AFS Trinity Wins Historic Patent to Cut Electric Vehicles Costs, Reduce Size and Number of Batteries

AFS Trinity Power Corporation’s fast, plug-in hybrid SUV came closer to commercialization today as the company announced it has been awarded an historic patent for its Extreme Hybrid drive train that combines ultracapacitors and other power electronics and energy storage devices with off the shelf chemical batteries in plug-in hybrid vehicles.

The company said it expects DOE and U.S. Congressional recognition of the cost, safety and performance benefits of the new technology in the form of the full plug-in hybrid tax credit of $7500 to vehicles using this breakthrough technology. Although the tax credit is presently tied to the total energy stored in the batteries in a plug-in hybrid vehicle, the new AFS Trinity technology makes possible the use of as few as 50% as many batteries while actually increasing battery durability and performance through the use of ultracapacitors, thus driving down the total cost of the drive train and the overall plug-in hybrid vehicle cost by as much as a third. The patent provides very broad protection for the new AFS Trinity technology, covering the use of ultracapacitors, flywheels and so-called "power batteries" used to protect the main energy storage battery bank.

According to AFS Trinity Chairman and CEO Edward W. Furia, the new patent the company announced today makes possible licensing of the company’s Extreme Hybrid technology to the world?s auto makers so they can make roomy, high performance cars, trucks and SUV’s that are less expensive than the smaller, higher priced plug-ins now being promised by carmakers.

For actual driving videos of the prototypes see:

Continuing improvements

AFS Trinity also expects that the adoption of its newly patented technology will continue to drive down the cost of plug-in hybrids for many years.

According to AFS Trinity engineers, who have conducted projects for NASA, the Department of Defense and other U.S. Government and aerospace organizations, expense and performance gains of this technology are expected to increase much faster than for battery technology alone. For example, AFS Trinity Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Donald Bender explained that ultracapacitors have reduced in price much faster than batteries. He said, "Ultracapacitors now cost 100 times less than they did 15 years ago."

To increase Congressional awareness, AFS Trinity Chief Executive Officer Edward W. Furia has written to federal legislators and the Department of Energy, stating, in part:

"While our patented technology could reduce the cost of PHEVs by as much as a third it also deserves to be accorded the full plug-in tax credit of up to $7500, which is a critical selling point for consumers. Our system, which we call the Extreme Hybrid? relies not on batteries alone but also on powerful electronic devices called ultra-capacitors which reduce the total number of batteries needed.

"By seamlessly integrating ultra-capacitors into the electronic propulsion system of plug-ins, the AFS Trinity system eliminates peak electric loads on the battery caused by the frequent acceleration and braking events that are part of everyday driving. This innovation allows plug-ins to travel farther on smaller, less-expensive lithium-ion batteries, while also increasing the useful life of the batteries.

"Fun without guilt is an added benefit because ultra-capacitors actively managed by our proprietary power electronics enable our prototype SUVs to accelerate from 0-60 in 6.9 seconds while achieving an overall fuel economy of 150 MPG.

"We believe extending the full tax credit to vehicles with these kinds of cost and performance advantages is exactly what the Congress had in mind when it created the tax credit."

As a result of this new technology development, according to Furia, AFS Trinity expects to make even lower cost Extreme Hybrids possible in the near future. The prospect for such cars getting to market quickly is dramatically increased if tax credits are linked not only to the total number of batteries or their energy storage capacity, but to fully integrated and optimized electric drive trains that also utilize ultracapacitors or other electronic devices that increase performance and lower costs.

The new AFS Trinity patent

The patent covers, among other things, the use of ultracapacitors that extend the life of the battery pack, which is often the most expensive component of a plug-in hybrid. As a result, fewer batteries are needed and less expensive batteries can be used. "How many people can pay what TIME magazine last week called " . . . BMW prices for . . . a Chevy (Volt plug-in hybrid)" or twice as much for the awaited Fisker Karma," Furia asked.

"We have just received a patent on a technology that solves the battery problem," Furia said. "This was the remaining stumbling block to creating economically viable plug-in hybrids. As a result, we have the technology to provide longer battery life, the ability to use fewer batteries and the critical missing link to building less expensive plug-in hybrid cars, trucks and SUV’s. And this can be done without sacrificing the room and performance that many drivers throughout the world clearly still want."

Cars people want and can buy

Furia, a former official of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, further asked, "What good is accomplished building cars that have the potential to reduce oil dependence or carbon emissions if they would have to cost $40,000 to $100,000 and only a small percentage of drivers can afford them."

"What we need is a plug-in most people can afford and, just as important, truly desire for room and performance," Furia said, "In fact, that’s exactly what can be accomplished by the technology that the U.S. Patent Office has issued AFS Trinity a patent for, and we intend to offer this technology to any carmaker that shares this vision."

On the road now

Furia said, "We are not a car maker, and we cannot guarantee automakers will embrace this technology and build these cars, but we can guarantee that the system works. Two Extreme Hybrid XH150 prototypes using the technology have been on the road for two and a half years and have been driven by hundreds of Americans including many Governors, Senators, Congressmen and other prominent U.S. Government officials. With the addition of this critically important new patent to our IP portfolio, we are finally in a comfortable position to license this technology to any automaker in the world."

Furia also said, "We realize that some carmakers may mistakenly believe they can use ultracapacitors for plug-in hybrids without actively managing them with power electronics or that they can utilize them without a license from AFS Trinity. We urge them to take a good look at our patent position should they decide to try, and to bear in mind that we are not in the business of competing with them?indeed, we see them as our customers."

AFS Trinity Power Corp was created by a 2001 merger of American Flywheel Systems (AFS) and Trinity Flywheel Power (Trinity) which were incorporated in 1991 and 1993, respectively. Headquartered in Bellevue, Washington with an engineering center in Livermore, California, the company develops Fast Energy Storage for vehicular, spacecraft and stationary power systems utilizing batteries, ultracapacitors, and flywheels.

The company has conducted programs with private and government organizations including DARPA, NASA, the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, U.S. DOT, California Energy Commission, Oak Ridge National Laboratories, Lawrence Livermore National Labs, Lockheed, Honeywell, and Ricardo.