By Debbie Lawes for Automotive Partnerships Canada
GLOBE-Net, May 2, 2012 - Vancouver-based Future
Vehicle Technologies Inc. (FVT) has already piqued the interest of
driving enthusiasts with a high-performance electric sports car
that uses just two litres of gas per 100 kilometres.
The six-year-old company is going even greener with a technology
that would overcome one of the biggest barriers to hybrid
cars-finding a way to efficiently manage and recycle waste heat,
and to use that energy for airconditioning.
A new $1.38 million collaboration with Simon Fraser University
(SFU) will move this innovative technology from concept to
prototype to market readiness. The system would be embedded in
FVT's three-wheeled eVaro hybrid vehicle (named after Canada's
famed Avro Arrow jet interceptor) when it hits the market in three
years. The under-the-hood system could also be licensed to large
auto manufacturers globally.
"We're not trying to compete with GM or Toyota, but those
companies could license our technologies to bring innovations to
the mass market," says FVT's CEO Todd Pratt.
After the electric motor, air conditioning is the largest energy
hog in a hybrid vehicle. It reduces a hybrid's driving range by
upwards of 50 percent. The eVaro requires about five kilowatts of
energy for highway driving-the equivalent of running five toasters.
If the air conditioning is on, Pratt says the energy usage doubles,
"meaning it takes as much energy to run the AC as it takes to push
the car to 80 kilometres per hour."
"At the heart of this project is efficiency and how we manage,
control and handle heat," says Pratt.
"With a gas motor, all the heat from the engine, radiator, brake
pads and other electronics is thrown away. We want to harvest that
energy to improve the driving range and fuel economy, and reduce
the cost of hybrid electric vehicles."
Simon Fraser University is one of the first groups to study this
challenge at a fundamental, scientific level. Majid Bahrami, an
assistant professor in the university's School of Engineering, will
be working with seven graduate students, one lab engineer and
postdoctoral fellows, and FVT's engineering team, to further
develop and optimize a prototype system that uses waste heat to
keep the car's cabin cool in the summer, as well as warm in
The integrated intelligent energy management system would also
control the temperature of other power electronics in the vehicle,
including the lithium-ion battery packs and the electric motor.
"Current hybrid vehicles have three or four separate cooling and
heating systems and many other electrical and mechanical components
which increase their cost, weight and size, and fuel consumption,"
says Dr. Bahrami.
"Integrating all major on-board thermal subsystems into one
optimized system is a significant step towards more efficient and
affordable hybrid electric vehicles." Automotive Partnership Canada
(APC) awarded $799,000 to the project, while FVT is contributing a
further $283,000 in cash and in kind.
The project will also rely on a new state-of-the-art testing
facility being established at Simon Fraser University, with
financial support from the Government of British Columbia, Simon
Fraser University, as well as APC. Dr. Bahrami says the new lab
will strengthen the province's growing reputation as a hotbed for
clean, sustainable energy.
Adds Pratt, "We couldn't bring this technology to market without
access to the specialized people and infrastructure at SFU."