Plug-in hybrid vehicles would connect to the power grid while parked so that they could operate on electricity from the grid as well as on petroleum-based fuel. This distinguishes them in a fundamental way from the plugless hybrid vehicles currently produced or planned by automakers, which rely 100 percent on petroleum-based fuel. A plug-in hybrid would reduce emissions three ways - zero-emission driving, elimination of cold starts, and clean generation of electricity. The contractor designed, built, and tested an innovative plug-in-hybrid power system and installed it in a vehicle to demonstrate these capabilities.
The project vehicle provides 35 miles of battery-only range with highway performance capability, so operation on grid electricity can eliminate operating emissions and one or more cold engine starts per day. The project vehicle can recharge its traction battery from the grid in less than one hour. The hybrid power unit in the project vehicle can sustain battery charge at highway speeds, providing long distance travel unconstrained by battery range. The hybrid power unit in the project vehicle can also generate electricity while the vehicle is parked. In this stationary mode, the hybrid power unit can operate on gasoline stored on the vehicle or on low-pressure natural gas piped to the vehicle from the gas main. While parked, the power generated can be exported as alternating current electricity either to the grid or to stand-alone loads. Interactions between the vehicle and the grid, including power export, can be controlled from remote locations via wireless internet connection. These capabilities were demonstrated in stationary testing and 6,000 miles of on-road use.
Thomas B. Gage is President and CEO at AC Propulsion where he has worked since 1995 in a variety of engineering and management functions. He gained professional experience as a manager in the Product Planning and Regulatory Strategy Office at Chrysler Corporation, and as a senior consultant in the Global Automotive Practice at SRI International. Mr. Gage's automotive career has also included project engineering for fuel and emission control systems. He holds a BSME from Stanford University and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University. He is a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers.
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