Automotive Engineers: What's Next for Energy Storage?
One of the more obvious alternative power sources is the battery, but the size and weight of batteries required for an all-electric car were not available, and this remains basically true at the present time. The next best approach was a hybrid power plant, a power plant that uses a small internal combustion engine (ICE) in concert with a battery pack. It is fair to say that hybrid power plants have come a long way in the last five years, however they still leave a great deal to be desired.
Early efforts to better energy efficiency in automotive design have proven valuable but are just the beginning. Automotive engineers began by reducing the gross weight of an automobile by replacing metal trim molding with lighter composite materials and by using lighter metals when possible, such as replacing copper core radiators with aluminum core radiators to utilize energy as efficiently as possible. As computer control mechanisms and sensors became more sophisticated, fuel injected systems were developed that increased engine performance and fuel efficiency. The early efforts to make more fuel efficient automobiles focused on how to squeeze more useful energy out of the internal combustion engine.
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