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Fossil Fuel has become one of the most important point of discussion among environmentalists, politicians and researchers. The main issue is their depleting reserves, over dependence on the very survival of the human population on them, and the impact on the environment caused by the usage of fossil fuels. Even though still there is a lot of fossil fuel in the world but due to the heat, cold and unfriendly political situation of a country, searching for the new supplies of fossil fuel is really a difficult task. Old reserves are quickly depleting and the discovery of the new reserves is not in pace with the demands posed. Apart from this, any new research of fossil fuel reserves needs lots of money and subsequent usage of them does cause adverse effect on our environment.
Today many big economies like India and China are improving fast and these countries need fuel for expanding manufacturing facilities. Automobile sector in these countries and elsewhere are also booming which has caused a huge surge in the demand of oil. To reduce the need of fuel, automobile giants like Toyota, Honda have been researching a new technology in the car manufacturing. With the help of this technology we can drive our automobiles through electricity. Traveler's donot need to waste their money on fuels. This innovation not only keeps a check on the fuel expenditure but also saves our environment. Cars with this technology are known as Hybrid Cars.
HYBRID CARS - A NEED OF THE TIME
Nowadays hybrid cars are the common talk of the town. Hybrid cars have the unique feature that they have more than one source of power. They are economically better than cars running strictly on gasoline. Hybrid cars do not need an external source to charge the batteries. They make use of regenerative braking to generate kinetic energy which in turns charges the batteries. Few Hybrid cars have their own combustion engine for the generation of electricity which is done by spinning an electrical generator. Spinning can either recharge the battery or it can give power to a motor.
Today Hybrid cars are also called the car of the future because they save money on fuel and the way it can power itself. Toyota Prius was the first hybrid car sold in Japan which was then followed by Honda insight of USA which came after two years. Honda Civic hybrid was the car offered to the public that bring some benefits to the travelers running their cars on gasoline.
Overview of hybrid cars
Automotive industry has been working hard towards innovating a new technology which should be more efficient and environment friendly. This new technology is hybrid cars. Hybrid cars operate using electric motors, batteries and gas engine.
In a conventional engine 15% of the power produced by fuel in the tank reaches to the wheel and other accessories like air conditioning. The other rest of the energy of the fuel is lost to the engine, idling and braking. According to the environmental protection agency, traditional gasoline vehicles lose over 62% of fuel power in combustion where chemical energy is converted in to mechanical energy. Hence, the possibility to improve the efficiency of traditional gasoline vehicles is limited.
Electric motor can be lighter, smaller and up to six times more efficient than traditional gasoline vehicles. Thus the hybrid vehicles employing electric motors are more efficient. There are various kinds of hybrid vehicles. They have been constructed in a way to achieve some objectives, such as lower emission of toxic gas, greater fuel efficiency.
In a series hybrid, gasoline engine is used to move electric generators that produce electricity to an electric motor that start the wheels. The energy flows to the wheels in a series. Engine can charge the battery through generator when required. Series hybrid gives lower performance.
In parallel hybrid both gasoline engine and electric motor can move the wheels separately or simultaneously. The energy flows to the wheels in parallel. Battery is not recharged automatically whenever the engine is running in a parallel hybrid; due to which efficiency of the fuel can suffer.
A series/parallel hybrid
This series parallel hybrid gives good performance and greater fuel efficiency. In this combination hybrid battery is recharged automatically even when the motor is running.
Another important differentiating factor in Hybrid vehicles is electric power used in the vehicles according to which they can be classified as Mild hybrid and Full hybrid. Their designs are different and they are constructed in a way that they produce less toxic gas. Mild hybrid car does not contain an electric motor in the car but gas engine perform differently. Mild hybrid car use gas engine only when needed. In this electric motor can be used to charge the battery or take energy from the battery to help the function of the car. 2005 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid is the example of mild hybrid car. Full hybrid cars are designed differently. It can work independent of the gas engine. Both electric motor and gas engine can work together when car is in hard acceleration.
In full hybrid cars some factors which help in improving fuel efficiency are
Nowadays powerful batteries are used to start the vehicles. Motor strike the vehicles during low speed acceleration from stop. Modern battery provides energy in sudden acceleration and hill climbing. Cars like Toyota Prius, Mercury Mariner Hybrid and Escape Hybrid from Ford are designed to give maximum fuel efficiency.
Battery vehicles are designed in a way that their system automatically switches off the electric engine when car stop and restarts with the battery when the vehicle accelerates.
When braking, electric motor put on resistance to the moving vehicle which in turn slows down. Electric motor clutch the power from the wheels applied during braking and converts it in to electricity, functioning as a generator. Electricity is stored in the battery until it is required. This normal braking recharges the battery. In this way energy generated does not go wasted as heat.
Transmission manages the speed ratio between the engine and the wheels. In full hybrid, transmission manages the speed of both electric motor and engine, directing energy from both in a different combination to move the wheels. Some automotive engineers use an electronically controlled transmission that can vary the speed of motor and the engine in uncounted combinations speedily while optimizing efficiency of the fuel.
Hybrid cars are very environmental friendly because they can use alternative source of energy. They can use electric motor and depends less on fuel and reduces the emission of toxic gases. It also gives manufacturers some liberty to reduce engine size because of one more electric power of the vehicles. Since the engine size is reduced, the car becomes light in weight and hence need less power which makes vehicle efficient and environment friendly.
Why do we need hybrid cars?
As we are aware, fuel prices have been spiraling upwards as demand is putting pressure on the limited supply. This is the indication to switch from gasoline car to the new technology hybrid car. The trend shows that demands of these cars are growing day by day. These cars reduce our dependence on oil. Some of the salient points which makes hybrid car more demanding are:
Hybrid cars are environment friendly. Hybrid cars reduce green house emission. Energy generated to move the car is 97 percent cleaner in terms of toxic pollutants.
A hybrid car has more than one source power: a small combustion gas engine and an electric motor. It offers better fuel economy than conventional gasoline vehicles.
Electric motor has ability to generate power at almost any engine speed, whereas in gasoline vehicles only 20 percent of the power converts to useable energy and rest of the energy reaches from the battery to the wheels.
Maintenance cost of hybrid car is cheaper because of its unique design.
In 2009 US federal and state tax credits were made available to the owner of the hybrid cars, reducing the overall cost of the vehicles and encourages new buyer to lookout for these kinds of cars.
Engineers are scrambling to drive down redundant cost
More and more consumer is purchasing hybrid vehicles that improve fuel economy and reduce green house emission. To encourage demand, governments are offering several incentives such as tax break, parking privileges. However hybrid faces challenges for engineers who are attempting to decrease the production cost that subsidize to high sticker prices.
As hybrid vehicles has more than two source of power: gasoline internal combustion engine and battery driven electric motor. They can work independently as well as together. This redundancy issue causes increase in cost. Hybrid vehicles are costly to design, develop and build because hybrid uses many complex components such as electric motor, electric inverters, high voltage batteries, semiconductors and sensors.
Hybrid vehicles are having a complex architecture because they include traditional gas engine and electric system which include electric motor and batteries.
Batteries, motor, inverters, controllers and transmission are the main component of the hybrid vehicles. Each component perform unique role to improve fuel efficiency. DC to DC convertor converts the high voltage supplied by battery to the low voltage and supply power to other accessories like horn and wipers. Regenerative braking system allows the motor to act as a generator when braking. Hybrid vehicles architecture is complex if we compare to traditional gasoline vehicles. Engineers are trying to develop batteries which are safe, environment friendly and cost effective. Hybrid vehicles need power management; it requires new way to control battery charging system.
Smaller and lighter
Automotive engineers are focusing on weight issue of hybrid vehicles. This requires more parts, increasing demand for component that is lighter and smaller. Batteries are the main and heaviest part of the hybrid vehicles. But they are in short supply. Engineers are trying to minimize the size of battery and instead of nickel-metal-hydride they use lithium-ion battery. Some cooling systems are also used to control heating problem of the batteries.
Cost- cutting efforts
Hybrid vehicles need more components as compared to traditional gasoline vehicles. Hybrid vehicles cost more to build. They are expensive because economy of the scale is not fully developed. Their cost shall be under control only after market gets mature. Still most of the components are being imported from Japan. US automakers have had problem in finding suppliers to construct the main component like battery. This limited supply has inflated the price and limited the number of hybrid vehicles. Once, more hybrid vehicles go in to the production, their parts should become easier to supply in the USA and other countries involved in manufacturing cars in this segment.
Hybrid cars are not easily available in all parts of the worlds. Their stocks are limited because of their low production.
This new technology hybrid car is good for our environment. They can build our future with a significantly less dependence on oil and give cleaner atmosphere. Hybrid car are more reliable because they have gasoline as well as alternative fuel. These cars emit less pollutant which makes hybrid cars better compared to traditional gasoline cars. These hybrid cars reduce our dependence on oil. In near future we can control some problems with the help of hybrid cars. Leadership in hybrids vehicles is the key to success in the automotive industries and this will reduce oil consumption and emission of global warming up to a good extent.