Covers Fourth Generation of Firm’s Parallel Hydraulic Hybrid System
‘To Recover & Reapply Energy at Efficiencies Expected to Be Above 70%’
Colorado’s Lightning Hybrids reports the award of a full U.S. utility patent for the fourth generation of its parallel hydraulic hybrid system.
“This patent award illustrates not only our innovation, but also our efforts to find new opportunities in an area historically dominated by large companies,” Lightning president and co-founder Tim Reeser said in a release. “It separates us from the crowd of others who have worked on previous hybrid technologies and clearly establishes Lightning Hybrids as the international leader and innovator in the hydraulic hybrid space.”
According to U.S. patent application 20140087916 A1 – for a hydraulic regeneration apparatus – “three [or more] fixed-displacement pump/motors are used to enable the system to recover and reapply energy at efficiencies expected to be above 70% in most circumstances.”
The emphasis for generation four was system efficiency, said co-founder and CTO Dan Johnson, who co-invented the new patented system with senior controls engineer Jonathan Reynolds.
Higher Payloads for Fleets
“Eliminating a lot of the parts in the system was a big goal,” Johnson says in the patent announcement. “By doing that, we were able to dramatically increase the efficiencies of the system. The higher the efficiency, the more we can decrease emissions and increase fuel savings.”
Johnson said that a primary goal was making the system lighter by using more aluminum and by having fewer parts. “Fewer parts means a significant cost savings, and a lighter system means higher efficiency,” he said. “It means fleets are able to have a higher payload, allowing them to effectually do the work they’re on the road to do in a cleaner, more efficient way.”
3D Scanning, 3D Printing, CNC
Reynolds said that the six-year project was an engineering venture. “Designing any system from the ground up is challenging,” he said. “This hydraulic hybrid system was particularly perplexing because we had to create so many of the building blocks,” he said. “Several parts in our system did not exist before – at least not in the form we needed. Lightning Hybrids has faced many challenges and met them with successful engineering solutions.”
Reynolds said too that new manufacturing processes were instrumental in achieving Lightning Hybrids’ patent goal. “Advanced manufacturing technologies helped us iterate our designs quickly to get to a finished product,” he said. “We have utilized 3D printing, 3D scanning, CNC machining, carbon fiber manufacturing, thermal imaging and in-house PCB etching – all of which have helped us make some great breakthroughs.”
‘The Lightning Hybrids System Does Not Have Batteries’
The Lightning Hybrids system is said to provide reductions of 50% to 90% in harmful emissions, as well as fuel efficiency gains by regenerating braking energy. “The Lightning Hybrids system does not have batteries,” the company notes. “Instead, it safely and efficiently stores energy mechanically in composite hydraulic accumulators, which are a fraction of the cost and weight of batteries.
The U.S. patent was awarded on January 21, Lightning says. The firm has applied for international patent protection as well.
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Source: Lightning Hybrids with Fleets & Fuels follow-up