By Mary C. Gannon
senior associate editor
|Mary Gannon |
senior associate editor
The Obama administration has made a point of focusing on green jobs and technology as the future of this country. Our President has called for 1 million plug-in and electric hybrid vehicles by 2015. TV viewers are bombarded with ads about electric hybrid cars, and auto shows are constantly highlighting some of these new or potential vehicles on a regular basis.
But what amazes me is the lack of mention of hydraulic hybrids — often a much more plausible, reliable, and efficient solution than their electric hybrid counterparts. An article begining on page 28 of this issue introduces many of the efforts underway by organizations from large manufacturers to small entrepreneurial companies and from smaller specialty companies to R&D centers like the CCEFP to design and build hybrid systems for everything from passenger cars to trucks and buses.
Many of these efforts have already been put in place, and several hydraulic hybrid refuse trucks, delivery trucks, and city buses are running throughout our country proving that hydraulics work as a replacement or additional drivetrain in these vehicles. Two companies are close to beginning mass production of their hydraulic hybrid systems.
Larger vehicles have been the first to benefit from hydraulic hybrids because of their size — it’s easier to retrofit a large vehicle with the large accumulators often required to store energy. However, research is under way to develop an accumulator that would not hinder the design of a passenger car due to its weight and size, so it’s no surprise passenger-car hydraulic drivetrains are also under development. They promise to be more efficient (with up to 100 mpg capabilities as realistic), more reliable, and more cost-effective. Hydraulic solutions pack more power into a smaller package and last much longer than battery packs.
So why is there no mention by our government or the media of this great potential? Hydraulic technology is often accused of being noisy, but on this subject, the industry has been too quiet. It’s time to start tooting our own horn and getting people to notice the research being done with hydraulic hybrids. It’s too good a technology to ignore, and it’s time to get government, the media, and the public interested enough to further encourage research and development.
I encourage you all to share these stories and read the overview of the many projects going on nationwide and worldwide to develop a successful hydraulic hybrid system. Knowing the greater potential hydraulics has over electric should encourage more research and development in this area. It’s not something that should be ignored, so make some noise and let the world know hydraulics can make a difference.