As more people continue to search for ways to control global warming and reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, companies are reacting by launching more hybrid cars into the market. Even though hybrid vehicles are known for producing less pollution, Toni Font, a recent graduate of the Escola Tècnica Superior d’Enginyers Industrials de Barcelona (ETSEIB), proposed a way to make them even more efficient.

Font recognized that the use of fossil fuels and the amount of carbon emissions increase with the loss of kinetic energy during braking in a normal vehicle. He dedicated his senior thesis to solving this very problem. Under the supervision of Ramon Costa, a lecturer at the Department of Automatic Control (ESAII), Font discovered a way to reduce fuel consumption by 67%. According to Costa, the project introduces elements that help to recover the energy lost when braking and re-inject it into the system. One of those elements is related to hardware components and the other to software components.

Hybrid Ultracapacitor

Stack of ultracapacitors that bring greater efficiency to hybrids. Source: www.nrel.gov/data/pix/searchpix.html

The greater efficiency comes from the addition of software and a supercapacitor battery. According to an article in Alternative Energy News, supercapacitators regulate the current peaks. They put a stop to current peaks because that weakens the performance of the battery and reassigns the remaining energy. In a standard driving cycle, these modifications result in 67% less fuel consumption and 63% less energy consumption than the same vehicle without a hybrid apparatus. Further, it uses 55% less energy than a standard hybrid vehicle.

As a result of his work, Font, the only Spaniard to participate in the program, received a research grant from Ferrari in the category of CO2 emissions reduction. Font believes his work could be used in sectors related to energy generation and management that aim to work in the most sustainable and efficient way possible. He would also like to see his work applied to the areas of the transportation sector that use petrol and diesel motors.




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