Project Background

Inefficient fuel usage is unavoidable for many vehicles; especially vehicles that operate in frequent stop and go situations. With increasing fuel prices, there is a glaring need for a more efficient solution. The solution investigated by Team 4 was a series hydraulic hybrid system. One of the major benefits of a hydraulic hybrid over other hybrid types includes less energy conversions in the drive train. Some of the benefits of a hybrid compared to a normal gas-driven vehicle include regenerative braking, optimized operating speed of the gas engine, and the ability to completely shut the gas engine off when power is not required.

Project Description

The goal of our project is to validate that a gas-hydraulic drive system with regenerative braking can significantly increase the fuel economy of a vehicle. The hybrid system will have the best results when implemented on a vehicle that undergoes frequent stopping. An example of such a vehicle is a mail truck. Our design project aims to prototype a hydraulic drive system on a small scale vehicle. We aim to increase the efficiency of the vehicle by 40% while maintaining normal vehicle performance.

Project Prototype

The base of the vehicle was a three wheeled EZ-Go golf cart that was donated to the team. It provided a good starting point for future modifications and improvements. A picture of the donated golf cart can be seen below