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Mechanical Hybrid KERS Based on Toroidal Traction Drives: An Example of Smart Tribological Design to Improve Terrestrial Vehicle Performance

DOI: 10.1155/2013/918387

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We analyse in terms of efficiency and traction capabilities a recently patented traction drive, referred to as the double roller full-toroidal variator (DFTV). We compare its performance with the single roller full-toroidal variator (SFTV) and the single roller half-toroidal variator (SHTV). Modeling of these variators involves challenging tribological issues; the traction and efficiency performances depend on tribological phenomena occurring at the interface between rollers and disks, where the lubricant undergoes very severe elastohydrodynamic lubrication regimes. Interestingly, the DFTV shows an improvement of the mechanical efficiency over a wide range of transmission ratios and in particular at the unit speed ratio as in such conditions in which the DFTV allows for zero-spin, thus strongly enhancing its traction capabilities. The very high mechanical efficiency and traction performances of the DFTV are exploited to investigate the performance of a flywheel-based Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS), where the efficiency of the variator plays an important role in determining the overall energy recovery performance. The energy boost capabilities and the round-trip efficiency are calculated for the three different variators considered in this study. The results suggest that the energy recovery potential of the mechanical KERS can be improved with a proper choice of the variator. 1. Introduction Recent developments in the automotive field are related to the design of drive-trains with the aim of improving the exploitation of the thermal engine, according to the requirements of reduction of fuel consumption and polluting emissions [1–3]. To achieve these targets, hybrid powertrains are being studied and developed. Among all possibilities, some research works claim that mechanical hybrids are more efficient and give the greatest advantages in terms of reduction of fuel consumption and polluting emissions. Several investigations have been made to estimate the effective benefits that such systems can give in mainstream cars and trucks at the present state-of-the-art. Computational results demonstrate that a fuel economy improvement up to 25% can be obtained in mainstream passenger cars and trucks, which can also be improved further with engine downsizing [4–7]. Continuously variable drives are the core of mechanical hybrids. Chain/belt continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) have been widely studied either theoretically either experimentally [8–10]; however, limitations of the maximum transmittable torque and of control possibilities made the toroidal


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