Powering ultra-efficient hybrid vehicles
Automotive Industries spoke to inventor and industrialist Lennart Stridsberg.
Lennart Stridsberg’s hybrid vehicle concept, the Strigear, was for many years dismissed as being completely unrealistic. The turning point came in 2005. Since then, the simulated performance has been confirmed by some large auto manufacturers. Highly efficient hybrids have become much more important with the new EU limit of 130 g CO2 per kilometer.
“The new 130 grams limit from the EU is likely to change the priorities towards high efficiency systems,” says Lennart Stridsberg, inventor and promoter of the Swedish Stridsberg Powertrain AB. Stridsberg Powertrain develops ultra-efficient hybrid vehicles and high-power density electric motors. It is also developing a wide set of proprietary designs to make electromechanical systems in aircraft lighter and more reliable.
The Strigear uses two electric motors, an internal combustion engine and an actuator-controlled gear box. The Strigear concept claims almost dramatically higher acceleration than competing systems, even when using almost identical components.
Automotive Industries (AI) spoke to inventor and industrialist Lennart Stridsberg.
AI: What is your vision of how future car engines will evolve?
Stridsberg: They will be more optimized to work well on high power and with short on–off duty cycles in hybrid vehicle applications.
AI: What will be the biggest breakthrough in automobiles?
Stridsberg: In the long run, when electric cars are driven by computers, not by human drivers. Computer drivers could improve the capacity of the road network dramatically.
AI: What are some of the technologies you are working on for the future?
Stridsberg: We have technologies to make electric motor systems much less vulnerable to single faults. We think such systems could be comparable in cost and require less space and mass.
AI: What are the biggest challenges facing automotive manufacturers today and how can they circumvent them?
Stridsberg: Obviously, to participate in the reduction of total CO2 emissions is the biggest challenge. The primary goal should be to reduce the total energy consumption of vehicles. Using alternative fuels could be part of the solution, but that is far from evident. There is no enormous amount of biomass available, so biomass-based fuels will not solve more than a fraction of the whole problem. The biomass that can be obtained does often eliminate more CO2 emission if it is quite simply burned in a power plant. Solar panels could hopefully become an important energy source. But it seems initially more sensible to use that energy to reduce the use of, say, natural gas to generate power in power plants. The saved gas can power a hybrid vehicle. This would certainly be much more efficient than to convert the solar generated electricity to hydrogen that feeds a vehicle fuel cell.
To reduce the total energy consumption of cars by half or two thirds as by the Strigear hybrid can be implemented rapidly and does not require any new battery technology or any new fuel supply infrastructure.
AI: How close is the automotive industry to becoming less dependent on fossil fuels?
Stridsberg: We should concentrate on making the total economy less dependent on fossil fuels. Cars made today will be in use for 15 years. During that period it seems likely that all energy that can be obtained through wind, wave, solar and nuclear power can be used to replace fossil fuels in power plants and furnaces. It might be more efficient to put the investments in that field. For the coming ten years, the production of aircraft and road vehicles should probably stay on liquid fuels and natural gas. Of course, they should be built so as to make efficient use of their fuels.