Kettering University Professors Aims to Lower Hybrid Costs

by : KatieJones

The price of gas continues to be a big factor in the decision making of car buyers. Hybrid vehicles have been a favorite among motorists looking for new automobiles, not only because these cars or trucks offer better fuel efficiency but also because these vehicles are environment friendly.

The only drawback to choosing a hybrid vehicle over a conventional one is the price. Currently, hybrid vehicles are priced at most at $6,500 and this amount is more than traditional gasoline or diesel powered vehicles. But the cost of production of hybrid cars is continually being studied to bring down the price of these environment friendly vehicles.

Recently, Kettering University researchers Dr. Juan Pimentel and Dr. Jim Gover both are professors of Electrical and Computer Engineering received a grant from Mentor Graphics Inc. The leader in electronic design automation which aims to bring down the cost of production has made available to the two professors a sum of $75,000. The money will be used by Drs Pimentel and Gover to develop computer models of a drive train of a hybrid vehicle. They would use the computer models to carry out a complete analysis of the design of a hybrid vehicle.

With the aid of the computer models, ways can be found to cut down the cost of production of hybrid vehicles. This will then translate to more and more people being able to afford hybrid vehicles.

One of the major areas in a hybrid vehicle drive train that the duo will look into is the power electronics system. This system includes a DC-DC converter and a three-phase inverter that converts the DC voltage to three-phase frequency dependent voltage. The power then upon conversion will be utilized to drive the vehicle's wheels. The inverter will be the center of one of the areas that Pimentel and Gover will study.

Gover will be the one in charge of designing the computer model of the power electronics system. On the other hand, Pimentel will be the on to take on the duty of modeling the control electronics for the inverter. The tandem will then look into the amount of heat generated by the inverter semi conductor.

The ultimate aim of the project is to provide ways for car manufacturers to design and manufacture hybrid vehicles at a lower cost. The cutting down of production will not only benefit car makers but also those motorists who are thinking of buying a hybrid vehicle but has been unable to do so because of the price tag. While the developmental research involved in creating computer models are not as easy as operating a , the combined expertise of Pimentel and Gover may prove an invaluable support in the battle against dependency on fossil fuel and global warming.