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Converted Plug-In Hybrid Debuts in Colorado; V2G Analysis Part of the Project

Hybridsplus1
The traction battery pack for a Hybrids-Plus PHEV15 in place.

The Colorado Governor’s Office of Energy Management and Conservation (OEMC) is working with several partners on a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) demonstration project. The PHEV is appearing at a Clean Energy Partnerships event in Fort Collins, Colorado today as part of Colorado Tech Week.

Boulder, Colorado-based Hybrids-Plus, Inc. has converted a 2006 Toyota Prius into a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) with a 9 kWh lithium-ion battery pack built with A123Systems cells. The US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Xcel Energy will perform a benefit analysis of the project.

A123Systems’ improvements in lithium-ion battery technology will enable much greater yields in conventional transportation for vehicle mileage in a safe and reliable manner. A123Systems is involved in this PHEV demonstration in order to demonstrate the advantages of this technology and make it available on a wider scale to the public.

—Roger Lin, A123Systems
Welding2
Hybrids-Plus assembled its battery pack from A123Systems cells. This is a shot of the welder.

The OEMC plug-in is a PHEV30—it offers about 30 miles of all-electric range at speeds lower than 34 mph from the traction battery pack, which is built with A123Systems’s 26650 cells (the same cells as in the DeWalt 36V battery packs for power tools).

Hybrids-Plus replaces the OEM NiMH battery pack with the plug-in pack (which adds 81 kg to the car’s weight.) In addition to the estimated 30 miles AER, Hybrids-Plus estimates that the PHEV30 model will deliver 50 miles of blended driving on a full charge, for a total fuel economy of about 125 mpg.

Hplus_conv
Block diagrams of original Prius battery (left) and of converted system (right). Click to enlarge.

Time for a full charge on the battery is about 9 hours.

List price for the PHEV30 conversion from Hybrids-Plus is $32,500. A PHEV15 conversion using a 4.5 kWh A123Systems battery pack costs $24,000. Hybrids-Plus will also supply just the kit, with the PHEV30 gear priced at $19,200, and the PHEV15 kit priced at $12,800.

This OEMC PHEV Prius will also soon have Vehicle to Grid (V2G) capability. Xcel Energy and NREL will assess the collective effects of thousands of PHEVs providing power back to the grid in such a manner. Further, the study will determine the emissions profile of the car, as well as those from the greater simulated number, to make recommendations how best to incorporate these new-generation vehicles into the electrical grid.

Xcel Energy is committed to supporting the widespread deployment of plug-in hybrid vehicle technologies and preparing to meet future customer needs related to alternative fuel transportation. We expect our joint study with NREL will uncover the potential for PHEVs to ultimately increase the overall reliability and sustainability of our existing electricity grid infrastructure.

—Michael Lamb, executive director of Utility Innovations at Xcel Energy

Comments

clett

The cost per kWh storage of LiIon in some formats is now considerably cheaper than NiMH ($300 per kWh for LG-Chem LiIon vs $700 per kWh for Prius NiMH). It's largely for this reason that the switch to LiIon is all but inevitable now.

By the way, although the A123s are a brand new product with unique properties that make them very expensive, they have the potential to be cheaper still than existing LiIon, as they use iron phosphate instead of cobalt in the electrodes (and hence materials costs are much lower). Also, the A123 battery we have right now is their power battery. It has thin electrodes for quick charge / discharge ability. Thickening the electrodes would reduce the charge rate, but give much better energy capacity. We have yet to see their energy battery, which should be cheaper still per kWh storage.

John W.

With all the dreaming going on (or not) I have a nice one too. Roger I am with you man, I love your ideas, but they can be very difficult to implement for the average guy of course. My hope is to somehow install an adequately sized motor on one back wheel (not too big as to overpower or cause weird steering) for cost reasons (you can always rotate tires), and instead of an expensive battery pack get a small ultra capacitor with just enough juice for all out accleration of about one minute, something like electrocharger unit by Sigma Automotive is supposed to be like, if it ever sees the light of day...

Just something to get the vehicle up to cruising speed. This should be the cheapest way yet to get some good savings. Have a lever in the cab that is either in the go position, the 'neutral' position in the middle, or the regen braking position on the other side, which would help slow the car and recharge the cap. Something similar to what's on an electric tow motor. Or even simpler, just have either variable acceleration or no juice, and coast to stops more. That's it: you can forego with large inverters and electronic controls for the most part.

This might not sound like much, but since I put a scangauge on my stock 2.3 liter odyssey you would be amazed how much gas you save by 1) going easy on accerating and 2) coasting to stops, down hills, etc. In ideal country driving, by going easy on the pedal and coasting in neutral (this tranny disconnects completely) I have seen up to 38 miles per gallon on 10 mile drives. That's a mini-van! What would a civic do? Scan gauges will show you as you drive how much your mileage dives when you accelerate. An ultracap with enough juice to get you up to cruising speed will save you a fortune in the long haul (with stop and go traffic of course), and what I envision should not cost more than a few thousand dollars total, added to an existing vechicle.

Hey, if you don't try it you'll be waiting for years for an affordable alternative from the factories (probably). Besides, it's fun. Where's the spirit? Roger, if you happen to have any solid plans on how to attach a small traction motor to a non 4WD back wheel, send them directly to me please. I am planning on doing this when I fall into some employment...

Patrick

A reduction gear at the hub would require you to rethink the manufacturer's suspension. You will end up having to custom rig it anyways as FWD vehicles (with no AWD counterpart) were never intended to have any type of hub & axle on the rear spindles and concessions to install a motor in that limited space were never made. At a minimum (given a pair of motors with appropriate logic and sensing to keep them in sync) you will still be cutting the sheet metal and damaging the structural integrity of the rear portion of the vehicle to fit the necessary equipment. In-wheel motors would be the only way to accomplish what you seek if you don't want to compromise the vehicle chassis (for NVH and crash energy mitigation).

Wells,

Adding weight is not the way to make them safer. If you really want to prevent SUV rollovers and reduce Cg then consider implementing a method to reduce the weight from the top end (advanced scratch and UV resistant polycarbonate/acrylic instead of glass, lightweight Carbon FRP or Aluminum roof, etc). The lowest point at which you would be able to add weight is still far above the centerline of the wheels and considering the weight of a SUV you would have to add a significant amount of weight to make a difference. Really just go do a free-body diagram on an SUV and change the forces on the vehicle from adding 300lbs of balast at the floor to see what the difference in tipping forces is and compare this to removing 1/2 as much weight from the very top of the vehicle.

Patrick

Wells, you should also consider that numbers and lab results only take you so far and real world testing would be needed to validate or negate your presumption. Thus the reason for the "crude SCCA example". That example was intended as a real world setting where you can conduct experimentation without the danger of serious injury or the possibility of violating local laws.

Consider a main predicator of most rollovers is improperly inflated tires combined with loss of control. While tire pressure monitors and stability control mitigates these two factors adding weight (high or low) exacerbates both problems. There are fundamental limits to the adhesion capabilities of the tire and when you add more weight it is easier to exceed those limits. Combine that with the overloading of the suspension and chassis by the additional weight further destabilizing the handling of the vehicle (you would have to alter the suspension to take advantage of that lower Cg to mitigate the excess weights effects). Additionally, if the end-user fails to keep their tires properly inflated the extra weight further contributes to the possiblity of rollovers regardless of Cg (though a higher Cg with the same weight is worse).

Once again, I reiterate that your "crude" method of lowering the center of gravity by throwing excess weight on a vehicle is an unwise decision with associated negative outcomes outweighing possible positive outcomes.

Patrick

I meant under inflated tires or loss of control of a vehicle are both main causes of rollovers not necessarily the two things happening at once but not exclusive of that scenario either.

Roger Pham

Andrey & John W,
What you guys are describing are HEV's, without plugged-in extended electric-only mode. This article is all about PHEV NOW! The Lexus costs $60,000 already, and is twice as heavy as the Yaris. Imagine the cost of the battery pack to make into a PHEV. Yaris or Fit conversion into PHEV is the least expensive option now with the highest acceleration and speed. In-wheel motors would be the easiest way, so let's just wait for Siemen VDO to do their work. I'm sure that making an in-wheel motor that would fit the Civic hybrid or the Yaris or the Fit would be their first priority.

John W.

Hey Roger, no need to yell. I was just going with the flow of traffic. :)

I'm all for the in-wheel motors to come too, but I just have this feeling the financial damage will be extensive. Do you happen to know if they have given a timeline for releasing these wheels?

SJC

"This OEMC PHEV Prius will also soon have Vehicle to Grid (V2G) capability."

If future vehicles used SOFCs, they could do V2G nicely. SOFCs can use CNG and CO as a fuel.
Since they can run at reduced levels continuously, they could supply power to the grid while parked in your garage.

Russell

Wouldn't a pack of Kakom li-poly cells plus BMS be cheaper than an equivalent size of A123 cells? Add in the higher nominal voltage, and the energy per pound is higher, too (but not the power, even for Kokam's 20C-capable models).

Russell

Oops, bad spelling - the brand name is "Kokam"! Don't know their price (heard $750/kwh with large orders), but I've seen 14Ah NiMH F-cells for $12.50 each on eBay.

anne

With a speed limit 49 km/h for forced all-electric mode, this plug-in Prius is nearly useless. Get real, it would get you just half a kilometer to the nearest main road where speeds above 49 km/h are the norm. When you surpass that limit, the Prius HSD cancels the EV mode, starts up the ICE (to warm it up), and you wouldn't be able to switch back to EV until the ICE is sufficiently warmed up.

Another thing that cancels EV mode is abrupt acceleration. You would have to be careful with the accelerator to prevent the EV mode from being canceled.

One of the great advantages of a PHEV is the possible reduction of the number of cold starts. If the conversion is just enough to postpone the starting of the ICE, this is not nearly as good as when it can prevent the ICE from starting at all on short rides.

A last thought: interior heating uses the waste heat from the ICE. Did they think about that, or is this conversion only for warm climates?

kent beuchert

Using plain lithion ion batteries is economically nonsensical. They cost around $400 per kwhr capacity and
only last for 750 recharges - about two years for a plug in. Yearly cost of batteries is prohibitive unless thay switch to the newly developed Altair NanoSafe version of battery - they can recharge in a few minutes (depending upon power of feed) are completely safe, have juice at low temps and have discharge rates 4 times the batteries in these plug-ins. They last well over 9000 recharegs , or over 25 years. They are what will make plug-ins and all electric cars practical. The plug-in described here is only for the well-heeled with money to burn. These plug-ins are being fraudulently marketed - they mention nothing about the exorbitant cost of the batteries, only the cost of the electricity.

cyclist

I get unlimited miles per gallon on my 2000$ racing bike. I decided I could really help out by ditching the car and it works in most cities... I wish other people would too

Jim Adcock

How about a Honda Civic Hybrid NGV? Or Prius NGV Conversion? It would save something like 80% of the carbon emissions and other Green House gases, cost half as much per "gallon" of gas, only use 60% as much "gas" to begin with, for a total fuel bill of about 1/3 a standard Civic, and you "gas up" right at your own home using "Phill". Its still a "PHEV", its just that now you are plugging into your home Natural Gas rather than your home electric. ???

Patrick

Natural gas is limited to people who own houses. Good idea for maybe 1% of home owners on the west coast (many have electric for heating rather than natural gas).

I had a house with NG for the stove & water heater with electric for the heating. I also had an all electric house. The average cost throughout the year was close to the same but natural gas just kills you in the winter while the electricity bills don't rise as sharply.

I wish I could ride my bike more around the city I live in but they have very very few bike trails on my side of the lake. In Seattle the riding is great though and they have bike racks on all modes of transit which helps tremendously.

Roger Pham

Good point, Jim!
Biomethane is a good alternative to renewable electricity from wind or solar. If enough people have CNG cars, the gas stations will start offering CNG fill up, and your CNG-car can get "recharged" in minutes for a range of 300 miles or above at most gas stations. I'm surprised that there is not more interest in CNG-capable vehicles in this country, especially when CNG is generally cheaper than gasoline for a given BTU amount, and can be a renewable fuel from pyrolysis of waste biomass.

Patrick

Most people, when thinking natural gas, probably don't think of the configuration of the Civic and imagine more the taxis converted to CNG with their giant steel cylinder tanks taking up a 1/3 of the trunk. Anyone have sales numbers on the older CNG Civic?

SJC

CNG is a good way to go. If we make SNG gasifying biomass we could have enough to run all CNG hybrids. Of course, we would have to convert home and buildings to solar thermal heating, but we should do that anyway.

Lola Holetenergg

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Sherry

Check out these two related sites...

www.howmuchenergydoesmycaruse.com
www.themanhattanprojectof2009.com by Jeff Wilson

Sherry

Check out these two related sites...

www.howmuchenergydoesmycaruse.com
www.themanhattanprojectof2009.com by Jeff Wilson

Sherry

Check out these two related sites...

www.howmuchenergydoesmycaruse.com
www.themanhattanprojectof2009.com by Jeff Wilson

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