In this edition of Automobile Technology, we bring to you an ultra-modern trend which is the bridge between internal combustion engines of the past and the electric powertrains of the future. yes, we are talking about hybrid systems. Now, we have already covered what are the types of hybrid systems, so, we will cover the uses in today’s post. The aim of this series, as always, is the same, to bring to you the complex technical aspects of automobile engineering in an easy-to-understand manner. This way, the automobile enthusiasts will be up-to-date with various technologies of the vehicles without having to go through the tedious process of doing engineering. But before we move on with today’s theme, make sure to check out Car Blog India for all the latest updates and scoops from the world of the automobile industry and the Automobile Technolgy Section for the understanding of complex engineering technologies used in vehicles. Now, let us dive straight into it.
48V Hybrid System – What is it?
A 48V hybrid system refers to the electrical setup in vehicles which is becoming quite prevalent these days. It is essentially a middle ground between the traditional internal combustion engines and the full-electric powertrains. There is a dedicated battery associated with a 48V hybrid setup along with other components including an electric pump, electric starter generator and an electric motor. All these components act together as an alternate source to power the vehicle. In some cases, this setup acts as the power supplier for various electronic functions in a vehicle. Especially the modern cars are carrying a ton of electronic functions which can be too much load for a regular 12V system. Nowadays, almost all the functions, components and features of the car have an electronic control system, which is why upgrading to a larger 48V hybrid setup makes total sense. The benefits of having a 48V hybrid system are many and we are going to discuss each of these in detail.
One of the main benefits of having this system is the phenomenon known as Regenerative Braking. So, the regular flow of energy happens in the direction of the electric motor to the wheels. This means that the engine/battery powers the electric motor and causes the vehicle to move. It can either assist the internal combustion powertrain or operate independently temporarily. Whatever the case might be, the energy from the battery gets translated into the kinetic energy of the vehicle. However, having a battery allows for the reverse process as well. This means that when brakes are applied to any moving vehicle, the kinetic energy gets converted into heat energy to stop the vehicle. Therefore, the heat is released into the atmosphere, or in other words, wasted. To make use of this heat, the 48V hybrid system can apply brakes and use the heat to generate electricity which can be stored in the battery. Of course, the rate of charging the battery is much lower than the discharge rate but still, a part of heat energy is used up and not completely wasted.
This is the basic principle of the 48V hybrid system. This, essentially, generates power from the heat that would otherwise have been wasted into the atmosphere. However, it must be understood that regenerative braking can not generate enough negative torque to bring the vehicle to a complete standstill. Therefore, regenerative braking is always electronically communicating with the ECU (Electric Control Unit) of the car and the regular friction brakes are also engaged according to the situation. The combination of both these brakes causes the vehicle to stop completely. This is a smart way of utilizing the waste heat energy and supplying an additional braking element to the vehicle. This enhances the safety aspect of the vehicle to some aspects.
Another useful application of the 48V hybrid technology is seen in the case of forced induction techniques. We are aware of the concept of downsizing that car manufacturers are following these days because of its various benefits. Now, downsizing an engine requires it to be turbocharged as well so that the performance of the vehicle is not compromised. Now, the phenomenon of turbo lag is inherent with the turbocharging process, which takes the punch away from the driving experience at low RPMs. The turbo requires sufficient exhaust gases to get spooled up and function and until then, there is a lack of power. The use of a mild hybrid setup can assist the engine during these RPMs so that the turbo can be spooled up faster and the performance of the engine is enhanced. To counter the effects of turbo lag, the 48V hybrid technology can provide to be a great solution for this.
As Indians, the concept of mileage is very important to us, irrespective of the car that we own. While using the 48V mild-hybrid setup, the cars are equipped with the function called the Start/Stop function. In this, the car gets automatically switched off when it comes to a halt and the driver puts the car in neutral gear. As soon as the driver presses the clutch, the car restarts automatically. This ensures that the fuel is saved and the fuel economy of a car is improved. This is also useful in start/stop traffic conditions as well on traffic lights where people usually never shut off the engine. This technology is used in many vehicles and the difference in the mileage figures is quite evident when compared to the regular counterpart of the same powertrain.
Advanced Driving Assistance Systems (ADAS)
With almost every component of an automobile being electronic these days, electronic communication is the key aspect of automobile engineering. All the components of the car are always in contact with each other via electronic signals and function accordingly. This also means that the sensors gather the real-time information of the car and its surroundings and the ECU sends signals to the actuators to perform a particular function according to the conditions. ADAS systems and autonomous driving features are, therefore, becoming more prevalent in modern cars. All that has been made possible only because of the 48V hybrid setup which can support all the electronic architecture in a vehicle. From deploying Airbags, Camera Feed, Climate Control, Stability Programs to Electric Sterrigns and Sunroofs, all are engineered due to the presence of this electrical architecture to support it.
These are some of the major benefits of using a 48V hybrid system in vehicles these days. We feel that this is a perfect middle point until we reach full electric set up across the globe, which will still take some time to happen. This system can be applied to the existing vehicles as well as no extra manufacturing changes are needed. That is also the reason why so many OEMs have started putting these systems on their products.
Image Source: Newmobility.news