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Hybrid Cars

Hybrid Car Schematic

Hybrid Cars

A hybrid  car or vehicle (HV) is a vehicle using an on-board rechargeable energy storage system (RESS) and a fuelled power source for vehicle propulsion.

The HV pollutes less and uses less fuel. The different propulsion power systems may have common subsystems or components. The HV provides better fuel economy than a conventional vehicle because the engine is smaller and may be run at speeds providing more efficiency.

The term most commonly refers to petroleum-electric hybrid vehicles, also called Hybrid-electric vehicle (HEV) or Hybrid-electric Car which use internal combustion engines and electric batteries to power electric motors. Modern mass-produced hybrids prolong the charge on their batteries by capturing kinetic energy via regenerative braking. As well, when cruising or in other situations where just light thrust is needed, "full" hybrids can use the combustion engine to generate electricity by spinning an electrical generator to either recharge the battery or directly feed power to an electric motor that drives the vehicle. Nearly all hybrids still require gasoline and diesel as their sole fuel source though other fuels such as ethanol or plant based oils have also seen occasional use. A number of other hybrid vehicles use hydrogen fuel

What is hybrid car?

When a vehicle uses multiple propulsion systems to provide motive power, it's called a hybrid vehicle. Combination of propulsion systems may be many types but most commonly used system is gasoline-electric which known as gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles. Electric hybrid vehicles use gasoline (petrol) to power internal-combustion engines (ICEs), and electric batteries to power electric motors.

Modern hybrid cars are driven by electric motors powered by both batteries and an ICE. They recharge their batteries by capturing kinetic energy via regenerative braking. As well, when cruising or idling, some of the output of the combustion engine is fed to a generator which produces electricity to charge the batteries.
Nearly all hybrids still require gasoline as their sole fuel source though diesel and other fuels such as ethanol or seen in occasional plant based oils.

There are many types of hybrids, differentiated by how the electric and fueled halves of the power train connect, and at what times each portion is in operation. Two major categories are series hybrids and parallel hybrids.

A series hybrid, the internal combustion engine is not directly connected to the drive train at all, but powers an electrical generator instead. This is similar to the operation of diesel-electric train locomotives, but they do not store auxiliary power in batteries for later use, and in fact is similar to an electric car which is recharged by electricity from a stationary fossil fuel power plant, except that the power plant is carried on board.
Honda Insight

Parallel systems connect both the electrical and internal combustion systems to the mechanical transmission. This is most common types of hybrid at present. They can be subcategorized depending upon how balanced the different portions are at providing motive power. Such as A full hybrid, sometimes also called a strong hybrid is a vehicle that can run on just the engine, just the batteries, or a combination of both (Prius and Escape).

An Assist hybrids use the engine for primary power, with a torque-boosting electric motor also connected to a largely conventional powertrain. A Mild hybrid, which are essentially conventional vehicles with oversized starter motors, allowing the engine to be turned off whenever the car is coasting, braking, or stopped, yet restart quickly and cleanly. A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) is a full hybrid, able to run in electric-only mode, with larger batteries and the ability to recharge from the electric power grid. They are also called gas-optional, or griddable hybrids. A hydraulic hybrid vehicle uses hydraulic and mechanical components instead of electrical ones. Finally Pneumatic hybrid which use compressed air to power a hybrid car with a gasoline compressor to provide the power.

How hybrid cars work?

Hybrid cars work by flawlessly integrating multiple power sources such as a gas engine, an electric motor and a high-powered battery to make motive power. Hybrid technology does it one better by combining a small gasoline engine with a high-torque electric motor and a battery, yielding top gas mileage and greener operations; some hybrids create 50 percent fewer emissions. Generally the battery provides power for the electric motor and is recharged by recapturing energy from gas engine that would normally be lost when decelerating or coasting. This recapturing of energy is called regenerative braking. If needed, power from the gas engine can be diverted to recharge the battery as well.
Different hybrid uses this technology a little differently. Some hybrid uses Electric Motor only to assist gas engine, know as mild hybrid.   Honda Insight and Honda Civic (2003-2005) use this technology. In this technology:

  • Gas engine provides the main force, and the electric motor provides assist whenever extra power is needed.
  • The electric motor can not operate independently of the gas engine.
  • The electric motor can generate electricity for the battery or consume electricity from the battery, but not both at the same time

On other hand, some hybrid technology can use Gas Engine and Electric Motor Independently. This type of vehicles knows as ‘Full Hybrid'. For example Toyota Prius , Ford Escape Hybrid , Mercury Mariner Hybrid , Toyota Highlander , and Lexus RX 400h use this type full hybrid technology. In this technology:

  • The electric motor can operate on its own in certain conditions.
  • Under low speed or when lower power needed, only electric motor used to run the car.
  • When higher power needed, both the gas engine and the electric motor can work together to provide the needed power.
  • Able to generate and consume electricity at the same time.

All Hybrids require the latest power-train technology, but that's just the start. Many have sleek profiles that slice through the wind with low aerodynamic drag. Low-resistance tires made of special rubber reduce friction with the road, while the high-capacity nickel-metal-hydride battery pack reliably doles out power to the electric motor when needed. Many also run on advanced continuously variable transmissions with an infinite variety of gear ratios to choose from rather than the traditional gearbox's four or five. One, the Chevy Silverado/Sierra pickup, even sports an electrical generator and AC outlets for instant power anywhere. Finally, these cars would be just so much steel, plastic, and aluminum without computers that oversee their operation and choreograph it all like a technological ballet.

History of Hybrid cars

Most of us think hybrid technology as a recent idea. But hybrids have been around longer than you may think. In fact, hybrid technology is as old as cars themselves.

Until recently, as higher gasoline prices, diminishing oil supplies and concern on environment and pollution increase, manufacturers have begun to seriously look into these systems again and hybrid cars gaining popularity and acceptance.First official milestone of hybrid technology is a patent application filed by American engineer H. Piper for a gasoline engine-electric motor powertrain, a hybrid in November 23, 1905.

Unlike today his hybrid design wasn't to increase a vehicle's fuel mileage and lower its emissions. According to the patent application, an electric motor would supplement a gasoline engine, allowing a vehicle to accelerate from zero to 25 miles an hour in a sizzling 10 seconds, three times faster than contemporary cars. Unfortunately by the time the patent was issued three and a half years later, cars had become powerful enough to achieve or exceed the same performance.

Although Mr. Piper filled the first hybrid patent application but he wasn't the first person with the idea of Hybrid. There were other important contributors to hybrid technology during this time. During 1897 to 1907 the Compagnie Parisienne des Voitures Electriques (the Paris Electric Car Company), an important early contributor to electric car technology, built a series of electric and hybrid vehicles, including the 1903 Krieger. It was built with front-drive and power steering. One model ran on alcohol, and there was another version with what has been described as a gasoline-turbine engine; in those times, the term "turbine" sometimes meant "generator."General Electric also produced electric cars in 1898 and 1899 and built a hybrid with a four-cylinder gasoline engine in 1899.

During the same time frame, Jacob Lohner & Co., in Austria, was building electric cars and one of the employees was an inventive young engineer named Ferdinand Porsche. He devised a system in which the electric motors were one and the same with the wheel hubs, thus eliminating the troublesome componentry of complicated transmissions to deliver the power directly to the wheels. These were known as Lohner-Porsches, and later the company produced a line of vehicles in which a gasoline engine drove a generator, which in turn provided the electrical juice for the electric motors. This is the classic, conceptually fundamental hybrid.

The Siemens-Schuckert Company in Berlin, Germany, primarily built electric cars and commercial vehicles, but built some hybrids until it stopped production in 1910.

The Woods Motor Vehicle Company in Chicago produced the 1917 Woods Dual Power, a parallel hybrid with a four-cylinder gasoline engine. It could make only 20 mph running solely as an electric, but with the gasoline engine adding its 12 horsepower was good for 35. Another Chicago firm, the Walker Vehicle Company, built both electric and gasoline-electric trucks, from around 1918 to the early 1940s. In Ontario, Canada, in 1914 the Galt Motor Company rolled out the Galt Gas Electric, a pure series hybrid that featured a two-cylinder, two-stroke engine of 10 horsepower driving a 40-volt, 90-amp Westinghouse generator. It was claimed the Galt could wring 70 miles from one gallon of gasoline or, alternately, do 15 to 20 miles on the battery alone. But a top speed of about 30 mph sent potential buyers to more powerful, speedier alternatives.

From around 1890 to 1920, the peck of early hybrid revelation, there were more than 100 makers of electric cars in the U.S. and Canada. Top names in the industry included Columbia Manufacturing, Riker Electric Motor Company of America, Electric Vehicle Company, Detroit Electric, Rauch & Lang, Studebaker, S.R. Bailey Co., Milburn Wagon Company and Baker Electric Company.By 1920, the electric vehicle started to disappear, and consequently, so did the interest and development of hybrid powertrains.

Up until 1960s, hybrid automobiles were relegated to the automaker and inventors. Then, in the late 1960s, the serious public health effect from use of internal combustion engines became more concerned and public official reprehending the auto industry for it, which renewed interest in the electric vehicle.

In 1966, U.S. Congress introduced first bills recommending use of electric vehicles as a means of reducing air pollution. As a result American Motors, General Motors and Ford each unveiled passenger car prototypes during 1967 and 1968. Among those cars GM unclouded experimental 512 hybrid, a tiny two-seater with a 12-cubic-inch gasoline engine connected to a series DC electric motor.

The oil crises of 1973 and 1979 prompted another flurry of activity during the mid 1970s and into the '80s. The Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development & Demonstration Act of 1976 not only brought government and industry research engineers together, it also brought federal funding in Hybrid research. A number of hybrid vehicles—not all of them gasoline-electric—were built and tested during this time.During 1977 – 1979 General Motors spent over $20 million in electric car development and research, reporting that electric vehicles could be in production by the mid-1980s.In 1991, the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC), a Department of Energy program, launched a major program to produce a “super” battery to get viable electric vehicles on the road as soon as possible.

The USABC would go on to invest more than $90 million in the nickel hydride (NiMH) battery. The NiMH battery can accept three times as many charge cycles as lead-acid, and can work better in cold weather.The oil embargoes affected not only USA but also all major world economies which prompted hybrid research around the world too.

Environmental and smog pollution was already a major problem in large cities. In Germany, Volkswagen responded with a hybrid Microbus taxi with a system very similar to those used in today's offerings. In Japan, most engineering development focused on electrics, but Toyota built a prototype gasoline turbine engined hybrid, and Mazda produced a diesel engine hybrid truck called the Titan.In 1990, state of California adopted rules requiring car companies to sell certain percentage of “Zero Emission Vehicles" (ZEVs), which significantly influenced on the advancement of electrics and hybrids vehicle.But USA wasn't the first country to offer hybrid vehicles to mass population.

In mid-December 1997 Toyota began offering a hybrid automobile, the Prius to the general public for the Japan home market.It took almost a century after the hybrid was first conceived; more than 25 years after development work began on them in earnest, and after more than hundreds of millions had been spent worldwide and after many many prototypes.In USA market, Honda introduced its two-seat Insight hybrid in 2000, and the Prius followed several months later. In 2002 Honda introduces the Honda Civic Hybrid , its second commercially available hybrid gasoline-electric car. The appearance and drivability of the Civic Hybrid was identical to the conventional Civic which help gain hybrid popularity.In September 2004, Ford releases the Escape Hybrid , the first American hybrid and the first SUV hybrid. Other automakers, both domestic and foreign, also follow the hybrid trend and popularity. Now we have more options than ever including Sedan, SUVs, Trucks, Luxury vehicles etc. To know about current and upcoming hybrid vehicles, visit:

Currently available hybrid vehicles

Cars:

  • Honda Accord  - Available
  • Honda Civic  - Available
  • Honda Insight  - Available
  • Toyota Prius - Available
  • Chevy Malibu -  Expected 2007
  • Honda Fit -  Expected 2008
  • Hyundai Accent -  Expected 2009
  • Lexus GS 450h - Available
  • Nissan Altima -  Expected 2006
  • Toyota Camry  - Available

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle - Efficiencies and Operating Costs Comparisons

A car is simply an energy consuming appliance that performs a useful function. Like any other appliance, such as a washer, a dryer, or a furnace, the efficiency it operates at plays a significant factor in its overall cost of operation, and in the effect it has on the environment. The less energy used to perform an equivalent task, the better.

Take for example a geothermal heat pump. In Manitoba, a heat pump has two important advantages. First it operates on renewable electricity instead of fossil fuels; then it goes one step further and consumes far less energy than a conventional furnace. Even though a heat pump costs far more than a conventional furnace, this difference is eventually surpassed through lower energy costs due to its higher efficiency. The same principles hold true for a plug-in battery powered electric automobile drive system, such as that used in a PHEV.

Because a PHEV has both a battery powered electric motor and a gasoline engine, the two drivetrains will be discussed separately below. The greater the electric range, the more the efficiency and fuel costs of a PHEV will behave like an electric car and the less they will behave like a gasoline car. A PHEV-30 (30 mile electric range) will run about 50% each on electricity and gasoline.

Battery efficiency

A battery is typically four times as efficient as gasoline or hydrogen at storing energy for vehicle motion. While hydrogen is often touted in the popular media as the “fuel of the future” and hydrogen fuel cells are often claimed to be more efficient than gasoline engines, scientific literature is less optimistic. Hydrogen unfortunately suffers from the unavoidable necessity to manufacture it from other forms of energy, such as gasoline, natural gas, and electricity, losing a significant portion of potentially useful energy in the form of heat.

The hypothetical advantage of fuel cells is quickly lost in a complex chain of water pumps, electrolyzers, reformers, hydrogen compressors, piping, storage tanks, air compressors, ice management systems, radiators, and so on. These are needed to manufacture the hydrogen from other sources of energy, deliver it to the vehicle, and process the waste — water — which is tricky in winter. Freezing may damage a fuel cell. Fuel cells that have been designed to operate in milder winter conditions typically lose several miles worth of fuel consumption just to sit still while warming up to operating temperature. The platinum filled plastic fuel cell membrane needs to be moist to operate.

Batteries, particularly newer designs, can operate directly on renewable electricity — even in winter — releasing it when needed with over 90% energy efficiency. Present day battery efficiency is far beyond the physical limits of any present or proposed fuel cell, with or without the rest of the complex hydrogen machinery chain. Higher efficiency directly translates into lower cost and a lower effect on the environment — one quarter the impact.

Proponents of hydrogen fuel cite PHEV technology as an introductory technology for hydrogen fuel cells. In theory, PHEV technology, using a fuel cell instead of a gasoline engine, can lower the cost and weight of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle by replacing part of the demand on the fuel cell system with batteries charged off an electrical outlet. A hydrogen fuel cell PHEV-30 (with 30 mile battery range) would use half the hydrogen, have about double the electrical efficiency of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (because the battery is four times as efficient), and significantly reduce the need for finding hydrogen fuelling stations. This is a significant improvement over a 100% hydrogen powered vehicle, but a 100% battery electric vehicle would still be about twice as efficient as a hydrogen fuel cell PHEV.

Cost comparison

The following table reflects the effects of energy efficiency on the relative fuel costs of operating similarly sized vehicles in Manitoba. The conventional hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) operates 100% on gasoline, generating all of its electricity on-board. Currently there are no road taxes assessed on electricity or hydrogen comparable to gasoline. The cheapest sources of hydrogen are natural gas and coal in chemical processes, followed by a nuclear thermal process. Hydrogen made from electricity is not included, but is approximately double the cost of manufacture from natural gas.

Efficiencies and Operating Costs Comparisons

A car is simply an energy consuming appliance that performs a useful function. Like any other appliance, such as a washer, a dryer, or a furnace, the efficiency it operates at plays a significant factor in its overall cost of operation, and in the effect it has on the environment. The less energy used to perform an equivalent task, the better.

Take for example a geothermal heat pump. In Manitoba, a heat pump has two important advantages. First it operates on renewable electricity instead of fossil fuels; then it goes one step further and consumes far less energy than a conventional furnace. Even though a heat pump costs far more than a conventional furnace, this difference is eventually surpassed through lower energy costs due to its higher efficiency. The same principles hold true for a plug-in battery powered electric automobile drive system, such as that used in a PHEV.

Because a PHEV has both a battery powered electric motor and a gasoline engine, the two drivetrains will be discussed separately below. The greater the electric range, the more the efficiency and fuel costs of a PHEV will behave like an electric car and the less they will behave like a gasoline car. A PHEV-30 (30 mile electric range) will run about 50% each on electricity and gasoline.

Battery efficiency

A battery is typically four times as efficient as gasoline or hydrogen at storing energy for vehicle motion. While hydrogen is often touted in the popular media as the “fuel of the future” and hydrogen fuel cells are often claimed to be more efficient than gasoline engines, scientific literature is less optimistic. Hydrogen unfortunately suffers from the unavoidable necessity to manufacture it from other forms of energy, such as gasoline, natural gas, and electricity, losing a significant portion of potentially useful energy in the form of heat.

The hypothetical advantage of fuel cells is quickly lost in a complex chain of water pumps, electrolyzers, reformers, hydrogen compressors, piping, storage tanks, air compressors, ice management systems, radiators, and so on. These are needed to manufacture the hydrogen from other sources of energy, deliver it to the vehicle, and process the waste — water — which is tricky in winter. Freezing may damage a fuel cell. Fuel cells that have been designed to operate in milder winter conditions typically lose several miles worth of fuel consumption just to sit still while warming up to operating temperature. The platinum filled plastic fuel cell membrane needs to be moist to operate.

Batteries, particularly newer designs, can operate directly on renewable electricity — even in winter — releasing it when needed with over 90% energy efficiency. Present day battery efficiency is far beyond the physical limits of any present or proposed fuel cell, with or without the rest of the complex hydrogen machinery chain. Higher efficiency directly translates into lower cost and a lower effect on the environment — one quarter the impact.

Proponents of hydrogen fuel cite PHEV technology as an introductory technology for hydrogen fuel cells. In theory, PHEV technology, using a fuel cell instead of a gasoline engine, can lower the cost and weight of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle by replacing part of the demand on the fuel cell system with batteries charged off an electrical outlet. A hydrogen fuel cell PHEV-30 (with 30 mile battery range) would use half the hydrogen, have about double the electrical efficiency of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (because the battery is four times as efficient), and significantly reduce the need for finding hydrogen fuelling stations. This is a significant improvement over a 100% hydrogen powered vehicle, but a 100% battery electric vehicle would still be about twice as efficient as a hydrogen fuel cell PHEV.

Cost comparison

The following table reflects the effects of energy efficiency on the relative fuel costs of operating similarly sized vehicles in Manitoba. The conventional hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) operates 100% on gasoline, generating all of its electricity on-board. Currently there are no road taxes assessed on electricity or hydrogen comparable to gasoline. The cheapest sources of hydrogen are natural gas and coal in chemical processes, followed by a nuclear thermal process. Hydrogen made from electricity is not included, but is approximately double the cost of manufacture from natural gas.

Vehicle Fuel Cost Before Tax Cost Including Tax Lost Tax Revenue
Honda FCV
(Fuel Cell Vehicle)
Hydrogen
(from natural gas)
7.20 ¢/km
2.38 ¢/km
Toyota Corolla
Gasoline
4.67 ¢/km
7.05 ¢/km
Toyota Prius HEV
Gasoline
3.40 ¢/km
5.13 ¢/km
0.65 ¢/km
PHEV-30
Electric/Gasoline
2.27 ¢/km
3.18 ¢/km
1.47 ¢/km
Toyota RAV4 EV
Electric
1.14 ¢/km
1.22 ¢/km
2.30 ¢/km
 

Disadvantage of battery drive systems

The most significant physical disadvantage of a battery electric drivetrain is the inability to recharge quickly, but even this is changing. Rapid recharge batteries are beginning to show up in the marketplace that can be fully recharged in one to fifteen minutes. Even without these batteries, PHEV is a formidable practical challenger to gasoline because it shares some of the same technology and the same fuelling infrastructure. A hydrogen fuelling infrastructure does not yet exist, and the development of one will be long and very expensive.

Other Emerging energy storage technologies

There is a wide variety of other emerging energy storage technologies that may also prove useful in transportation or other uses some day. This includes:

  • fuel cells that do not depend on hydrogen, such as higher temperature ones that can operate directly on methane or other hydrocarbons, including biogas and other biofuels;

  • fuel cells that operate on metal fuels (reversible with electrolysis);

  • fuel cells that operate reversibly on flowing electrolytes (very fast acting like batteries);

  • other fuel cells which are far more experimental;

  • other options such as capacitors, flywheels, compressed air, and thermal storage.

Other factors affecting efficiency and operating costs, which must be controlled for a fair comparison, are:

  • driving habits;

  • vehicle size;

  • weather;

  • tire inflation.

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