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Title:
METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR ELIMINATING FUEL CONSUMPTION DURING DYNAMIC BRAKING OF ELECTRIC DRIVE MACHINES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2012/024251
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
A drive system (100, 100a-c) for an electric drive machine (102, 102a-c) having an engine (104, 104a-c), a generator (106, 106a-c), a motor (108, 108a-c), final drive wheels (110, 110a-c) and auxiliary devices (116, 116a-c) is provided. The drive system (100, 100a-c) may include an inverter circuit (118, 118a-c) and an auxiliary driver (120, 120a-c). The inverter circuit (118, 118a-c) may be coupled to each of the generator (106, 106a-c) and the motor (108, 108a-c). The auxiliary driver (120, 120a-c) may be coupled to each of the generator (106, 106a-c) and the auxiliary devices (116, 116a-c). The inverter circuit (118, 118a-c) and the auxiliary driver (120, 120a-c) may be configured to automatically communicate power from the engine (104, 104a-c) and any power from the auxiliary devices (116, 116a-c) to the motor (108, 108a-c) in a propel mode, and automatically communicate power from the motor (108, 108a-c) to the engine (104, 104a-c), and optionally to a hybrid system (132) if applicable, in a dynamic braking mode so as to minimize fuel consumption during the dynamic braking mode.

Inventors:
MARCHAND, David, G. (10926 North Higherest Lane, Dunlap, IL, 61525, US)
SELVEY, Dustin, C. (1122 Brookview Court, Peoria, IL, 61615, US)
Application Number:
US2011/047835
Publication Date:
February 23, 2012
Filing Date:
August 16, 2011
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
CATERPILLAR INC. (100 N.E. Adams Street, Peoria, IL, 61629-9510, US)
MARCHAND, David, G. (10926 North Higherest Lane, Dunlap, IL, 61525, US)
SELVEY, Dustin, C. (1122 Brookview Court, Peoria, IL, 61615, US)
International Classes:
H02P3/16; B60W10/18
Foreign References:
KR100419937B12004-02-25
JPS5098405U1975-08-15
JP2005012900A2005-01-13
KR20100028403A2010-03-12
US7034480B22006-04-25
US6488608B22002-12-03
EP2193969A12010-06-09
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WATERFIELD, L., Glenn et al. (100 N.E. Adams Street, Peoria, IL, 61629-9510, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. A drive system (100) for a machine having an engine (104) coupled to a generator (106), a motor (108) operatively coupled to drive wheels (110), and auxiliary devices (116), the drive system (100) comprising:

an inverter circuit (118) coupled to each of the generator (106) and the motor (108); and

an auxiliary driver (120) coupled to each of the generator (106) and the auxiliary devices (116), the inverter circuit (118) and the auxiliary driver (120) configured to automatically communicate power from the engine (104) and any power from the auxiliary devices (116) to the motor (108) in a propel mode, and automatically communicate power from the motor (108) to the engine (104) in a dynamic braking mode so as to minimize fuel consumption during the dynamic braking mode.

2. The drive system (100) of claim 1, wherein the auxiliary driver (120) includes at least one of an auxiliary generator (150) and a winding assembly (144) mechanically coupled to the generator (106) and electrically coupled to the auxiliary devices (116).

3. The drive system (100) of claim 1, wherein the inverter circuit (118) includes one or more of an inverter (124) and a rectifier (122) configured to automatically communicate electrical power from the generator (106) to the motor (108) so as to at least partially drive the drive wheels (110) during the propel mode, and automatically configured to communicate electrical power from the motor (108) to the generator (106) so as to transmit power to the engine (104) during the dynamic braking mode.

4. The drive system (100) of claim 1, wherein the inverter circuit

(118) includes a bidirectional inverter (142) configured to automatically communicate electrical power from the generator (106) to the motor (108) so as to at least partially drive the drive wheels (110) during the propel mode, and automatically communicate electrical power from the motor (108) to the generator (106) so as to transmit power to the engine (104) during the dynamic braking mode.

5. The drive system (100) of claim 1, wherein the inverter circuit (118) is electrically coupled to a retarding grid (112) and the auxiliary driver (120) is in electrical communication with a grid cooling system (114), control of the grid cooling system (114) being independent from control of the retarding grid (112).

6. A method for eliminating fuel consumption during dynamic braking of an electric drive machine (102) having an engine (104) coupled to a generator (106), a motor (108) operatively coupled to drive wheels (110), and auxiliary devices (116), the method comprising the steps of:

providing an inverter circuit (118) in electrical communication between the generator (106) and the motor (108);

providing an auxiliary driver (120) in electro-mechanical communication between the generator (106) and the auxiliary devices (116);

determining a current mode of operation of the electric drive machine

(102);

automatically directing electrical power from the generator (106) to the motor (108) in a propel mode through at least one of the inverter circuit (118) and the auxiliary driver (120) if the current mode of operation is in a propel mode; and

automatically directing electro-mechanical power from the motor (108) to the engine (104) in a dynamic braking mode through at least one of the inverter circuit (118) and the auxiliary driver (120) if the current mode of operation is in a dynamic braking mode.

7. The method of claim 6, wherein the auxiliary driver (120) includes at least one of an auxiliary generator (150) and a winding assembly (144) coupled to each of the generator (106) and auxiliary devices (116).

8. The method of claim 6, wherein the inverter circuit (118) includes a bidirectional inverter (142) configured to automatically communicate electrical power from the generator (106) to the motor (108) so as to at least partially drive the drive wheels (110) during the propel mode, and automatically communicate electrical power from the motor (108) to the generator (106) so as to transmit power to the engine (104) during the dynamic braking mode.

9. The method of claim 6, wherein the inverter circuit (118) is electrically coupled to a retarding grid (112) and the auxiliary driver (120) is in electrical communication with a grid cooling system (114), control of the grid cooling system (114) being independent from control of the retarding grid (112).

10. The method of claim 6 further comprising the step of automatically communicating power only between the auxiliary devices (116) and the engine (104) via the generator (106) if the current mode of operation is in an idling mode.

Description:
Method and System for Eliminating Fuel Consumption During Dynamic Braking of Electric Drive Machines

Technical Field

The present disclosure relates generally to the operation of electric drive machines, and more particularly, to systems and methods that eliminate fuel consumption during dynamic braking.

Background

Electric drive systems for machines typically include a power circuit that selectively activates a motor at a desired torque. The motor is typically connected to a wheel or other traction device that operates to propel the machine. An electric drive system includes a prime mover, for example, an internal combustion engine, that drives a generator. The generator produces electrical power that is used to drive the motor. When the machine is propelled, mechanical power produced by the engine is converted to electrical power at the generator. This electrical power is often processed and/or conditioned before being supplied to the motor. The motor transforms the electrical power back into mechanical power to drive the wheels and propel the vehicle.

The machine is retarded in a mode of operation during which the operator desires to decelerate the machine. To retard the machine in this mode, the power from the engine is reduced. Typical machines also include brakes and other mechanisms for retarding to decelerate and/or stop the machine. As the machine decelerates, the momentum of the machine is transferred to the motor via rotation of the wheels. The motor acts as a generator to convert the kinetic energy of the machine to electrical energy that is supplied to the drive system. The efficiency of the drive system may rely on how this electrical energy is treated. In order to improve the efficiency of such machines for instance, the electrical energy is stored in batteries for later use, dissipated via retarding grids, partially used to power blowers for cooling retarding grids, and the like. While such strategies for absorbing the machine's kinetic energy may prove useful, there are some significant drawbacks. Some machines, such as some hybrid machines, are configured to store the electrical energy provided by the motor during a retarding mode of operation in energy storage devices or batteries for later use. More specifically, the stored energy is used to power auxiliary devices and/or drive motors during idling or propel modes of operation so as to minimize engine involvement and reduce fuel consumption. Although such storage configurations may reduce fuel consumption during retarding modes, the extra weight added to the vehicle may in fact increase fuel consumption during propel modes. Implementing storage configurations also introduces significant cost and technological limitations, among other things.

A favored alternative to storage configurations serves to simply waste the energy in the form of heat via a dynamic braking retarding grid of resistors and insulators. To minimize overheating, a grid cooling system having an electrically driven blower is often used to help dissipate the heat from the retarding grid. In more efficient configurations, the blower motor is powered by the waste energy such that the engine is not required to cool the retarding grid. Accordingly, such configurations substantially eliminate fuel consumption during retarding modes of operation and overcome the disadvantages associated with energy storage devices. However, retarding grid configurations introduce several control limitations. Among other things, these configurations prohibit operation of the grid cooling system without providing significant braking force. More specifically, because the grid cooling system is powered only by waste energy that is supplied by the motor during retarding modes, the grid cooling system is unable to operate once the machine exits the retarding mode without absorbing a prohibitively large amount of power from the engine and consuming diesel fuel. This introduces a concern with retarding grids that are susceptible to temperature overshoot conditions, or conditions in which the temperatures of the resistive elements and insulators of the retarding grid sharply increase once a blower is shut off. Furthermore, in low-power retarding modes, or when the retarding arrangement is operating at less than nominal power, the shared DC bus of the drive system may collapse due to the comparatively large retarding requirement. Control systems which redirect the electrical energy generated from motors during retarding or braking modes of operation, or regenerative energy, back into the engine are known to those skilled in the art as a means to reduce fuel consumption and improve efficiency. Some existing control systems include a drive system which feeds power generated by traction motors during dynamic braking back into the main alternator to rotate the engine. However, the retarding grids and the grid cooling mechanisms of such systems are linked to the same bus, and thus, cannot be independently controlled. Furthermore, all of these systems specifically require switching of a transfer switch in order to redirect power to the engine during dynamic braking modes.

Therefore, there is a need for a drive system and method which eliminates fuel consumption during dynamic braking modes of operation and improves the overall efficiency of an electric drive machine. Specifically, there is a need for an electric drive system and method which automatically and more efficiently redirects power generated at the traction motor into the engine during dynamic braking modes. There is also a need for an electric drive system and method which provides control of a grid cooling system that is independent from control of the associated retarding grid.

Summary of the Disclosure

In one aspect of the present disclosure, a drive system is disclosed for a machine having an engine coupled to a generator, a motor operatively coupled to drive wheels, and auxiliary devices. The drive system includes an inverter circuit coupled to each of the generator and the motor, and an auxiliary driver coupled to each of the generator and the auxiliary devices. The inverter circuit and the auxiliary driver are configured to automatically communicate power from the engine and any power from the auxiliary devices to the motor in a propel mode, and automatically communicate power from the motor to the engine in a dynamic braking mode so as to minimize fuel consumption during the dynamic braking mode.

In another aspect of the disclosure, an electric drive machine is disclosed. The electric drive machine includes an engine, a generator operatively coupled to the engine, a motor operatively coupled to one or more drive wheels, a bidirectional inverter circuit coupled to each of the generator and the motor, and an auxiliary driver coupled to each of the generator and the auxiliary devices. The inverter circuit and the auxiliary driver are configured to automatically communicate power from the engine to the motor in a propel mode, and automatically communicate power from the motor to the engine in a dynamic braking mode. The auxiliary driver is configured to transmit power to a DC bus during the dynamic braking mode. The electric drive machine additionally includes a retarding grid coupled to the inverter circuit, and a grid cooling system coupled to the DC bus and configured to selectively cool the retarding grid.

Control of the grid cooling system is independent from control of the retarding grid.

In yet another aspect of the disclosure, a method for eliminating fuel consumption during dynamic braking of an electric drive machine is disclosed. The machine includes at least an engine coupled to a generator, a motor operatively coupled to drive wheels, and auxiliary devices. The method provides an inverter circuit in electrical communication between the generator and the motor as well as an auxiliary driver in electro-mechanical communication between the generator and the auxiliary devices. The method further determines a current mode of operation of the electric drive machine, automatically directs electrical power from the generator to the motor in a propel mode through at least one of the inverter circuit and the auxiliary driver if the current mode of operation is in a propel mode, and automatically directs electro-mechanical power from the motor to the engine in a dynamic braking mode through at least one of the inverter circuit and the auxiliary driver if the current mode of operation is in a dynamic braking mode.

Brief Description of the Drawings

Figure 1 is a general schematic view of an exemplary embodiment of a drive system as applied to an electric drive machine;

Figure 2 is a detailed schematic view of another exemplary drive system; Figure 3 is a detailed schematic view of another exemplary drive system;

Figure 4 is a detailed schematic view of another exemplary drive system;

Figure 5 is a schematic view of an exemplary controller for an electric drive system;

Figure 6 is a flow diagram of an exemplary method for eliminating fuel consumption in an electric drive machine;

Figure 7 is a diagrammatic view of an electric drive machine in a propel mode of operation;

Figure 8 is a diagrammatic view of an electric drive machine in a dynamic braking mode of operation; and

Figure 9 is a diagrammatic view of an electric drive machine in an idling mode of operation. Detailed Description

Reference will now be made in detail to specific embodiments or features, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings.

Generally, corresponding reference numbers will be used throughout the drawings to refer to the same or corresponding parts.

Figure 1 schematically illustrates an exemplary drive system 100 as applied to an electric drive machine 102, such as an off-road truck, or the like. The electric drive machine 102 may include an engine 104, a generator 106, one or more traction motors 108, one or more final drive wheels 110, a retarding grid 112, a grid cooling system 114 and one or more auxiliary devices 116. As shown, the drive system 100 may provide the machine 102 with at least an inverter circuit 118 and an auxiliary driver 120. The inverter circuit 118 may include one or more rectifiers 122, inverters 124, or any combination thereof, and be disposed between the generator 106 and the motor 108. The auxiliary driver 120 may be disposed between the generator 106 and the auxiliary devices 116 and include an auxiliary generator, winding assembly, or any other means for allowing bidirectional electrical communication therebetween. During a propel mode of operation, or when the machine 102 is being accelerated, power may be transferred from the engine 104 and toward the drive wheels 110, as indicated by solid arrows, to cause movement. Specifically, the engine 104 may produce an output torque to the generator 106, which may in turn convert the mechanical torque into electrical power. The electrical power may be generated in the form of alternating current (AC) power. The AC power may then be converted to direct current (DC) and converted again to the appropriate amount of AC power by the inverter circuit 118. The resulting AC power may then be used to drive the one or more motors 108 and the drive wheels 110, as is well known in the art. Also, during the propel mode, the auxiliary driver 120 may communicate any power supplied by the generator 106 to one or more auxiliary devices 116, and/or communicate any power supplied by one or more auxiliary devices 116 to the generator 106 so as to at least partially drive the engine 104 and the motors 108 as described above.

During a dynamic braking mode of operation, or when the motion of the machine 102 is to be retarded, power may be generated by the mechanical rotation at the drive wheels 110 and directed toward the retarding assembly 112, as indicated by dashed arrows. In particular, the kinetic energy of the moving machine 102 may be converted into rotational power at the drive wheels 110. Rotation of the drive wheels 110 may further rotate the motor 108 so as to generate electrical power, for example, in the form of AC power. The inverter circuit 118 may serve as a bridge to convert the power supplied by the motor 108 into DC power. Dissipation of the DC power generated by the motor 108 may produce a counter-rotational torque at the drive wheels 110 to decelerate the machine 102. Such dissipation may be accomplished by passing the generated current provided by the inverter circuit 118 through a resistance, such as the retarding grid 112 shown. Excess heat generated at the retarding grid 112 may be expelled using the grid cooling system 114. Power to the grid cooling system 114 may be supplied by the generator 106 via a communication path through the auxiliary driver 120. Similarly, the auxiliary driver 120 may supply power provided by the traction generator 106 to any one or more of the other auxiliary devices 116 available on the machine 102. Referring now to Figure 2, a more detailed schematic of one electric drive system 100a as applied to an electric drive machine 102a is provided. As in the embodiment of Figure 1, the machine 102a of Figure 2 may also include an engine 104a, such as an internal combustion engine, or the like, which serves as the machine's primary source of power. The engine 104a may be configured to provide direct or indirect power to parasitic loads 126 via belts, hydraulic systems, and the like. The engine 104a may be mechanically coupled to a main or traction generator 106a through a coupling 128, or the like. The machine 102a may further include one or more traction motors 108a mechanically coupled to one or more final drive wheels 110a via another coupling 128. As in typical electric drive machines 102a, a retarding grid 112a, a grid cooling system 114a and one or more additional auxiliary devices 116a may also be provided. The auxiliary devices 116a may include, for example, a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system 130, a hybrid system 132 having an energy storage device 134 and conditioning circuitry 136, a battery charging device 138, or any electrically driven pump or accessory 140.

As shown in Figure 2, the electric drive system 100a may provide the machine 102a with at least an inverter circuit 118a to provide electrical communication between the generator 106a and the motor 108a. The inverter circuit 118a may include a configuration of one or more rectifiers 122 and inverters 124 as shown in Figure 1. In alternative embodiments, the inverter circuit 118a may provide a parallel configuration of inverters 124 and/or a bidirectional inverter 142 in place of, for example, the rectifier 122 of Figure 1, so as to enable bidirectional communication of electrical power between the generator 106a and the motor 108a. The inverter circuit 118a may additionally be electrically coupled to the retarding grid 112a so as to dissipate any excess energy therethrough. Alternatively, any one or more of the auxiliary devices 116a, such as the hybrid system 132, may also direct any energy generated therefrom toward the auxiliary driver 120a and/or the generator 106a.

Still referring to Figure 2, the electric drive system 100a may further provide the machine 102a with an auxiliary driver 120a to provide electrical communication between the generator 106a and the auxiliary devices 116a. More specifically, the auxiliary driver 120a may include a winding assembly 144 or a series of tapped windings electrically coupled to the generator 106a so as to transform any AC power supplied by the generator 106a to an appropriate amount of AC power as needed by, for example, the individual auxiliary devices 116a. The auxiliary driver 120a may also provide a parallel configuration of inverters 124 or a bidirectional inverter 142 to convert any AC power from the generator 106a to the appropriate DC power necessary for driving the auxiliary devices 116a. The DC power provided by the bidirectional inverter 142 may be supplied in parallel to each of the individual auxiliary devices 116a via a DC bus 146, link, or the like. Similarly, any DC power provided by the auxiliary devices 116a may be transmitted to the auxiliary driver 120a via the DC bus 146, converted into AC power via the bidirectional inverter 142, and supplied to the generator 106a via the winding assembly 144. The auxiliary driver 120a may also be configured to selectively control power to an inverter 124 and/or a blower motor 148 of the grid cooling system 114a via the DC bus 146 in a manner that is independent from control of the retarding grid 112a. As power to the grid cooling system 114a via the DC bus 146 is supplied independently from power to the retarding grid 112a, the grid cooling system 114a may be enabled when predetermined temperature thresholds of the retarding grid 112a are exceeded regardless of the operating mode of the machine 102a.

Turning to Figure 3, an exemplary schematic of another electric drive system 100b as applied to an electric drive machine 102b is provided. As in previous embodiments, the machine 102b of Figure 3 may include an engine 104b configured to provide power to parasitic loads 126 via belts, hydraulic systems, and the like. The engine 104b may also be mechanically coupled to a traction generator 106b through a coupling 128, or the like. Movement of the machine 102b may be provided by one or more traction motors 108b mechanically coupled to one or more final drive wheels 110b via a coupling 128. The machine 102b may additionally provide a retarding grid 112b and a grid cooling system 114b having a blower inverter 124 and a blower motor 148 for actively cooling the retarding grid 112b. In addition to the grid cooling system 114b, other auxiliary devices 116b may include a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system 130, a hybrid system 132 having an energy storage device 134 and conditioning circuitry 136, a battery charging device 138, or any other electrically driven pump or accessory 140.

As in the embodiment of Figure 2, the electric drive system 100b of Figure 3 may provide the machine 102b with at least an inverter circuit 118b to provide electrical communication between the generator 106b and the motor 108b. The inverter circuit 118b may provide a parallel configuration of inverters 124 and/or a bidirectional inverter 142 in place of, for example, the rectifier 122 of Figure 1, so as to enable bidirectional communication of electrical power between the generator 106b and the motor 108b. The inverter circuit 118b may additionally be electrically coupled to the retarding grid 112b and configured to dissipate any excess energy therethrough. Alternatively, any one or more of the auxiliary devices 116b, such as the hybrid system 132, may also direct any energy generated therefrom toward the auxiliary generator 150.

The drive system 100b may also provide an auxiliary driver 120b to provide electrical communication between the generator 106b and the auxiliary devices 116b. In contrast to the winding assembly 144 of Figure 2, the auxiliary driver 120b may include an auxiliary generator 150 that is mechanically coupled to the main or traction generator 106b as shown. Similar to the winding assembly 144, the auxiliary generator 106b may serve to convert any AC power supplied by the generator 106a to an appropriate amount of AC power as needed by, for example, the individual auxiliary devices 116b. A parallel configuration of inverters 124 or a bidirectional inverter 142 may also be provided to convert any AC power from the auxiliary generator 150 to the appropriate DC power necessary for driving the auxiliary devices 116b. The DC power provided by the bidirectional inverter may be supplied in parallel to each of the individual auxiliary devices 116b via DC bus 146, link, or the like. Similarly, any DC power provided by the auxiliary devices 116b may be transmitted to the auxiliary driver 120b via the DC bus 146, converted into AC power via the bidirectional inverter 142 and supplied to the generator 106a via the auxiliary generator 150. The auxiliary driver 120b may also be configured to selectively control power to the grid cooling system 114b via the DC bus 146 in a manner that is independent from control of the retarding grid 112b.

In alternative embodiments, an electric drive system 100c may be modified and fitted onto machines 102c with pre-existing electric drive configurations, as shown for example in Figure 4. As in previous embodiments, the machine 102c of Figure 4 may include an engine 104c configured to supply power to parasitic loads 126 via belts, hydraulic systems, and the like, as well as to a traction generator 106c via a mechanical coupling 128, or the like. The machine 102c may further include one or more traction motors 108c for driving one or more final drive wheels 110c via a mechanical coupling 128. Additionally, the machine 102c may support a retarding grid 112c and a grid cooling system 114c having a blower inverter 124 and a blower motor 148 for actively cooling the retarding grid 112c. In addition to the grid cooling system 114c, the auxiliary devices 116c may include a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system 130, a hybrid system 132 having an energy storage device 134 and conditioning circuitry 136, a battery charging device 138, or any other electrically driven pump or accessory 140.

In contrast to the embodiments of Figures 2 and 3, the electric drive system 100c of Figure 4 may correspond to a pre-existing inverter configuration, or the inverter circuit 118c shown. Moreover, the inverter circuit 118c may include at least one rectifier 122 and an inverter 124, both of which are configured to transmit power unidirectionally from the engine 104c and toward the traction motor 108c. The inverter circuit 118c may additionally be electrically coupled to the retarding grid 112c and configured to dissipate any excess energy therethrough.

As the inverter circuit 118c of Figure 4 prohibits the return of any electrical energy that is generated by the traction motor 108c during dynamic braking or retarding modes, the auxiliary driver 120c may be configured to redirect any such energy back to the engine 104c as shown. Specifically, in addition to an auxiliary generator 150 that is mechanically coupled to the engine 104c and/or the traction generator 106c, the auxiliary driver 120c may further include a motor generator 152 that is mechanically coupled to the traction motor 108c, the final drive wheels 110c and/or any other means for causing motion. The motor generator 152 may be configured to transmit any mechanical energy that is supplied by the motor 108c and/or the final drive wheels 110c during dynamic braking through an inverter 124 to be converted into DC power. The converted electrical energy may be passed through a shared DC bus 146 and then transmitted to a second inverter 124 that is coupled to the auxiliary generator 150. The auxiliary generator 150 may convert the received electrical energy into mechanical energy used to drive the engine 104c during dynamic braking modes. The DC bus 146 may also be configured to supply converted DC power to any one or more of the auxiliary devices 116c including the grid cooling system 114c. As in previous embodiments, the electric drive system 100c may enable selective control of the grid cooling system 114c that is independent from control of the retarding grid 112c. Alternatively, any one or more of the auxiliary devices 116c, such as the hybrid system 132, may also communicate any energy generated therefrom toward the auxiliary generator 150.

Overall control of the electric drive system 100 as well as the machine 102 may be managed by an embedded or integrated central controller 200 of the machine 102, as shown in Figure 5. The controller 200 may take the form of one or more processors, microprocessors, microcontrollers, electronic control modules (ECMs), electronic control units (ECUs), or any other suitable means for electronically controlling functionality of the drive system 100 and/or machine 102. The controller 200 may be configured to operate according to a predetermined algorithm or set of instructions for controlling the drive system 100 based on the various operating conditions of the machine 102. Such an algorithm or set of instructions may be read into an on-board memory of the controller 200, or preprogrammed onto a storage medium or memory accessible by the controller 200, for example, in the form of a floppy disk, a hard disk, optical medium, random access memory (RAM), read-only memory (ROM), or any other suitable computer-readable storage medium commonly used in the art.

As shown in Figure 5, the controller 200 may be in electrical communication with the engine 104, the generator 106, the inverter circuit 118, the auxiliary driver 120, the retarding grid 112, the grid cooling system 114, and the like. The controller 200 may also be coupled to various other components, systems or subsystems of the machine 102. By way of such connections, the controller 200 may receive data pertaining to the current operating parameters of the drive system 100 and the machine 102 as input signals. The input signals may be provided by, for example, a plurality of sensors associated with each component. In response to such input, the controller 200 may perform the necessary determinations and transmit any output signals corresponding to the actions that need to be performed. The output signals may be integrated commands that are transmitted to various actuators or electronic devices, such as transistors or actuators, which are associated with the relevant components. The controller 200 may also be electrically coupled to any other component or device of the machine 102 that may be related to the inverter circuit 118, auxiliary driver 120, retarding grid 112, grid cooling system 114, and the like.

During operation of the machine 102, the controller 200 may receive a retarding command from an input node 202. The retarding command provided at the input node 202 may be generated in response to displacement of a manual control by the operator of the machine 102. The retarding command may alternatively be a command signal generated by the controller 200, or another controller of the machine that monitors or governs the speed of the machine 102, for example, a speed governor or a speed limiter. The controller 200 may receive and interpret the retarding command according to a control system or algorithm operating therein. The control system may determine a magnitude of the retarding being commanded, for example, in units of energy or power. Based on such data, the controller 200 may determine the degree of energy to be dissipated and respond accordingly. In embodiments having two retarding grids 112, for example, the controller 200 may determine whether first, second, or both retarding grids 112 should provide a contribution to retarding energy dissipation. This determination or calculation may be based on various machine operating parameters. The parameters may include the current speed, the payload, the rate of acceleration, the desired speed, the rate of change of the command to retard the machine 102, and the like, which may be input to the controller 200 via one or more additional input nodes 204. Figure 6 diagrammatically illustrates an exemplary method by which such a controller 200 may operate the electric drive system 100. In an initial step, the controller 200 may determine the current mode of operation of the machine 102. For example, based on the input signals at nodes 202, 204, the controller 200 may determine if the machine 102 is in a propel mode, dynamic braking or retarding mode, an idling mode, or any other operating mode available on the machine 102. Based on the input signals at nodes 202, 204, the controller 200 may further determine if there is to be a change in the operating mode.

Specifically, the controller 200 may determine the current and/or next operating mode based on, for example, the current speed, the payload, the rate of acceleration, the desired speed, the rate of change of the command to retard the machine 102, and the like. In a propel mode, the drive system 100 may be configured to at least automatically direct power from the generator 106, as well as any power supplied by the auxiliary devices 116, to the traction motor 108 to drive the final drive wheels 110. Moreover, the drive system 100 may allow any communication of power from the generator 106 to the auxiliary devices 116, and if applicable, from the auxiliary devices 116 to the generator 106. In a dynamic braking or retarding mode, the drive system 100 may be configured to at least automatically direct power generated by the traction motor 108 to the generator 106 to at least partially drive the engine 104. The drive system 100 may further direct power from the generator 106 to the auxiliary devices 116. In an optional idling mode, the drive system 100 may automatically allow any

intercommunication of power between the generator 106 and the auxiliary devices 116. During such an idling mode, the hybrid system 132 may store enough charge to allow the engine 104 to be powered off, or stop fuel injection, and further, allow the auxiliary devices 116 to operate without any power from the generator 106. In such a way, the auxiliary devices 116 may provide enough power to spin the engine 104 and drive the parasitic loads 126 of the engine 104, rapidly spin up the engine when shifting into a propel mode, or even start a fully stopped engine 104, all without any consumption of fuel.

Figure 7 diagrammatically illustrates an exemplary machine 102 operating in a propel mode. The propel mode may be desired if the combination of parameters provided to the controller 200 indicates, for example, that a desired speed is greater than a current detected speed and/or that the machine 102 is to be accelerated. During the propel mode, the engine 104 may serve as the primary source of power and continue to consume fuel to drive the traction generator 106. Electrical energy generated by the generator 106 may then be automatically passed through the inverter circuit 118 to drive the one or more traction motors 108 and associated final drive wheels 110. During the propel mode, the auxiliary driver 120 may allow bidirectional communication between the traction generator 106 and the auxiliary devices 116. For instance, the electrical energy generated by the generator 106 may be passed through the auxiliary driver 120 to be converted into DC power and transmitted to a DC bus 146 shared by the auxiliary devices 116. Alternatively, energy generated by any alternate energy source, such as the hybrid system 132, may supply power through the DC bus 146 and the generator 106 to assist the engine 104. Accordingly, the direction of power flow through the auxiliary driver 120 may depend on the instantaneous needs and/or capabilities of the drive system 100. The retarding grid 112 and the grid cooling system 114 may be disabled during the propel mode.

Figure 8 diagrammatically illustrates an exemplary machine 102 operating in a dynamic braking or retarding mode. The dynamic braking mode may be desired if the combination of parameters provided to the controller 200 indicates, for example, that the desired speed is less than a current detected speed and/or that the machine 102 is to be decelerated. During the dynamic braking mode, the one or more final drive wheels 110 and traction motors 108 may serve as the primary power source. Moreover, rotation of the final drive wheels 110 may turn the one or more traction motors 108 and cause the motors 108 to supply electrical energy in the form of, for example, AC power. As the inverter circuit 118 is bidirectional, the inverter circuit 118 may receive the electrical energy provided by the motors 108 and convert the AC power into DC. The DC power may then be adjusted, converted back into AC power, and supplied to the traction generator 106. The inverter circuit 118 may further apply the DC power to the retarding grid 112, or the chopper and/or contactor circuits 154 of the retarding grid 112, to be dissipated in the form of heat. The power supplied to the traction generator 106 may be used to mechanically drive the engine 104. Accordingly, fuel consumption may be temporarily eliminated during the dynamic braking mode of operation. The power supplied to the traction generator 106 may further be used to supply energy to the auxiliary devices 116 via the auxiliary driver 120. In particular, the auxiliary driver 120 may convert the AC power provided by the generator 106 into DC power to be passed along a DC bus 146. The DC power may be used to power the various auxiliary devices 116 attached to the DC bus 146. Among other things, the DC power may be used to supply power to the grid cooling system 114, or blower inverter and motor 148, so as to cool the retarding grid 112. In such a way, power to the grid cooling system 114 may be controlled independently from the retarding grid 112. This allows the grid cooling feature to be accessible during any other operating mode as needed via the auxiliary driver 120. As control of the grid cooling system 114 is not limited to the retarding mode, the retarding grid 112 may be cooled even after exiting the retarding mode so as to minimize, for instance, temperature overshoot conditions commonly associated with the resistive elements and/or insulators of retarding grids 112.

In a further modification, an electric drive machine 102 may operate in an optional idling mode as diagrammatically shown in Figure 9. The idling mode may be desired if the combination of parameters provided to the controller 200 indicates, for example, that the desired and current speeds are null and/or that there is no desired acceleration or deceleration. During the idling mode, the engine 104 may be supplied with enough fuel to maintain the idle. Optionally, once the hybrid energy storage device 134 is fully charged, the controller 200 may automatically enable engine shutoff to conserve fuel while power supplied by the energy storage device 134 may be used to maintain the idle. As there is no movement in the final drive wheels 110 during the idling mode, the inverter circuit 118 and the retarding grids 112 may be temporarily disabled. In machines 102 having a hybrid system 132 installed thereon, power may be initially supplied by the hybrid energy storage device 134 to operate, for example, battery charging devices 138 as well as electric pumps and accessories 140. If the charge of the energy storage device 134 reaches a preset minimum threshold, the controller 200 may enable the inverter 124 of the auxiliary driver 120 to supply power to the traction generator 106 and invoke the engine 104 to start. While the engine 104 is idling, the inverter 124 of the auxiliary driver 120 may begin drawing power from the traction generator 106 to operate the electric pumps and accessories 140 and also to recharge the hybrid energy storage device 134.

Industrial Applicability

In general, the foregoing disclosure finds utility in various industrial applications, such as the construction and mining industry in providing improved fuel efficiency in work vehicles and/or machines, such as backhoe loaders, compactors, feller bunchers, forest machines, industrial loaders, skid steer loaders, wheel loaders, and the like. One exemplary machine suited to use of the disclosed systems and methods is a large off-highway truck, such as a dump truck. Exemplary off-highway trucks are commonly used in mines, construction sites and quarries. The off-highway trucks may have payload capabilities of 100 tons or more and travel at speeds of 40 miles per hour or more when fully loaded.

Such work trucks or machines must be able to negotiate steep inclines and operate in a variety of different environments. In such conditions, these machines must frequently enter into a dynamic braking or retarding mode of operation for extended periods of time. It is a shared interest to minimize or eliminate the amount of fuel consumed during such retarding modes and make efficient use of the power generated by the traction motors without adversely affecting overall machine performance. The systems and methods disclosed herein allow the drive systems of electric drive machines to completely eliminate fuel consumption during retarding modes while supplying regenerative power to machine subsystems and accessories. The disclosed systems and methods further allow independent control of at least a grid cooling system so as to minimize overheating of the retarding grid regardless of the mode of operation.

From the foregoing, it will be appreciated that while only certain embodiments have been set forth for the purposes of illustration, alternatives and modifications will be apparent from the above description to those skilled in the art. These and other alternatives are considered equivalents and within the spirit and scope of this disclosure and the appended claims.