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 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.
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 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.
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 AutoGeorge Delozier