More and more car manufacturers want to switch from ICE (internal combustion engines) to purely electric propulsion as quickly as possible, but there are a number of intermediate hybrid solutions, some of which are quite convincing.
A Tesla Model 3 with a hidden exhaust? It exists in Vorarlberg.
A Tesla with a hybrid powertrain? There is no such thing. Wrong, because the technology carrier that the Austrian company Obrist Powertrain has equipped with its innovative serial hybrid powertrain is a Model 3 from the well-known US electric car manufacturer. Company founder and president Frank Obrist and managing director Frank Wolf call their drive concept HyperHybrid.
The HyperHybrid and its objective
The HyperHybrid system is a series hybrid installed in a fully functional demonstrator that has undergone intensive bench and road testing. The demonstrator represents the global mid-size car and is designed for a top speed of 170km/h (150km/h continuous). The Li-Ion battery has an electric battery range of 96km under the WLTP.
The operating strategy utilizes battery power in the city and switches to hybrid mode on highways (ZV-Generator on). The innovative Zero Vibration Generator concept is responsible for BEV-comparable NVH values.
Our proprietary HyperHybrid control unit manages energy fluxes in the hybrid system and takes care of thermal management, brake energy regeneration, and the Zero Vibration Generator operating strategy. Algorithms and hardware are designed at OBRIST Powertrain.
Objective? Reduce CO2 emissions! The objective of this project is the development and construction of a high-efficiency, low-cost series hybrid system for mass production
application in vehicles. The future hybrid system, must meet the emissions targets. Additionally, the system must be cost-competitive (or slightly higher cost) and its reliability must be comparable to that of common advanced powertrain systems.
“E-methanol is the best carbon carrier, a globally usable energy carrier, quasi liquid power.” – Frank Obrist, CEO
The “Modern Forest”
At Obrist, based in Lustenau near the Swiss border, the somewhat different Tesla is in a way only the visible tip of an iceberg – as Electric Vehicle 2.0. Frank Obrist’s far-reaching ideas can be seen beneath the surface.
Instead of drawing energy from a battery weighing 500 kilograms or more, the weight and price of the electricity storage unit should remain low – and be partly replaced by “liquid power” in the form of synthetically produced methanol. Obrist calls this fuel eMethanol and has already filed a large number of patents.
According to Obrist’s ideas, e-methanol is to be produced in huge power plants in hot areas of the earth directly by the sea; in factories that, following the example of the forest and photosynthesis, produce the alcohol methanol from regeneratively produced hydrogen and CO2. Because the “modern forest” works faster and with better efficiency than the natural forest, it is 20 to 30 times more efficient, according to Obrist.
“E-methanol is the best carbon carrier, a globally usable energy carrier, quasi liquid power”, explains Obrist. “In addition, e-methanol is easy to store and easy to transport.
In terms of energy density, it significantly outperforms not only the battery, but also hydrogen stored under pressure or in liquid form.”
Obrist’s plans for such a factory – which he calls “The Modern Forest” – consist of a huge solar panel field, a water treatment plant, an electrolysis station, a CO2 air filtration plant and the e-methanol synthesis plant. In this plant, Obrist calculates, one kilogram of e-methanol and 1.5 kilograms of oxygen could ultimately be produced from two kilograms of seawater, 12 kWh of solar energy and 3370 kilograms of air. Since both water and solar energy are available in abundance at the ideal location, the representation of the efficiency chain is of secondary importance.
The individual process steps of such a plant are all known, but a comprehensive project is lacking. In order to realize such a project, Frank Obrist and Frank Wolf would like to work with financially strong and risk-taking masterminds like Bill Gates or Elon Musk.
When will it be ready for series production?
Certainly, the question arises as to when the HyperHybrid could be ready for series production. Frank Obrist says: “We are currently negotiating with a major licensee, and if all goes well, they are planning to start production in 2025.”
Obrist is working hard to win new cooperation partners. “Of course, as a 45-person company in Vorarlberg, we can’t do it alone. But by showing what we can do, by developing the engine to production readiness and driving the car, it will increasingly come to the public’s attention. We have to show the global, affordable and available technology.”