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Look Ma, No Belts . . .

July 31, 2004

Broken drive belts in your car might be a thing of the past because of a technology being developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Electric drive motors could replace the belts that run compressors, water pumps and oil pumps of hybrid and fuel cell vehicles. The motors, however, require inverters, and ORNL’s Gui-Jia Su, John Hsu and Cliff White are developing an integrated inverter that would work with multiple motors.

An inverter converts DC (direct current) voltage to AC (alternating current). Some of the inverter components can then be shared among the motors, making the drive system smaller and less costly. Mr. Su, who is developing an inverter for the traction motor drive and the compressor drive, said a simulation study has confirmed the benefits of the integrated inverter drive. A proof-of-concept setup is being assembled and laboratory testing will follow.

Funding for the Engineering Science and Technology Division project is provided by the Department of Energy’s Office of FreedomCar.

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