MURFREESBORO — Powered by at least nine Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) students’ work since 2008, Dr. Charles Perry continues driving toward success in the development of the plug-in hybrid retrofit kit for any car.
Perry, who holds the Russell Chair of Manufacturing Excellence, and a five-member team saw gas mileage increase anywhere from 50 to 100 percent on a 1994 Honda station wagon retrofitted with laboratory prototype plug-in hybrid capability.
Perry is now talking with several potential investors — companies with vehicle fleets — to solicit funds to build and demonstrate a manufacturing version of the plug-in hybrid technology.
The research Honda has been fitted with electric motors in each rear wheel and a large lithium-ion battery, which is mounted in the rear of the vehicle. As lithium-battery technology improves, Perry said, the battery size can be reduced in production models.
Switching on power to the two rear wheels’ electric motors made a huge difference by reducing the power required from the internal-combustion engine, he added.
“The whole point was to demonstrate the feasibility of adding the electrical motor to the rear wheel of the car without changing the brakes, bearings, suspension — anything mechanical,” Perry said.
The technology’s gas-saving principle uses an electric motor to supplement the power coming from the internal combustion engine. You can watch Perry explaining the process here.
“We have gained proof of concept in terms of feasibility,” Perry said. “We need quite a bit of money to have proof of product. What we’ve achieved is a demonstrated technology, not a proven technology. Investors want to see proven field-tested performance and reliability. We have to pass through this transition, from feasibility to true, viable product.”
Perry, who had 40 patents in a 28-year career with IBM before coming to MTSU, said a manufacturing partner has stepped forward “and is totally committed to us” and will accompany him to anticipated upcoming presentations.
Perry said Lou Svendsen, university counsel with the Tennessee Board of Regents, will join him in approaching companies that have both U.S. and worldwide fleets of vehicles, especially those “interested in green technology, reducing carbon footprint and savings in fuel costs.”
Article by Randy Weiler
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