By Drew Johnson
Monday, Feb 2nd, 2009 @ 4:27 pm
 
Hybrid vehicle technology is rapidly improving, but mainly in the area of better technology. However, two Tufts University professors have developed a new regenerative technology that could see hybrid vehicle fuel mileage increase by as much as 70 percent.

Regenerative braking is pretty much the norm for any hybrid vehicle - a system that recaptures some of the energy typically lost during braking and sends it to the car's battery - but future hybrids may be equipped with another form of regenerative technology: regenerative shock absorbers.

Developed by Ronald Goldner and Peter Zerigian of Tufts University, the system essentially uses the natural motion of an automobile to generate energy. As a typical vehicle drives over the road, its shock absorbers move up and down creating heat, which is absorbed by the shock's oil. However, the regenerative system created by Goldner and Zerigian uses a system of magnets and other electronic devices to capture that energy that is otherwise lost as heat and sends it to the hybrid's batteries. As a result, the system can improve a hybrid's fuel economy by 20 to 70 percent, according to Gizmag.

There are no official plans to put the regenerative shock system into any production vehicles, but UPS will be testing the system later this year in some of its hybrid trucks. However, if the system proves viable and reliable, it could show up in production hybrids in the not-too-distant future.