• Sep 9th 2007 at 8:05PM
  • 28
"This new powertrain is more efficient than electric hybrid powertrains being used in such cars as Toyota Prius and Ford Escape" says James O'Brien owner of Hybra-Drive Systems. What is Hybra-drive? It's a regenerative braking system that uses pressurized fluid to store the braking energy. "We are not aware of anything else like it" says O'Brien. The Hybra-drive website says it "improves fuel economy by upwards of 60% and reduces emissions by upwards of 90% while maintaining a platform that costs the same, weighs the same, and has the same cargo capacity."

Hybra-Drive Systems' first big contract is with the Army. Hybra-Drive systems is converting a Hummer to use the hydraulic hybrid system. "TACOM heard we were working on it and they called us," O'Brien told the Monroe News. "The military seems to see value in what we're doing. ... The Army's main goal is giving the soldiers the ability to get out of harm's way quickly." There is also interest in the company from all over the world, from Canada to Taiwan.

"This design has high potential" writes Dr. Ram Chandran, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Kettering. He says this system is in fact more efficient than electric regenerative breaking. O'Brien says it has other advantages over batteries like the lack of toxins. The fluid used in the system is biodegradable and made from plants. O'Brien thinks you could see this commercialized, in more traditional vehicles, within three years.

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[Source: Monroe News]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 28 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      Since the hydraulic accumulator stores power by compressing air, there are thermodynamic losses. Unless they limit the storage to modest pressure, the thermodynamic losses would be greater than with electric batteries. Moreover, reguardless of how high pressure is used, the power storage is just a fraction of what a good battery pack of equivalent size could store, limiting the regeneration and energy savings.

      The far greater storage capacity of electric batteries makes electric plugin hybrids possible, but not so for hydraulic hybrids.

      For applications that already use hydraulic power, such as construction machines, it makes sense. But for other applications, the additional cost and weight may not be worth the modest fuel savings.
      • 8 Years Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      How much pressure are we talking about here? I'm not sure I want this on my civilian vehicle, let alone under a vehicle that is going to get shot at and IED'd.
      • 7 Months Ago
      • 7 Months Ago
      This sounds like the pneumatic system a US parcel delivery service (UPS?) plans for their new delivery trucks. It seem it's most effectively applied to vehicles that do a lot of fairly low-speed stop-start driving (which is exactly what these trucks do). It's less efficient than an electrical system, but it's much, much less expensive, so in the proper driving environment it can recover the added cost of the system in a reasonable amount of time.
      • 7 Months Ago
      It is very difficult to reduce heat of hydraulic system for hydraulic hybrid vehicle,If it is full series hydraulic hybrid system ,It is more difficult.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Fluid does not compress, it moves and transfers. The compression and storage is in the form of a gas which is on the other side of a bladder in an accumulator and compressed during breaking. This can't store large quantities of energy. It is a light weight, cheap and efficient way to capture and reuse the energy bursts of braking. This would NOT make a good plug-in, however and therefore is not well suited for passenger vehicles. Having hydraulic regenerative braking and electric drive and on one vehicle sounds complex, but maybe it should be studied. Using a good ultracapacitor seems more logical.

      No one system will serve all needs. Perhaps this system is best suited or stop-start heavy vehicles like garbage trucks or delivery vehicles. By the way, there are almost ALWAYS thermal losses when energy changes states
      • 8 Years Ago
      THank you Linton for all of your faithfully green articles.
      This one doesn't seem to work so good.
      Hydraulics efficiency on mid-sized or heavy vehicles doesn't seem to work for highway or coasting speeds.
      What about landfill anerobic energy, manure, algae, etc.. doesn't that all add up to something? Can we get a recount?
      • 7 Months Ago
      Lascelles Linton - Your archived article about the UPS hydraulic hybrid was dismissed because you said "That system seems different". I think the only difference is the use of a more-efficient fluid pump, but the principle is the same.

      This idea has indeed been around a long time.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/25/automobiles/25HYDRO.html&pagewanted=all

      http://www.designnews.com/article/CA6451735.html
      • 8 Years Ago
      Yes, if you want to be pinhead, you can compress a fluid however since the energy storage benefits are negligible who cares and it is not germane to this discussion.

      The tighter and less excited the molecular structure, the harder it is to compress and the more efficient the energy transfer. As far at this system is concerned, they are referring to pressurization of the fluid which compresses the gas in the expansion tank.

      The benefits are in the efficiency, speed, cost and weight over battery systems. This too may change as batteries & ultracapacitors improve. If EEStor is not BS, it will be another game changer. Only time will tell.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The hydraulic accumulator works by compressing air in a tank. There are thermodynamic energy losses, which would be greater than the energy losses for batteries, unless the pressure and energy storage is kept very low. Even at very high pressures, the amount of energy stored is just a fraction of the energy stored in a battery of equivalent size. This severely limites the amount of regeneration that can be used.

      This limited energy storage makes hydraulic hybrids unsuitable for plug-in hybrid applications.

      For applications that already require hydraulics, such as construction machinery, hydraulic hybrids may make sense. For automotive use, electric hybrids can achieve much higher efficiency, especially with a plug-in option.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Well, the army is working with them, so they got something.

      I doubt though that it is SO much more efficient than HEVs
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