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02/09/2010 1205

CSIRO - aXcessaustralia



Aussie hybrid car on world tour

Australian industry is today launching a car that is poised to show the world how to make low emission vehicles with all the power, performance and affordability of a normal car.

CSIRO and over 80 innovative Australian component manufacturers have united, with funding support from the Federal Government, to develop this revolutionary hybrid-electric car. After today's unveiling at the Melbourne Tennis Centre, it leaves on an international tour of the world's leading car and car parts manufacturers.

"This low emission vehicle, a result of the aXcessaustralia project, is designed not for the assembly line but as a powerful symbol of the collective ingenuity of Australia's manufacturers," says David Lamb, chairman of the aXcessaustralia project.

The car has shown it could halve a motorist's fuel bill and slash emissions by up to 90 percent.

CSIRO has developed several novel technologies for the aXcessaustralia car. They are examples of the creative approach to hybrid-electric propulsion and will be used to attract the interest of the global car industry.

The technologies include:

    * Switched-reluctance electric drive motor that delivers constant power over a wide speed range. Based on reluctance – the tendency of iron to be attracted to a magnetic field – the motor offers good performance at low cost as there are no expensive permanent magnets and, compared to other electric motors, there is typically twice the output for a given size. This allows the car to use a much simpler, lighter and cheaper gearbox. The motor also acts as a generator during braking helping charge the batteries;

    * Lead acid batteries optimized for use in a hybrid vehicle by unique construction and chemistry. CSIRO has "beefed" up the traditional, cheap car battery. These batteries last longer, require little maintenance, and take only minutes to charge, instead of hours. The car could run for around 20 minutes on batteries alone which means zero emissions – an important feature when driving in environmentally sensitive areas like city centres;

    * Supercapacitors to deliver stored energy quickly to the car during acceleration. This technology delivers some of the highest capacity-to-weight ratios reported in the world giving the aXcessaustralia car a unique advantage over other existing hybrids. Together with the batteries it gives the car a low cost and practicable surge power unit. The CSIRO supercapitor technology is now being developed by their commercial partner cap-XX Pty Ltd. Two of the advantages of supercaps are the fast recharge rates and that they don't rely on any electrochemistry like batteries. This means they can be charged and discharged almost indefinitely. Supercaps require no maintenance and are made from non-toxic and relatively inexpensive materials. The electrode is of activated carbon that has been sculpted in a unique chemical engineering process to create a surface area of more than 10,000 square metres. This area is then crammed into something the size of a video cassette and is what provides the supercap's large energy storage capacity;

    * Computer modelling of energy management systems help to ensure the car makes the most of its sophisticated power generation systems. The models gave information about the car's efficiency and performance, allowing scientists to find the optimal way to run the car. This was then encapsulated into the car's power management software.

The electric drive motor is able to derive its power from three different sources – 300-volts from the generator attached to a 1.4 litre internal combustion engine, 130-volts from the supercapacitor pack and 60-volts from the battery pack. This arrangement gives the car reliability and smooth torque through a wide range of revs, and delivers it at a low cost.

"Social and environmental issues will have increasing influence on the rate of take-up of new technologies. Any attempt to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions has to include reducing car emissions. The aXcessaustralia project shows some of the best Australian industry can make," says Mr Lamb.

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