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Hyperdrive for a New Millennium

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Passing Gear

The Hyperdrive uses high-powered semiconductors, high-voltage power - as much as 800 volts for a large SUV-size vehicle - and high-horsepower induction motors along with an efficient internal combustion engine to reach maximum fuel economy, Severinsky said. This system provides more power than the Toyota Prius or the Honda Insight production hybrid cars.

For a mid-sized car, Paice estimates that its battery pack would store 600 volts of power while its high-voltage electric motors would generate 50 to 60 kilowatts (kW). That's nearly double the Toyota Prius' electrical system which stores up to 288 volts in its battery pack while its electric motor generates 33 kW, he said. Honda Insight's battery pack can store 144 volts and its electric motor produces 10 kW.

Paice's Hyperdrive is an entire system that links together the braking, steering and heat-and-cooling systems to obtain maximum efficiency. It uses a unique control module, with software as the brains of the system. "This is a totally software driven car. The software allows the engine to be run at full efficiency," Severinsky said.

On the road, the Hyperdrive's computer chooses the gasoline engine, the electric motor or both in tandem, depending on power requirements. Its IC engine needs only a third to half the displacement of a conventional gasoline engine, while energy storage is a bank of 2-volt and 48-volt lead acid batteries.

Because of the Hyperdrive's high-powered electric motors, the IC engine is smaller, and transmissions aren't needed in most vehicles, except larger trucks requiring two-speed transmissions for towing. But weight savings would be taken up by batteries and electric motors, according to Severinsky.

More Bang for the Buck

Templin said the Hyperdrive will ultimately cost about the same as today's powertrains but have substantially better fuel economy, emissions and performance. With state-of-the-art technology, the lead-acid battery packs can last up to 100,000 miles, although Paice is shooting for 120,000 miles, eliminating the need for more costly, temperature-sensitive nickel-metal-hydride batteries.

Templin called the Hyperdrive a revolutionary powertrain created with evolutionary technology. "It overcomes the cost penalties and performance limitations of all the other hybrid systems now on the market...and unlike other hybrids, it can be scaled to power small cars, big sport utilities, and anything in between."

Convincing the media that the Hyperdrive has potential isn't the hard part, said automotive analyst Dr. David E. Cole, director of the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), Ann Arbor, Mich., (www.erim.com). He called the Paice project intriguing," but added the company must convince the auto industry's decision makers and other skeptics to investigate it.

"We've made good progress with one of the major automobile companies," said Louckes, adding that hybrid and fuel cell vehicles from Ford, GM and Toyota don't have a cost advantage over the Hyperdrive.

Historians cite examples of unorthodox inventions once widely ridiculed. Even Ford founder Henry Ford I was considered eccentric prior to a successful road race in 1901 when he beat one of the world's top drivers. He was seen as a failure for two attempts to launch a car company before founding Ford in 1903.

And Lord William T. Kelvin, the famed British mathematician considered a leading physical scientist and great teacher, ridiculed the idea of powered aircraft in the late 19th Century.

Kelvin had said that heavier-than-air flight was impossible. But that was before the strong, yet lightweight internal combustion engine was proven a way to power aircraft as well as cars. He would live long enough to see its success by the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903.

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