British Firm Artemis Turns BMW 5 Series into a ‘Wave Power’ Hybrid Car

By dancurranjr On March 3rd, 2009

wave-power-bmw-5A greener car based on wave power technology? It sounds like a PR stretch too far but examine Artemis Intelligent Power’s idea further and you see why the analogy is apt.

The Edinburgh-based company yesterday unveiled its retrofit of a BMW 5-series saloon which it claims, using its Digital Displacement technology, can double its miles per gallon of fuel – and all without any heavy batteries.

Digital Displacement is a purely hydraulic system that sits between a car’s engine and wheels. The car’s engine drives a pump which pushes a pressurised hydraulic fluid to drive electric motors on the rear wheels.

When the car brakes, the system goes into reverse – some of the energy that is normally lost as heat in the brake discs is captured and stored by pressurising a gas cylinder. During acceleration, the pressurised gas is then used to drive the motors.

The wave-power part comes from the way the hydraulics turn these slow and irregular waves into a steady supply of power for electrical generators. The hydraulics are managed by computers to keep the power flow constant.

Win Rampen, director of Artemis said: “Our technology represents a serious step forward in terms of cost-effective fuel economy improvement. The system will be much less expensive than electric hybrids, and will help to make hybrid vehicles an economic, rather than a lifestyle choice.”

The test car runs on a mixture of stored energy and petrol and, in combined city and motorway driving, it cut its carbon emissions by an average of 30% with no compromise in performance. The technology seems most useful for urban use and for buses and vans: wherever vehicles need to do a lot of stop-start driving and plenty of braking.

Artemis, set up by Edinburgh University researchers, has been touting its technology idea for some time. The project was supported by the Department for Transport and the Energy Saving Trust as a promising mechanical transmission alternative to the stable of electronic transmission hybrid cars planned by mainstream manufacturers later this year.

In April, Honda launches its “Prius-killer”, the Insight. This is a petrol-electric hybrid family car that will cost from £15,490 in the UK. Further down the line, slated for July, is Toyota’s new Prius. The car will appear at next week’s Geneva motor show and rumours abound about its improvements – an overall power increase of 22% and CO2 emissions down to 89g/km. Let’s wait and see.

SOURCE: Guardian

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