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Innovation could boost hybrid car efficiency by 2/3

hybrid-vehicleA recent graduate of the Escola Tècnica Superior d’Enginyers Industrials de Barcelona (ETSEIB) has proposed a way to make hybrid vehicles even more efficient, potentially reducing fuel consumption by up to 67 per cent.

Toni Font based his proposal on one of the problems of conventional vehicles: the loss of kinetic energy during braking. This waste of energy leads to very high fuel consumption and, consequently, to an increase in CO2 emissions.

“The project modifies the structure of conventional cars to introduce elements that help to recover lost energy and reinject it into the system,” said Ramon Costa, a lecturer at the Department of Automatic Control who supervised the research. “It is made up of two parts: one related to hardware components, and one to software components.”

The new elements could be managed through software and the installation of a supercapacitor battery. The supercapacitators facilitate the work of the battery, as they prevent current peaks that can diminish performance and transfer the remaining energy. The software envisages four operational modes for the vehicle, which depend on the propulsion system. As the most suitable motor is activated for the type of driving, this technology brings about energy savings and reduces CO2 emissions.

In a standard driving cycle, the modifications lead to up to 67 per cent less fuel consumption and up to 63 per cent less energy consumption than a conventional vehicle of the same size with no hybrid components. In addition, it uses 55 per cent less energy than a standard hybrid vehicle.

As a result of his research, Font has received one of the six research grants that Ferrari will award in 2009, in the category of CO2 emissions reduction. He is the only Spaniard to participate in the programme.

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