When you pull your car or truck into a gas station these days, “going green” takes on several meanings, depending on your point of view. For one thing, as the cost of gasoline continues to inch higher, the larger amounts of green stuff leaving your wallet has an immediate impact. But that’s not the “green” impression that environmentalists, marketers and manufacturers are focused on. They’re investing in the eco-friendly future by conducting research to find ways to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels. The results of this investment in brain power and technology are beginning to come to fruition, as automotive engineers and component manufacturers are bringing innovation to the marketplace to improve fuel economy and lessen that flow of green out of your pocket.
A particularly noteworthy innovation is the Belt-Alternator-Starter (BAS) hybrid system, which first debuted in mid-2006. This sophisticated hybrid system controls a motor/generator mated to a specially-tuned 2.4 liter, four-cylinder engine to stop the conventional power plant in idle or deceleration as well as offer added torque in certain situations.
The BAS system is one of many advanced propulsion technologies available in today’s hybrid-sensitive marketplace. Automotive engineers around the world have accepted the challenge to develop alternative fuel/hybrid vehicles, but each faces the rather daunting task of attempting to balance the need for greater fuel efficiency and reduced environmental impact while maintaining consumer appeal.
Each new technology has its supporters and detractors, and the BAS system is certainly one that is garnering interest.
Much of hybrid technology falls into one of two classes: full hybrid vehicles and mild hybrid vehicles. Full hybrids propel vehicles without using any gasoline. An example would be a fully electric vehicle (EV) that generates power from nickel-metal-hydride batteries. This solution is promising, but current battery technology is very expensive and offers limited driving range.
The BAS system is considered a mild hybrid solution because it still brake pad manufacturers requires a trip to the gas station for fuel, but in the short period of time that this system has been on the road, the time between fill-ups is increasing. And fuel economy will continue to improve as this increasingly popular technology evolves.
A good example of this evolution is the next-generation BAS Power Box hybrid system, built upon the already successful BAS hybrid technology currently on the road. The Power Box is a self-contained system that is easy to install and compatible with just about any Lithium ion battery cell currently on the market. Depending on the engine and vehicle application, overall fuel economy improvements for cars and trucks using the system are expected to be up to 20%.
In 2007, vehicles began utilizing the BAS hybrid system. Since then, Power Box has grown to be an integral part of the automotive industry’s expanding line-up of hybrid offerings.
The Power Box hybrid system delivers improved fuel economy, most notably in city driving where fuel economy usually suffers. It achieves this by:
– Shutting off the engine when the vehicle is brought to a stop, which minimizes engine idling
– Restarting the engine when the brake pedal is released
– Cutting off fuel to the engine during vehicle deceleration
– Capturing vehicle kinetic energy during deceleration to help charge the advanced lithium ion hybrid battery (also referred to as regenerative braking)
– Performing “smart” battery charging when it’s most efficient
The Power Box also provides electric power assist during acceleration on an as-needed basis. All of this is accomplished without loss of performance. In fact, during wide-open throttle or when aggressively passing, the Power Box improves vehicle acceleration by assisting the engine to achieve maximum power.
Passenger comfort is not sacrificed when the engine is shut off. The Power Box automatically maintains accessory functionality when the engine is stopped so that hybrid operation is transparent to the driver and passengers.