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Electromagnetic Induction in Action: Hybrid Electric Vehicles
The interest in electric cars is certainly not new, but rather dates back to the early 19th century when inventors were actively searching for ways to build cars that would run on battery power only. Despite these early efforts, the internal combustion engine has predominated since that time and it has only been relatively recently that renewed interest in hybrid electric vehicles has emerged. These vehicles operate on battery power, but they can also use gasoline or diesel to augment the limited range provided by batteries only. This paper provides a review of the relevant literature concerning recent trends in hybrid electric vehicles to identify the role of electromagnetic induction and to determine the probable future of these technologies. A summary of the research and important findings about hybrid electric vehicles are provided in the conclusion.
Review and Discussion
Today, there is a growing consensus among market analysts that hybrid electric vehicles that replace gasoline-powered vehicles will become increasingly popular in the years to come (Bhunnoo, Oogarah-Hanuman and Ramsaran-Fowda 215). This consensus differs dramatically from the views that were prevalent when the first hybrid car was mass produced for the Japanese and American markets was introduced in 2000 when most observers believed they would not last (Bhunnoo et al. 216). In this regard, Bhunnoo et al. point out that, "With the rise in price of the crude oil and due to its possible shortage in the next few decades, the hybrid technology has been adopted more rapidly in order to limit the disaster, considering the dependence on transport around the world" (216). Although the hybrid electric car market remains limited, the demand for these vehicles has been increasing in recent years and hybrid electric vehicles manufacturers are stepping up the pace of development (Bhunnoo et al. 216). Currently, the United States leads the market in demand for hybrid electric vehicles, with Japan and Europe following close behind; and Toyota and Honda are the leading manufacturers of hybrid electric vehicles (Bhunnoo et al. 216).
Hybrid electric vehicles differ from total electric vehicles due to their incorporation of an gasoline or diesel engine in their operation that allows extended driving and the ability to recharge batteries (Deal 6; Hybrid Cars 2). According to Deal, "Today we see total electric (BEV) vehicles, hybrid (HEV), and plug-in electric vehicles (PHEV) entering into the market. The Toyota Prius and Ford Fusion are examples of hybrid electric vehicles" (6). Examples of total electric vehicles include the Nissan Leaf and Ford Transit Connect; these all electric vehicles have a fairly limited range (about 100 miles), but market analysts suggest that this range of adequate for the needs of many consumers (Deal 6). According to Deal, "Most all of the car manufacturers today are directing research toward electric vehicles, with several companies such as Toyota, Ford, Nissan, Honda, and General Motors actually producing hybrid or all-electric vehicles for the consumer market" (6).
As depicted in Figure 1 below, hybrid cars use a rechargeable energy storage system to augment internal combustion used for vehicle propulsion (Hybrid cars 1).
Figure 1. Hybrid car engine
Source: Hybrid Cars (2013) at http://www.alternative-energy-news.info/technology / transportation/hybrid-cars/
As shown in Figure 1 above, hybrid electric vehicles feature small batteries as part of their propulsion system. According to the editors of Ecos, "The main function of the small batteries in hybrid electric vehicles -- which recharge during braking -- is to achieve better fuel economy than a conventional fuel-only vehicle" ('Electric Driveway' to Plug Hybrid Cars into Zero-Emission House 6). The process termed "regenerative braking" provides the ability for the hybrid car's kinetic energy to be recovered by using the wheel axles to provide the torque required to power a generator (Engineering aspects of electric cars 2). In sum, regenerative braking systems employ electromagnetic induction whereby the kinetic energy of a hybrid vehicle rotates a magnet inside wire coils that generates an electromagnetic force and current flow which is used to recharge batteries (Engineering aspects of electric cards 3).
In some other cases, the electromagnetic induction process that is used in hybrid cards involves applying a conductor across magnetic fields that vary in intensity (Electromagnetic induction 3). According to one industry analysts, "The aim is to create the production of differing voltage. Therefore, this is a theory that revolves around the reaction between an electric circuit and a magnetic field. The outcome will be an electromotive force, also known as an EMF" (Electromagnetic induction 4). The resulting voltage that is generated as an EMF is used to propel the electric vehicle (Electromagnetic induction 4). Although the fundamental electromagnetic induction principles that are involved have been known since 1831, they have only recently been used for vehicular propulsion (Electromagnetic induction 4).
Moreover, hybrid electric vehicles can use gasoline or diesel that is readily available everywhere that conventional internal combustion engine vehicles are used (Silberglitt, Anton, Howell and Wong 63). There are some other advantages to these emerging technologies. For instance, Silberglitt and his associates emphasize that, "Drivers do not need additional training to operate hybrid vehicles, and hybrid vehicles can be driven on the same roads used by conventional combustion engine vehicles; however, large-scale hybrid vehicle adoption has other requirements" (63). These other requirements are also constraints to wide-scale deployment of electric hybrid vehicles. For example, hybrid electric vehicles cost more than convention international combustion driven vehicles for the same class, size, and power which has limited demand even in affluent countries (Silberglitt et al. 63). In the case of developing nations, demand is even lower because internal combustion vehicles are cheaper to import from the United States, Japan, and other high-income nations (Silberglitt et al. 63).
Despite these constraints, many industry analysts predict that hybrid electric vehicles will gain in popularity as global demand for gasoline increases and consumers increasingly recognize the dangers of global warming. In this regard, Deal reports that, "The future looks bright for electric vehicles, as people recognize that the price of oil will probably continue to rise and learn more about the impact that fossil fuels have on the earth's environment" (Deal 6). Further, tax credit incentives will likely further fuel the demand for hybrid electric vehicles in the future, but current limitations of battery technologies will need to be resolved before these vehicles can compete head-to-head with their internal combustion counterparts (Deal 6).
The research showed that hybrid electric vehicles feature batteries that can be used for trips up to 100 miles before requiring recharging. By incorporating a gasoline or diesel motor in their operation, hybrid electric vehicles extend the range of total electric vehicles, and demand continues to increase as performance and style are improved. Nevertheless, hybrid electric vehicles still cost more than conventional vehicles and there will need to be improvements in the supporting technologies and economies of scale in production realized before these vehicles are able to compete with their internal combustion counterparts.
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