~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dean Karmen, inventor of the Segway, has brought to light his latest project. He, with the backing of some investors from Norway, converted a Ford Think into a plug-in hybrid electric car with a stirling engine, the first of it's kind (Source; Boston Herald).

He has registered the two-seat hatchback in NH as a 2008 DEKA Revolt.

The Stirling engine is located in the trunk of the car, with a large lithium battery pack used to power the electric motor. The car can go 60 miles on all electric power, while the Stirling engine is used to power things like the defroster and heater. That allows him to conserve the battery power. If the battery does low, however, the stirling engine is used to recharge the battery until it can be plugged in and re-charged once again.

The Think was an electric car from Ford which was discontinued in 2000.

The Stirling engine was invented back in 1816 by a Scottish minister, Robert Stirling. It uses external heat to drive internal pistons and can use any fuel, from biodiesel to natural gas. It burns clean and can be programmed to turn on so the battery and car are all warmed up by the time you get in. But, for now, there is no cheap way to mass produce a Stirling engine, making it cost prohibitive to auto manufacturers.

"Compared to an internal combustion engine of the same power rating, Stirling engines currently have a higher capital cost and are usually larger and heavier. Their lower maintenance requirements make the overall energy cost comparable. The thermal efficiency is also comparable (for small engines), ranging from 15%-30%." - Source: Wikipedia.

Kamen continues to 'talk' with his investors in Norway and hopes to go into production within two years. He's unsure how much it would cost to buy one.

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