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Pumping efficiency--ixetic.

Electric vehicles bring with them a new cooling challenge, with the focus shifting from the power plant to the power supply.

German company, ixetic has developed a system using R744--which is chemically pure carbon dioxide (C[O.sub.2]). According to managing director, Norbert Gruber, the compressor for R744 refrigerant systems works according to the principle of a heat pump, i.e. it can both cool and heat to an equal extent. The system naturally provides the right temperatures both when the vehicle is parked or is being driven. If the engine is not running, the compressor takes power for cooling or heating directly from the battery in order to ensure that the batteries are kept at their optimum operating temperature.

ixetic is among the technology leaders in the design, development and manufacturing of the new generation of pumps needed for hybrid and electric vehicles. Hybrid vehicles and vehicles fitted with start-stop automatic transmission use electrically-driven vacuum and gear pumps, which require an independent electric drive. "Our electrified vacuum pumps save around 1.7 g of C[O.sub.2] per kilometer compared to conventional vacuum pumps," says Dr. Reinhard Plietsch. In contrast to conventional pumps that continuously generate power via the combustion engine, the electrically-driven pumps only generate power according to need and thereby avoid energy-consuming idle running. This technology is due to come on stream in 2011.



Automotive Industries (AI) asked chairman Georg Wolf how the company was steering itself through the economic downturn.

Wolf: The first step is to bring down our product costs and the second is to enter the BRIC countries. In August/September 2008, we reacted when we saw that volumes were going down by reducing the working hours, short time and temporaries. We also started a big program last year to reduce our material costs and capital expenditure. These measures are working extremely well, and today we are in a robust condition. Our sales are now slowly increasing.

AI: You're also continuing with your globalization program and just opened a new facility in Bulgaria. What will that bring to ixetic?

Wolf: We started our globalization program before the crisis. The new plant in Bulgaria was one of the major strategic points, ixetic did not have a location in a low labor cost country. The results of the new plant are very good. In parallel, we have started developing in Asian markets. On July 1, 2009, we began a new joint venture in India and we are entering the Chinese and North American market for passenger cars. Our resources are currently limited due to the crisis but we still have to develop the markets that are important to us.

AI: Tell us more about the thermo management system for electric cars that was seen at the Frankfurt International Automotive Show (IAA)?

Wolf: We developed the R744 technology over ten years ago and are still number one in this compressor technology. The big problem for the battery industry is cooling and heating, and C[O.sub.2]/R744 is ideal for both. Our solution to the temperature sensitivity is to use a special air-conditioning system for the vehicle battery. The concept is based on a special compressor. The thermo management system constantly maintains the temperature between 15 and 35 degrees Celsius, which is optimal for the lithium-ion battery. We combine the compressor for the R744 refrigerant system to work like a heat pump--which means it both cools and heats. The compressor can also be used as a vehicle heating system during the cold seasons. We were told by VDA (German Association of the Automotive Industry) at the previous IAA that OEMs would introduce R744, but we have not heard anything yet.


AI: How would your latest vacuum and hydraulic solutions contribute to the lowering of C[O.sub.2] emissions and making the cars more efficient?

Wolf: First is the downsizing of the engine itself and more efficiency. We've always been at the forefront of supplying our customers with highly efficient pumps for that purpose. In general, ixetic pumps are more efficient than pumps of our competitors. The second step is to follow the technical market trends. We have developed electrically driven vacuum pumps for use in electric and hybrid vehicles. We have our first contracts for pumps for hybrid transmission, but we still have to produce extremely efficient pumps for our bread and butter business. It is clear that the volume will not be the same but this will guarantee our place as number one in the pump technology sector.

AI: How do you see the future of the hybrid vehicle and what will that mean for ixetic?

Wolf: We are very positive about the introduction of hybrids and we already have the first contracts for new transmissions for hybrids. But, we have to distinguish between hybrid and electric cars. There are a lot of studies that predict a market of 10 percent to 15 percent for electric cars by 2025, and before that we will see hybrids. Hybrids are more of an opportunity than a risk for ixetic, because this is a normal engine but also electrically driven--and we need both hydraulic and electric hydraulic products.


AI: Where do you see the biggest increase of market share for you worldwide?

Wolf: This will be Asia. We have our joint venture and we have our first contracts. The market increase is above average worldwide. The most important markets for us are China and India at the moment. Our strategy is to bring known products to new markets and new products to the known markets.

AI: So where do you see ixetic in ten years?

Wolf: This is not difficult to answer. Three years ago, we were focused on the German marketplace. Our first step was to take care of the infrastructure. We developed competence in other regions, plants in different locations (a second plant in Germany and another in Bulgaria). The second step was to develop the market. In the next two to three years, we will see more growth in China and in North America in passenger cars, and we will enlarge our business in India. We will have new products in place during that period, high-end electrically driven pumps on an international level and we still will be number one in pumps. AI
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Title Annotation:innovation; Georg Wolf speaks about production technologies
Comment:Pumping efficiency--ixetic.(innovation)(Georg Wolf speaks about production technologies)
Author:Palman, Nick
Publication:Automotive Industries
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Dec 22, 2009
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