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Save Fuel With the New Electricity-Producing Shock Absorbers

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shock-3-enlargedWhile some study ways of electronically controlling the shock absorbers and giving you a smooth and steady ride, and others are seeking ways to convert the heat generated by the engine into electricity, a team of undergraduate MIT students invented a shock absorber that harnesses the energy from the very bumps it hits. Several truck manufacturers and the U.S. military have given them attention, and planned to use their technology in their cars.

While hybrid cars recover braking energy, by the same dynamo principle (applying a big consumer on a coil linked to the wheel, while the magnetic chassis opposes it). The system works like a reversed DC motor. The same principle is applied in these students’ shock absorbers, only in a somewhat more efficient way: they use a hydraulic system forcing a fluid through a turbine attached to a generator (the inverted DC motor I was talking about earlier).

The system is controlled by an active electronic system that optimizes the damping, providing a smoother ride than conventional shocks while generating electricity to recharge the batteries or operate electrical equipment.

The students say their system is able to reduce the car’s fuel consumption with about 10%, if used in a properly designed hybrid system, or if the electricity generated is used to power the air conditioning and lights.

I say they would have got much more than that 10% if they went down the bumpy road I drive each week to get to my parents’ home, 40 miles away from where I live (maybe 20-30%).

If someone takes these guys’ absorbers, link them with Volkswagen’s recently developed heat converting system, they would surely get about 30-40% reduction in consumption. We may push the assumptions even further, without calculating much, and we may get even more on a bumpy road during a hot summer day, with a solar panel on top.

Sounds fit to a plug-in Prius, doesn’t it?

[via greenlaunches]

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2 COMMENTS

  1. all that extra tech is pricey!

    what about just using Hydrogen On Demand (HOD) systems running at 100% with catalysts and other improvements? they can split the water and burn the fuel when and where needed w/o any expensive dangerous centralized distribution networks.

  2. I really like this idea, but the writer of these articles has it right. What a car maker needs to do (IF They wanted the BEST System), is to utilise not just one type of system but a few of the best. Solar, Hydraulics, Shock Absorbers etc.

    If someone put all the best systems together we could be using decent sized cars that still have great top speed and acceleration, yet return 75-100MPG around town and 200MPG freeway driving.

    It will probably be another 20 yrs before we see the best they have to offer as the car makers DON’T want to deliver extremely efficient cars, then the Oil Corps wouldn’t be too happy would they???

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