The Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP) and Folsom Technologies are looking for a solution to the fuel economy numbers found in pickup trucks, and they may have found it.
According to Pickuptrucks.com, Ford has donated an F-150 that will be used to test a hydraulic hybrid powertrain system, which CCEFP expects will be able to achieve up to 40 MPG in the city — a godsend for the likes of urban contract workers. As opposed to an electric hybrid, the system has no batteries to recycle and instead uses components such as a reservoir and an accumulator. Another perk is that the system yields no loss in towing capabilities.
The hydraulic hybrid powertrain works by having the reservoir store fluid that then becomes pressurized in the accumulator, converting the pressure into energy that powers the rear wheels in conjunction with the Ford’s 4.6L V8 engine. The power from both the engine and the accumulator gets channeled through a consecutive variable transmission (CVT) supplied by Folsom. Additionally, the hydraulic pressure builds back up by capturing lost energy from braking (called regenerative braking) and at the same time prolongs the life of the truck’s brake pads. This is also a major reason that the truck’s highway gas mileage does not see much of an improvement, as the vehicle won’t be doing much braking when cruising on the interstate.
The feasibility of the hydraulic hybrid system for massive deployment remains to be seen, but EPA-rated fuel economy numbers are expected by 2012.