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5 Hybrids...1 Better Future

Oil is hanging close to the $100 per barrel mark and more people are looking to Hybrids as an answer. Problem is many people don't know what their choices are when it comes to Hybrids. Here are the 5 most prominent designs and where you can find them.

The most upcoming is called the Two-Mode Hybrid. It was originally developed by GM's Allison Transmission Team and is currently being used in 59 US cities. It uses a combination electric/petroleum engine when full power is needed. It also uses cylinder-cutoff technology to reduce fuel consumption. Batteries are recharged during braking and used when at cruising speed. The entire system can also be configured to run on E85 Ethanol. The first vehicles to see the Two-Mode Hybrid will be the Yukon and the Tahoe.

UPS: Currently testing Hydraulic Hybrid TechnologyUPS: Currently testing Hydraulic Hybrid Technology

The Hydraulic Hybrid is another upcoming design. It recovers heat normally lost during braking and uses it to heat cylinders of compressed nitrogen. When the Nitrogen is allowed to expand, it pushes against a piston in a cylinder filled with hydraulic fluid which in turn helps to move the rear wheels. The EPA Engineering Team has been able to produce a vehicle capable of 80+ miles per gallon.

Chevy Volt

Plug-In Hybrids, as the name implies use standard household outlets to charge their batteries. With the introduction of the Lithium-Ion battery to replace the Nickel-Metal Hydride, the full battery concept has become much more feasible. The biggest selling point is based on a statistic that many people travel less than 40 miles to their place of employment. If you are lucky enough to be one of them and you purchase a Plug-In Hybrid, you can operate with no fuel whatsoever. GM has announced they will build a production version of the Chevy Volt using this technology.

TATA Automotive: Testing Air Hybrids in IndiaTATA Automotive: Testing Air Hybrids in India

Air Hybrids are also becoming more popular with the automotive society. They use compressed air to supply power to the cylinders and use a minimal amount of fuel for a small compressor. Once the vehicle has reached cruising speed, electric motors take over. There have been claims that you travel from coast-to-coast one 1 tank of gas using an Air Hybrid.

BMW's DesignBMW's Design

A 100 year old design may also help to solve the alternative energy problem. BMW has engineered a steam engine, named the Turbosteamer, the help increase efficiency. By using the heat from the exhaust, which is basically wasted, they feed 2 steam engines which help to power the vehicle. They have been able to produce 15 horsepower and 16 ft-lbs of torque when coupled with a 1.8 liter inline-4. It adds up to a 15% increase overall.

Whether its air, steam, or electricity, Hybrid Technology has come a long way in the past few years. Companies are also looking to combine technologies to lessen the dependency on petroleum based fuels. The only thing we can do is wait to see what the future brings.

Hat tip : MSN Auto

George Delozier
Motorized Innovations
InventorSpot.com
Comments
Nov 10, 2007
by bwilson4web
bwilson4web's picture

Where are the Toyota/Ford and Honda hybrids discussed?

This posting is incomplete. It does an excellent survey of the architectures but omits the Toyota/Ford and Honda hybrid approaches as well as the belt-assisted GM/Saturn units. Because of the much larger inventory of Toyota/Ford and Honda hybrids, there are significant opportunities for inventors to add value to these vehicles. Even the GM/Saturn, hobbled as it is, may lead to similar approaches retrofitted to existing vehicles.

Gasoline has climbed over $3/gal without the assistance of a Katrina or new major war. In short, there is every reason to believe fuel savings, and I don't mean the bogus claims like magnets or magic additives, is a rich area for inventors who make a disciplined study of the technology.

Bob Wilson

625k Inc.

Nov 17, 2007
by Michael Reilly (not verified)

Complexity

These designs seem needlessly complex. What about the design that is an all electric drive-train with a small gas engine that comes on to recharge the batteries for extended trips? A company in the UK built a prototype on a Mini Cooper and claimed 1,000 miles to a tank of gas I believe. It makes a lot of sense too. Engine wear is largely caused by varying the speed of an engine. In this case, you could design the engine to run at a single speed, having to do only one thing. It could run on clean diesel, be only one cylinder maybe, etc. Most of the time, you would just recharge from an electrical outlet, but that added range is available when you need it. Far simpler than these systems that try to use gas and electric engines to alternately power the same drive train.