Hybrid cars combine an electric drive system and a small engine to gain advantages of each. A well-designed hybrid car has the high efficiency and high performance of an electric car, the long range of a conventional gasoline car, and extremely low tailpipe emissions. The design issues include a whole range of electrical engineering, computer engineering, and mechanical engineering tasks. The project is organized as a large student teams effort, with undergraduate students from many different disciplines in the College of Engineering working to develop a complete design. All aspects of hybrid vehicle system integration are being addressed. These include engine operation, the engine-generator control system, battery charge balancing, electric motor torque control, and the overall system control. At present, hybrid vehicles are beginning to be available. The existing cars demonstrate the advantages of hybrid systems.
Hybrid vehicles offer wide possibilities for student teamwork, interaction among disciplines, and fundamental challenges for electric machinery technology. It is expected that some of the technologies developed for hybrid vehicles will become mainstream automotive components. The Grainger Center is committed to excellence in team-based project work for our students, and hybrid vehicles are an exciting opportunity for the future.
The project is under the direction of Prof. Krein, Prof. White of mechanical engineering, and Daniel Logue. More than 100 undergraduate students have been involved over past two years. There are opportunities for additional student team members.
This project is supported with grants from Ford Motor Company, John Deere, the College of Engineering, a number of alumni and friends, and by the Grainger Center.