|The XH hybrid architecture. Click to enlarge.|
The Extreme Hybrid plug-in promises fuel economy in the 200–250 mpg US range. Its Li-ion/capacitor-based energy storage system provides greater efficiency in energy capture and release from regenerative braking, thereby extending the operational range of the vehicle in all-electric mode.
(An earlier prototype of the Extreme Hybrid used a flywheel as supplementary energy storage. AFS Trinity has moved away from that design.)
We decided to enter into this technology partnership with AFS Trinity because we are of the view that the plug-in hybrid has the potential to become the next generation in hybrid vehicle development.—Dave Shemmans, Ricardo CEO
Ricardo has been a world-leading vehicle system and powertrain technology provider for automotive manufacturers, heavy-duty manufacturers and tier one suppliers since 1915. The company provides expertise ranging from designing and developing engines, transmissions and drivelines, to integrating vehicle systems and creating software solutions, to developing gasoline, diesel, hybrid and fuel cell technology.
After the Extreme Hybrid (XH) is ready for licensing to OEMs, Ricardo intends to provide assistance to the world’s automakers in integrating the integrating the XH plug-in hybrid drivetrain into their specific platforms.
The power electronics, ultracapacitors, batteries, motors and other related advanced components that we will integrate with Ricardo’s help into the Extreme Hybrid drivetrain are all advancing rapidly and reducing in cost.
Some of the components will come from third party vendors whom Ricardo will help us identify and vet, and other parts will come from previous AFS Trinity work on NASA, DOT, and DARPA government contracts and internal R&D programs.
A truly practical and reliable plug-in hybrid technology is now emerging—it’s called the Extreme Hybrid drivetrain and we are hopeful of seeing it on the road in the near future.—Edward Furia, Chairman and CEO of AFS Trinity
Furia said Ricardo’s participation in development, system integration, testing and manufacturing “will take years off the time needed to take the Extreme Hybrid plug-in from a technical wonder to cars, SUVs and trucks that consumers will find highly attractive.”
The XH hybrid drivetrain system consists of five primary elements:
Advanced lithium batteries that are recharged at night with off-peak power from the power grid.
An advanced ultracapacitor for improved energy capture (up to 80%) and storage from regenerative braking.
Advanced power-conversion and management electronics.
A high efficiency steady-state Internal Combustion Engine.
An electric powertrain.
AFS Trinity characterizes the XH drivetrain as a “hybrid-hybrid”. When the vehicle runs on electricity alone it will not rely solely on its batteries; ultracapacitors will provide high power over a short duration for acceleration or for quickly capturing regenerative braking energy.
This addresses one of the biggest challenges for chemical batteries—their ability to tolerate absorbing or releasing high currents when they are in a deeply discharged state.
AFS Trinity expects that a plug-in hybrid sedan incorporating the drive train will achieve fuel efficiency of 250 mpg and that a moderate size SUV utilizing the drive train will be capable of 200 mpg. The driver will be able to operate the vehicle in electric-only mode for 40 miles, and at any time may flip a switch to run the vehicle as a conventional hybrid with a 500-mile range.
AFS Trinity Power Corporation is an energy storage company, created in 2000 through the combination of two pioneers: American Flywheel Systems (AFS)—the recipient of the first patent ever given for a flywheel battery (1992)—and Trinity Flywheel Power (Trinity). The company has devoted more than $45 million, 75% of it from private sources, to the development of kinetic energy storage, power management and UPS power backup technologies.
Update. AFS Trinity has said that they are still open to using flywheels in future Extreme Hybrid designs; they simply don’t think they’ll use a flywheel in the first mass-produced Extreme Hybrid vehicles under development with Ricardo.