The US has an urgent need to eliminate its dependence on Middle East oil. Since this region supplies only a small portion of the total oil consumed by the US auto industry, an increase of 3.25 miles per gallon would achieve this independence.
The modest mileage increase offered by present hybrid automobiles would require that they be sold in very large numbers to significantly reduce this oil dependence. However, recent battery developments make the plug-in hybrid electric car (PHEV) possible which could triple the effective miles per gallon achieved by hybrids like the Toyota Prius or Honda Insight. GM has proposed a PHEV they named Volt where the engine is used only as back up for trips longer than 40 miles. This approach is attractive since charging the PHEV from the electrical power grid is equivalent to paying less than one dollar per gallon of gasoline. Replacing the majority of one year’s US automobile production by PHEV’s would eliminate the need for Middle East oil. The most significant design problem to creating a practical PHEV is finding the internal space to accommodate the large battery required for a 40-mile range together with the back-up engine/generator. In the GM Volt the proposed back-up piston powerplant is just as large as that in the Toyota Prius with its battery powered range of only 3 miles.
Moller International (MI) has, under government contract, developed and demonstrated that using its Rotapower rotary engine together with a state-of-the-art generator can reduce the usual space required for a piston engine power supply by over 80% (see CAL-Start Final Report).
MI proposes to use its proven technology to create a 25-kilowatt self-contained power module called Rotapac. This small backup module will include all cooling, muffling and controls and would provide the PHEV with a number of advantages:
· Module size is comparable to that of a small suitcase
· Additional modules can be added for larger vehicles or for use in mountainous terrain or when towing a load
· Can be serviced or replaced in minutes
· Running the engine when plugged in at home provides sufficient electrical power to meet the emergency needs of a large house including heating and air conditioning.
The Rotapac power module makes possible a 25-kilowatt electrical power supply that is two man portable. Such a unit is not available in today’s market and would be useful for a large number of mobile applications in addition to the plug in hybrid automobile.
1996 Honda Civic CX
Specifications and dimensions
Curb Weight 2,222 lbs
Overall Length 164.5”