The new £10 million Ricardo Vehicle Emissions Research Centre (VERC) – a world-class facility that will enable the development of next-generation of clean, low carbon vehicles – was formally opened today as part of the company’s centenary celebrations at its world headquarters in Shoreham-by-Sea, UK.
The new Ricardo VERC is one of the world’s most advanced emissions test facilities, designed to accommodate the development requirements of the next generation of more environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient road-going vehicles. A completely new, purpose-built facility, the VERC has been configured to allow for maximum flexibility and efficiency of operation. It has been designed from first principles around the requirements of advanced testing and through-flow of vehicles, including generous heat soak and preparation areas, so as to provide not just one of the world’s most rigorous vehicle test environments but also amongst the most operationally efficient. The development of the VERC has benefitted from financial support provided under the UK Government’s Regional Growth Fund, in recognition of the jobs created and secured in this important area of clean technology.
Already in commercial operation since the early spring of 2015, the Ricardo VERC was formally dedicated today by Richard Noble OBE – world land speed record holder from 1983-1997, and project director of the BLOODHOUND project – as part of a major celebration of the 100th anniversary of the formation of Ricardo.
"The Vehicle Emissions Research Centre is a fantastic addition to Ricardo’s automotive research and testing capability, enabling us to help our customers in all parts of the world in the development of cleaner and more fuel efficient vehicles,” commented Ricardo CEO Dave Shemmans. “This is a truly world-class facility that will help Ricardo maintain the reputation the company has developed for 100 years, as a global leader in the creation of clean and less polluting vehicles technologies.”
Equipped for the development needs of future clean vehicles
The new VERC facility is capable of carrying out climate controlled tests with a temperature range of -30 to +55 degrees Celsius and with humidity regulation. Configured for 4WD powertrains of up to 300kW and capable of simulated road speeds up to 250km/hr, it is capable of testing anything from the smallest passenger cars to light trucks of up to 3 tonnes, including advanced technology hybrid electric vehicles and their associated energy regeneration systems and stop/start operation. For such electrified powertrain applications the VERC is also able to measure battery state of charge in addition to vehicle emissions – an important consideration for hybrid and increasingly popular plug-in hybrid vehicles.
The VERC’s exhaust emissions measurement systems are capable of supporting engineering projects to the regulatory standards applied in all parts of the world, up to and including the very highest Euro 6/7 and US SULEV standards. A novel feature in this respect are the triple Constant Volume Sampler (CVS) tunnels; typically, facilities of this type have separate CVS tunnels for gasoline and diesel projects, but the VERC additionally has a third tunnel exclusively for the very lowest SULEV emissions projects.
The facility has been designed to meet all the demanding requirements for the measurement of regulated emissions and the development of advanced aftertreatment. State-of-the-art-gas analysers enable the real-time measurement of CO, HC, O2 and NOx plus both EGR and exhaust CO2, whilst specialist approaches for NOx speciation (FTIR) and detailed particle properties (mass, number, size) are included in the fully integrated emissions measurement capability. The vehicle soak space has been constructed as a series of independent climatic zones to ensure sub-zero soaked vehicles are maintained at their target temperature throughout their transition to the test cell and it also includes two integrated cold boxes with separate climate control.
The design of the VERC has been future-proofed both in terms of its ability to be configured for anticipated future regulatory needs, as well as being extendable to provide further additional capacity. All of the civil engineering works necessary to provide a second test chamber have already been completed as part of the initial development, so that fit-out could be completed rapidly if Ricardo requires this additional capacity. Similarly the design of all the plant installation is such that a generous amount of space is provided such that additional systems can be installed or equipment replaced, with minimal disruption to the ongoing work of the centre.
“Although it has only recently been commissioned, the VERC is already operating at close to its initial design capacity,” added head of Ricardo UK test operations Richard Murphy. “This rapid success has been due not least to the fact that the facility was designed first and foremost around the requirements of advanced testing. With the scalability and future proofing that we have incorporated in the facility from the very outset, this is an investment that will be of significant value to Ricardo customers for many years to come.”
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