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AmerCable Incorporated

energy - hybrid vehicles

Technology Basics

Electricity and internal combustion engine power come together in the technology of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs). NREL's scientists and engineers focus on improving the way the components of tomorrow's heavy-duty trucks will function as a unified system. A heavy-duty HEV, as defined by the 21st Century Truck Partnership, typically features an internal combustion engine (usually diesel), an electric motor/generator, a rechargeable energy storage system (usually batteries and/or ultracapacitors), a power electronics system, and regenerative braking.

Hybrid electric components and systems are highly developed for light-duty vehicles, but the technology requires further development for heavy vehicle applications. To become practical, heavy hybrids will require efficient, reliable, cost-competitive, high-power components. The main components of a heavy-duty HEV are described here and featured in the interactive diagram of a heavy truck.

This diagram shows the basic heavy hybrid components and systems and how they work. Roll your mouse over each component to learn more.

The following information is in Macromedia Flash format.  Follow this link for a non-flash version.

Heavy Hybrid Components and Systems

Like a conventional vehicle, an HEV has an internal combustion engine that can create torque to drive the truck. However, an HEV also uses an electric motor/generator to create or augment torque that drives the truck's wheels. This electric motor/generator can either use electricity to create torque, or reverse the process to use torque in a generator to create electricity. The HEV's energy storage system captures energy from the motor/generator, stores energy captured from regenerative breaking, and returns energy when the driver demands power. These advanced systems currently consist of battery and/or ultracapacitor packs that have electrical, thermal, and safety control features.

One energy efficiency advantage of HEV technology over conventional vehicle technology is regenerative braking. When the driver decelerates an HEV, the motor becomes a generator and uses the kinetic energy of the vehicle to generate electricity that can be stored in the energy storage system for later use. Essentially, the HEV reclaims some of the energy otherwise lost in deceleration.

Power electronic devices play a crucial role in converting, managing, and distributing power and energy in hybrid vehicle applications. These devices, such as semiconductors, converters/inverters, control and switching strategies, and packaging and cooling units, are important to developing an efficient and high-performance hybrid vehicle system. In heavy hybrid vehicles, converters and inverters condition and control the electrical signal between the energy storage unit and the motor/generator to provide power to various components at critical times.

Heavy-duty vehicles are driven as much as one million miles over a ten-year period and account for about one-fourth of the U.S. energy consumed in highway vehicles. Typically, they include trucks of various types and uses, buses, as well as off-highway vehicles, including construction, farming, and mining equipment.

To help advance heavy hybrid vehicles, NREL, DOE, and industry are developing advanced heavy hybrid propulsion systems that are projected to increase the fuel efficiency of heavy trucks (Class 3-8) and buses by as much as 100%, while maintaining their emissions to meet the Environmental Protection Agency's 2007-2010 emission standards. Read more about AH2PS's research and development projects.

source: US Department of Energy


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