PORTLAND, Ore. A former IBM electrical engineer has designed a retrofit kit that he claims can transform existing automobiles into hybrids by placing an electric motor inside each wheel, thereby doubling gas mileage.
Charles Perry, a former IBM product development researcher, recently received first prize for his invention at a green energy competition at the Tennessee Technology Development Corp. The patent pending Plug-in Hybrid Retrofit Kit will be developed into a commercial product by Palmer Labs LLC (Reston, Va.).
|The hybrid retrofit kit is installed in the space between the brake mechanism and the hub|
"What makes our approach different is we don't need to modify anything in existing vehicles to turn them into a hybrid," said Perry. "We install the motor in the space between the brake mechanism and the hub without any other modifications."
According to Perry, 80 percent of U.S. drivers make daily trips of less than 30 miles at 40 miles per hour or slower, all of which could be powered by his 10-15 horsepower electric motors to save as much as 120 million gallons of fuel per day in the U.S. alone, he claimed. The motors would be powered by extra batteries installed in the automobile's trunk.
To develop the retrofit kit into a commercial product, Perry has partnered with the Tennessee Technological University (Cookeville), which will will build a working prototype within a year with about $100,000 in existing funding. The next step will be to retrofit the kit on 30 state-owned vehicles for testing. If all goes as planned, Perry estimates that within three years the final kits will be manufactured by Palmer Labs in a new Tennessee facility that would employ about 2000 workers.
Perry said the kit will cost between $3,000 to $5,000.