Mechanical hybrid powertrains have the potential to improve the fuel economy of passenger vehicles at a relatively low cost, by adding a flywheel and only mechanical transmission components to a conventional powertrain. This paper presents a systematic approach to optimizing the topology and flywheel size, which are the key design parameters of a mechanical hybrid powertrain. The topology is optimized from a limited set of over 20 existing mechanical hybrid powertrains described in the literature. After a systematic classification of the topologies, a set of four competitive powertrains is selected for further investigation. The fuel-saving potential of each hybrid powertrain is computed using an optimal energy controller and modular component models, for various flywheel sizes and for three certified driving cycles. The hybridization cost is estimated based on the type and size of the components. Other criteria, such as control complexity, clutch wear, and driving comfort are qualitatively evaluated to put the fuel-saving potential and the hybridization cost into a wider perspective. Results show that, for each of the four investigated hybrid powertrains, the fuel-saving benefit returns the hybridization investment well within (about 50%) the service life of passenger vehicles. The optimal topology follows from a discussion that considers all the optimization criteria. The associated optimal flywheel size has an energy storage capacity that is approximately equivalent to the kinetic energy of the vehicle during urban driving (50 km/h).
- Continuously variable transmission (CVT)
- hybrid powertrain
- optimal control