miércoles, 1 de julio de 2015

Tesla Motors co-founder wants to electrify commercial trucks

Wrightspeed CEO Ian Wright displays some of the company's electric-powered trucks on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015, in San Jose , Calif. Wright helped bring electric cars to market when he co-founded Tesla Motors a decade ago. Now he's targeting trucks that deliver packages, haul trash and make frequent stops on city streets. His company, Wrightspeed, makes electric powertrains that can be installed on commercial trucks, making them more energy-efficient. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)


Twelve years ago, Ian Wright and some fellow engineers launched Tesla Motors, a Silicon Valley company that has helped jumpstart the market for electric cars.

Now, the Tesla co-founder wants to electrify noisy, gas-guzzling trucks that deliver packages, haul garbage and make frequent stops on city streets.

His latest venture, Wrightspeed, doesn't make the whole truck. Rather it sells electric powertrains that can be installed on medium-and heavy-duty commercial vehicles, making them cleaner, quieter and more energy-efficient.

"We save a lot on fuel. We save a lot on maintenance, and we make the emissions compliance much easier," said Wright, a New Zealand-born engineer who left Tesla when it was still a small startup in 2005.

Wrightspeed is one of a growing number of companies that are trying to transform the market for commercial trucks that consume billions of gallons of fuel while spewing tons of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and other pollutants.

While more consumers are switching to electric cars like the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt or Tesla Model S, convincing commercial fleet owners to replace their diesel trucks won't be easy.

"It takes a lot of technological ambition to break into such an old and established market," said Mark Duvall, a research director at the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto. "If you want to sell a fleet owner an electric truck, you have to convince them that it's better than what they're already using. So the bar is set very high."

Wright's company is installing its powertrains on 25 FedEx delivery trucks and 17 garbage trucks for the Ratto Group, a Santa Rosa-based waste management company. Its plug-in powertrains feature an electric engine, battery system and on-board power generator that runs on diesel or natural gas and recharges the battery when it gets low.


Wrightspeed CEO Ian Wright explains the technology behind a electric-powered engine which will be used for FedEx delivery trucks at the company's headquarters, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015, in San Jose , Calif. Wright helped bring electric cars to market when he co-founded Tesla Motors a decade ago. Now he's targeting trucks that deliver packages, haul trash and make frequent stops on city streets. His company, Wrightspeed, makes electric powertrains that can be installed on commercial trucks, making them more energy-efficient. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

It costs $150,000 to $200,000 to install a Wrightspeed motortrain, while it costs, for example, about $500,000 for a new garbage truck.

The San Jose-based company is generating interest from trucking fleet owners who are scrambling to meet California's increasingly strict emissions standards but don't want to replace the entire vehicle, Wright said.

"You can take this truck that you've invested all this money in and it's still in good shape, and you can swap out the powertrain for our powertrain and suddenly you're emissions-compliant," Wright said.

To meet growing demand, Wrightspeed is preparing to move into a former aircraft hangar at the decommissioned U.S. Naval Air Station in Alameda. The company plans to expand its workforce from roughly 25 to 250 employees over the next three years, Wright said.

The Ratto Group, which collects garbage and recycling in Marin and Sonoma counties, is giving Wrightspeed a chance, retrofitting some of its garbage trucks. It could convert many more of its 300 vehicles if the technology performs as hoped.

"My hope is that this is something we can prove together with Wrightspeed and that we can be on the cutting edge of this, and I can transform my fleet and hopefully transform my industry," said Lou Ratto, the company's chief operating officer.

Wrightspeed CEO Ian Wright unplugs an electric-powered truck as he gets ready for a test drive at the company's headquarters Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015, in San Jose , Calif. Wright helped bring electric cars to market when he co-founded Tesla Motors a decade ago. Now he's targeting trucks that deliver packages, haul trash and make frequent stops on city streets. His company, Wrightspeed, makes electric powertrains that can be installed on commercial trucks, making them more energy-efficient. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

When Wright left Tesla to start Wrightspeed, he planned to make high-performance electric sports cars, but he struggled to raise money from investors because the market wasn't big enough.

So Wright switched gears and set his sights on the roughly 2.2 million commercial trucks in the U.S. that burn roughly 20 times more fuel than a passenger car and are a major source of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Wrightspeed has raised Silicon Valley venture capital and secured grants from the California Energy Commission, which funds alternative fuel technologies that could help the state's dependence on fossil fuels. Gov. Jerry Brown wants to cut petroleum use in cars and trucks by 50 percent by 2030.



Wrightspeed CEO Ian Wright drives an electric-powered truck at the company's headquarters Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015, in San Jose, Calif. Wright helped bring electric cars to market when he co-founded Tesla Motors a decade ago. Now he's targeting trucks that deliver packages, haul trash and make frequent stops on city streets. His company, Wrightspeed, makes electric powertrains that can be installed on commercial trucks, making them more energy-efficient. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)        

A truck with a Wrightspeed powertrain can run on batteries for about 30 miles before the turbine, which runs on diesel or natural gas, kicks in and recharges the battery. The system roughly doubles the fuel efficiency of trucks and reduces the cost of maintenance, Wright said.

While trucks aren't as sleek as Tesla's sports cars, a popular vehicle among Silicon Valley elites, Wright believes his powertrains can do more to reduce carbon pollution because trucks are such heavy polluters.

"I think what they've done is absolutely fantastic, but what we're doing is the next thing," Wright said. "It's even better."

The Route™
A Range-Extending Generator
  • Decoupled loads: generator works to charge batteries, while batteries provide power to turn the wheels.
  • Open generator architecture: the Wrightspeed Route ™ can use any number of on-board power generation options, including micro-turbines and piston engines.
  • No range anxiety! The Route ™, given refueling, has an unlimited range.

B High-Power Battery System
  • Exceptional regen capability: 400 hp
  • The high-power battery system provides peak power, allowing the generator to operate at its most efficient point.
  • PLUG IT IN, for up to 40 miles on grid energy.

C Extended Battery Life
  • Actively cooled for long battery life.
  • Software protected for long battery life.

D The Geared Traction Drive (GTD)
  • Integrates an electric motor, a two-speed gear box & an inverter
  • Two per driveaxle
  • Compact, lightweight
  • Direct traction control at drivewheels
  • 125-250 horsepower, continuous
  • 18,000 ft-lbs total axle torque
  • 75 mph max speed (limited)
  • 400 hp regen braking power, with slip limiting

E Fuel Tank
The Wrightspeed Route™ can be custom fitted to run diesel, gasoline, biofuels, CNG, or landfill gas at up to 7% sulfides.

The Route is a plug and play repower kit for medium duty fleet trucks that maximizes efficiency without compromising performance.

Torque / Power for The Route
 

Max Continuous Power: 125-250hp(software limited, fully configurable) 
Max Wheel Torque: 18,000 ft-lbs(for each drive axle, 9,000 ft-lbs/wheel) 
Max Regenerative Power: 400hp(0.3g braking below 42mph@ 12k lbs) 
Fuel System Options: 
  • Liquid: diesel, biodiesel, Jet A 
  • Gaseous: natural gas, propane, sour gas 
Emissions: CARB 2010 HDD, with no exhaust after-treatment


Technology

The GTD (Geared Traction Drive)

Geared Traction Drive with Inverter
Add caption
Wrightspeed was able to make the fully integrated GTD by designing the inverter, 250 hp motor, and multi-speed transmission from the ground up, optimizing compatibility and system efficiency.
Geared Traction Drive




250 hp motor (shown here without inverter)
Geared Traction Drive with Inverter
Integrated inverter, electric motor, and gearbox
This Silicon Valley “systems approach” has yielded an exceptionally high-power, compact, and lightweight system. Wrightspeed’s Drivesystem is geared to optimize low-end torque, for hauling up hills, while preserving top highway cruising speeds.

Wrightspeed demonstrates software controlled clutch-less shifting



Wrightspeed’s Powertrains move the complexity from mechanical systems into electronic and software systems, making them lighter, cheaper, and more efficient. Clutchless gear shifting is a good example of this:
  • Traditional multi-speed transmissions use clutches (synchro rings, multi-disc wet clutches, twin-clutch arrangements) to achieve synchronization before engagement; this makes them, heavy, expensive, and less efficient. But with electric motors, it becomes possible to control the motor speed so precisely, and change it so quickly, that the shifter dog-clutches can be engaged without clashing. The sync function that used to be performed by mechanical means has been shifted into software control of electronics, driving the electric motor with precision. The system is therefore lighter, cheaper, and more efficient. Wrightspeed’s control software weighs nothing, costs nothing to manufacture, doesn’t wear out, and uses the electronics that are already present to drive the motor.
  • The Wrightspeed GTD is shown here, on a dynamometer, simulating acceleration from stop to first gear, shifting to second gear, back down to first gear and then a full torque stop. The shifting is too quiet to hear. The sound produced here is the motor accelerating and decelerating at maximum torque. The GTD jumps when the motor changes speed due to torque reaction (torque reaction can be observed under the hood of a conventional car, when accelerated hard in neutral).

Simulated Truck Acceleration, Full Torque Stop

  1. Motor is accelerated to 20,700 rpm in first gear, Upshift (Shift from 1st gear to 2nd gear)
  2. Motor torque is reduced to zero
  3. Shift actuator is moved to neutral position (mid-stroke)
  4. Motor speed is synchronized to the correct speed for second gear, 9000 rpm (80 ms)
  5. Shift actuator moves to second gear
  6. Torque is reapplied to maintain “vehicle speed”, Downshift (Shift from 2nd gear to 1st gear)
  7. Motor torque is reduced to zero
  8. Shift actuator is moved to neutral position (mid-stroke)
  9. Motor speed is synchronized to the correct speed for first gear, 20,700 rpm (80 ms)
  10. Shift actuator moves to first gear, Full-Torque Traction Drive Stop
  11. Motor comes to full stop

ORIGINAL: Physorg.com
by By Terence Chea
Jun 02, 2015
 

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