The main reason you can't get a decent, affordable EV that goes far is the battery. They have prohibitively high costs, even after decades of billion dollar research up to and including ongoing efforts, not to mention all of the failed "game-changing" battery manufacturers that have come and gone. And its all because chemistry and physics have their limits. Physics states a vehicle needs an on-board, power dense energy source to launch, and sufficient energy density to drive. With today's electrical energy storage technologies it's simply impossible to get both power and energy density out of a single battery chemistry. You either get one or the other, but not both, and surely not at an affordable price. And that's why the EV market needs green vehicle purchase tax credits and other tax payer supported subsidies to make them semi affordable and compete against traditional fossil fueled vehicles (and they're still losing). What is desperately needed is a cost effective solution that will bring an affordable, zero emission vehicle to the market, today. Well, that's actually a lot easier than one would think.
Here's the proof:
We are all aware of regenerative braking. It's the process of converting an electric (or electric hybrid) vehicles deceleration energy into electrical energy and then putting that energy back into the battery. While this does aid in extending the range of the vehicle a little bit, chemistry again rears its ugly head and puts strict limits on the amount of energy that can go back in. That's the physics of chemistry, and you can't get away from it no matter how much you try. And it is this fact that has ushered in the hydraulic hybrid.
While little known to the general public, the Hydraulic Hybrid Vehicle (HHV) will make electric hybrids obsolete, and fast. Hydraulic hybrids are very cost effective, have much better regenerative capabilities, integrate easily and are more closely matched to the high stop/start driving profile of urban use vehicles. Hydraulic hybrids tirelessly capture, store and release a great amount of power, and they do it without expensive, high power density batteries, and the required battery management systems. And boy are they efficient. Just watch this 1 minute EPA video:
As you can see, this technology is available today. Hydraulic companies like Eaton, Parker and Bosch all offer hydraulic hybrid drive systems in both OEM and retrofit kits. The EPA says the technology is proven and accepted. The EPA has patents on hydraulic hybrids, and they are being rolled out in the markets that have the biggest need for improvement and can pay the price, such as garbage trucks and other really big vehicles. UPS has 40 of them on the road today and they are saving tens of thousands of gas-o-dollars. Recently, construction giant Caterpillar announce their hydraulic hybrid excavator, providing a 25% reduction in fuel use, earning it an Edison Award. Bosch received an award for their hydraulic hybrid. Even FORD is doing it. The garbage truck retrofit kit sells for roughly 40 grand, but a little investigation will prove that has one hell of a markup considering the cost of the individual components. But that's the free market, and just like flat screen TV's and the iPhone, the prices will eventually come down and more people will be able to benefit.
OK, so by know you should be able to see the benefits of hydraulic hybridization, and its obvious long term potential over electric hybrids. If not, do a little research and come back. However, don't compare one of the technologies against the other, but rather its the combination of the two systems that has the largest potential. Electric and hydraulic technologies have been working together for decades, with hydro-electric power coming from the Hoover dam, electrically driven hydraulically rotated brushes cleaning your car at the local car wash, and the hydraulic powered lifting system on electric forklifts. And since these technologies work with very high efficiency in one direction (doing work), they can be equally efficient when their roles are reversed and they recover energy available during deceleration.
Electric Hydraulic Hybrid Vehicles (EHHV's) are the combination of electric and hydraulic technologies. This ultra clean system recycles energy at a higher efficiency than any single regenerative system available today. The biggest range reducing problem with electric vehicles is the launch, which requires significant amounts of power that can only come from the batteries, and everyone knows that's what kills the batteries, large and frequent high current discharges. It's such a big issue that EV's require complex and expensive cooling systems to keep them from catching fire. In an electric hydraulic hybrid, the battery killing launch is eliminated because the launch is provided by the stored hydraulic power, which was recovered during the last braking cycle. It's like a free push to get you going, and we all know that would be of tremendous help to the battery and make it last much longer, and you can use less of them. Once the vehicle is going, the electric drive takes over. When the vehicle slows, the hydraulic system recovers braking energy and uses it again the next time you accelerate. This alone is a clear and obvious application of combining existing, affordable technologies to make something way better.
But wait, there's more!
An electric hydraulic hybrid has another benefit: Dual Regenerative Braking. Both the hydraulic motor and the electric motor are role reversing, meaning upon deceleration, the hydraulic motor becomes a hydraulic pump and the electric motor becomes a generator. Using this technique, the hydraulic system can recover the power and the batteries can recover the energy. It's like two rechargeable gas tanks in one vehicle, without the pollution, high cost, and decade long wait. The University of Michigan Ann Arbor built an electric hydraulic hybrid using hydraulic regen alone, and went 68% further and used 26% less battery energy when compared to the standard control EV they started with. The vehicle was built by some college kids to test the idea and pass their class. It was not designed towards manufacture. Imagine dual regen, optimized for efficiency, performance, manufacturing and cost. Well, you'd have the most efficient and affordable EV ever made.
Even the U of M lead professor said "hydraulic hybridization of electric vehicles is a cost effective way to increase efficiency and range while reducing costs". Problem solved!
Well, from where I sit, it seems like I am the only one is trying to bring this to market, and really only a handful of people are even talking about the waste of money on high tech miracles vs.simple solutions that can be implemented today. I've been pounding this drum for 22 years (since 1991) when I first thought of it. I have managed to get the early intellectual property on dual regenerative braking and dual power use. My patent was granted in 2007 with zero rejections. But just having a patent won't get it built, and therein lies the problem. And while I have tried and tried to raise the funding needed to build the prototype and get this into the market for everyone to drive, it's been a nightmare. No one will pony up, and I can barely get anyone to talk about it even though it stands on its own merits. The EV purists have even resorted to some name calling.
People can talk all they want, but when it comes to putting their money where their mouth is, it's a different story entirely. Everybody says they want an affordable EV that actually has acceptable range, but no one will put any money behind this simple and obvious solution. You always hear about millions being spent here and tens of millions spent over there to make better batteries that will do the job and do it at an affordable price, but it never materializes. The electric hydraulic hybrid uses cheap hydraulics to do the job of expensive batteries to accomplish the same thing.
So what's the problem?
Well, right now it's a combination of things that prevents this from going in your driveway. No federal tax dollars are available for this project despite what you hear on TV. It's always focused on something else.These are simple technologies that established industries don’t want to develop because they will be disruptive to their existing businesses. The cleantech venture capital community has been burned, and now they are looking at different business models models to fund. The state governments are not helping unless you're well connected, and local private seed capital and angel investors are all either chasing quick returns with web related opportunities or not investing at all. It's enough to make a guy quit. But this chart keeps me motivated:
This is the estimated range of an electric hydraulic hybrid for 20 bucks worth of energy, compared to traditional vehicles at different fuel prices. Would you quit if you owned this patent?
This will bring huge benefits in a subway application, and also school buses, taxi cabs, fleet vehicles, the USPS, and others. Based on quantifiable, peer reviewed scientific examination, and products available in the market today, there is no need to go any further in the Holy Grail battery search, and no need to keep using fossil fuel as the lions share of transport energy. The electric hydraulic hybrid will do more to increase vehicle efficiency than any super miracle battery, light weight material, 3 cylinder tuned diesel, or any single system hybrid available.
This isn't over...
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