A moped is an example of hybrid technology since it employs the power of a gas engine with the pedal power of the rider. Locomotives that pull trains are hybrids too because they use a combination of diesel and electric power. In Seattle, diesel-electric buses can use electric power from wires that run overhead or diesel at other times. So, hybrid technology is nothing new.
The gasoline-electric hybrid car combines the power of a gasoline-powered car and an electric car. In a regular car gasoline is supplied to the engine which turns the transmission thus turning the wheels of the car and enabling it to move forward.
In an electric car a set of batteries sends electricity to an electric motor and this motor turns a transmission which, in turn, turns the wheels.
* The Structure of a Hybrid Car
There are two ways in which the two power sources in a hybrid car can be combined. The first way is referred to as a parallel hybrid. It has a fuel tank that supplies the gasoline to the engine but it has a set of batteries supplying power to an electric motor. The engine and the electric motor are able to power the transmission simultaneously and thus get the wheels to turn.
In a parallel hybrid car the fuel tank and gas engine are connected to the transmission. The batteries and electric motor are also connected to the transmission independently. This means that both options can provide power to make the car move forward.
Series hybrid cars see a gasoline engine turning a generator which can either charge the batteries or power an electric motor. So in a series hybrid car the gasoline engine doesn’t actually power the automobile. In this type of hybrid all the components make up a line that connects to the transmission in series.
* What are the Components of a Hybrid Car?
A Hybrid car comprise the following parts:
* Gasoline engine – This engine is almost identical to that found in regular cars but it is smaller and uses advanced technologies to reduce emissions and operate more efficiently.
* Fuel tank – This acts as a energy storage device for the gasoline engine. The energy density of gasoline is far higher than that of batteries and it will require 1,000 pounds of batteries to store as much energy as 1 gallon (7 pounds) of gasoline.
* Electric motor – Hybrid cars feature advanced technology that allows it to act operate as a motor and a generator. It has the ability to draw energy from the batteries to accelerate the car or, by acting as a generator; it can slow the car down and channel energy to the batteries.
* Generator – This is like an electric motor, but only produces electrical power. For this reason it is generally used on series hybrids.
* Batteries – These are the energy storage devices for the electric motor. The gasoline in the fuel tank of a normal car can only power the gasoline engine but the electric motor on a hybrid car is able to store energy in the batteries and retrieve energy from them.
* Transmission – Some hybrids have conventional transmissions while others feature radically different forms. In general the transmission of a hybrid car has the same function as that of a regular automobile.
Why Are Hybrid Cars Important?
Hybrid cars are important in two ways – They reduce tailpipe emissions and improve mileage. Emissions standards in California, for example, determine how much of each type of pollution a car is allowed to produce and this amount is specified in grams per mile (g/mi). So, the low emissions vehicle (LEV) standard allows 3.4 g/mi of carbon monoxide.
Remember that the amount of pollution that is permitted doesn’t depend on the mileage your car gets, however in a car that burns twice as much gas to travel for a mile double the amount of pollution will be generated. It follows that decreasing the fuel consumption will lead to fewer emissions.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is another important pollutant. The U.S. government doesn’t regulate CO2 but it contributes to global warming. Cars don’t have any devices fitted for removing CO2 from the exhaust so a car that burns double the much gas emits double the CO2 into the air.
By law, automobile manufacturers in the U.S. are required to meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. The average mileage of all new cars sold should be 27.5 mpg (8.55 liters per 100 km). If one hybrid car that gets 60 mpg (3.92 liters per 100 km), is sold it is then able to sell four luxury cars that only get 20 mpg (11.76 liters per 100 km). The less said about that, the better!
This aside, a hybrid car is far more efficient and environmentally friendly than the gas guzzlers we are all used to driving. It may not be a bad idea to at least consider trying one out for size. After all we do have a responsibility to the atmosphere as well as our wallets and a hybrid car is a success on both counts. Definitely food for thought!