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Vehicle Technologies Office: Modeling and Simulation

Researchers at the national laboratories and in private industry are working to identify the technologies, configurations, and engine control strategies needed to achieve the best combination of high fuel economy and low emissions in advanced internal combustion engine, advanced diesel engine, hybrid electric, and fuel cell vehicles.

Advanced technology vehicles can incorporate any of a potentially large number of possible powertrain configurations. Because it is not feasible to build actual vehicles to evaluate each of those possible configurations, researchers must rely on accurate, flexible simulation tools to build "virtual vehicles" and to accurately predict the performance of the vehicle and its components. To support those efforts, the U.S. Department of Energy has assembled an impressive set of test and evaluation facilities to collect data for model enhancements and validation: software-based analytical tools for modeling and simulating advanced technology components, subsystems, and vehicles ranging from light-to-heavy vehicles. These resources enable researchers to simulate vehicle fuel economy, emissions, and performance in a realistic and cost-effective manner. After a thorough assessment, the U.S. Department of Energy selected the Powertrain System Analysis Toolkit (PSAT) as its primary vehicle simulation tool to support U.S. DRIVE Partnership activities. PSAT has been used for numerous studies to guide DOE in determining future research directions.

In addition, the modeling and simulation activity develops definitions for hypothetical "reference vehicles" that represent the spectrum of advanced technology being considered for future vehicles. As part of that work, researchers incorporate component and subsystem models into those reference vehicles, and conduct vehicle simulations to ensure compatibility with potential propulsion and vehicle configurations.