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Title:
ENERGY CONVERSION ARRANGEMENT FOR A VEHICLE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/162869
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An energy conversion arrangement is disclosed. The energy conversion arrangement is configured to be included or installed in a vehicle (100) which includes a motor (112) for operative propulsion thereof. The energy conversion arrangement includes a wheel-driven alternator (122), a first coupling member (124) and a second coupling member (126). The first coupling member (124) is configured to couple the wheel-driven alternator (122) drivingly to the vehicle (100) such that operative rotation of a wheel (102) of the vehicle (100) drives the wheel-driven alternator (122). The second coupling member (126) is configured to couple the wheel-driven alternator (122) electrically to an energy storage component (110) of the vehicle (100), permitting kinetic energy associated with rotation of the wheel (102) operatively to be converted into electrical energy and stored in the energy storage component (110). The wheel-driven alternator (122) is not drivingly connected to the motor (112) of the vehicle (100), in use. A vehicle (100) which includes such an energy conversion arrangement is also disclosed.

Inventors:
KOMAL, Sandhaya (63 Kingfischer Crescent, Bushwillow Park,,Greenston, 2001 Johannesburg, 2001, ZA)
SEWNARAIN, Vishen (63 Kingfischer Crescent, Bushwillow Park,,Greenston, 2001 Johannesburg, 2001, ZA)
Application Number:
IB2019/051417
Publication Date:
August 29, 2019
Filing Date:
February 21, 2019
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
KOMAL, Sandhaya (63 Kingfischer Crescent, Bushwillow Park,,Greenston, 2001 Johannesburg, 2001, ZA)
SEWNARAIN, Vishen (63 Kingfischer Crescent, Bushwillow Park,,Greenston, 2001 Johannesburg, 2001, ZA)
International Classes:
B60K25/08
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DAVIES, James, Hasely (Adams & Adams, PO Box 101, 0001 Pretoria, 0001, ZA)
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Claims:
CLAIMS

1. An energy conversion arrangement for a vehicle, the vehicle having a motor for operative propulsion thereof, the energy conversion arrangement including: a wheel-driven alternator; a first coupling member for drivingly coupling the wheel-driven alternator to the vehicle such that operative rotation of a wheel of the vehicle drives the wheel-driven alternator, wherein the wheel-driven alternator is not drivingly connected to the motor of the vehicle, in use; and a second coupling member for electrically coupling the wheel-driven alternator to an energy storage component of the vehicle, thereby permitting kinetic energy associated with rotation of the wheel operatively to be converted into electrical energy and stored in the energy storage component.

2. The energy conversion arrangement according to claim 1 , wherein the first coupling member couples or is configured to couple the wheel-driven alternator drivingly to the wheel of the vehicle.

3. The energy conversion arrangement according to claim 1 or claim 2, wherein the wheel of the vehicle is a non-motor driven wheel of the vehicle.

4. The energy conversion arrangement according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the first coupling member includes a pulley or a pulley arrangement.

5. The energy conversion arrangement according to claim 4, wherein the pulley or pulley arrangement is mounted or configured to be mounted directly to the wheel or to a stub axle of the wheel.

6. The energy conversion arrangement according to claim 4 or claim 5, wherein the pulley arrangement includes a wheel-side pulley and an alternator- side pulley that are operatively drivingly connected to each other.

7. The energy conversion arrangement according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the energy storage component includes at least one battery and/or at least one capacitor.

8. The energy conversion arrangement according to claim 7, wherein the energy storage component includes at least one battery, and wherein the second coupling member includes one or both of a battery charger and a battery charger port.

9. A vehicle which includes an energy conversion arrangement according to any one of the preceding claims.

10. The vehicle according to claim 9, wherein the vehicle is a fuel-driven motor vehicle or a hybrid motor vehicle which includes an internal combustion engine and an engine alternator, wherein the engine alternator is drivingly connected to the internal combustion engine and electrically connected to the energy storage component, thereby permitting charging of the energy storage component from two different sources.

11. A vehicle which includes a plurality of wheels, wherein an energy conversion arrangement according any one of claims 1 to 8 is coupled to each of two or more of the plurality of wheels.

12. A vehicle which includes: at least one wheel; a motor for operative propulsion of the vehicle; an energy storage component; a wheel-driven alternator; a first coupling member drivingly coupling the wheel-driven alternator to the vehicle such that operative rotation of the wheel drives the wheel-driven alternator, wherein the wheel-driven alternator is not drivingly connected to the motor; and a second coupling member electrically coupling the wheel-driven alternator to the energy storage component, thereby permitting kinetic energy associated with rotation of the wheel operatively to be converted to electrical energy and stored in the energy storage component.

13. The vehicle according to claim 12, wherein the first coupling member couples the wheel-driven alternator drivingly to the wheel of the vehicle.

14. The vehicle according to claim 12 or claim 13, wherein the wheel of the vehicle is a non-motor driven wheel of the vehicle.

15. The vehicle according to any one of claims 12 to 14, wherein the first coupling member includes a pulley or a pulley arrangement.

16. The vehicle according to claim 15, wherein the pulley or pulley arrangement is mounted or configured to be mounted directly to the wheel or to a stub axle of the wheel.

17. The vehicle according to claim 15 or claim 16, wherein the pulley arrangement includes a wheel-side pulley and an alternator-side pulley that are operatively drivingly connected to each other.

18. The vehicle according any one of claims 12 to 17, wherein the energy storage component includes at least one battery and/or at least one capacitor.

19. The vehicle according to claim 18, wherein the energy storage component includes at least one battery, and wherein the second coupling member includes one or both of a battery charger and a battery charger port.

20. The vehicle according to any one of claims 12 to 19, wherein the vehicle is a fuel-driven motor vehicle or a hybrid motor vehicle which includes an internal combustion engine and an engine alternator, wherein the engine alternator is drivingly connected to the internal combustion engine and electrically connected to the energy storage component, thereby permitting charging of the energy storage component from two different sources.

Description:
ENERGY CONVERSION ARRANGEMENT FOR A VEHICLE

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates, broadly, to energy conversion and storage in vehicles. More specifically, the invention relates to an energy conversion arrangement for a vehicle and to a vehicle including an energy conversion arrangement.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A fuel-driven motor vehicle is typically powered by an internal combustion engine, while an electric motor vehicle is powered by an electric motor which draws power from a battery. When the battery runs low, a conventional electric vehicle (often referred to as an all-electric vehicle) would usually be connected to an external source of electricity, e.g. a charging station.

Hybrid motor vehicles have also been developed, incorporating both an internal combustion engine and electric motor. In a hybrid vehicle, an alternator driven by the internal combustion engine may be configured to charge the battery, which in turn powers the electric motor. Hybrid vehicles typically include smaller engines than conventional fuel-driven motor vehicles, which may lead to fuel savings and lower emissions. Some forms of hybrid vehicles, known as“plug- in hybrids”, may also be charged from an external source when the vehicle is in a resting state.

The Inventors are aware of so-called“regenerative braking” systems that are employed in some electric and hybrid vehicles. Regenerative braking refers to the conversion of a vehicle's kinetic energy into chemical energy stored in the battery, where it can be used to drive the vehicle or power auxiliary vehicle components. In use, when the brakes are applied, electronic circuits cut power to the electric motor and the vehicle’s kinetic energy and momentum cause the wheels of the vehicle to drive the motor in reverse, such that the motor produces electricity (e.g., by means of driving an alternator) instead of consuming it, thereby functioning as a generator.

The Inventors have identified a need for an enhanced or improved energy conversion arrangement to address the issue of energy associated with the free rotation of wheels being lost, in electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles, as well as in fuel-driven vehicles.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In accordance with one aspect of the invention, there is provided an energy conversion arrangement for a vehicle, the vehicle having a motor for operative propulsion thereof, the energy conversion arrangement including:

a wheel-driven alternator;

a first coupling member for drivingly coupling the wheel-driven alternator to the vehicle such that operative rotation of a wheel of the vehicle drives the wheel-driven alternator, wherein the wheel-driven alternator is not drivingly connected to the motor of the vehicle, in use; and

a second coupling member for electrically coupling the wheel-driven alternator to an energy storage component of the vehicle, thereby permitting kinetic energy associated with rotation of the wheel operatively to be converted into electrical energy and stored in the energy storage component. In some embodiments, the vehicle may be a motor vehicle, e.g. a four-wheel motor vehicle which includes a drivetrain configured to deliver power from the motor to the wheels.

The motor may be an electric motor or an internal combustion engine. In some embodiments, the vehicle may include an electric motor and an internal combustion engine, both of which may be connected or connectable to a drivetrain.

The energy storage component may include at least one battery/batteries or at least one capacitor(s).

The first coupling member may couple or be configured to couple the wheel- driven alternator drivingly to the wheel of the vehicle.

In some embodiments, the wheel to which the wheel-driven alternator is drivingly coupled may be a non-motor driven wheel, e.g., a free turning wheel.

The first coupling member may be/include a pulley or a pulley arrangement. The pulley or pulley arrangement may be operatively mounted to a stub axle of the wheel. Alternatively, the pulley or pulley arrangement may be mounted directly to the wheel, e.g. to an inner rim of the wheel.

In some embodiments, the first coupling member may include a pulley arrangement which includes a wheel-side pulley and an alternator-side pulley that are operatively drivingly connected to each other. The pulley arrangement may provide a ratio of 1 rotation of the wheel to a plurality of rotations of the alternator or alternator-side pulley, e.g. approximately 6, 7, or more rotations. The second coupling member may include a battery charger and/or a battery charger port.

The wheel-driven alternator and/or the first coupling member may further be configured to drive one or more of a power steering system of the vehicle, an air-conditioning system of the vehicle, an air pump of the vehicle and a hydraulic ram of the vehicle.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, there is provided a vehicle which includes an energy conversion arrangement substantially as described above.

In some embodiments, the vehicle may include a plurality of the energy conversion arrangements. Each energy conversion arrangement may be coupled to a different wheel of the vehicle. In other words, the vehicle may include a plurality of wheels and each of the wheels (or each of two or more of the wheels) may have such an energy conversion arrangement coupled thereto.

In accordance with a further aspect of the invention, there is provided a vehicle which includes:

at least one wheel;

a motor for operative propulsion of the vehicle;

an energy storage component;

a wheel-driven alternator;

a first coupling member drivingly coupling the wheel-driven alternator to the vehicle such that operative rotation of the wheel drives the wheel-driven alternator, wherein the wheel-driven alternator is not drivingly connected to the motor; and a second coupling member electrically coupling the wheel-driven alternator to the energy storage component, thereby permitting kinetic energy associated with rotation of the wheel operatively to be converted to electrical energy and stored in the energy storage component.

The energy storage component may be a battery. The vehicle may include a DC-DC converter which electrically couples the battery to one or more auxiliary vehicle components, e.g. a vehicle computer, vehicle electronics, electrical outputs, charging points, or the like. The vehicle may also include an inverter which electrically couples the battery to the motor.

The vehicle may include an auxiliary battery. The wheel-driven alternator may be electrically coupled to both the battery and the auxiliary battery, e.g. by way of a charge controller.

In some embodiments, the vehicle may include a regenerative braking system.

In some embodiments, the vehicle may be a fuel-driven motor vehicle or a hybrid motor vehicle which includes an internal combustion engine and an engine alternator, the engine alternator being drivingly connected to the internal combustion engine and electrically connected to the energy storage component, thereby permitting charging of the energy storage component from two different sources.

In the context of this specification, the term“wheel-driven alternator” may be distinguishable from a conventional engine-driven alternator which is known in the art and which is typically present in motor vehicles. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention will now be further described, by way of example, with reference to the accompanying diagrammatic drawings.

In the drawings:

FIG. 1 shows a schematic illustration of a first embodiment of a vehicle according to the invention; and

FIG. 2 shows a schematic illustration of a second embodiment of a vehicle according to the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION WITH REFERENCE TO THE DRAWINGS

The following description of the invention is provided as an enabling teaching of the invention. Those skilled in the relevant art will recognise that many changes can be made to the embodiments described, while still attaining the beneficial results of the present invention. It will also be apparent that some of the desired benefits of the present invention can be attained by selecting some of the features of the present invention without utilising other features. Accordingly, those skilled in the art will recognise that modifications and adaptations to the present invention are possible and can even be desirable in certain circumstances, and are a part of the present invention. Thus, the following description is provided as illustrative of the principles of the present invention and not a limitation thereof.

FIGs 1 and 2 schematically illustrate two example embodiments of vehicles 100, 200 which include embodiments of energy conversion arrangements, according to the invention. FIGs 1 and 2 only illustrate certain components of the vehicles 100, 200, necessary to describe components and functionality of embodiments of the invention, and it will be appreciated that many components have been omitted in order to facilitate the description and exemplification of certain features of the invention.

The vehicle 100 shown in FIG. 1 is an all-electric, four-wheel (see wheels 102, 104, 106 and 108 in FIG. 1 ) motor vehicle fitted with an embodiment of an energy conversion arrangement 101 according to the invention.

The vehicle 100 includes a battery array 1 10 which operatively powers an AC electric motor 1 12 via an inverter 1 14, such that the motor 1 12 can operatively propel the vehicle 100. The vehicle 100 further includes a conventional drivetrain 1 16 for delivering power from the motor 1 12 to the wheels 106, 108.

The battery array 1 10 is electrically coupled to a DC-DC converter 1 18 which operatively feeds power to a vehicle computer and various vehicle electronics 120, as will be well understood by those of ordinary skill in the art.

In the example of FIG. 1 , the vehicle 100 is provided with a wheel-driven alternator 122 which is drivingly coupled to a pulley arrangement 124 mounted to the left front wheel 102 of the vehicle 100.

In this embodiment, the vehicle 100 is a rear wheel drive vehicle and the wheel- driven alternator 122 is thus drivingly coupled to one of the non-motor driven wheels 102.

In this embodiment, the pulley arrangement 124 includes a wheel-side pulley (not shown) directly mounted to an inner rim of the wheel 102 and an alternator- side pulley (not shown) which is drivingly connected (e.g., by a belt, chain, or cable) to the wheel-side pulley and which is configured to drive rotation of a rotor shaft (not shown) of the wheel-driven alternator 122. The vehicle 100 further includes a battery charger 126 which electrically couples the wheel-driven alternator 122 to the battery array 1 10.

In this example, therefore, the energy conversion arrangement 101 includes the pulley arrangement 124, the wheel-driven alternator 122 and the charger 126. The pulley arrangement 124 operatively functions as a first coupling member for drivingly coupling the wheel-driven alternator 122 to the vehicle 100 such that operative rotation of the wheel 102 drives the wheel-driven alternator 122. The charger 126 operatively functions as a second coupling member for electrically coupling the wheel-driven alternator 122 to the battery array 1 10. It will be understood from the above description and FIG.1 that the wheel-driven alternator 122 is not drivingly connected to the motor 1 12 of the vehicle 100.

In use, while the vehicle 100 is moving, rotation of the wheel 102 causes the pulley arrangement 124 to drive the alternator 122, which in turn causes the alternator 122 to charge one or more batteries in the array 1 10. This permits kinetic energy associated with rotation of the wheel 102 operatively to be converted to electrical energy and stored in the battery array 1 10 for use to power the motor 1 12.

In this embodiment, the vehicle 100 further includes a conventional external charging port 128 to permit the battery array 1 10 to be charged when the vehicle 100 is in a resting state.

The Inventors have found that the vehicle 100 may overcome or reduce (at least to some extent) the need for an internal combustion engine by permitting free wheel rotation to drive the alternator 122, charging the battery array 1 10 by utilising the momentum of one or more wheels while in free rotation when travelling on straights, down hills and while the motor 1 12 drives the vehicle 200 uphill. The Inventors have found that the above configuration may be advantageous in that the vehicle 100 consumes little or substantially no gasoline, has little or no exhaust emissions and requires relatively infrequent charging from external power sources, thus functioning in an environmentally friendly manner while utilising existing kinetic energy that may be lost to the environment in conventional configurations.

The example vehicle 200 shown in FIG. 2 is a four-wheel hybrid electric motor vehicle which is also fitted with an energy conversion arrangement 201 . The energy conversion arrangement 201 is substantially similar to the arrangement 101 as described with reference to FIG. 1 . The vehicle 200 of FIG. 2 includes many of the components/elements of the vehicle 100 of FIG. 1 , and like reference numerals refer to like components/elements.

While the vehicle 100 may include relatively a large battery array 1 10, the vehicle 200 includes a smaller battery pack 202. The vehicle 204 also includes a fuel tank 204 for supplying fuel to an internal combustion engine 206. The vehicle 200 is thus a hybrid type vehicle, i.e. the engine 206 and the electric motor 1 12 can be interchangeably used to supply power to the drivetrain 1 16.

The vehicle 200 further includes a conventional engine-driven alternator 208, i.e. an alternator that is drivingly connected or mechanically coupled to the engine 206. The engine-driven alternator 208 serves to charge the battery pack 202, in use.

As mentioned above, the vehicle 200 includes the energy conversion arrangement described with reference to FIG. 1 . In other words, it also includes the wheel-driven alternator 122 which is driven by rotation of the wheel 102 (and which is not drivingly connected to the motor 1 12 or the engine 206). In this embodiment, therefore, two different sources of kinetic energy (the engine 206 and the wheel 102) are used to charge the battery pack 202. The Inventors believe that this may enhance energy conversion and/or storage capabilities of a vehicle.

It will be appreciated that the energy conversion arrangement as described above may be fitted to more than one wheel of a vehicle, e.g. one such arrangement per wheel. In some cases, the arrangement may be distributed across a number of wheels, e.g., one wheel-driven alternator may be coupled to two wheels.

The Inventors have found that, in providing energy to the charger 126, it may be optional or preferable to provide a ratio of approximately 1 rotation of a wheel to about 6, 7 or more rotations of the alternator 122 in the pulley arrangement 124.

It is envisaged that the energy conversion arrangement substantially as described herein may also be used to drive other vehicle systems or components, such as:

• a power steering system, e.g., with a 1 : 1 pulley arrangement ratio;

• an air-conditioning system, e.g., with a 1 : 1 pulley arrangement ration;

• a multi-point charging arrangement, e.g., with a 1 :6 pulley arrangement ration;

• an air pump, e.g., with a 1 : 1 pulley arrangement ratio; and/or

• an hydraulic ram, e.g., with a 1 : 1 pulley arrangement ratio.

The Inventors believe that, in addition to the advantages discussed above, the regenerative capability of the energy conversion arrangement as described herein may lead to decreased effort being associated with electric or hybrid vehicles, as less charging may be required, and/or may reduce the risk of external charging cable damage. The Inventors further believe that embodiments of the invention may be implemented in fuel-driven vehicles, electric vehicles as well as hybrid vehicles. Furthermore, embodiments of the invention may be implemented in various other types of motor vehicles, including but not limited to golf carts, motorcycles, light rail vehicles, trams and the like.