. As a standard we use CATIA V5 in connection with a CAD data management system and an extensive material database in our commissioned projects. To ensure the best possible collaboration with our industrial partners, we apply a top-down design method. This generates a clear and uniform component structure.

Simulation competence

To verify and model new designs, we analyze complex components and systems, starting in the concept phase. To assess the behavior of individual components in the system, we use simulation tools for the transfer of heat, material and information, for example "Dymola" or "GT-Suite". The components are modeled physically or in a map-based system. In the field of internal combustion and electric engines, novel cooling concepts are designed and simulated using CFD and CHT modeling. The tool "IPG-CarMaker", which simulates the entire vehicle, enables vehicles to be split into different modular components, the efficiency of which can be assessed during driving. This makes it possible to calculate potential energy consumption advantages of the technologies in driving cycles. For flow, multi-body and structure simulation we also use professional tools according to current industrial standards, e.g. Ansys Fluent, Ansys Mechanical, and SimPack.

Testing competence

We operate cutting-edge testing facilities that complement our expertise in the simulation, design, development and manufacture of components and systems in an extensive test field. Complete measurements of multi-cylinder engines (smaller passenger car size) and single-cylinder test engines can be performed on our engine test stand. On our hybrid test stand the entire electrical system within the drive train is investigated. The drive train comprises a DC-to-DC converter, an inverter and an electrical machine, which can be used, for example, to display changes in the battery voltage according to the state of charge. The hot gas test stand is used to investigate waste heat recovery systems, thermoelectric generators, heat exchangers, turbo generators, exhaust-gas turbochargers and exhaust systems. An extension of this test stand developed at Fraunhofer ICT enables us to investigate the damage behavior of components, or to superimpose high cycle fatigue (HCF) onto thermo-mechanical fatigue (TMF) over time. For this purpose, the hot gas test stand is combined with a high-frequency pulsator, which generates the mechanical load. Our portable exhaust gas measurement system (PEMS) and our data logger make it possible to record real driving data on emissions as well as operating and environmental conditions.

Facilities and equipment


  • Loading unit: Asynchronous machine (4-quadrant operation)
  • 480 Nm, 250 kW, 10,000 1/min
  • 250 Nm, 120 kW, 12,000 1/min
  • Single cylinder tests
  • Testing of synthetic fuels
  • Hydrogen combustion


  • AVL M.O.V.E Gas & Particle Counter
    • NO/NO2CO/CO2, O2
    • Opt. FID module (THC, CH4)
    • Exhaust gas volume flow
    • OBD logging
    • Heated pipes
    • Power supply: Battery
  • AVL Particle Counter APC 489
  • TSI EEPS Particle spectrometer
  • Cambustion fast gas analyser (NOX,HC, CO)


  • UTF natural gas burner
  • Max. temperature 1200 °C
  • Performance up to 400 kW
  • Hot gas mass flow up to 1800 kg/h
  • Temperature gradient up to 100 K/s


  • Electromagnetic drive
  • Dynamic and static testing machine
  • Test forces of up to 100 kN
  • Test frequencies of up to 285 Hz


  • Virtual testing
  • IPG CarMaker
  • AVL InMotion
  • Derivation of load spectra


  • Individually configurable
  • OBD, GPS, temperatures
  • Humidity, pressure, vibration