Ford is developing hydraulic hybrid powertrain for F-150

Article by Christian Andrei, on February 24, 2011

Ford has teamed up with the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power and Folsom Technologies to create a prototype F-150 light-duty pickup truck that features a hydraulic hybrid powertrain.

Hydraulic hybrids are markedly different from gas-electric hybrids, such as the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Hybrid. However, their goal is the same; that is, to improve fuel efficiency.

Perry Li, co-deputy director of CCEFP and a mechanical engineering professor, said that hydraulic power has the potential to reach 40 miles per gallon or higher. Li said that he feels like there’s nothing to be given up compared to an electric hybrid as “there are no batteries and nothing to recycle.”

Rather than use batteries and electric motors, a hydraulic hybrid uses components called a reservoir and accumulator. The reservoir stocks pressurized fluid in the accumulator, which acts as a secondary energy source in tandem with the F-150’s internal combustion engine (a 4.6-liter V-8).

The pressure is converted into energy that is distributed to the rear wheels through a “power split hydraulic hybrid architecture.” This power split system variably combines power from the F-150’s V-8 with power from the accumulator inside a special hydraulic continuously variable transmission that Folsom has supplied.

The CVT installs two hydraulic pump-motors connected by a set of planetary gears, comparable to the Chevy Silverado’s Two-Mode hybrid architecture which houses two electric motors inside the transmission to offer gasoline-free power as required for efficiency. [via pickuptrucks]

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