Clever engineers store regen energy hydraulically
Lightning Hybrids in Loveland, Colo. won an NI Impact Award in the category of transportation and heavy equipment with a hydraulic system that recycles the energy lost during vehicle braking. Ordinary hybrids generally capture braking energy by energizing a generator that charges a battery. The Lightning Hybrids technique is to use the work of slowing the vehicle to build pressure via hydraulic motors that move fluid from a low-pressure to a high-pressure tank so it can accelerate the vehicle later on. The factory brakes are only needed for emergency stops, traction control, or other non-typical stopping requirements. When the vehicle accelerates, the system actuates valves to let hydraulic motors power the axle. The available hybrid torque is calculated and used to reduce the throttle signal sent to the engine, thereby reducing fuel, emissions, and engine wear. Lightning Hybrids personnel also described the system during a Wednesday keynote.