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MAHLE Powertrain RDEC Northampton

MAHLE Powertrain is the world’s first dedicated Real Driving Emissions Centre (RDEC) which focuses on the development of new powertrain solutions from concept through to reality. The facilities contain the UK’s first barometric vehicle test chamber, able to replicate altitudes of up to 5,000 metres and temperatures of between -40°C and +60°C, allowing MAHLE to test a vehicle’s conformity to the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP). In addition to the test facilities with one chamber, a control room and analyser room, plus scope for further development of a second chamber, there are 6 corporate meeting rooms, break-out spaces and a large welcoming reception area.

Project brief: MAHLE Powertrain commissioned WBM to assist with planning and noise matters at an early stage of the project. WBM undertook detailed noise surveys at and around the site and carried out an assessment of noise at the site in terms of both noise break-out and noise ingress to the facility. WBM were then retained by MAHLE to provide a full professional acoustic service to MAHLE’s design team covering the building envelope acoustic design, internal sound insulation and reverberation control. WBM’s input carried on through to the construction phase of the project.

Acoustic aspects: This novel test facility comprised test chambers where high noise levels can be generated and these areas would sit along-side control and analysis rooms as well as corporate style offices and administration areas. In addition the type of tests undertaken meant that there was a need for significant mechanical plant, potentially needing 24 hour operation during periods of demand. This novel and interesting project presented some acoustic challenges where the need for high noise areas were adjacent to acoustically sensitive ones.

Outcome: WBM worked closely with MAHLE, their architects, Bryden Wood Ltd and the main contractors J Coffey Construction, to establish effective acoustic solutions for the building façade, internal sound separation between noise generating test areas and offices and also high quality internal acoustics appropriate for a high profile £8M test facility with a strong customer focus. The £8 million RDEC facility opened in August 2018. See

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