HYLIION - HYBRID TECHNOLOGY FOR SEMI-TRAILERS AND THE TRUCKING INDUSTRY

Thomas Healy, RF Culbertson, AJ Emanuele, Morgan Culbertson, Wilson Sa, Pam Culbertson, Chad Saylor, Len Kulbacki, Eric Weber, Adam Faris, Kim Kasee, Roger Richter, Jared King, Phil Aufdencamp, and Tim Gehring

Hyliion, Pittsburgh, PA

"The Hyliion team is honored to be the Grand Prize winner of the prestigious Create the Future Contest. It is a tremendous validation of the impact the Hyliion Intelligent Electric Drive Axle System will have on the trucking industry, and the environment."

Hyliion is bringing hybrid efficiency to the trucking industry by replacing a semi-trailer’s passive axle with the Intelligent Electric Drive Axle System. The system can decrease fuel consumption and reduce emissions by capturing wasted energy and storing it in a battery pack to help propel the trailer when needed. Currently, tractor-trailers get 6.5 miles per gallon, and on average use $48,000 of fuel annually (per tractor). The trucking industry in the U.S. spends $150B per year on fuel; 6.2% of all emissions in the U.S. comes from trucks.

The Hyliion hybrid technology focuses on the trailer, as opposed to the truck. The technology uses regenerative braking to capture power when the vehicle is slowing down or going downhill, and then reuses it upon acceleration. The result is an average 30% reduction in fuel consumption. In addition to fuel savings, the technology can significantly reduce emissions. One Hyliion-equipped trailer can eliminate the equivalent of CO2 emissions from 13 cars. It’s estimated that there are 6 million trailers in the U.S. that could use the Hyliion system; that number rises to 24 million worldwide.

The Intelligent Electric Drive Axle System includes a built-in auxiliary power unit (APU), enhanced stability control, and improved trailer analytics. It can be installed on nearly every trailer type in less than one hour. The system replaces the existing trailer passive axle, and can be retrofitted to work with any box trailer without changing trailer height or length, and cab height or length.

Everything in the Hyliion system was designed to handle over-the-road wear and tear. The system, which operates autonomously, resides in a steel enclosure, and all electrical wiring is double-protected in conduit. If there is a problem with the system, it does not stop or inhibit the performance of the truck. Instead, it reverts back to a passive axle.

The controllers, motors, and batteries are all water- and oil-cooled, and have their own set of built-in failsafes. Acceleration and regenerative current limits are programmed in to prevent the system from being permanently damaged in the event of a surge. Temperature and stability maximums are also programmed into the system so the various units limit themselves or shut themselves down when approaching dangerous conditions.

When stationary, the Hyliion system turns its battery pack into an APU that powers the cab of the truck while the driver is at a rest stop. It can power a truck cab for up to 20 hours, so the diesel engine does not have to run during the night, saving fuel. It’s estimated that a truck idles 2,500 hours at rest stops each year, or a little over eight hours a day, 300 days a year. This idling burns about 1.2 gallons of fuel every hour, resulting in 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel (13.5% of total fuel consumed) being wasted at rest stops each year.

The Hyliion system performs trailer analytics, and records data such as fuel reduction, vehicle speed, location, and trailer weight and stability. All of this information is available to the driver through a mobile dashboard application. The data analytics package also can prevent theft by locking up a trailer’s rear wheels when notified.

For more information, visit http://contest.techbriefs.com/grand_prize2016 


NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the November, 2016 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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