How Does a Hybrid Car Work?

Energy and environmental crisis are two grave international issues of this century. In order to counter these two problems, automobile manufacturers have come up with the concept of hybrid cars.
A majority of automobiles today are powered by combustible engines. A combustible engine uses gasoline or diesel as a source of energy. The biggest disadvantage of this is that it emits excessive amounts of carbon and carbon compounds. The scarcity of fossil fuels (like gasoline and diesel) and pollution due to the emissions led to the development of hybrid vehicles.

There is not much of difference between the normal combustible engine and the engine of a hybrid car. Recently developed hybrid cars have two sources of kinetic energy, namely the combustible engine, and the electric motor. Some of the hybrid cars also have engines that are driven by hydrogen fuel, stored in a liquid form in a pressurized tank in the car. Some hybrid cars also have electric motors that are powered by a device known as the fuel cell.

Working of a Hybrid Car

Hybrid cars use two sources of energy, namely a combustible engine with a small capacity, and an electric motor. When the hybrid car is in operation, the low capacity internal combustion engine is always running. In situations where the hybrid car has to accelerate or climb slopes, the electric motor, powered by a high-capacity battery, gets into action and gives the car the required kinetic energy. The electric motor also powers the car when it is running at a constant speed for a long time, like on a highway, and the combustible engine is switched off. A conventional braking system dispenses the excess energy that has been generated by the combustible engine, by converting it into frictional heat. However, unlike a normal car, the hybrid car, while braking or reducing velocity, converts the excess kinetic energy into electricity and stores it in the battery. The device that makes this conversion possible is known as a regenerative brake.

Some hybrid cars also work on the liquid nitrogen combustion engine that is supplemented by battery-powered motors. Hybrid cars that are powered by fuel cells work on a relatively different principle. In this process, water, with the help of an electronic reaction, is broken down into hydrogen and oxygen, which are then used in the fuel cell to 'make' water. The fuel cell with the help of the hydrogen and oxygen, produces water and electricity. In many countries, hydrogen run fuel cell cars (fuel cell cars that make use of liquefied hydrogen) are coming into vogue.

Added Features of a Hybrid Vehicle

Most modern hybrid cars are sedans that have excellent aerodynamics. These vehicles are also built using very light materials, that helps in reducing fuel costs. Developers of hybrid cars believe that the vehicle produces 80% less greenhouse gases due to the features like low capacity engines, supplementary power by the electric motors, etc.

Today, the hybrid car is considered to be a very important innovation, and is fast becoming a trend in the automobile industry. Many manufacturers have already produced highly efficient models that are in use. Many companies have also taken up further research in the technology, and are implementing many advancements in their respective models.