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Dutch Invention Uses Electric Engines For Wheels

CowboyNeal posted more than 10 years ago | from the clean-air-bussing dept.

News 380

Makarand writes "A Dutch invention is promising to make vehicles atleast 50% more efficient and also bring down the soot and carbon dioxide emissions. This is made possible by replacing the conventional wheels by 'in-wheel' electric engines which are normal electric engines turned inside out. No transmission is necessary as the in-wheel engines are powered by battery-packs installed on the vehicle. A diesel-powered generator which replaces the original engine on the vehicle charges the battery-pack continuously. The Dutch company E-Traction has built a bus using this technology that will undergo testing for the next six months."

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Two words (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817093)


I guess we need to look back at more Steve Jackson games for future technology ideas? Or perhaps he patented the idea and stands to make a killing now?

electric engines (1)

proradium (731111) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817094)

i'll buy one when they can make them sound like a V8

Sound System (1)

mistert2 (672789) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817198)

You could use a sound system to make it sound like anything you want! Do you want it to sound like a Harley, V8, Starship Enterprise, Milenium Falcon, ... Go nuts!

Re:Sound System (1)

proradium (731111) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817224)

seriously -- don't joke about that -- i've seen places that advertise fake blowers --- a simple horn put underneath your bonnet hooked up to your cd player, comes with a sound just like a blow-off valve makes ... pitiful
almost as bad as the fake NOS kits going around ... a plastic bottle with a NOS sticker that you put in your boot ....

Re:electric engines (4, Informative)

Da Fokka (94074) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817229)

To quote the Slashdot synopsis (not even TFA)
A diesel-powered generator which replaces the original engine on the vehicle charges the battery-pack continuously.

The electro motors are not used as an engine but just as a clever way of transmission. This system has been in diesl-electric trains for ages, since most diesel engines can operate quite efficiently if they always run at the same RPM.

Re:electric engines (1)

proradium (731111) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817268)

heh, damn -- somebody caught me out -- no, i didn't read TFA or even TFS ... i just saw 'electric' and 'engine' and the fact that there were 0 posts and pounced XD

and yes, i see what you mean (although i'm also one of those people who would never own a diesel-engined car)

this was done before by porshe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7817095)

i think? i saw something similar in one of those consumer science magazines (it was either discover or scientific american) that did the same thing. why'd it take so long for something substantial to come along?

Who Cares?!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7817097)

I'm an American, which means cheap gasoline, and big SUV is my God-given right!!

You Eurofags driving tiny boxes can save on "petrol" but us red-blooded Americans don't give a flying fuck!!

It takes a minimum of brain capacity to understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7817128)

We expected nothing less from you, redneck. We never expected you to understand at all, so just go back to your wife who also happens to be your sister.

Re:Who Cares?!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7817142)

I'd still prefer driving a smaller car rather than some crappy yank SUV like Ford crash-Explorer or evn worse Chevrolet. Who's stupid enough to buy this shite anyway ? Oh wait, we're talking about yanks, never mind. ahah.

Please don't speak for all of us. (0, Troll)

Charcharodon (611187) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817162)

You're not an American, you're a dumbass.

Quit kissing your sister/mom and think for just for the briefest of moments. I know it's going to hurt but try anyway. If it's twice as effiecient as a standard vehicle then we could turn that around and nearly make it twice as big at the same efficiency. Now that's the American way!

He he he (0, Troll)

GuardianBob420 (309353) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817172)

He's obviously making fun of America and our SUV addiction, not ripping the Europeans, ya'll... if it was done with a bit more wit, I'd say mod it up as funny!

Re:Who Cares?!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7817206)

Totally. If we need more gas we can always invade another country that has it... mission accomplished.

Certainly anti-american (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7817107)

If Iran really belongs to the axis of evil, wouldn't it be the right time to infiltrate that country now?

Instead america offers them money and help that they'll certainly spend on more WMD's.

You may mod this down. But at least one person will read this and think about it.

And as we know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7817109)

A promise is a promise!

Not trying to pick nits, but... (1) (312621) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817110)

I believe the correct term would be 'electric motors', not 'electric engines'. As this article did originate from The Netherlands, I can excuse them, but...

Re:Not trying to pick nits, but... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7817145)

I've met a lot of people of Netherlands, and they tended to speak better english than the "North Americans"

Re:Not trying to pick nits, but... (2, Informative)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817152)

Not notpicking at all as they are two very different things: the term "electric engine" commonly refers to a reciprocating device with a crankshaft to convert linear to rotary motion. On the other hand, "electric motor" is generally reserved for purely rotary machines. Edison used to market a stationary electric engine for industrial use.

Re:Not trying to pick nits, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7817283)

Actually, the correct definition of 'engine' is a device which utilizes combustion in order to produce work. A motor is a non-combustion device used to produce work (e.g. hydraulic motor, electric motor, etc.).

Not that I am picking nits or anything...

This isn't anything new. (2, Interesting)

NeuroManson (214835) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817113)

Back in the ol' Apollo days, NASA's lunar rover operated in exactly the same fashion, if I recall correctly. o/ lrv/lrv.htm

Re:This isn't anything new. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7817170)

No, the rover never had such a feature, if you try to troll at least get your facts right.

You haven't even read the page you linked to, have you ?

This was done century before last... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7817189)

Ferdinand Porsche built cars with electric motors in the wheels in the late 1890's (yes, that's EIGHTEEN-nineties). Old, old news......

You can make ANYTHING a vehicle! (2, Funny)

FatSean (18753) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817117)

No drivetrain worries...just steering and maybe suspension. I want to get a few and mount them on my couch.

Will it stand the test of time? (4, Interesting)

earthforce_1 (454968) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817121)

Interesting idea, but the real test will be with long term cost of operation. The cost of diesel fuel may be insignificant if this thing spends significantly more time in the garage, or costs more to build.

Not that I want to be a naysayer. I hope it pans out, but don't be too surprised if it quietly goes away never to be heard from again lot a lot of other great ideas. (I remember a british high speed train that leaned into curves, that was quietly taken out of service after much initial fanfare)

Re:Will it stand the test of time? (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817153)

And sometimes ideas come back, or thrive in different places. Our high-speed trains in Sweden lean into the curves, just as the one you mention, and they are quite common and popular here (well, once the leaning was adjusted a bit to reduce the incidence of motion sickness).

Re:Will it stand the test of time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7817155)

That train you are talking about is the Eurostar... the one that goes from Brussels all the way to London (via Paris). It still runs (it's quite popular)... in fact I was on it just last week :)

Re:Will it stand the test of time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7817246)

No it isn't. He's talking about the British Rail TVP (If I remember my acronym correctly). It ran for about three months on the west coast mainline before it was pulled from service.

Re:Will it stand the test of time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7817270)

The Brisith Rail ATP []

Yes I am replying to myself.

Re:Will it stand the test of time? (1)

Rexz (724700) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817159)

"(I remember a british high speed train that leaned into curves, that was quietly taken out of service after much initial fanfare)"

While tilting trains are taking an awfully long time to reach full service (due largely to the track, not trains), the effort is still going strong.

Recent article []

Re:Will it stand the test of time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7817203)

Tilting high speed trains are commonplace in several countries in Europe, I know they run in Italy. The great thing is that they can take sharper curves than normal trains (mind that the leaning over is mainly for passenger comfort!), if they have to stop on that section they do not fall over on the too steep rails.
The reason these expensive trains are used, is that it is cheaper than laying new, straight high speed tracks. They can use existing rail infrastructure - which is often quite curvy, especially in mountains.


Re:Will it stand the test of time? (1)

SkArcher (676201) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817247)

What, you mean these [] ?

The problem with them is that they need specially re-inforced track. When the track management was privatised to RailTrack they wouldn't upgrade the Track as it would cut into their profits. Now that the Government has returned the track management to the public sector the works are (gradually) going ahead and we will soon have the APTs being able to work on all mainline track.

The French have, of course, used this concept for years as the TGV [] , and the italian Pendulino [] follows the same idea, which is basically modelled on the way a motorcycle rider fights the g-forces by leaning into the turn.

Of course, it is still fairly sad that these 'high speed trains' go no faster in most circumatances than the famous Mallard A4 Pacific Class Locomotive [] , built in the 1930s.

Just an improvement of standard hybrid technology (2, Insightful)

egarland (120202) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817123)

Why is this anything more than just a slightly more efficient way of doing a hybrid gas-electric system by putting the engine in the wheel. It's a good idea, but I can't say I hadn't thought of it too. If it's technically sound it's a natural progression.

Re:Just an improvement of standard hybrid technolo (4, Insightful)

sparkhead (589134) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817179)

Why is this anything more than just a slightly more efficient way of doing a hybrid gas-electric system by putting the engine in the wheel.

Well, I believe most hybrid cars today are parallel hybrids - the (gas/diesel) engine can power the drivetrain directly, and the car will use the engine or the electric motor or both depending on conditions and demand.

This bus (and potential other hybrid cars today) is a series hybrid. The only thing powering the drivetrain is the electric motor. The engine either charges the batteries or powers the motor, but never directly powers the drivetrain.

Re:Just an improvement of standard hybrid technolo (2, Insightful)

acidrain69 (632468) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817181)

RTFA, it says there is no drivetrain. Everything is in wheel, it is more efficient that way. No gear changing, less heat loss.

Stop contributing to heat death! :)

Re:Just an improvement of standard hybrid technolo (1)

egarland (120202) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817254)

it says there is no drivetrain.

Which gives a 60% improvement? As I said it's a slightly more efficient gas-electric hybrid design. The efficiency comes from the lack of a drivetrain. That may give on the order of 5 - 15% improvement in efficiency but not 60%. This is an obvious natural progression of gas-electric hybrid technology if it can be made economical and safe.

Re:Just an improvement of standard hybrid technolo (1)

cpuffer_hammer (31542) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817192)

This would be a true hybrid. The present hybrids the gas engine changes speed and load as the car moves. the electric motors just provide braking and power assist. In a true hybrid the gas engine always runs at the same speed and load. This means that it can be tuned and fitted for that speed and load. This also has another advantage in that the gas engine can be used as a mobile generator, like during a power failure or if you need to use power tools off the grid.

Re:Just an improvement of standard hybrid technolo (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7817217)

The reasons it is so efficient:
- the diesel engine runs at it's optimal speed (that gives an easy 50-70% gain - engines usually run on sub-optimal speed)
- losses only occur in the electrical cirquits (the current regulaters and so), can cost like 10% of the energy
- and a significant energy gain is made by reversing the enige to generator when braking! (though I assume also a mechanical break for emergency stops). As it is a city bus, it will spend most time either accellerating or decellerating.


Re:Just an improvement of standard hybrid technolo (4, Interesting)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817225)

You're right; it is just a natural progression. But they also took the next step (another "natural progression") from thinking about it, and actually built the darn thing, so I say kudos to them.

I, for one, will welcome the results of the real-world tests of this thing. If it works as well as they claim, they could put those wheel-gines in all sorts of vehicles. And based on the size of them, I'd say they're going in large vehicles first. Can you imagine the Hummer ad campaign when the release a vehicle that is more fuel efficient than a Toyota Echo?

Re:Just an improvement of standard hybrid technolo (1)

Da Fokka (94074) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817248)

You are totally right. Nowadays technology often is quite complex and the real challenge is converting a good idea into working technology.

Re:Just an improvement of standard hybrid technolo (1)

egarland (120202) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817266)

I agree. Kudos to them for actually doing it.

I'm simply taking issue with the 60% number. If it is true, it is versus conventional technology, not other similar tried and true gas-electric hybrids.

Ugly website (3, Funny)

LakeSolon (699033) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817124)

Thank god it just got posted to slashdot. That frontpage-template of a website [] will be gone shortly.


Oh puLEASe (4, Informative)

chessie (22669) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817125)

this is news how? the idea was built and proven over 100 years ago. ferdinand porsche, who was an ENGINE man, did this in like 1900 and won lots of races with his hybrid car. this feat alone put his name on the map beginging his career.
see this this page []

Re:Oh puLEASe (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817193)

The electric motor in the wheel hub was also the basis of the GM Sunracer that won the solar car race across Australia, although that one obviously wasn't a diesel hybrid.

I've been promoting this system quietly for the past 30 years and built a few prototypes. The only real hold up has been the computing power to make it work up to its true potential.

The primary downside is the increase in unsprung weight. That much mass in the wheels is an issue for vehicles smaller than a bus. This can be partially offset by the fact that the same computing power used to replace the driveline and provide traction control (not to mention regenerative braking which becomes part of the ABS) can also handle active suspension systems.


gyroscopic effect (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7817126)

Won't the gyroscpic effect of that heavy a wheel be a lot to overcome. Also, magnetic brakes, I'd hate to be going down a hill with low batteries, and have the engine stall.

Re:gyroscopic effect (1)

Charcharodon (611187) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817234)

The wheel have magnets in them so as long as they are turning they are generating a load (breaking). That type of breaking is used to recoup some of the energy and would be in addition of standard breaks. You would have a tough time coming to a complete stop with just regenative breaking unless they applied alittle power in reverse to completely stop.

They didn't put the motors on the front wheels so gyroscopic effect wouldn't be as bad on the steering. Besides these are city busess they won't be going to fast to start off with so it shouldn't be that much of an issue.

For higher performance cars though, if they wanted to put motors at each wheel for traction control and lower center of grav, they could use motors that have coils instead of magnets so they could be lighter. They could also use the stearing method that motorcyles use which takes advantage of gyroscopic effect to lean the bike and make it turn. (Anything above a walking pace you actually turn the opposite direction you want to turn.) Of course this could all be self defeating and end up being heavier and more complicated than simply having a transmission with a more centrally located motor.

Re:gyroscopic effect (1)

tadheckaman (578425) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817243)

not really, all you need to do is short the motor, or better yet, hook the motor up to the batteries through a diode, which will also recharge the batteries WHILE slowing the bus down.... Very common with solar race cars, and electric cars

Re:gyroscopic effect (1)

acidrain69 (632468) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817272)

I'm not sure, but from what it looks like in the picture, only the rear wheels have the in-wheel motors. Thus, the driver doesn't have to overcome the gyroscopic effect of the wheels when turning, but the bus itself will overcome it for the rear wheels (the friction of the tires and the momentum bus will do it).

The engine just charges the batteries. I don't remember if the article stated this, but I >THINK what they mean by magnetic brakes isn't that magnets pull in the brake pads, but it uses regenerative braking. That is, the resistance to the wheels is created by converting the kinetic energy of the wheels back into electricity.

If you have ever been to a decent science museum, they will have a little generator toy with a hand crank that has a light hooked up to it. The light bulb has a power switch on it. When the switch is off, it is easy to turn the wheel. When the switch is on, and the generator can power the light bulb, it is much harder to turn the crank. You feel the resistance of pushing the electricity through the wire and powering the light bulb. IANAE (engineer) but I think regenerative braking works this way. You brake and it allows current through to charge the battery, creating resistance in the motor.

Re:gyroscopic effect (1)

Quantum-Sci (732727) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817275)

There would be little gyro effect, because most of the mass is in the stator. The wheel is just a ring with magnets.

So how long before we see it in America? (2, Insightful)

Martigan80 (305400) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817129)

Too long sad to say. It seems like every good gas saving product that comes out just mysteriously disappears. Like the cars that run on used vegi oil, or the car that get 80+ MPG. I hope this car makes it else where in the world.

Re:So how long before we see it in America? (1)

Charcharodon (611187) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817182)

Actually you can do vegi oil if you have a diesel engine. You can make your own fuel if you have a good source and if not all diesel fuel in the midwest uses vegi oil as a 10% additive.

Last time I checked they were damn close to 80mpg cars. Go buy one from Honda or Toyota.

Perfect 4-wheel drive (3, Insightful)

thepuma (721283) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817131)

I've heard about this invention, and it promises to make the ultimate 4-wheel dive vehicle! I can now take my old Land Cruiser and remove the engine, replace the wheels with these motors, and load the trunk up with batteries!

It also promises to make auto repair much easier...just swap out a wheel.

Re:Perfect 4-wheel drive (1)

psavo (162634) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817204)

Yup, and instead of one engine you need to look after 4. win-win situ.. or not.

ah yes..take a look at the size of the rear wheels (1)

abhisarda (638576) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817233)

Bus [] .
Those are some monster wheels.

And what is the actual cost of this wheel?

Re:ah yes..take a look at the size of the rear whe (1)

Charcharodon (611187) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817253)

Yes they are some monsters, but then again if they built a computer with the same power as the one you are sitting at now back in the day it would have covered probably half of the town you live in.

I bet you they could come up with something that doesn't weigh all that much more than some of the heavier rims available today for full size cars/trucks.

And you forget.. (1)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817252)

..parking! There's no more reason why you couldn't move your wheels 180 degrees! On the other hand, have you seen the size of that wheel? Cars would have a monster-truck appearance!

If I know something about batteries... (3, Insightful)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817135)

..then they will all die the day after the waranty voids. Won't this create cleaner air AND dumps filled with highly toxic battery-waste?

Re:If I know something about batteries... (4, Funny)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817236)

I can just picture the phone calls:

Customer: My batteries won't hold a charge.

Appl^H^H^Huto Maker Support: Well, the batteries cost, like, $25,000. You may as well just get a new car.

Re:If I know something about batteries... (4, Informative)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817267)

Won't this create cleaner air AND dumps filled with highly toxic battery-waste?

Lead-acid batteries are highly recyclable [] . (Though, like computers, because of poor regulation such batteries are often just dumped on third-world nations [] .)

I wonder how long it will take... (2, Funny)

darth_silliarse (681945) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817136)

...for some Oil Giant to buy the company off?

A quiet bus in a busy city... (3, Interesting)

DeepDarkSky (111382) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817139)

...can be bad because of its lack of noise, there's less warnings to the pedestrians that the bus is coming. It may seem like a silly problem, but the next time you walk on the streets, check to see how often you use the sound as a cue to determine when a car is coming. Of course, you'd still look to be sure, but for jaywalkers, it could be a bad thing.

The other thing is, since the motor is now the wheel, I wonder what the costs will be to maintain these wheels. I think it's still better to have traditional electric motors with the rotor on the inside, since there's really not that much to gain from having an inside out motor, and more to lose when you need to get at it to fix it. Using traditional motors rather than the inside-out motor also means less change need to be made, since the wheels and tires can be used from currently available parts.

Re:A quiet bus in a busy city... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7817221)

A quiet bus in a busy city [...] can be bad because of its lack of noise, there's less warnings to the pedestrians that the bus is coming

Hardly a problem at all, you can always add some noise to it if you want to.

Re:A quiet bus in a busy city... (1)

mistert2 (672789) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817238)

That is funny, I have had the same complaint about my car. I have had people say that my car is too quiet in parking lots, and that's why they start to walk in front of me. I remind them to look left, then right, then left again. I chock this up to survival of the fittest.

Re:A quiet bus in a busy city... (1)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817250)

It's a wheel, you can just take it off, put on a new one and send the old one off to a factory for servicing and reconditioning. That suggests potentially lower costs than having the whole bus off the road and out of service for servicing the engine.

Re:A quiet bus in a busy city... (1)

nicodaemos (454358) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817255)

City pedestrians already have to deal with gas/electric hybrid vehicles that are nearly silent, so these luddites will simply have to evolve. Less noise in the world is a good thing.

On your second point about traditional versus inside-out electric motor -- I'm no mechanical engineer, but my guess is that this tech allows you to have a fixed axle (or perhaps even no axle) versus the old tech which requires a long rotating heavy axle to drive the wheels.

Re:A quiet bus in a busy city... (4, Funny)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817262)

>bad because of its lack of noise, there's less warnings to the pedestrians

So THAT'S why I keep getting run over by bicyclists! You know, I've been lobbying to make it a legal requirement for kids to start putting playing cards back in their spokes for just that reason!

I can't smell bikes coming, either. Gosh darned quiet, clean-running vehicles!

Re:A quiet bus in a busy city... (1)

Da Fokka (94074) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817263)

Good point. But still, it's always better if noise is a choice and not obligatory :)

Old idea (4, Insightful)

swfranklin (578324) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817143)

This is a new application of an old idea - diesel locomotive engines use this exact approach (well, their motors aren't "In" the wheel, but otherwise similar).

Diesel locos use a Diesel powerplant to generate electricity, which is then used to run the electric motors powering the drive wheels. It's very effective and proven technology.

terrible idea (3, Interesting)

treat (84622) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817146)

They put the engine in the wheel, massively increasing the amount of unsprung weight. The benefits from this layout can't possibly outweigh the huge drawbacks.

This idea will never be marketable, as the vehicle will handle terribly and have a terrible ride.

Re:terrible idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7817277)

You have a good point in that every 1 kg reduction in rotational mass is equivalent to a 10 kg reduction in overall weight as far as performance is concerned, hence I'll be sticking with magnesium alloys on my car, but I guess it depends on the purpose of the vehicle.

Re:terrible idea (1)

Da Fokka (94074) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817285)

This holds true for smaller vehicles. But for a city bus (which will not have to negotiate rough terrain) it won't be such a huge problem.

Furthermore, a lot can be done to reduce the weight of engines, thereby reducing your problem.

Although I agree it might be a problem I think it can be overcome, and that - especially with fuel prices on the rise - the idea will be very marketable.

Popular approach for ships lately (2, Informative)

PhotoGuy (189467) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817148)

Due to my wonderful education from the "Frontiers of Construction" marathon on Christmas Eve, there seemed to be many examples in the marine industry where the generator/electric motor approach is used instead of the traditional approach is used.

I got the impression that one significant benefit is the flexibility of electric engines in terms of size and manoeuverability. Being able to have your thrusters turn 360 is critical for ocean going cranes, bow thrusters, and such, and is less complicated using an electric engine than would be required for a direct mechanical linkage.

In the cruise ship example, I kind of got the impression that so much electricity is required for the ship in general, that large generators were a given to start with, so powering the thrust of the ship from the same makes a lot of sense.

Very interesting to see this technology potentially cross over to the consumer. It will be interesting to see if the efficiency makes it feasible.

an old idea in power design (1)

fw3 (523647) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817149)

At least a couple of motorcycle makers (notably the french Megola) in the '30s produced engines within the wheel rim. They used a fixed crankshaft and revolving cylinders built into the wheel. A couple thousand such units were produced.

Low horsepower diesel-electric is probably well suited to inner-city bus service, allowing batteries to charge during the frequent stops. I have no idea whether this is likely to become practical for other vehicle classes.

nothing will ever beat a big block (-1, Troll)

alitaa (636041) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817150)

i will annihilate all those treehugers under my rear axle with 550 NM

Wheel drive (2, Interesting)

sparkhead (589134) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817157)

While having the motor built into the hub reduces the number of parts and connectors (shafts, u-joints) that rob efficiency, it would seem the major item for efficiency is not so much because of the "inside out" motor, but because of the direct drive on the wheel with fewer parts.

This same company has a similar motor for smaller vehicles here [] . It uses short axles so the motor is not direct on the wheel.

There are some space considerations with this motor, but while it would work on a bus, such a large amount of unsprung weight on a smaller vehicle would not promote a great ride or handling.

Absolutely - what's more it makes vehicles heavy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7817205)

The unsprung mass is what drives loads up through the chassis for alot of durability events. This drives requirements for heavy (read armored) body structure. It's also difficult to form thick sheet metal, driving cost.

So in addition to making ride and handling performance really difficult to achieve it hurts vehicle structural durability. I wouldn't expect automakers to rush off to re-implement an old idea.

pros/cons (2, Informative)

thogard (43403) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817165)

The energy savings comes from lack of friction in the drive shaft and the battery bank can store power so you need an engine big enough to supply the average power, not peak power which results in a smaller engine. This is good for larger vehicles like busses and some trucks. It also means more effecent engines can be used. A modern internal combustion engine as found in cars and trucks is designed to work over a wide range of speeds that aren't need if your just running an generator. Once an engine is running on a consistant load and output, efficiency can be improved even more.

This will not work so well for cars beause the high unsprung weight will make a car handle very poorly and the friction losses in a u-shaft would be better than extra weight in the wheels.

Hydro Quebec had worked on that long ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7817169)

The electricity company of Quebec province (Canada) had worked on something similar in the nineties. The actually had a working modified car with in-wheel electric engines. But for some mysterious political reasons, they ended the project...

Ehh, it's been done.... (1)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817176)

... by a presidential candidate [] no less.

It ain't new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7817188)

Laterno, makers of heavy equipment, has been using electric motors on each wheel for decades. They use a diesel engine to pump the hydraulics and run a generator. It's weird opening up a panel on an earth-mover and seeing a big 220-V 3-phase distribution panel. Back in the 80s I did some telecomm work at a big sawmill operation that had a Laterno lift, the owner said at the end of the day it burned 2/3 the fuel of a smaller Cat lift, and did 5 times the work. So hurray for the Europeans for inventing the technology now. What'll they invent next, fire?

Swedish Hybrid (1)

CustomDesigned (250089) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817191)

I read about a Swedish hybrid a few years ago, and have been patiently waiting for something like it to appear in the States. It had a motor for each wheel, and a turbine powered generator to produce electricity (mediated by a battery pack).

The neat thing about the turbine was that it could burn a wide variety of liquid fuels with no modification: gin, diesel, gasoline, kerosene, methyl alchohol. The fuel didn't have to be especially pure.

Fuel cells are nice, but each type of fuel cell burns only one kind of fuel - which must be very pure to avoid ruining the fuel cell. I want a fuel cell for my laptop, but not my car.

The other nice thing about turbines is that Batman had one...

GNAA uses big black asses for wheels (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7817194)

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Like a George Carlin skit... (1)

Chordonblue (585047) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817197)

I love how new tech is always claimed to be so environment friendly. Reading the article went like this for me:

- Electric motors in the wheels. Environment friendly... Cool!

- Ok... Battery packs... Yeah. Enviro PC. Bitchin'...

- DIESEL ENGINE to power the whole thing...


They're full of shit! :)

Re:Like a George Carlin skit... (1)

aXis100 (690904) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817289)

As far as I've heard, modern diesel engines are actually very clean - i.e. they can be better than natural gas..

Re:Like a George Carlin skit... (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817290)

- DIESEL ENGINE to power the whole thing...

Since Diesel engines can run on biodiesel, yes, a diesel engine can be more environmentally friendly than a gasoline one.

"Inside-out" motors... (1)

addaon (41825) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817202)

are the new big thing. To look at two totally seperate domains, check out the YS Tech TMD fan [] (Dan's review) and Canon's Ring USM [] (Photo net review). This is clearly a technology with potential for anyone working in a certain formfactor who thinks they're making a high enough quantity that they can do custom motors instead of just buying the oldfashioned barrels... and now, it seems, it scales as well. I think we'll be seeing a lot more of this. (Is it so bad of me to want a monocycle driven with this kind of motor?)

No Polution from them Diesels (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7817208)

Will I have to actually slow down for those speed bumps now. I currently using them to get air.

Power/size and other statistics (3, Interesting)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817214)

I happened to get an electrical set as a b'day gift a long time back when I was a kid...and one of the parts was a small electric motor.

Among one of my personal projects was an electric car, which I tried to make out toothpaste boxes/etc. The most natural way to move the car was, ofcourse to attach the electric motor (I had only one) to one of the wheels. I did this by attaching a small wheel to the motor shaft. Ofcourse, it didn't work out right: because of only one moving wheel, the car moved in circles, rather than straight as desired.

My point is: doesn't attaching the engine to the wheel seem like the *most* logical choice in the first place? Why build complicated transmission mechanisms and a centralized engine in the first place? The reason, I think was to use only one big powerful engine to power all wheels (or two, incase of a 2 wheel drive) simultaneously. Since the engine is the single most expensive component of a vehicle, it made sense to use only one of them, especially so, because most of them have a very high space:power ratio.

Electric motors seem to suffer from the same problem (high traction motors are incredibly huge). I would like to see figures on the size/power of these engines, and ofcourse, the size/weight of the batteries which the vehicle would need to haul along.

Danish Engineering (1)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817215)

No, I'm not talking about pastry design, I'm talking about real engineering.

I worked for a Danish company for 2 years in the R&D Dept. I learned that Danish engeineering is done differently than in America. They are very thourough, and documentation and research will be complete before they ever begin making the tangible object.

That is a sharp contrast from how things are done here. They call us 'cowboys' because we'll go off and come back with it either done, or a working (tho sometimes failed) proof of concept. Then we document what worked best. It is this cavalier attitude that I think always gets us winning Junk Yard Wars against the Europeans.

The results are this: This Danish company I worked for posted small but constant growth, making a profit ever year in the last 90 except the first year the company was founded. Here, in America, our growth is much more irratic. We (U.S.) will get the product to market, quicker, but we'll also replace it quicker.

Saw this back in 1997... (1)

patvan (234768) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817240)

In fact, Hydro-Quebec (here in, well, Quebec), was working on exactly the same thing. Saw it in person at the Montreal Car show, installed on a Dodge Intrepid.

Hydro-Quebec then quietly dropped the project, and people called foul on the auto industry (the "the oil industry doesn't want this" conspiracy).

I don't know how it would've have turned out on our potholes fields they call streets, though.

If you want to read more (and you can read french), google for: moteur-roue Couture.

How funny (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817242)

Back in the 70's, I developed a WindGenerator that used a similar approach for a class.

Odd Quote from The Website (1)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817244)

Please insert all your jokes under this thread....

the environmental impact will be dramatically reduced when using TheWheel(TM)

Sounds like someone stole an advertising campaign from 55 hundred years ago []
I especially love this page [] with the heading "The Wheel - What It Is, and What It Does"


I've actually read the article.
IANAE (I am not an engineer) but it sounds to me like they're re-inventing the wheel.


In Communist Russia, The Wheel turns The Engine.


1. Re-Invent Wheel
2. ???
3. Profit


Damn STUPID Patent Office has DONE IT AGAIN.
(TheWheel(TM) has been patented internationally - Patent Nr. WO 01/54939)


Have I forgotten anything, folks?

The Mechanical Engineers sleep late at /. (3, Insightful)

neBelcnU (663059) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817245)

Wow, all these cogent thoughts from the EE's and CE's, but where are the ME's?!

-Too quiet for a bus?
Round my midwestern city, the noisy, stinky buses are, oh, let's say 30' long, with the engine at the stern. If you're depending on hearing them for avoidance, you're gonna be meat on the front bumper 100% of the time.

Intersting, a REAL ME (I only play one on /.) could calculate the precession-force but I think the more pressing problem is called "UNSPRUNG WEIGHT." For decades, wheel and tire manufacturers have made huge strides toward lighter products to reduce the UW. Lowering UW allows a more agile suspension. (Perhaps "Unsprung MASS" would be more scientifically accurate?) All that having been said, I think the benefits in design would outweigh this one problem...

-Various comments on Diesel Hybrids.
MIT's done the math, and I've ranted about this before: Forget Hydrogen as a transportation fuel (for a while), a high acceptance rate of Diesel hybrids would save the world. (Soot? Darkening of the earth? All soluble, and still more manageable problems than the far larger emissions from gasoline as a transport-fuel.)

These are a fairly logical solution to the problem, especially for allowing car-designers to make the car do what you want/need it to do: Carry your self and stuff in safety and comfort.

I, for one, welcome our new motor-in-wheel overlords. (Sorry 'bout that)

Run them on Biodiesel... (1)

tinrobot (314936) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817249)

Let's see, if they ran the diesel engines on Biodiesel, they could totally wean the mass transit system off of petroleum.

Biodiesel -- fuel from the southeast, not the middle east.

Freight Engines have used this for years (1)

-ryan (115102) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817256)

This is essentially what trains have been doing for years. An engineer I met once explained to me that converting the energy from the diesel engine directly into electricity which through a series of batteries drove electric motors uses 70% less energy than a mechanical transmission.

Re:Freight Engines have used this for years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7817293)

How true.

Just think if you needed a clutch in a train! That's just one of the beauties of this system. I had a friend who burnt out his cluttch in only 35000 miles. Good thing trains down have a clutch - they'd burn out in, um, something like 1 foot!

In addition, you can run the diesel engine at it's peak efficiency, because it's not directly coupled to the speed of the locomotive. Yet another beauty.

I can see this in cars - No more fancy (and heavy, and complex, and power-sucking) transmissions. That's a plus. In addition, the engine could run at an optimal speed.

Four wheel drive cars would be only slightly more expensive than two wheel drive cars.

The big disadvantage is, of course, the efficiencies of the entire system. There is still a significant energy loss at each wheel, and at generation.

Stirling generator rather than Diesel. (2, Insightful)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817265)

They can give you another 5-10% efficiency on top of Diesel, are much quieter and require far less servicing due to the external combustion. They're not ideal for automotive applications normally because they can't respond instantly, but make good generators. The down side is the development cost, you can go out and just buy a Diesel generator of X size, that isn't quite true of Stirlings.

Just like a diesel/electric train (1)

gtoomey (528943) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817269)

This seems to use the same principle as a diesel/electic train. An engine is used to power a dynamo to produce an electic current, and then this is transmitted to electic motors in the wheels.

Additional complexity for servicing? (1)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817274)

All I can say is, thisis obviously aimed at large/fleet vehicles, and not your family small-car.

With the wheel-integrated-with-the-engine concept, there's NO WAY that MaryJane Q Citizen (or even JimBOB SixPack truckdriver) is going to be changing a tire on his/her own.

What about EMI? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817280)

I hope somebody has thought about electromagnetic interference while designing this (but somehow, due to nature of this motor, I doubt it...)

dumb patents (1)

sglines (543315) | more than 10 years ago | (#7817292)

Here is an example of another patent that should never have been issued. As a child my neighbor was an ex-pat Canadian EE who was very proud of the busses he put into service in Switzerland just after WW2.

As I remember it a diesel engine powered a generator and spun up a flywheel, which acted as a large battery. Each wheel hub had an electric motor that was used for propulsion and regenerative braking.

I'd say this idea falls into the obvious category.
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