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EPA to Award Up to $1.35M to Projects to Advance Hydraulic Hybrid, Engine and Fuel Technology

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is soliciting applications from eligible entities to collaborate with EPA in a set of hybrid technology pilot projects that can span the optimization of Hydraulic Hybrid Vehicle (HHV) technology (including plug-in electric-hydraulic hybrids); unique clean and efficient engines for full-series hybrid vehicles; and clean lower greenhouse gas transportation fuels.

The EPA expects to select 5 programs. Estimated total program funding is $1,350,000, with an award ceiling of $450,000. The EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality (OTAQ) has identified the following as high priority specific technology projects:

  • Plug-in electric-hydraulic hybrids. This area of investigation would require performance investigation of electric vehicle efficiency and synthesizing hybrid technology to optimize overall vehicle efficiency.

  • Human-hydraulic hybrids. Human-powered vehicles, such as rickshaws, are used in many regions as a mode of basic transport. If these vehicles were constructed to be less difficult to propel, through leveling load requirements with a hydraulic hybrid energy storage device, demand for fossil-fuel vehicles would decrease.

  • Small (e.g., 10-50 kw) but high-efficiency expansion turbines (e.g., steam turbines). This area of investigation would require efficiency optimization of small turbines.

  • Gasification of organics leading to synthesis of methanol, DME and potentially Fischer-Tropsch automotive fuels. For the efficient use of alternative fuels to have an impact, there must be an efficient and reliable process for the production of these alternative fuels. This project will involve developing a gasification process for organics, leading to synthesis of methanol, DME and potentially Fischer-Tropsch automotive fuels.

  • Genetically engineered bacteria/enzymes that can convert organic materials to methanol cost-effectively. Similar to the gasification research, this project investigates the use of bacteria or enzymes to create methanol for fuel usage.

  • Innovative aerodynamic improvement pathways for commercial and personal vehicles. For personal and especially commercial series hybrid vehicles, engines are sized to provide required power during high-speed driving. One area of substantial potential efficiency benefit is decreasing the vehicle's aerodynamic resistance at highway speeds.

  • High-efficiency, low-cost engines for full-series hybrid vehicles such as free-piston engines, high-efficiency gasoline (e.g. HCCI) combustion, low heat rejection engines with integrated exhaust waste-heat energy recovery systems targeted at 60+% thermal efficiency. The design of hybrid series hydraulic vehicles greatly modifies the demands on engine performance compared to traditional vehicles. The change produces an opportunity for innovative engine designs to increase overall vehicle efficiency.

Other project categories EPA is interested in include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Low-permeation accumulator fluids and bladders (specifically bladders or gas-oil separation in general). Current state-of-the-art materials used for accumulator bladders are subject to rates of gas permeation which, over long periods of time, can lower system effectiveness and possibly require “re-charging” of the charge gas, resulting in an added maintenance cost. This area would involve a fundamental investigation and development of alternative (bladder or gas-oil separation) materials leading to the goal of essentially zero long-term permeation.

  • Filtration/de-aeration of hydraulic oil. Gas permeation may lead to the presence of dissolved gas in the hydraulic fluid, which decreases its effectiveness and poses engineering difficulties. Also, “dry sump” pump/motors tend to cause aeration of fluid. For these reasons there is a need for a simple, inexpensive, and durable mechanism to de-aerate the hydraulic oil.

  • Low compressiblity fluids. This would involve a fundamental investigation of various fluids alternatives to conventional hydraulic oil, to determine whether there is an alternative fluid which would retain the advantages of hydraulic oil but have a lower compressibility.

  • High energy density mechanisms. This would involve consideration of hydraulic energy storage options other than the different types of accumulators that have been used for decades in agricultural, construction, and industrial equipment.

  • Improving energy efficiency for engine-off accessories (air conditioning, power brakes, etc) through use of hydraulics to drive the accessories, and through enhanced performance based accessory designs. This is important for two reasons. As drive train efficiency increases, accessories take a greater percentage of the energy needed to operate a vehicle. In addition, with hydraulic energy storage, it would be preferable to run accessories (such as power steering) with hydraulics, rather than off of the engine or battery power, especially if the engine management strategy dictates that the engine be shut off at times. This may involve investigation of engine management strategies.

  • Practical variable valve timing for pump/motors. While EPA has investigated many areas that affect efficiency of hydraulic pump/motor designs, one additional area that holds promise for efficiency improvements over an expanded range of operation is variable valve timing for improving the flow-efficiency of pump/motor units. This would involve investigation of practical strategies and designs for pump/motor units with variable valve timing.

EPA recommends applicants give important consideration and emphasize how they will leverage their proximity to the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory (NVFEL) in Ann Arbor, MI, in their decision to compete for funding under this project. NVFEL is the site of the hydraulic hybrid “demonstration” vehicles and EPA’s advanced engine development activities, which will be used to integrate improvements developed by the recipients for collaboration with EPA, and is the primary location for EPA’s CAT program. Participants from the recipient organization will be required to travel frequently, or spend extended periods of time at NVFEL to complete the investigation and demonstration of their technological improvements.

Applications will be accepted from states, local governments, territories, Indian Tribes, and possessions of the US, including the District of Columbia, international organizations, public and private universities and colleges, hospitals, laboratories, other public or private nonprofit institutions.

Hard copies of application packages are due by 15 December 2008.




What does this matter if all the US car companies are bankrupt in 100 days.


Complete waste of money and time!

The only reason that the hydralic hybrid F-150 that gets a combined 30mpg is not for sale is that Ford wanted more research money. Why go into production when you you can get money for nothing.

1.35 million over eight programs? Are they kidding? This would be a good joke if it weren't so pathetic

Henry Gibson

The hydraulic hybrid has already been proven to be efficient and lightweight; only mass production will make it competitive. Two good examples are the EPA UPS truck and the Artemis automobile conversion.

For examples that run on rails there are the Parry People Mover prototypes and the two production versions that are now training crews for revenue operation as commuter rail vehicles. The people movers use an ordinary low speed flywheel for energy storage.

The INNAS NOAX Chiron hydraulic free piston engine has many advantages including very high efficiency. It can compression ignite hydrogen and methane and any other fuel for HCCI because it has an infinite compression ratio. It is already computer controlled, so it needs no other mechanism to change output to match demands. It can be coupled with the Artemis motors or the NOAX hydraulic innovations, but NOAX is ignoring it in their hydraulic hybrid proposal. It is probably more efficient than any possible microturbine.

Microturbines have been used in many series hybrid busses and generally operate more efficiently than standard engines, but standard engines can be operated much more efficiently and at much higher average power in series hybrids. But no major car manufacturer would dare put a 10 kw car on the market, and 100 kw turbines are too large for a car and would always run inefficiently.

Any size battery with any power output can be added to a hydraulic hybrid car with an appropriate electric hydraulic pump to make a plug in hybrid. In fact a person operated pump would allow a hydraulic hybrid to be moved by human power over short distances if necessary.

Hydraulic hybrids are obvious for human powered vehicles. Artemis should build one for the next Tour de France or a non electric valve version can be made by INNAS.

Engine off brakes and steering are best handled by motors run off the battery as is air conditioning. This is also a good step towards plug in operation. LG already produces free piston refrigerator compressors that are highly efficient and would allow for a welded leak free no-hose automotive air cooling system. Lead Acid batteries are quite good enough. Alternators could be mounted on drive shafts or wheels to generate electricity. In fact, a hydraulic hybrid car with a small auxilliary battery powered pump could run a mile slowly off a standard starting battery.

Methanol from any source should be the next official fuel. It will in the future be made by nuclear reactors from water and recycled CO2.

For high efficiency a large single piston Chiron engine would be ideal but for balance two might be used. Antifreeze protected water may be the best hydraulic fluid.


Hydraulic hybrids rickshaws!!!
Now there's thinking outside the box.
That's a twofer! It addresses Global Warming and obesity.

Andrey Levin

Hydraulic hybrid transmission is ideal pair to diesel engine.


With no shame I will steal:

"One needs a heart of stone to not laugh..."


What a crock! The Audacity Of Hype.

Aerodynamic improvement pathways? How about Psycho Pathways?

"Innovative aerodynamic improvement pathways for commercial and personal vehicles.

For personal and especially commercial series hybrid vehicles, engines are sized to provide required power during high-speed driving. One area of substantial potential efficiency benefit is decreasing the vehicle's aerodynamic resistance at highway speeds."

One needs a heart of stone to not laugh...


Seriously, who would want to address aerodynamics? I mean, sure, we can minimize fuel consumption at higher speeds by pushing less air out of the way, but the EPA should knowby now that people like wasting money!

gary greenwell

Hydraulic in-wheel infinitely variable transmissions are on the way people.

Lightweight vehicles that need no power steering or brakes. In fact the in-wheel pumps are the brakes. Good bye Midas.

Storage can be accomplished by any means you wish. Pure electric, IC, steam, or combinations of all. Vehicles that can easily be converted from pure electric to other energy conversion sources for long distance travel. Interchangeable power supply modules instead of two separate city and highway vehicles, makes much more sense to me.

With the elimination of the majority of powertrain components, and a very simple in-wheel drive pump-motor. You have a vehicle with 25% fewer components than the most basic cars now made, as well as significantly less expensive to produce, with 500k mile powertrain life expectancies.

Manufacturers can make a good profit on the most basic 10K price car, that most people can easily afford. A 40k Chevy Volt! Not for me.

Powertrain platforms that can be easily upgraded as battery technology improves, instead of being made obsolete before they are even paid for by the owner.

A single vehicle that is easily adaptable to the specific requirements of the individual owner in any situation.


gary greewell,
please direct me to a website with more info.

gary greenwell


Google (or search engine of your choice)

EPA hydraulic hybrids

Virginia Tech School of Engineering (april 08 article on this site)

Page 64 of the Journal of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers

Ingo Valentin-one of the pioneers of the hydraulic hybrid and a participant in the Automotive X prize

The 100 MPG car-in particular the statement by John Kargul (of the EPA) that the hydraulic hybrid will be as significant as the assembly line.

Kargull also stated "I can hold a 500 HP hydraulic motor in one hand."

We can debate the future progress of the automobile and clearly demonstrate our own individual perogatives, or we can begin a path to development for an adaptable powertrain platform that would accept any energy consuming source of energy.

Hydraulic power transfer systems are a very mature industry. The problem is how do you efficiently recover and reapply regeneration of decelerative forces. Currently hydraulic systems are approaching 75%, while electric recover is only a fraction of that amount. A 3800 pound EPA test vehicle has averaged 80 MPG.

Consider an extraordinarily simple pump-motor located in each wheel, that cost the same and weighs the same as the converntional friction braking components you can eliminate. A variable displacement rotary pump, that provides foreward-neutral-reverse functions through a simple adjustment of the stroke of the pump.
Recovered energy can be stored in an accumulator or a flyheel to be reapplied directly to the wheel itself.

Now you have no need for the hundreds of components necessary to accomplish the same functions in a conventional powertrain. Each wheel has one pump-motor, connected to a central energy accumulator, fro 4 wheel regeneration.

The system is capable of providing the energy for a single acceleration event up to 80 MPH, at the limits of the tires ability to maintain traction with the ground, 0-60 times equal to an F40 Ferrari. The same system through a virtually instantaneous change of 2 inches in stroke position can recover the vast majority of that same energy.

This is a system capable of many cycles of acceleration and recovery without any engine power whatsoever, at efficiency rates approaching, if not exceeding, the efficiency of any conventional powertrain.

The non reversible power source (energy consuming) is responsible for only maintaining pre determined levels of accumulator pressure, or flywheel RPM.

This means you no longer have the engine (or motor) operating as a slave of the powertrain. Now it can operate only at its peak efficiency, regardless of its configuration, and only when energy storage levels are low enough to require replenishment. No idling, no throttle restriction, not WOT fuel wasting operation.

Hypermilers demonstrate the effectiveness of the tactic every day. In some cases they have achieved mileages that easily exceed 100% and in extreeme cases even 200% of EPA mileage ratings of conventional vehicles.

Combine this system with engine designs approaching 60%, sepcifically configured for the application, and the calculated mileage is 60MPG for a large pickup truck (EPA estimates-not mine).


gary greenwell

Sorry the article in the ASME journal was in the August edition.


Roger Pham

Hi Gary,
Thanks for the input. In addition to in-wheel hydraulic motors, a fully-mass-balanced-4-cylinder free-piston engine as described by Mr. Fitzerald several months ago here in GCC would further raise efficiency up several notches. Capable of infinitely-variable compression ratio and very low internal friction, free-piston engine can be capable of 50% thermal efficiency, thus making 80-100-mpg family sedan a reality. The hydraulic drive system eliminate the needs for rotational output of the free-piston engine. The free-piston engine is directly connected to piston hydraulic pumps that also serve as engine starter. Excess engine output is stored in hydro-pneumatic energy storage tanks.

gary greenwell

Hi Roger, it's been a while (summer of 06 I think). I needed to get the patent application straight for the in wheel drive before I said too much way back then.

I actually think the current design of my concept might give free piston engines a run for their money, especially if the engine could do double duty as the storage device and eliminate the accumulator.

I also have a version that would create direct hydraulic pressure, but I prefer the version where the engine itself becomes the storage entity.

Other advantages would be the single intake and exhaust ports providing all incoming and outgoing gas pathways with the additional advantage of exhanging exhaust heat into the incoming air, as well as potential HCCI benefits.

It certainly does seem a shame to see such a pitiful amount of funding, considering the 25-50 Billion bailout now being considered. After wasting years trying to get them to give the design any rational consideration, I guess I don't have much sympathy for their shortsighted business strategies.

They could easily have already solved their problems and broken the back of OPEC.

hope you are doing well my friend.



yesplease: Reducing aerodynamic drag would be nice. But that is a truism.

Car makers, plane makers, truck makers, as well as national labs and universities have been theorizing, testing, and measuring what can be done for decades.

No doubt several hundred scientists and engineers worked on it today somewhere around the world.

At this point having the EPA spend a few hundred thousand to solicit and read a proposal about innovative ideas is money down the drain.

We witness here a ritual of the Church Of Paperwork; the faith that a sufficiently high pile of paper must contain the answer to any question. The Priests are Monkeys With Word Processors.

Unfortunately the Monkeys also have tax dollars.

Faith cannot be disproved.

Roger Pham

Gary, are you still working on the RIDE concept, in which energy is stored in the rotating mass of the engine cylinders?

Even though you can vary the compression ratio in the RIDE concept, it is still a crank-slider type of engine output, subjecting to piston-cylinder side loading which increases engine friction. High compression ratio will put a lot of stress on the crankshaft mechanism, thus limiting the real-life compression ratio achievable. Crank-slider-based engines are subject to higher combustion chamber heat loss or incomplete combustion, due to the invariable dwell time of the piston at TDC.

Free piston engine spends just enough time at TDC to completely burn its charge using HCCI method, resulting in complete but cool and low emission combustion. Combustion chamber heat loss will be less since at high combustion pressure regime, piston dwell time at TDC will be much less than high-compressin diesel-type of engine running at normal rpm.

The kinetic energy storage of the RIDE engine can be duplicated by a flywheel storage system weighing 1/10th the rotating weight of the RIDE concept. This flywheel energy storage can be coupled with a hydraulic motor/pump or generator/motor to deliver stored energy to the wheels.

I hope that you'll solved all the potential headaches associated with the RIDE concept that we've discussed in 2006.

gary greenwell

Roger, the engine configuration was the original concept, with the core innovation being the adjustable crank journal.

At the time of the original RIDE posting on GCC (2006), the powertrain configuration was in its earliest stages of development, with a simple model that reversed the pistons and cylinders, with the cylinders rotating around the journal, and pistons without connecting rods connected to the outer rim of the rotating block assembly.

The reversal of pistons and cylinders constituted a new configuration, and I was not going to reveal that configuration until the patent application was completed. Only one provisional document had been submitted at the time (2006) of the first GCC posting.

With the reversal (cylinders rotating around the center journal) the balancing issues that would have existed in the original configuration (with displacement changes at the perimeter) were addressed, so there were no inherent balancing issues that could prove to be insourmountable. Another advantage,especially in a 4 cylinder configuration was the flow of fluid through the pump-motors was consistent, regardless of the stroke position, eliminating the necessity of dampners for pressure fluctuations, or the potential for pulsations at the wheels themselves when power was applied. Low speeds inherent with direct in wheel drives also allow the pump efficiency to remain very high at any reasonable speed the vehicle may obtain. the swashplate pumps in the EPA designed drives suffer severe efficiency losses at higher speeds over 1000 RPM.

Moving the pump-motors to the wheels themselves also separates the power application and structural integrity issues into 4 components, requiring much less strength than a single larger pump and the connecting power transferring components.

To answer your original question:

It's not so much that I have continued trying to promote the engine design, although I still think the issues can be resolved and it may eventually be superior to free psiton designs, which were reported by EPA to be in the 58% efficiency range several years ago.

The in wheel drive is a much more practical method of creating a system that could be quickly incorporated into existing vehicle designs, beginning as a "launch assist" option on existing vehicle platforms.

After incorporation of "launch assist" you also have the capability to change engine operation strategies to maximise existing engine efficiencies, without idling or WOT operation, when travelling at constant speeds.

Third stage is a dedicated powertrain without the necessity for existing transmissions, prop shafts, differentials, or axles, as well as brakes, except for a simple mechanical emergency brake similar to what is used by Mercedes currently.

Once you have reached the third stage, then it is fairly simple to use any engine design in direct comparison to any other, with an income stream to finance development if further research proved the concept to be viable.

EPA documents several years ago referred to direct generation of hydraulic pressure using free piston designs, but it seems like the one you have referred to has addressed the vibration issues by using opposing free pistons.

Any free piston engine while a significant improvement over typical IC engines is still a reciprocating engine. I still believe the rotary design has the potential to surpass the free piston configuration. However it may never need to be proven as long as free piston engines can reach the efficiency levels above 50-55%. Of course the advantage of incorporating engine and flywheel in the same component still appeals to me. Although it may not be quite as efficient as an accumulator, that efficiency loss could be offset by less costly components as well as lower overall vehicle weight, and overall cost.


Roger Pham

In-wheel hydraulic motor/pump for hydraulic hybrid launch assist sounds very promising, if the total efficiency gained by the hydraulic hybrid drive system can overwhelmingly make up for the known inferior efficiency of a typical hydraulic transmission in comparison to mechanical transmission.

Hydraulic transmission is used in small personal 4-wheel all-terrain vehicles and in ridable large-sized lawnmowers. By using higher pressures of 3000-5000 psi, efficiency, size and weight can be improved, but one must also address the reliability aspect of hydraulic transmission system in comparison to an electric drive system, especially with higher pressures. The lower cost of hydraulic system can be an advantage in comparison to the electric drive, which can be more expensive.

Best wishes.


K, regardless of what has been done in the lab, we haven't seen much in the way of aerodynamic improvements, especially w/ commercial vehicles. Since most of the lab work done tends to focus on results, not ease of use or practicality, which are what makes or breaks aero improvements outside of the lab, we haven't had much in the way of practical results.

Putting a boat tail on a semi trailer and reporting the results in a paper is great, but what needs to be done is a boat tail that's practical in that it's durable, cheap, is near universal, and can be moved out of the way for unloading/put back up for travel in a few minutes. Similarly, while it's been know for quite some time that a tear drop shape is ideal for aero, it isn't practical, and practical implementations of aero band-aids such as VGs, production boat tails/bed covers for pickups, etc... Are very advantageous, but unlike papers on aerodynamic improvements, not very common.

On the political front,documented research also serves to torpedo the whole "we can't increase FE w/o more money" mantra Detroit seems to have adopted.


@ gary:

How much weight to an individual wheel would add the "in-wheel drive pump-motor" ?

Some existing electric in-wheel motors weigh about 30 kgs (motor alone).

In-wheel designs introduce some known problems, like unsprung weight.
Also going thru deep puddle of water can make the electric motor fail immediately, seals are not ideal, especially on older cars.

Another issue with in-wheel designs - wheel is always thieves' target.
If just a wheel is stolen, it's not a big deal, but if somebody steals your expensive traction motor(s) with the wheel(s), it is very costly and can leave you with unusable car for weeks.

Roger Pham

High-pressure hydraulic system can reduce the size of the hydraulic motor significantly. It's doable.

Actually, it's in-hub motor instead of in-wheel motor. The wheel can be removed easily, but the motor stays behind, firmly attached.

gary greenwell

The in wheel motors would weigh less than the brake components they replace. Weight would depend on the total vehicle weight, so the general weight figure would be in the range of 5 to 15 pounds (per wheel) depending on the gross weight of the vehicle itself.
Remember no brake calipers, rotors, or pads, except for a very light emergency brake system on the rear wheels only. The wheels themselves would weigh less. Think of the old VW wheels that bolted to the outside edges of the brake drums. This configuration would be very similar, but the drums would be completely sealed from any outside environment. While theft would be possible it would take a considerable amount of time to accomplish any theft, as well as special diassembly tools. If the system pressure was not properly relieved before diassembly their would be a large spray of fairly high perssure hydraulic fluid in the event of any attempted theft. Another deterrent to theft would be the fact that this design is very simple, cheap to produce, which makes theft itself unprofitable.

The quote by Mr. Kargull "I can hold a 500 HP hydraulic motor in my hands" describes a motor that would be much more powerful than necessary when you consider power application would be provided through every wheel.

The design would be impervious to most any imaginable conditions. Its a wet pump with only a single seal necessary to seal the axle-drum interface. the whole unit is contained within a drum. The wet design, means you do not have to seal individual components, losses would be controlled by component tolerances, with any leakage serving as lubrication and cooling functions. Losses would be less than 1%. The design could even operate completely submerged to a considerable depth.

Think of this pump design which has at least 3 distinct advantages over any prior configuration, as the cornerstone of the already existing arch of components necessary for a highly efficient hydraulic hybrid powertrain. Accumulators are available with efficiencies of 96+%, this pump should be in the same efficiency range. Existing pumps are already at 94% but their efficiencies drop off at high speeds. Current configurations require higher speeds since they work through the existing differentail, which is unnecessary.

If you calculate the torque capability of each wheel in a 2000 pound car, it takes about 400 foot pounds to break the tires traction with the ground. This pump could provide that torque with about 2500 pounds of hydraulic pressure, applied on pistons of only 1 square inch surface area.

We are talking about acceleration rates at the limit of all 4 tires ability to maintain traction with the ground! Existing traction control and antilock brake systems can easily be integrated into this design. Initial acceleration begins with very small but rapidly increasing displacement changes in the cylinders to the point where desired rates of acceleration are achieved.

Think of the amusement park rides where acceleration rates of several g's are possible. This potential acceleration exists regardless of whether the engine is running or not.

On the separate topic of aerodynamics. I have always felt that it would be best to incorporate the aero with air bladders that served to eliminate low impact damage. In other words put the air bags at each end of the car so they can bounce off each other.



Gary: shape shifting can lessen drag. otherwise airplanes wouldn't have flaps, etc.

I don't visualize how reducing drag could be combined with a collision protection function.

But perhaps it could. Drag from bumpers was one of the first problems tackled years ago. Cars probably can't reduce drag much more in that area.

Trucks are mixed. Some are still quite poor. The builders know what to do but it hasn't yet been worth the effort.

My exchange with yesplease was about whether the EPA money and another big paper will improve the matter. I can't see how. Ways to improve are well known. And well known to be limited. Each one adopted requires a compromise somewhere else.

Gary Greenwell

Google the Mercedes dcx bionic design. CD of .19. Its listed on this site.

I drive a 94 Honda VX and have averaged 56 MPG combined for the last 15,000 miles.

Upgrade the DCX bionic shape on my VX platform. Add the first stage launch assist-cruise pulse and glide capability, and you are approaching 80+ MPG. This could easily be done in 12 months.

Check Basjoos modified (aero) Civic on gassavers website, or cleamnpg site. Homemade aero that is approaching 70 MPG even at high speeds.

My best tank in my VX was 304 miles on 4.627 gallons of gas, with a stock CD of .32. That is at 65 MPH drafting a semi, 135 feet behind, on I64 and I95 from Williamsburg to Chantilly Va, and back. 15 year old technology.


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