Can a hybrid car be like... the human body?
Broadly speaking, the muscles in the human body are composed largely of fast muscles and slow muscles. The fast muscles are also known as white muscles, and can exert a lot of power quickly. You use them when you are performing bursts of anaerobic activity, like running, jumping or weightlifting.
On the other hand, slow muscles, or red muscles as they are also known, have excellent stamina, making them ideal for aerobic exercise when you need endurance, such as swimming or jogging.
All right, now imagine the fish swimming around in the ocean. Fish like flounders and perches near the coast are white fish, while the fish that roam the wider waters out at sea, like tuna and bonito, are lean (red) fish. Put it another way – the fish by the coast are the fast muscles while migrating fish in the ocean are the slow muscles.
As opposed to fish, the human body can of course make use of its fast or slow muscles depending on the occasion. And this ability to harness either type of muscle as needed is similar to what a hybrid car does.
When the vehicle goes from being parked to starting off it runs on the motor. The motor is able to generate large amounts of power instantly at low rpm as soon as electrical current passes through it. The motor is the car’s “fast muscle” that excels at instantaneous force.
As the car continues traveling the engine kicks in. The engine doesn’t have the same instantaneous force as the motor, but it can travel efficiently for a long distance while sustaining the same torque. We could say that it is like the human body’s slow muscles.
It is possible to run both the engine and motor simultaneously, or just the motor by itself or only the engine. This skillful use of the two is how a hybrid car is similar to the human body.
However, the hybrid car also possesses a special talent that humans and other living creatures definitely cannot imitate: converting the kinetic energy that is created when decelerating into electrical energy, and then storing this in a battery. This is called a regenerative brake, which makes energy when a hybrid car is going down a hill.
Living creatures convert the food they ingest into energy. But a hybrid car doesn’t just change gasoline into energy; it also converts braking energy into electricity and stores it for use when it moves forward again.
Fuel efficiency is going up, up, up!
Nissan has released a hybrid system that can be included with many front wheel drive vehicles, and it’s the clutch that plays an important role here. As you can see from the diagram below, the engine and motor cooperate by using two clutches.
Clutch 1 is installed between the engine and the motor, connecting and disconnecting them. When decelerating, this clutch disconnects the engine. Doing this eliminates the resistance from the engine, and the car can then regenerate energy efficiently.
When using the power of both the engine and motor, such as to accelerate, the system engages Clutch 1, allowing the vehicle to run on the engine and motor together.
Clutch 2 is set up between the motor and CVT (transmission). Its job is to deliver the power of the engine and motor smoothly. Clutch 2 implements a seamless driving experience through adept half clutch, the technique where you engage and disengage the clutch as you operate the manual transmission. A skillful driver can utilize half-clutching to make his or her vehicle run quickly and smoothly.
There are three major merits for a hybrid system that adds two clutches to a single motor.
First of all, because you can use the clutch to disconnect the engine, it has superb regeneration efficiency.
The hybrid system is also formed just by substituting a part of the CVT transmission (the torque converter) with the motor. Why is this a benefit? Because it means you can then use the latest efficient engine and CVT just as they are.
The size of the overall powertrain is also the same as a regular engine with CVT vehicle. In other words, we can take the usual cars people drive and convert them into hybrids without affecting their usability.
Almost any car can now become a hybrid, with the same convenience and advantages as before – but also improved fuel efficiency.