At IEM, we have ten specialist laboratories and a research center, carrying out research in three areas of study: ‘Energy storage and conversion systems’, ‘Energy supply and distribution’ and ‘Energy-efficient mobility’. The labs and the center work closely together to help produce new technical solutions for industry.
Batteries and storage systems
The wide-ranging activities of the Batteries and Storage Systems Lab include the characterisation and development of electrochemical energy storage and conversion systems, their integration in photovoltaic facilities and distribution grids, and their use in mobile applications such as hybrid and electric vehicles. The most important activities include the life cycle testing and qualification of individual cells, battery systems and battery management systems and their integration in mobile applications such as hybrid and electric vehicles. Another focus area is the development of safe battery and energy management systems.
Photovoltaics (PV) is becoming ever more important in light of the 2050 Energy Strategy. Thanks to long-term research at Bern University of Applied Sciences, we have considerable expertise in this area. The key activities of the Photovoltaic Systems Lab include long-term measurement and quality control of PV systems, testing PV inverters, integrating photovoltaics in building envelopes and combining photovoltaics with electric vehicles, batteries and ‘smart use’.
Power supplies are changing: grids are becoming ever more dynamic, devices more non-linear and flexible users are demanding ever more specific systems. To ensure a safe and secure power supply, it is vital to be familiar with the different perturbation effects of customer systems and to understand how they interact across the power grid.
Our extensive pool of measuring equipment allows us to monitor the load profile, voltage quality and oscillatory characteristics in our partners’ distribution networks. Our validated models of grid elements and customer systems enable us to run reliable scenario analyses and use these to draw up recommendations, helping to ensure that power grids are operated safely, that capacity is utilised to optimum effect and that grid costs are reduced.
Electrical machines and drive systems
The Electrical Machines and Drive Systems Lab focuses on all aspects of electric drive systems – from the configuration and design of the electrical machine to the development of electronic actuators, control electronics and software.
Optimally tuned systems help ensure that electric drive systems deliver optimum efficiency and performance, whether used in energy technology, mobility or industry.
IC engines and exhaust emissions
The IC Engines and Exhaust Emissions Lab specialises in measuring, researching and developing vehicles and IC engines. At present, we have three chassis dynamometers and five engine test beds at our disposal for this work. We carry out statutory measurements for industry and authorities as well as working on a range of projects in the field of ‘Traffic and Environment’.
Research at the Power Electronics Lab focuses on the development, optimisation and control of power converters and power converter systems. We design solutions that improve the energy efficiency, the dynamic performance, the precision and the cost of the system. Conversion losses are reduced by using new converter structures, smaller and lighter filters and by optimising the overall system. We improve dynamic performance and accuracy using control techniques such as model predictive control (MPC) and estimation and filtering techniques such as Kalman filters.
Automotive engineering and safety
The Automotive Engineering and Safety Lab is able to carry out all of the ‘active safety’ test drives required for the development and characterisation of vehicles.
In addition to the required measuring equipment, we have a test track with sliding surfaces and an ISO-certified surface for measuring braking and noise emissions, plus hydro pulse systems for structural investigations.
Our mobile tyre testing laboratory allows us to measure the parameters of car tyres, road surfaces and snow chains in real conditions. We are also able to investigate the passive safety of whole vehicles (0 to 3000 kJ energy), components and vehicle retention systems and the reliability of safety net tests using a range of different crash facilities.
High voltage systems
The High Voltage Systems Lab can generate continuous and pulsed current and voltage up to 150 kA and 1 MV.
Amplitudes of this kind are necessary in order to subject individual components or whole devices to powerful electrical and magnetic fields, demonstrating their reliability or EMC. For conformance testing during development, the laboratory has a range of standard measuring instruments and specialised sensory systems.
We have broad expertise on how to design and operate hydrogen-based energy systems with fuel cells, H2 storage and electrolysers in a safe and efficient way. We focus on the technology of polymer electrolyte membranes (PEM).
The use of our fuel cell system has been demonstrated in numerous projects for mobile applications.
We develop and build fuel cells according to our own, awarded concept IHPoS (Independent Hydrogen Power System). We assemble a cost-optimized gas distribution system and integrate the fuel cells in a space-saving manner, taking heat flows into account. Our in-depth know-how on how to start, operate and shut down fuel cells is based on long-term experience and extensive field tests. Numerous functionalities in the management systems ensure the optimal integration of the fuel cells into complex energy systems.
The Automotive Electronics Lab’s research focuses on electric, autonomous and networked future mobility. We have considerable expertise in the fields of vehicle data collection, analysis and modelling, providing a sound basis for the development of cutting-edge electric drive systems. We are also examining the latest trends and technologies surrounding autonomous driving and vehicle communication. These include capturing, analysing and simulating vehicle operating data and researching the possible applications of cutting-edge communication and networking technologies in the field of mobility.
SCI-Mobility – engineering vehicles for people with reduced mobility
Enabling people with reduced mobility to get around is a major issue, but one that is often overlooked. The lack of information available about specialised equipment and the lack of interest shown in developing suitable vehicles make daily life more difficult for users. The SCI-Mobility (spinal cord injury) laboratory analyses and develops solutions for people with reduced mobility. Whether it is testing market products or developing new solutions, the SCI-Mobility lab is totally committed to inclusive research for everyone.