The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Permo-Drive Unveils Compact Hydraulic Drive System at 2003 SAE Show

DETROIT, March 3 -- A compact, light-weight hybrid hydraulic drive system that offers fuel-economy gains of 30 percent or more for medium- duty military and commercial vehicles will be shown for the first time by the U.S. Army's National Automotive Center at the 2003 Society of Automotive Engineers' (SAE) World Congress and Expo here, March 3-6.

At 330 pounds, the prototype regenerative drive unit is 300 pounds lighter than a similar, first-generation system shown last year at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Developed by Permo-Drive Technologies Ltd., the Regenerative Drive System (RDS), also significantly increases brake life and reduces hydrocarbon-and- particulate emissions for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles.

The newest version of Permo-Drive's hybrid propulsion system is designed for installation on medium-duty military tactical vehicles (FMTV) equipped with a seven-speed transmission and six-cylinder Caterpillar engine. During recent tests, a similar six-wheel-drive U.S. Army vehicle equipped with a prototype RDS system achieved a 27 percent improvement in fuel economy.

When fully "charged," the system can generate nearly 1,000 foot-pounds of torque and power equivalent to a 340-horsepower engine, according to Paul Chandler, the company's vice president for North American Operations.

The Permo-Drive system stores energy normally lost as heat during the braking process in a high-pressure oil tank called an accumulator. Captured as pressurized fluid, the energy later can be released into a vehicle's driveline to reduce fuel consumption or provide additional horsepower on demand.

The RDS storage system includes two hydraulic-fluid storage devices -- a high-pressure tank (up to 5,000 PSI) and a low-pressure reservoir. As braking takes place, energy is captured through the flow of oil from the low-pressure tank to the high-pressure accumulator. A central processor controls the release of pressurized fluid during acceleration to enhance fuel economy, reduce emissions and, when needed, increase horsepower.

In field tests conducted during February, the system also increased the "dash" or rapid-acceleration capability of a medium-duty, military tactical vehicle by 36 percent and improved deceleration rates by 60 percent compared to rates achieved through exhaust-braking.

Chandler said that the Permo-Drive hydraulic-drive system is of special interest to the military because it has the ability to:

-- Reduce the need for costly refueling operations under field conditions away from stationary fuel supplies,

-- Boost horsepower for short bursts of speed needed to evade hostile fire, and

-- Provide "cool" power to move vehicles without generating a "thermal footprint" that can be identified by enemy tracking systems.

Permo-Drive recently signed a cooperative research and development agreement with the U.S. Army's National Automotive Center (NAC) to evaluate hybrid-hydraulic driveline systems for military and commercial applications.

In cooperation with the U.S. Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) in Warren, Mich., the company plans to test hybrid-hydraulic technology across a broad range of vehicles.

"RDS technology has the potential to save public and private fleet operators billions of dollars in fuel and maintenance costs," said Chandler. "Trucks account for nearly 81 per cent of the nation's freight business and annually consume more than 42 billion gallons of fuel."

Dennis J. Wend, executive director of the U.S. Army National Automotive Center, said that "In our modeling and simulation work to date, hybrid- hydraulic systems have shown the potential to provide significant fuel-economy savings for future generations of trucks. It's important to note that these systems can be installed on existing vehicles as well."

Wend pointed out that the U.S. Army operates a fleet of nearly 250,000 vehicles that is being transformed into "a lighter, more mobile and more fuel- efficient fleet."

The National Automotive Center (NAC) is a division of TARDEC and is the Department of Defense and U.S. Army focal point for collaborative research and development with industry, academia and other government agencies. The NAC's mission is to "accelerate the infusion of commercially viable technology into military land warfare systems."

Permo-Drive expects to have prototype commercial vehicles equipped with hybrid-hydraulic systems available for testing in major North American vehicle fleets later this year and plans to introduce the technology commercially in 2005.

Permo-Drive Technologies Ltd. is an Australia-based company focused on the development of regenerative energy-management systems for the automotive industry. More information about the company is available on the Internet at .