The global trend towards green and renewable energy resources has tremendous impact on many products and production processes in contemporary civilization. Among others, car combustion engines are going to be substituted by green energy fed electric motors in the future. Those technologies are part of our reality but still suffer from specific limitations as, for example, battery capacity. Looking on the next decade, combustion engines will remain a substantial part of the common traffic, either as single engine showing reduced particle and NOx emission, or as hybrid component supporting the electric aggregate. Both possibilities require enhanced power-train control enabled by high performance sensors. Responding to those needs, TDK-EPC, a well known vendor for small and precise temperature sensors, has developed new sensor solutions for pressure detection in the car power-train. The approach is to overcome conventional step-by-step developments of materials and technologies, moving towards combining different technologies and materials in a cross-functional manner. This approach is demonstrated on the example of two new high precision pressure sensors.
First, a new differential pressure sensor for the reliable monitoring of particle filters in Diesel and Otto-power-trains is introduced. A ceramic multilayer substrate and a stainless steel assembly were combined to a robust hybrid that performs high precision pressure sensing event at elevated temperatures and highly aggressive gases. Second, a fuel tank pressure sensor is shown. This unit usually works at lower temperature environments, but survives aggressive fuel gas atmospheres over large time periods without degradation. This goal was attained by use of a glass tube connector and combination of a new joining process in such a way that only inorganic materials of the hybrid assembly are exposed to the aggressive media.
While the new multifunctional components combine robustness and precision in a unique way, there are still new challenges, like ice formation in the car power train when operated the arctic environment. By establishing anti-icing functions in the sensors we show that cross-functional refinement of materials and processes will help to meet those challenges.