Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Automotive Homemade Diesel-Electric Hybrid

  1. Oct 4, 2012 #1
    First, I'm not looking for an exact number here or anything like that. More just bouncing ideas around and talking out loud.

    Say you have a mid 90s Ford Ranger with a manual transmission. You remove the original motor and get some type of small diesel engine (Kubota, VW, Mercedes, 4BT Cummins) and install it coupled with a suitable electric generator. Depending on size, the motor/generator combo could be mounted behind the cab in a custom made enclosure. The electric motor would be coupled to the manual transmission and a suitable flywheel and clutch system. Diesel engine fueling would depend on electrical load and the electric motor rpm would be controlled by a suitable controller.

    My only question is, roughly how many batteries would be needed in a system like this? Would it need a lot or just a few? The plan would be to have the diesel engine running 100% of the time the truck is moving.

    Like I said, there are a lot of different factors here and I'm not looking for an exact answer. Just trying to see if it is a feasible design.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 4, 2012 #2
    I would say anywhere from 1.5-8kWh depending on many factors. What type of chemistry would you prefer and how long do you want them to live?
  4. Oct 8, 2012 #3
    As far as chemistry goes, I'm really open to anything. I feel a standard deep cycle would be cheapest/easiest but not necessarily the best choice.

    As far as life cycle, obviously long is better. What is the useful life of some options?
  5. Oct 8, 2012 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I don't think you would even need a clutch/transmission any more if you found a suitable electric motor, you would just couple it directly to the driveshaft and use an electric vehicle motor controller. What kind of motor are you proposing using? How much power?

    I'm thinking the motor and generator would be a real problem based on cost. Say you have a 100 hp (75 kW) diesel engine, that means you also need a 100 hp generator (alternator?) and 100 hp motor. The cost of these items would be prohibitive for a "home-brew" diesel-electric vehicle.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook