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Sensors playing key role in electric vehicle developmentOn a business park near Farnham in Surrey, Protean Electric is developing a novel method of providing practical, cost-effective electric power for road vehicles. The Protean Drive is a unique in-wheel electric drive system for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric light-duty vehicles, which can improve fuel economy, add torque, increase power and improve vehicle handling of both new and existing vehicles. The system has already been successfully installed in vehicles ranging from small vans to luxury, high performance cars.
Having proved the concept, Protean Electric is now continuing to increase the efficiency of the in-wheel electric motor and regenerative braking capability to further improve performance. Already, the in-wheel motor weighing only 31 kg delivers more than 81 kW. and 800 Nm yet fits easily into a conventional 18- to 24-inch road wheel. An important part of the development process is the accurate measurement of torque and speed in the test laboratory.
The test rig designed by Protean engineers uses two in-wheel motors; one as the power source and the other as the brake. This configuration allows the performance of the motors to be monitored in both drive and regenerative braking modes on the same rig with both torque and speed being measured using a Kistler Type 4504 contactless torque measuring flange. The CoMo Torque control monitor calculates and displays power derived from the torque and speed signals.
Protean's Mark McDonnell says they chose the Kistler system 4 years ago because it was easy to use, good value and had the accuracy needed. Over the years, Protean have added additional Kistler torque measuring systems as the development programme has expanded.
With the need to reduce reliance on fossil fuels growing in importance, the suitability of the Protean Drive for easy retro-fitting and as original equipment means that the Kistler equipped test rigs will be kept busy well into the future.
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