Who said a car has to be electric to be called a “hybrid”? Artemis Intelligent Power has converted a BMW 530i to mechanically capture the energy resulted from braking (aka “regenerative braking”), and use it in an electrically-hybridized car fashion.
The system is called Digital Displacement, and it was initially developed to harness the irregular wave movements into electricity. The application in cars is based on hydraulic compression when braking occurs. The compressed gas stored in an accumulator is reused when car accelerates, and so the energy wasted while braking is reused in the most power consuming moment of driving. Of course, all these operations are being controlled by an on-board computer all the time, so efficiency is always improved.
Now, the best part comes with the figures they got from using the hydraulic regenerative braking: in a normal BMW 530i, in Europe, instead of a 13.89 l/100km consumption, the car got as much as 52.7% reduction in consumption, meaning it ate up only 6.58 l/100km (!!!). This is probably what the car gets on highway driving! In US, the hybrid car used a third less fuel than its unmodified version.
Waverley Cameron, of Artemis Intelligent Power, told in an Interview taken by The Telegraph that “A lot of people have played with hydraulics for car and trucks, but conventional hydraulics are very inefficient at part-load, when, for example, a car is cruising down the motorway. You can have perfectly good transmission, but if it is not effective at 20 per cent of full power it is a non-starter. What our technology brings is the ability to be efficient at 10 or 20 per cent of full power”.
And that’s what every city car needs. You won’t accelerate like crazy when you drive from home to work (maybe reverse), unless you are a little bit nuts. So it’s clear you’re not going to use more than 20-30% of your car’s power. Adapting this technology to a Prius would make it a double-hybrid: both mechanically and electrically. The hydraulic regenerative braking captures not only the power used by the actual brakes to stop the car, but also the inertia moment, charging the gas accumulator.
Now, let’s fantesize to the extreme: imagine what mileage and autonomy would get a plug-in Prius, with electrical regenerative braking, hydraulical regenerative braking, thermal energy recovery and solar panels on top. The current retrofitted plug-in Priuses get over 100mpg. What mileage would our car get? 200 mpg, maybe?
Think about it.