E-ROT: a ter­ri­ble name for a re­ally clever new damper

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

CLEARLY, the mar­keters did not get to meet the en­gi­neers be­fore they de­cided to name their new pro­to­type elec­tric damp­ing sys­tem the e-ROT.

Spelling it with cap­i­tals, as Audi does, just makes it worse, so ex­pect a name change soon.

But also ex­pect to hear a lot more about electro­mechan­i­cal ro­tary dampers.

Th­ese re­place the hy­draulic dampers used in all cars to­day to pro­vide what Audi says is an even more com­fort­able ride, but their use is dic­tated not by the smooth ride, but their abil­ity to cap­ture ki­netic en­ergy to be turned into elec­tric­ity.

The prin­ci­ple be­hind e-ROT is eas­ily ex­plained: “Ev­ery pot­hole, ev­ery bump, ev­ery curve in­duces ki­netic en­ergy in the car. To­day’s dampers ab­sorb this en­ergy, which is lost in the form of heat,” said Stefan Knirsch, a board mem­ber for tech­ni­cal devel­op­ment at Audi AG.

“With the new electro­mechan­i­cal damper sys­tem in the 48-volt elec­tri­cal sys­tem, we put this en­ergy to use. It also presents us and our cus­tomers with en­tirely new pos­si­bil­i­ties for ad­just­ing the suspension.”

The e-ROT sys­tem re­sponds quickly and with min­i­mal inertia. As an ac­tively con­trolled suspension, it adapts ide­ally to ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in the road sur­face and the driver’s driv­ing style. With e-ROT, Audi con­fig­ures the com­pres­sion stroke to be com­fort­ably soft with­out com­pro­mis­ing the taut damp­ing of the re­bound stroke. Another ad­van­tage of the new damper sys­tem is its ge­om­e­try.

The hor­i­zon­tally ar­ranged elec­tric mo­tors in the rear axle area re­place the up­right tele­scopic shock ab­sorbers, which al­lows for ad­di­tional space in the lug­gage com­part­ment.

The e-ROT sys­tem en­ables a sec­ond func­tion be­sides the freely pro­gram­mable damper char­ac­ter­is­tic: it can con­vert the ki­netic en­ergy dur­ing com­pres­sion and re­bound into elec­tric­ity.

To do this, a lever arm ab­sorbs the mo­tion of the wheel car­rier. The lever arm trans­mits this force via a se­ries of gears to an elec­tric mo­tor, which con­verts it into elec­tric­ity. The re­cu­per­a­tion out­put is 100 to 150 watts on av­er­age dur­ing test­ing on Ger­man roads, from three watts on a freshly paved free­way to 613 watts on a rough sec­ondary road.

Un­der cus­tomer driv­ing con­di­tions, this cor­re­sponds to a CO2 sav­ings of up to three grams per kilometre.

The new e-ROT tech­nol­ogy is based on a high-out­put 48-volt elec­tri­cal sys­tem. As cur­rently con­fig­ured, its lithium-ion bat­tery of­fers an en­ergy ca­pac­ity of 0,5 kilo­watt hours and peak out­put of 13 kilo­watts. A DC con­verter con­nects the 48-volt elec­tri­cal sub­sys­tem to the 12-volt pri­mary elec­tri­cal sys­tem, which in­cludes a high-ef­fi­ciency, en­hanced out­put gen­er­a­tor.

Ini­tial test re­sults for the e-ROT tech­nol­ogy show po­ten­tial fuel sav­ings of up to 0,7 litres per 100 kilo­me­tres. Thus its use in fu­ture Audi pro­duc­tion mod­els is cer­tainly plau­si­ble.

A pre­req­ui­site for this is the 48-volt elec­tri­cal sys­tem. But when Audi rolls out this phase of its elec­tri­fi­ca­tion strat­egy, the mar­keters will hope­fully have come up with another name.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

Audi’s pro­to­type e-ROT elec­tric dampers cap­ture ki­netic en­ergy to help charge the car’s 48 Volt elec­tric sys­tem.

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