Andy Frank's Trinity PHEV at UC Davis unveiled
- This is the latest project of Prof. Andy Frank,
who is the inventor of the modern plug-in hybrid
and an advisor to CalCars. It's from the UC Davis
Advanced Hybrid Center
<http://www.team-fate.net>, continuing in the
tradition of other "ground-up" PHEVs (not
converted hybrids like we've done) described
there and at <http://www.calcars.org/history.html>.
May 18, 2006
"Trinity," a highly fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid
vehicle, was unveiled today by engineering
students at the University of California, Davis.
The vehicle is the team's entry in the national
Challenge X competition, sponsored by General
Motors Corp. and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Field trials for the competition will take place in Phoenix next month.
Trinity is a 2006 model Chevy Equinox SUV powered
by electric motors and a small internal
combustion engine that can run on gasoline or
ethanol. The electric motors and batteries
provide power for driving at low speeds and for a
range of up to 40 miles, and the gas engine
supplies additional power for longer journeys and highway driving.
"This is a car that is completely sustainable
with no oil at all," said Andy Frank, professor
of mechanical and aeronautical engineering at UC
Davis, who advises the team. Trinity does all the
things a conventional model of the vehicle can do
with higher performance, Frank said.
Unlike hybrids currently on the market such as
the Toyota Prius, Trinity's batteries can be
recharged from a domestic power supply, allowing
the vehicle to be powered by cheap off-peak
electricity. This reduces fuel consumption and
emissions and allows the vehicle to run
exclusively on electric power for most short trips around town.
Computer models run by the team show that
Trinity's average gas consumption in everyday use
could reach about 200 miles per gallon, assuming
an all-electric range of 40 miles, said graduate
student Peter English, outreach coordinator for the team.
As part of the project, team members have been
teaching classes on hybrids at Vaca Pena Middle
School in Vacaville and Little Oak Rural School
in Oregon House, east of Yuba City. The school
students have been working on controls for
electric motors and aim to move on to building
hybrid go-karts and eventually a hybrid car, English said.
Frank sees plug-in hybrids as a way to integrate
transportation energy use with stationary energy
systems for homes and businesses. Solar panels on
home rooftops could be used to charge vehicle
batteries for driving. While parked and plugged
in, vehicles could feed stored energy back to the
home or to the electricity grid.
Trinity also carries a small on-board fuel cell
to provide auxiliary power for air conditioning,
entertainment systems and other services.
Trinity is the latest refinement in a series of
award-winning plug-in hybrids built by Frank and
his students. Others include "Sequoia," a Chevy
Suburban, and "Yosemite," a Ford Explorer. The
group has also built high mileage versions of the Mercury Sable and other cars.
The original unmodified vehicle was donated by
General Motors and supplied locally by Hanlees
Chevrolet of Davis for the competition.
Challenge X is a three-year national competition
sponsored by General Motors, the U.S. Department
of Energy (DOE) and other partners. Engineering
students from 17 universities across North
America are challenged to re-engineer a mid-size
SUV to achieve better fuel economy and lower
emissions. The program provides the opportunity
for engineering schools to participate in
real-world research and math-intensive
development with leading-edge automotive
propulsion, fuels, materials and emissions-control technologies.
In the first year (2004-5), teams worked on
vehicle design using the same techniques and
software as auto industry designers. Over the
past year, they have worked on putting their
designs together in an actual vehicle, which will
compete in field tests this June. In the final
year (2006-7), they will refine their vehicles
leading up to the final competition.
Andy Fell, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-4533, ahfell@...