OK, hybrid-ize this

Hybrid automobiles are catching on, and good luck to them. From what I've seen of the Prius, I'll keep my Malibu for a few more years. I wish that turbodiesels were more widely available for minivans---a VW Eurovan TDI would be killer.

Going on a limb here, it seems that the biggest challenge to making a hybrid gasoline-electric vehicle is making space for the batteries that store electricity, a place where the weight of the batteries has less impact on ride and handling. I'd rather solve a different problem, such as the need for the batteries at all.

So how about a smaller reciprocating engine like a Stelzer, integrated with an electric alternator. The frequency ("RPM"?) of the Stelzer can be high, in the kilohertz range, so the transformers built to step the voltage down or up can be smaller and lighter. The Stelzer has only one real moving part, and it can be made very compact. Each end of the piston carries a magnet, and windings surrounding the piston ends capture the pistons' reciprocation as alternating current.

From the alternator, cables run to smaller motors at each wheel. Perhaps these motors, optimized for the higher frequencies of the Stelzer-powered alternator, can be made smaller and lighter too. They'll be out at the wheels, needing no mechanical transmission or differential to deliver the torque to the wheels, and can provide all-wheel drive for better traction and handling. This arrangement can make all-wheel steering easier to implement too.

If the motors can be built to operate as alternators as well as motors, then the motors can be turned into brakes, recovering the energy from braking and converting it back into current. This current could be used to accelerate a flywheel mounted practically anywhere in the vehicle. When the red light turns to green, the flywheel is tapped for that energy, dumping it back to the wheel motors. This smoothes out the peaks and valleys of power demand so the Stelzer can run efficiently and cleanly at a more constant RPM.

This sounds to me like a system that can be retrofitted to existing vehicles. A Stelzer motor-alternator is not going to take up as much space as a V6 with transaxle. The flywheel might be a challenge: will precession become a problem? And I'm clueless as to how to get a Stelzer motor started---maybe using the alternator windings as motors? But most of the existing drivetrain, and a lot of weight, would simply be wrecked out.

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