How the Intro to Advanced Propulsion Systems Course is Addressing the Shift from 12-Volt to 48-Volt Electrical Systems

As the automotive industry heads deeper into the 21st century, the technologies that propel automobiles from one location to another are rapidly changing to incorporate concepts that both improve upon and go beyond traditional gasoline and diesel powertrains. Some experts are marking the year 2017 as the year that has turned electric and hybrid vehicles from a fad to an inevitable fate in the automotive industry.

The 48-Volt Electrical System

As electric vehicle adoption climbs to record numbers, there are still stepping stones that need to be put in place before full EV adoption can occur. Experts in the industry suggest the 48-volt electrical hybrid system is a natural middle ground. The 48-volt electrical system can power start-stop motors, and handle a variety of accessories ranging from supercharging, power steering, power brakes, water pump, radiator cooling, and air conditioning.

So why 48-Volt? Cars have been traditionally made on 12-volt operating systems since the 1950’s, but due to increasing demands modern cars make on their electrical systems, the 12-volt can no longer drive the increasingly powerful computing technology. Modern vehicle electrical systems are being asked to support sophisticated components for autonomous driving, electrical drivetrain components (like oil and water pumps), and hybrid-drive technology. The 48-volt  platform is better suited to power these systems, all while promising motorists significant fuel savings because they can efficiently power hybrid powertrains at a much lower cost than high voltage hybrids.


volvo electric car.jpg“Volvo Cars to go All Electric” Volvo Cars announce every Volvo it launches from 2019 on will have an electric motor. How is LHPU addressing the 48-Volt System Trend


LHPU has created The Introduction to Advanced Propulsion System Technologies in order to give engineers hands-on experience with some of these cutting-edge technologies that are both improving IC engines and making hybrid electric vehicles more viable for broader adoption.

Course highlights include:

  • Developing wave forms to control direct fuel injectors
  • Tuning PID controllers for variable cam timing and throttle control
  • Improving IC engine efficiency with combustion analysis
  • Controlling 48-Volt motors

In this six-week course, students will learn how to control state-of-the-art direct fuel injectors and fuel systems. The course will go through the basics of National Instruments LabVIEW graphical programming software, and will use that software to run control algorithms at various frequencies on Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) that can control a modern, gasoline direct-injected, turbocharged engine with variable cam timing. Students will learn about in-cylinder combustion analysis, and use a National Instruments Combustion Analysis System to analyze how the turbocharger and variable cam timing actuators change the work output of the engine and make it run more efficiently.

From there, students will shift gears and talk about hybrid propulsion systems, while discussing mild, parallel, and series hybrids, and the advantages and disadvantages to each. Students will have the opportunity to control a 48-volt mild hybrid platform that is representative of what is found in a 48v mild hybrid propulsion system.

Learn More About the Course

The first Intro to Advanced Propulsion System Technologies course of 2018 will take place in San Antonio, Texas: March 12 – April 19, 2018

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