High Efficiency Energy Systems for Transport Applications
Road transport and power plants for energy production are almost entirely dependent on fossil sources and are considered responsible of a significant and growing share of CO2 anthropogenic emissions. The objectives of decarbonisation, energy security and urban air quality can be achieved by the development of novel energy systems able to break the link between fossil fuels and energy production, improve fuel economy and reduce emissions.
The hybrid vehicles equipped with a “thermo-electric” propulsion system represent an evolution of traditional vehicles in which a single internal combustion engine is present. The main advantage of the double propulsion consists in exploiting the high efficiency characteristics of the electric engine in the transitory phases, allowing the thermal engine to run at conditions close to those of maximum efficiency, and improving the driving range with respect to battery powered electric vehicles.
Polymeric electrolyte fuel cells fed by hydrogen are a promising long term alternative to internal combustion engines for application to hybrid electric vehicles. This is due to their high efficiency in a wide range of load conditions and absence of exhaust emissions.The research activities of the Istituto Motori in the field of hybrid power trains are carried out within the frame of the following issues:
- study of energy flow simulation models and optimal control strategies for different configurations of thermo-electric propulsion systems
- design, realization and experimental characterization of fuel cell systems fed with hydrogen
- experimental characterization on driving cycles of fuel cell power trains, analysis of energy flows and efficiency optimization as a function of hybridisation level between the on board systems for generation and storage of electric energy (from range extender to full power configurations)
- experimental study of different battery typologies and supercapacitors for electric energy storage on board of hybrid vehicles
- study of catalytic processes for hydrogen production from liquid and gaseous fuels
- study of technologies for on board hydrogen storage.
Facilities of laboratories include fuel-cell systems up to 30 kW, electrical drives up to 80 kW, different typologies of batteries and supercapacitors, dynamic brakes for the simulation of driving cycles up to 120 kW, laboratory plants for hydrogen production and for the study of adsorption properties of solid materials for hydrogen storage.