Just about every car manufacturer has some version of an electric car on the market, whether it is a hybrid or 100% electric powered. To this day the full electric vehicles have not been able to offer the distance per charge necessary to make them practical for regular use, so hybrid seems to be sticking around for the next several years. While hybrid vehicles are more energy-efficient than those that are not, scientists at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Stuttgart want to do a better job at extending these semi-electric cars with their free-piston linear generator.
Not unlike your typical range extenders, this new device would allow the car to run on an electric charge for distances up to about 50 kilometers and then utilize an internal combustion engine to recharge as you drive longer distances. What makes the free-piston linear generator stand out from the rest is that instead of solely relying on gasoline to power the combustion engine, drivers can opt to use a range of alternative fuel sources such as hydrogen or natural gas.
During the public unveiling, Director of the DLR Institute of Vehicle Concepts, Horst E. Friedrich, commented that their range extender will eventually make it possible for people to “drive as efficiently as possible and in the most environment-friendly manner”.
Now that the technology has been demonstrated and shown to work, the next phase is to further develop and build a prototype that can be one day be used in a vehicle. That process can take some time so don’t expect to see the free-piston linear generator listed among the specs of 2014 or 2015 car models. If your interested in the more technical details of the project, head on over to the source link to get the full rundown.