Plug-In Hybrid Retrofit Kit Using Alternator as Motor
Hey guys, over the past year and a half I have been working on a universal plug-in hybrid retrofit kit for any conventional vehicle. This conversion uses the vehicles existing alternator and belt drive to add electric traction and because of this innovative approach the kit is inherently inexpensive and simple to install. Using 100vdc I am able to reliably and continuously apply up to 8000W of electric assist with the vehicles OEM alternator. I installed the system on a 2011 Mazda CX-7 SUV with great results as an “Electric Cruise Assist” or ECA. Over the summer I automated the system and decided to commit to a full blown demo vehicle using a dedicated 2004 Ford Taurus with the system packaged as it might be sold in the near future which will be complete within the next several weeks. Check out all of the videos on my website ECA Systems and let me know what you think. I am trying to gauge interest in this kit since a market for hybrid retrofit or conversion kits really doesn’t exist at this time. I am posting on several forums to get the most feedback so if you’ve already seen this post I apologize.
Is there any regeneration (charging) of the system when braking? Does the engine shut off while the alternator is assisting? If not, then I can't understand how this system will improve efficiency/mpg for each tank of fuel. Yes, there is less load on the engine (better mpg) when accelerating, but the power that assists the engine when accelerating comes from the battery, and the battery was charged using engine power (gasoline) which means worse mpg during idle/low speed driving.
Since these electrical components will give off heat energy, I would guess that overall mpg would be worse.
This seems to be essentially an anti-pulse and glide device. In a way, it evens out the load on the engine (it works a little harder under light load in order to charge the battery for the assist during high speed/high load driving).
I would like to see some 3rd party double blind testing showing the whole tank mpg over many miles rather than just instantaneous mpg under acceleration.
I do appreciate your company's honesty in calling this "Electric Cruise Assist"- so people should know up front that they aren't getting a regenerative braking device.
It is going to be tough on the belt too, no way an alternator belt is going to handle 8000 watts of power in my xB! 100 volt battery pack will add weight and kiss your odb2 port goodby as it uses that too. Don't I think it's going to help on acceleration it's a cruise assist. Not a traction motor to accelerate the car. It could put the engine in fuel cut off if it has enough torque to spin the motor over at idle.
I'm almost regretting my decision to not ban & delete as soon as I saw this. I had the impression that they wanted to engage us in discussion, now it appears they're just a link dropper like all the others that show up with "miracle" devices. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and let this stay for a little longer, but if they don't respond soon, I'll have to do something...
Thanks for all of your comments and sorry for not getting back sooner.
I really encourage anyone really interested in this retrofit kit to check out the website, www.eca-systems.com, there are loads of informational and technical videos and a FAQ section that will answer many of your questions.
I estimate the ballpark cost of the kit to be right at $1000 or just below.
The added weight all depends on the battery system that is chosen by the customer which will depend on their specific assist requirements. Since the systems is always seeking to maintain a preset amperage draw based on the vehicles speed you can count on needing 1.3AH at 100Volts for every 1 minute of assist if you are using Lithium and about 2.5AH if you are using Lead Acid. This battery pack can vary from the size of a large brief case used in the "Alpha" 2011 Mazda CX-7 prototype to a large 8 cell lead acid permanently installed battery pack I plan to use on the 2004 Ford Taurus demo/test vehicle (I only chose Lead Acid due to budget constraints as Lithium will always be a better choice and actually cheaper in the long run). The added weight of the conversion kit minus the battery pack is negligable since the drive system already exists.
As for endurance of the converted alternator used with this retrofit kit, once the alternator is converted all that is left are bearings, metal and coated magnet wire so the only factor effecting the longevity of the converted alternator is the temperature of the wire. On my website you will find videos which compare the stock alternator operating temperature with the converted alternator temperature under full assist amperage continuously for 12 minutes. A 3" flex duct is required to pipe outside air into the vacinity of the alternator to allow continuous use otherwise the system is limited to a 3 minutes on 2 minutes off duty cycle. The addition of this duct is simple on most vehicles using a specially designed, clip-on, under bumper scoop that only measures 1.5"H X 8"W and will be included in the kit. With the temperatures recorded in the video the estimated life of the alternator is 20,000 hours. You can see how I came up with this estimate by reading this short 2 page document: http://www.toshont.com/ag/mtrldesign...re%20Rise).pdf
As far as the durabilty of a standard automotive belt is concerned, the belt is designed with a generous safety factor to drive all of the vehicles accesories such as the alternator, a/c compressor, power steering pump, smog pump etc... I don't doubt the belt will need to be replaced more often than without the system but it shouldn't be more than every year. Another option is to use a commercial belt such as a green-strip or green-line belt from Gates or Napa to extended the belt life. In my testing so far, I have not experienced any squeeling or accumulation of rubber dust on the alpha prototype.
The system has no regeneration capability and is purely plug-in on the high voltage hybrid assist side. Essentially you're just carrying around electrical storage instead of a quanitity of fuel in the gas tank. Once the battery is depleated the system is suspended until the battery is charged.
The system is not designed to accelerate or start the vehicle's engine because the power needed to provide that capabilty is not possible with the conventional alternator and belt drive system. It is merely substituting electricity for gasoline when the vehicle is traveling at more or less a constant speed. For people that drive mostly stop and go and sit in traffic the system will minimal effectiveness. The main purpose of this systems is mild assist that is always supplementing and never driving. This design trait enables the use of the converted OEM alternator and existing belt drive system.
It is true that the retrofit kit uses the OBDii port to get vehicle data but there are OBDii "Y" connectors available that can allow you to both connect the retrofit kit and another device such as a scan gauge or diagnotics tool.
As for blind testing, I have always intened to conduct field testing with independant drivers. After I get the Demo/Extended test vehicle completed in the next several weeks and get a month or so road time, I will consider recruiting a few trustworthy interested parties form this forum and others to carryout independant testing and report results and document problems. If you may be interested in doing this send me an email through my website or this forum expressing that you would like to take part in field testing. Because I am operating entirely off of personal funds at this time, the beta testers will need to have the technical skills to convert the alternator and purchase and assemble the components. I will supply instructions, a bill of materials with suppliers, software and consulting in exchange for full rights to your test results and signing of confidentiality agreements. Don't worry, all of the current components used in the system are off the shelf with only minor electrical assembly and soldering.
I will do my best to check this forum each day to answer your questions and concerns.
I am surprised you can not get some regen energy out of the alternator but I guess an add on high voltage alternator could be connected to the engine to recharge the battery. I have never heard that Y connectors were available but that's good to know. Price sounds good!
It would be good if it could keep the motor turning over at say 1200 RPM with no gas being burned so you could save fuel when stopped yet keep the car engine operating and ready to go easily on a manual transmission vehicle.
What range of battery voltage can the system handle?
Unfortunately, I am constrained by the limitations of the purchased speed control to 110V. The manufacturer said they can customize the controller but I think I would have to purchase speed controllers in large volumes of 10+ to get them to agree to do this and at this point I only purchase 1 or 2 at a time because this componet happens to be the most expensive part of the retrofit kit (aside from the batteries).
Turning over a dead engine takes a lot of power. It would be like running the starter for the entire time you were sitting still and a starter pulls hundreds of amps.