Electric-Car Range Extender Engines: OK Now, Can Do Better

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Thread: Electric-Car Range Extender Engines: OK Now, Can Do Better

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    Electric-Car Range Extender Engines: OK Now, Can Do Better

    Electric-Car Range Extender Engines: OK Now, Can Do Better
    Green Car Reports
    April 6, 2011
    by George Parrott


    A series hybrid, like the Volt or Karma, makes do with a smaller battery system that keeps the vehicle totally clean for almost all typical daily commuting, but still offers full normal range via the secondary, range-extending gasoline engine.

    By 2014, we should see such series hybrids using gasoline or diesel engines, even turbines, designed solely to generate electric current.

    These purpose-built range extending powerplants will be both very clean and much more efficient than what we see now in the introductory, "version 1.0" models of the Chevy Volt and Fisker Karma.

    GM has said that the 2012 Volt will have a more polished gasoline engine and thus meet these more demanding standards. In not meeting these more rigorous emission standards, the Volt does not qualify for either the California $5,000 clean vehicle rebate, the electric vehicle parking permit, or a freeway single-occupant carpool lane permit.

    Full article at link.

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    Re: Electric-Car Range Extender Engines: OK Now, Can Do Better

    Does anyone have any details on this new engine for the Volt in 2012?

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    Re: Electric-Car Range Extender Engines: OK Now, Can Do Better

    I find it very difficult to believe that GM would spend the last four or five years and hundreds of millions of dollars engineering the Volt and then invest in massive engine changes after only selling a few thousand of them.

    My guess is that for 2012, GM is just going to adjust the 1.4 liter engine slightly so that its emissions are lower. I bet the gasoline engine won't change substantially for at least another two years after that.

    I am intrigued by their mention of the Wankel rotary engine. Wankels never took off in regular cars for a number of reasons, and one is that they make very low power unless they're running at very high speeds. In the Volt, the gasoline engine is only ever powering the wheels directly at fast highway speeds, otherwise it's just charging the battery.

    EDIT HERE: Battery corrected me below ( this post: https://www.gminsidenews.com/forums/f...7/#post2296650 ) , the Volt's gasoline engine is only ever powering the wheels directly or powering the electrical motors, the Volt's gasoline engine never directly recharges the batteries. END EDIT.

    A tiny Wankel engine might work really well for that - keep it off when you don't need it, and when you do need it, run it at 8000 RPM to generate plenty of power for its size and power the wheels or charge the battery just fine.

    The Volt's onboard 4-cylinder is 1.4 liters and 74 horsepower. The 1.3 liter Wankel Rotary in the Mazda RX8 is 1.3 liters and 232 horsepower. So maybe a little 0.5 liter Wankel could work.

    On the other hand, I thought Wankels also had very poor emissions. That defeats part of the purpose of having a range-extended hybrid.
    Last edited by Michael_S; 04-07-2011 at 03:00 PM.

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    Re: Electric-Car Range Extender Engines: OK Now, Can Do Better

    One would think that this would be a very good application for an HCCI engine. 80 percent as efficient as diesel, but runs on regular gasoline, and is less expensive. As I understand it, the biggest challenge with HCCI is controlling combustion at varying revs. Well, that's not much of a concern for an engine with the sole purpose of generating electricity (or providing a little direct power to the wheels at a limited range of high speeds).

    Gm could learn a lot about HCCI this way, as well, which could someday make HCCI practical in regular cars, too.

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    Re: Electric-Car Range Extender Engines: OK Now, Can Do Better

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackGTP View Post
    Does anyone have any details on this new engine for the Volt in 2012?
    I heard that they were planning to utilize the LS9.
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    Re: Electric-Car Range Extender Engines: OK Now, Can Do Better

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    Re: Electric-Car Range Extender Engines: OK Now, Can Do Better

    Very unlikely they will make major changes.. the EPA has rated the Volt at 40mpg on the hwy once the battery is depleted.. and that is good enough I think for such a heavy car. GM made some compromises that affect the usage of gasoline:

    1. the engine is too large and heavy, a smaller engine would have to run at higher rpms and possibly be uncomfortable to the driver.. originally they planned to use a 1L 3 cyl engine I believe.. apparently it was not too civilized.
    2. the battery is too large and heavy: only 65% of the battery is used, to prolong battery life past 10 years of use

    As an example of a better way to do it look at the new Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, this is classified as a Large car by the EPA yet it cruises at 65mph on hwy and gets over 50mpg.. it pulses the engine on and off.. the engine runs for 1 minute at high load, keeps the car going and charges the battery, then shuts off and cruises for 45 seconds on the battery.. meanwhile the car is doing 65mph going down the hwy and the driver never does anything different. GM could do something similar at the expense of a bit more vibration on occasion.

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    Re: Electric-Car Range Extender Engines: OK Now, Can Do Better

    I would like to know how much more efficient the volt would be if the engine ran @ a constant speed instead of reving up and down to simulate a "normal" engine

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    Re: Electric-Car Range Extender Engines: OK Now, Can Do Better

    Quote Originally Posted by HermPerez View Post
    Very unlikely they will make major changes.. the EPA has rated the Volt at 40mpg on the hwy once the battery is depleted.. and that is good enough I think for such a heavy car. GM made some compromises that affect the usage of gasoline:

    1. the engine is too large and heavy, a smaller engine would have to run at higher rpms and possibly be uncomfortable to the driver.. originally they planned to use a 1L 3 cyl engine I believe.. apparently it was not too civilized.
    2. the battery is too large and heavy: only 65% of the battery is used, to prolong battery life past 10 years of use

    As an example of a better way to do it look at the new Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, this is classified as a Large car by the EPA yet it cruises at 65mph on hwy and gets over 50mpg.. it pulses the engine on and off.. the engine runs for 1 minute at high load, keeps the car going and charges the battery, then shuts off and cruises for 45 seconds on the battery.. meanwhile the car is doing 65mph going down the hwy and the driver never does anything different. GM could do something similar at the expense of a bit more vibration on occasion.
    Hyundai says 40 mpg on the highway cycle.

    Your description indicates that the drivetrain operates as a series hybrid which is not the most efficient mode.

    Chemical energy to mechanical to electrical and back to mechanical?

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    Re: Electric-Car Range Extender Engines: OK Now, Can Do Better

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackGTP View Post
    Does anyone have any details on this new engine for the Volt in 2012?

    My understanding is that the 2011 Volt is using 1.4L engines imported from Austria. Flint engine is supposed to make the 1.4L for the 2012 Volt. The engine is largely the same with some minnor tweaks and updates for better emissions.
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    Re: Electric-Car Range Extender Engines: OK Now, Can Do Better

    So they're really looking for a more purpose-built generator to compliment the electric motor rather than a 'normal' automotive engine?

    I wonder if there would be any kind of stress/reliability issue using an off-the-shelf generator of some sort in terns of packaging and continual use in a vehicle that heavy.

    Regardless, I think a good interim solution would be the aformentioned 3 cylinder engine, or even a 2-cylinder engine like the one that Fiat is developing for small cars like the 500 and next Panda.

    Just my perspective, though.
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    Re: Electric-Car Range Extender Engines: OK Now, Can Do Better

    Quote Originally Posted by krusshall View Post
    Hyundai says 40 mpg on the highway cycle.
    Your description indicates that the drivetrain operates as a series hybrid which is not the most efficient mode.
    Chemical energy to mechanical to electrical and back to mechanical?
    Note that I'm not talking about the official EPA hwy cycle but a constant speed cruise on the hwy at 65mph.. that will get you over 50mpg with the Hybrid.

    The jury is not out on the series efficiency thing.. the Karma will provide more data.. the Volt has been a disappointment by not being a pure series hybrid all the time. GM has admitted that series is not the most efficient way at some points of the operating profile, mostly at higher speeds over 70mph for the Volt.

    "Chemical energy to mechanical to electrical and back to mechanical?"

    Apparently it works for the Sonata Hybrid because the engine "pulses" at a higher load level, at a point in where it runs more efficiently and then shuts off and "glides" on the motor for almost a mile.. I would worry about engine/battery wear&tear but Hyundai engineers are boasting about the long life they predict for the system. BTW, their batteries may be the same the Volt uses..

    Read up on what happens when hypermilers got hold of the Sonata Hybrid:

    "The 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Transcontinental Challenge"

    http://www.cleanmpg.com/forums/showt...=sonata+hybrid

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    Re: Electric-Car Range Extender Engines: OK Now, Can Do Better

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael_S View Post
    In the Volt, the gasoline engine is only ever powering the wheels directly at fast highway speeds, otherwise it's just charging the battery. ..."
    Ok I'll be the 1st ...
    The Volt's engine doesn't "charge the battery" , when running it generates electricity only to power the electric motor that runs the car's wheels.
    The battery is kept at it's preset depleted state until it can be plugged in & charged, getting just a slight bit of secondary charge during braking/regen or the engine.
    If any actual measurable amount of "charge" were somehow to start topping up the depleted battery ( 5-10% over deplete state), from either the engine or regen braking, the engine would shut off.
    Last edited by Battery; 04-07-2011 at 12:44 PM.

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    Re: Electric-Car Range Extender Engines: OK Now, Can Do Better

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael_S View Post
    I find it very difficult to believe that GM would spend the last four or five years and hundreds of millions of dollars engineering the Volt and then invest in massive engine changes after only selling a few thousand of them.

    My guess is that for 2012, GM is just going to adjust the 1.4 liter engine slightly so that its emissions are lower. I bet the gasoline engine won't change substantially for at least another two years after that.

    I am intrigued by their mention of the Wankel rotary engine. Wankels never took off in regular cars for a number of reasons, and one is that they make very low power unless they're running at very high speeds. In the Volt, the gasoline engine is only ever powering the wheels directly at fast highway speeds, otherwise it's just charging the battery. A tiny Wankel engine might work really well for that - keep it off when you don't need it, and when you do need it, run it at 8000 RPM to generate plenty of power for its size and power the wheels or charge the battery just fine.

    The Volt's onboard 4-cylinder is 1.4 liters and 74 horsepower. The 1.3 liter Wankel Rotary in the Mazda RX8 is 1.3 liters and 232 horsepower. So maybe a little 0.5 liter Wankel could work.

    On the other hand, I thought Wankels also had very poor emissions. That defeats part of the purpose of having a range-extended hybrid.
    Imagine how small a wankel motor like in a Mazda is, then imagine a single rotor slightly less than half the size, it would be the size of a small cake, you could put an extra luggage trunk in the front of the car



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    Re: Electric-Car Range Extender Engines: OK Now, Can Do Better

    As an aside, the forums seem slower than usual today.

    Quote Originally Posted by Battery View Post
    Ok I'll be the 1st ...
    The Volt's engine doesn't "charge the battery" , when running it generates electricity only to power the electric motor that runs the car's wheels.
    The battery is kept at it's preset depleted state until it can be plugged in & charged, getting just a slight bit of secondary charge during braking/regen or the engine.
    If any actual measurable amount of "charge" were somehow to start topping up the depleted battery ( 5-10% over deplete state), from either the engine or regen braking, the engine would shut off.
    Thanks for the correction, I'll edit my previous post.

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