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Transportation Hardware

New Semiconductor Could Improve Vehicle Fuel Economy By 10 Percent 119

cartechboy writes: "Automakers are scrambling to increase vehicle fuel economy every year as regulations increase, so when an automaker finds a way to possibly increase fuel economy by 10 percent with one new part, that gets some attention. Today that automaker is Toyota, and the part is a new semiconductor. Toyota's power control units (PCU) in its hybrids use semiconductors to govern the flow of electricity between the battery and the electric motor. Unfortunately, they're also an electrically restrictive component. Toyota says the PCU accounts for a quarter of the total electrical power losses in a hybrid drive system, and semiconductors alone make up a full fifth of the total. Reduce electrical losses through a semiconductor, and you can make your hybrid system (and therefore your car) more efficient. Toyota has done this, in theory at least, using a new silicon carbide material for its semiconductors, rather than a standard silicon unit. The future could be shaped by individual parts, and this new semiconductor tech is one piece of that puzzle."
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New Semiconductor Could Improve Vehicle Fuel Economy By 10 Percent

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  • by jonsmirl ( 114798 ) on Friday May 23, 2014 @04:19PM (#47078219) Homepage

    Amazingly content free press release. No clue what these devices are. This is just fluff reporting with no details.

  • Re:Fuel economy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bzipitidoo ( 647217 ) <> on Friday May 23, 2014 @04:35PM (#47078371) Journal

    10%+ increase in efficiency gets automakers' attention? No it doesn't.

    If they were really serious about fuel economy, they'd go to work on the aerdynamics for starters. Current vehicles have far too much air resistance. And actually they know this. They don't improve the aerodynamics for several reasons. They're afraid the public will think it ugly, and they think it will cost more to manufacture. One of the simplest improvements are skirts for the rear wheels. Every time it's been tried, the public rejects it. Another easy improvement is smoothing the underside. But that costs more, and not just during manufacturing. It also increases maintenance costs as it's one more item that has to be removed to service much of the car.

All laws are simulations of reality. -- John C. Lilly