An Elastomeric Energy Storage System to Improve Vehicle Efficiency.

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Kirby, H.R. ; Clegg, S.J. ; Crolla, D.A. ; Duckett, R.A. ; Dougherty, M.S. (1997)
  • Publisher: Institute of Transport Studies, University of Leeds

Most regenerative braking systems studied hitherto have made use of batteries, tlywheels and hydraulic accumulators. The present study has investigated the use of elastomers for such systems. The ability of elastomers to store large amounts of energy, together with the fact that this energy can be recovered quickly, makes them attractive materials for propulsion devices and inherently simple to engineer.\ud \ud Theoretical and experimental research has shown that the development of an elastomeric regenerative braking system does appear to be technically feasible. The predicted rubber characteristics have been compared with the known characteristics of a conventional engine. The results show that the tractive effort produced by the elastomer is capable of matching the characteristics of the engine considered in this work. Rates of input and output energy have also been calculated to determine the process of energy storage and retrieval throughout a typical driving cycle. The energy store appears to be capable of reproducing many stages of the three driving cycles considered.\ud \ud When there is insufticient energy in the system, power boosts from the conventional engine are required. In order to increase the overall savings achieved by the system, the engine was 'replaced' by one which had force (and therefore power) characteristics of one half of the conventional engine initially considered. It was found that the reduced power engine was sufficient to supply the extra power boosts as required. \ud \ud In addition to reduced engine and brake wear, fuel consumption and emissions have been shown to be drastically reduced. If these values could be achieved in practice, the benefits of such a system are immediately apparent. The potential financial savings available to the car user corresponding to the decrease in fuel consumption would provide a strong incentive. Environmentally the benefits are two fold, firstly the reduction in pollution emissions means cleaner air and has an impact on global warming, and secondly reduced fuel consumption means that fossil fuel reserves may last considerably longer than currently predicted thus reducing the immediate need for alternatives sources.
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