Energy Storage for Hybrid Vehicles
How does it feel to have the best of both worlds? People who are using hybrid cars might have a taste of it. Hybrid technology tries to combine the advantages of combustion engines and electric motors. This way a person can save fuel especially in an urban environment. But the million dollar question is how to improve the performance of storage units? How to make high performance storage units safe for the end user?
If a vehicle consumes petroleum on the freeway and electricity in town then it can reduce its fuel consumption considerably. We use up substantial amount of fuel while starting a vehicle and when we are putting on brakes. A hybrid vehicle’s propulsion system switches over to generator operation during these two high fuel consuming activities. The generator produces electricity which is normally stored in the battery.
But storage problem has always bugged the hybrid technology. Researchers from three Fraunhofer Institutes are tackling trouble by developing new storage modules in a project called “Electromobility Fleet Test”.
The pilot project was launched by Volkswagen and Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment BMU in collaboration with seven other partners. The Fraunhofer Institutes for Silicon Technology ISIT in Itzehoe, Integrated Circuits IIS in Nuremberg, and Integrated Systems and Device Technology IISB in Erlangen will be combining their expertise and resources for the next three years. The scientists are concentrating on the energy storage unit with the help of lithium-polymer accumulator technology considered appropriate for use in hybrid vehicles. The team is concentrating on harsh environmental conditions and long life of the storage unit with high operational reliability. None of these three elements can be compromised in a storage system.
Space is another constrain for a storage device. So the experts are also looking into new concepts that will facilitate large amounts of energy to be packed in a small space. To achieve this, they are integrating mechanical and electrical components in a single module, devising systems for temperature control, performance data registration and high-voltage safety. The whole process of development and configuration of the new energy storage module is expected to culminate by mid-2010. Volkswagen AG – the industrial partner in this project – will then carry out field trials to test the modules’ suitability for everyday use in the vehicles.