Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV)

The use of fossil fuels for transportation is a significant contributor to global warming, oil imports, petrodictatorships, overall energy costs, homeland insecurity, and war. The technology exists today to reduce use of fossil fuels for transportation.

I am now driving a Chevrolet Volt and have solar panels on the house, so local driving is on renewable energy - no fossil fuel use. My overall driving pattern includes trips of over 100 miles, exceeding the battery range. My lifetime fuel economy is 71 MPG after 45,000 miles. I'm loving the utility of the Volt and often use it like a truck. It carries 8' lumber with the hatch closed. The app for my phone is fun, giving remote access to charge state, fuel, tire pressures, etc. I can set a destination on the phone and send it to the in-dash navigation system so it's waiting when I get in.

This poster was prepared for the 2013 Wayne County Fair. It shows three of us who are board members for Wayne County Sustainable Energy Network with our Volts. Click on the photo for a 2.2 M .pdf file.

Below are two files that were prepared for the 2012 Scarlet, Gray & Green Fair.

Click on the above images to download a .pdf file.

Also, click here to view a short and fun YouTube video:
If you can't plug your car in ...

 


Below was posted in 2008


The use of fossil fuels for transportation is a significant contributor to global warming, oil imports, petrodictatorships, overall energy costs, homeland insecurity, and war. The technology exists today to reduce use of fossil fuels for transportation. Many automobile manufacturers today offer hybrid vehicles. At this point (October 2008) the Toyota Prius has the highest fuel economy in its class with city and highway ratings of 48 MPG and 45 MPG respectively. My personal experience for my driving conditions averages over 50 MPG.

The standard hybrid vehicle has an electric motor with an associated battery in addition to the gasoline engine. In parallel hybrids both the electric motor and the engine can provide power to the wheels. In series hybrids only the electric motor provides power to the wheels and the engine drives a generator for charging the battery. During deceleration, it is common that the kinetic energy of the moving vehicle is used to charge the battery. The Prius is a parallel hybrid. The graphics below represent different conditions and are photographs of the standard Prius display.

Power from both engine and motor

Power from electric motor only

Regeneration is charging the battery

However, in the end, while the efficiency is improved, all energy to operate a hybrid car comes from burning oil. Electric vehicles (EVs) derive their energy in part from an external source, usually by being plugged into an AC power source. In my area (Wooster, OH) 79% of our electricity comes from burning coal, another fossil fuel. Coal is a domestic resource and therefore does not contribute to oil imports, petrodictatorships, homeland insecurity, and war. While coal is still a fossil fuel, it has less than half the impact of oil on global warming. A major disadvantage of EVs is that they have a limited range and require some time for recharging the battery, making long trips difficult. A compromise between hybrid vehicles and EVs is the Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV).

Today (October 2008) no major US automobile manufacturers offer a PHEV. However, a number of small companies offer conversion packages for Toyota Prius and certain other hybrids to make them into PHEVs. I selected Hymotion, a company that is owned by A123, the battery manufacturer. The manufacturer claim of 100+ MPG for 30 - 40 miles following charging has been my experience. When the battery is fully discharged, the normal Prius performance returns automatically. The Hymotion L5 conversion uses lithium ion nanophosphate batteries and has an energy storage capacity of 5 KW-Hrs. Charge time is around 5-1/2 hours using a standard 120 volt AC power outlet. Peak current is just over ten amperes. The conversion package sits in the spare tire well and does not change the profile of the storage area of the car.

Charging is done both at home and at work. Prentke Romich Company installed a charging station with GFCI protection. It is my expectation that other environmentally responsible businesses, universities, government agencies, and other organizations will begin to offer charging stations for PHEVs and EVs.

I have found somewhat annoying that the Prius seems to need to have a warm engine, probably for keeping the polution control systems ready for use. Therefore, the engine runs when I don't want it to run. Prius cars are sold in other countries with an EV mode switch which prevents the engine from starting. I plan to add such a switch to my Prius.

In an effort to reduce the environmental impact of charging my PHEV, it is my plan to install solar PV systems on both my residence and my workplace roofs. In addition to making my home electricity neutral, I want to be able to say that I am driving on sunshine.

Stay tuned. If you have questions, email me at bromich@aol.com.

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