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Thursday, 15 September 2011

New project drives towards cleaner, greener cars

Imperial College
Sept 9, 2011

Creating the tools to help the UK automotive industry to develop the next generation of low emission vehicles will be the focus of a new £3.5 million academic consortium, which starts work this month.

The consortium, which includes engineers from Imperial College London, aims to devise new computer models to test the components and systems that power zero emission electric and hybrid vehicles. They hope this will lead to vehicles that are more affordable and better designed than current models.

Dr Gregory Offer, from the Department of Earth Science and Engineering, who will lead Imperial’s project, says:

“Approximately 70 million cars are produced each year and only a fraction of them are low emission vehicles. We are still a long way off from developing low emission vehicles that can compete with their combustion engine cousins on performance and price. This project aims to provide much needed support to UK’s automotive industry so that ultimately, our motorways in 50 year’s time will be cleaner and greener.”

Low emission vehicles use electric motors, controlled by power electronics and powered by a combination of different technologies including batteries, fuel cells and supercapacitors. One of the current problems with low emission vehicles is there limited range. This is because they need many batteries and these can be very heavy, creating drag, which in turn means the cars use more energy.
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