Michigan based and Venture backed NRG Dynamix granted key industry patent
Gregory Buck, firstname.lastname@example.org, Cell: 734.678.0483
Jim O'Brien NRG founder and Chief Technologist announced today the US Patent Office has granted NRG its Hoseless Hydraulic Hybrid patent that clearly establishes NRG's position as a force to be reckoned with in the recently revived hydraulic hybrid space. The primary patent; US Application 12/547,798: Hoseless Hydraulic Hybrid US grants to NRG the exclusive right to encapsulate any hybrid solution into one unit that is attached to the vehicle. This broad patent not only incorporates the hydraulic hybrid space but also electric vehicles. In addition NRG believes that its extensive patent portfolio provide competitive differentiators that other powertrain manufacturers will find challenging to work around. Recent announcements by Bosch Rexroth and PSA Peugeot Citroen have spurred interest in hydraulic hybrids as the technology was heretofore thought to be only a marginally effective solution. But with many OEM's announcing that they are either ceasing or materially modifying their Electric Vehicle initiatives a renewed focus on alternative powertrains is accelerating. This is very pronounced in the Off Highway and Commercial Fleet marketplaces but with the Bosch Rexroth announcement OEM's and Tier 1's have also indicated that an alternative to the traditional transmission is once again under discussion and review. NRG presently has working GM & Ford prototypes for commercial vehicles and is actively engaged with Off Highway manufacturers. Mr. O'Brien concludes; "our development has focused on creating a safe and efficient solution, we do not use batteries, we do not have hydraulic leaks because we have no hoses and fittings and we deliver superior gas mileage capable of meeting future industry standards."
NRG is located in South Eastern Michigan and has received investment from the Michigan Economic Development Fund, Khosla Ventures and Ridgewood Capital and other private investors. The company has developed a portfolio of cutting edge products focused on providing solutions for vehicles, including:
For additional information please direct your inquiries to company spokesperson:
A Dream Becomes Reality - NRG Dynamix
May-June 2012 edition of the CALSTART Current
James A. O'Brien II had a dream and, over just a few short years, that dream has become reality in the Drop 'N Hybrid - a full-series hydraulic hybrid system.
The dream began in the late 1990's, when O'Brien was immersed in electric propulsion innovations. Roadblocks, including battery issues, kept getting in the way. Then, he realized that he could address many of the roadblocks with hydraulics and do so in a very affordable way.
O'Brien developed and installed the initial hydraulic hybrid power train (HHPT) in Ford Rangers. Now, NRG Dynamix, the Michigan-based company of which O'Brien is CEO and President, is ready to commercialize the Drop 'N Hybrid. The initial focus is light commercial trucks, simply because it is so easy to prove return on investment due to fuel cost savings.
Recently, a postal vehicle equipped with the Drop 'N Hybrid realized a 60% fuel savings, going from approximately 15 mpg to more than 25 mpg. If the rigorous stop-and-go, dutycycle testing of city- and rural-route postal delivery service vehicles currently underway replicates the initial results, the USPS could save more than $3 million dollars a day in fuel costs.
Equally important to air quality, independent tests show the Drop N' Hybrid also reduces emissions by up to 90%.
According to O'Brien, "NRG Dynamix has the only hydraulic hybrids possessing single pressure compensated controls in a clean, easily installed Drop 'N Hybrid module, looking just like an automatic transmission. So innovative is the design that it is intended, in time, to compete directly with automatic transmissions in cost and still deliver more than 50 percent improvement in fuel economy."
The Drop 'N Hybrid is a full-series hybrid - the system drives the wheels. The vehicle engine is used primarily to pressurize the hydraulic system and always operates in the optimal range, even shutting down when not needed. The system fits between the frame rails of most vehicles, providing increased safety and avoiding costly architecture and engine modifications. Minimal maintenance occurs at regular vehicle maintenance intervals.
From dream to reality - saving fuel, reducing emissions and creating jobs.
ETAS and Hybrid Controls
By James O'Brien - NRG Dynamix, Parker Mosman - Hybrid Controls, Joseph Romeo and Jamey Cates - ETAS, Real Times
Helping small technology start-ups turn concepts into reality.
The United States has always been rich with entrepreneurial spirit and many small businesses developing innovative technologies improve our daily lives. The automotive sector has seen its share of such companies with recent emphasis on fuel economy and emissions reduction. As automotive control systems become increasingly complex, electronics and software are playing a larger role in the development of such systems.
There is a need for new ideas and new technology. Some of these ideas may be on the fringe of convention, but sometimes it is these bold new ideas that lead to the biggest breakthroughs. Large companies may often be hesitant to take the risk of commercialization costs associated with fringe technology.
Small businesses will often take risks that larger companies shy away from, but they are inherently disadvantaged in the market place. They have budgetary limitations and often lack the infrastructure and tools commonly used in the automotive industry. Many small businesses have a home-grown approach to new product development, including custom control system hardware, hand-coded software and custom calibration and data acquisition tools. This path is typically taken to minimize initial out-of-pocket costs, while arriving at what is believed to be a better solution for the given application. The reality is that this approach typically leads to significantly larger project costs because each custom piece requires maintenance and debugging.
While there are advantages to designing the "perfect system" for an application, often there is a significant lead time and cost associated with producing such custom products, validating them, and optimizing their operation. From the small business perspective, it is often difficult to forecast the full cost of a custom approach due to the number of unknowns and potential for iteration. All of this additional effort consumes precious resources and development time in areas unrelated to the technological core of the system.
Small businesses are exceptionally efficient at prototyping new technologies, but they typically fail to do so in a manner that is applicable by the traditional automotive sector. Leveraging their own small business experience, Hybrid Controls (HyCon) is a Detroit, Michigan-based startup company with a plan to close this technology gap. HyCon has a background with large global OEMs and Tier suppliers with specific expertise in powertrain development and the design of electronic control systems. The company specializes in providing engineering services for control system development and is able to rapidly deploy prototype systems to show proof of concept. In addition to engineering services, HyCon is able to develop custom hardware solutions and can support production volumes with manufacturing in the US and in Asia. HyCon allows their customers to mature their concepts and ideas while reducing the implementation risks by guiding them down a path of industry standard practices.
To drive industry standard control system development practices, it is imperative to drive industry standard development tool selection. After significant analysis of the development tools market, HyCon has standardized on a light weight development process leveraging ETAS ASCET for model-based software development and code generation; ETAS EHOOKS for the quick and efficient insertion of software hooks for prototyping, test, and calibration; ETAS INCA as a calibration tool, and FlexECU-D1 as an open ECU hardware platform. FlexECU is based on state-of-the-art production intent ECU hardware from Bosch (Figure 2). ETAS' initial hardware variant offerings consist of a Diesel (FlexECU-D1) as well as a Gasoline (FlexECU-G1) ECU. The ETAS tool chain ensures that all HyCon customers are developing next generation automotive technologies just as larger companies do, which in turn improves each customer's appearance to the investment community or potential partners.
ASCET for the model-based development of application software and automatic code generation is the centerpiece of HyCon's development process. Many small businesses with heavily mechanical systems overlook the fact that, in the end, they will most likely be required to integrate their control strategy into the ECU ecosystem within a modern vehicle. This could be done by integrating their control software into an existing ECU or by integrating their ECU into the vehicle directly. Either way, failure to recognize this and address it up front drastically diminishes any small business's ability to work with larger companies. ASCET's heavy emphasis on target and hardware independence maximizes any small business's terminal value by guaranteeing that the software they develop can easily be dropped into any hardware platform with no rework at the control software level. Furthermore, ASCET's intuitive methods for capturing control logic allows small businesses to invest in application experts rather than dedicated software experts, resulting in more minds working on improving the overall system without the burden of passing requirements to a software department.
HyCon has successfully deployed this strategy with multiple customers. One customer, NRG Dynamix, has developed a Hydraulic Hybrid Power Train called "NRG Drive" that enhances drivetrain efficiency by blending basic mechanical and fluid technology with state-of-the-art materials, packaging, component and controls innovations (Figure 1). NRG Drive can be partnered with gasoline, diesel, bio-fuel, electric, or solar powerplants. With NRG Drive, it is possible to have fuel economy improvement over 60 percent while at the same time reducing vehicle emissions by as much as 90 percent. Since hydraulic hybrids are capable of capturing regenerative braking energy, they are typically applied to the heavy vehicle market.
NRG recognized that to further the development of their system they had to get out of the "custom ECU, handcoded C, and custom data acquisition" business because time was frequently being lost to pinpointing the root-cause of system issues. To solve these problems, HyCon began by designing the ETAS FlexECU into the NRG system to serve as the platform ECU for any vehicle. The FlexECU-D1 was an ideal choice for this application, due to its high I/O count, ruggedness, and compatibility in both 12 V and 24 V systems. In addition to its hardened aspects, the FlexECU's seamless compatibility with EHOOKS, ASCET, and INCA drive an extremely efficient workflow out-of-the-box. Additionally, ETAS has also created a path to volume production to facilitate bringing the customer's innovation to market with minimal delay.
In addition to solving the legacy ECU architecture issues, HyCon was also tasked with improving the quality and testability of the NRG control software. Leveraging ASCET as the software development tool, HyCon was able to reverse engineer NRG's handwritten C-code and deploy it on a FlexECU in a matter of weeks, while adding functionality along the way. Furthermore, since the FlexECU software build process produces both an ASAP2 and HEX file, the resulting ASCET-generated software could immediately be calibrated and tested using INCA, thus eliminating the need for custom data acquisition tools that normally needed maintenance with each software release.
Having completed the initial integration of ETAS tools at NRG, HyCon's goal moving forward is to provide continuing support and expertise while ensuring that the NRG engineering staff is gaining the required knowledge to leverage the ETAS tools themselves. This is the final value that HyCon brings to its customers. HyCon is not looking to staff "heads for dollars" in perpetuity. Instead, its goal is to work very intensely in the beginning to enable this advanced development process while, over time, transitioning into a support and advisory role.
While this joint development process among ETAS, HyCon, and NRG is still ongoing, all indications point to long-term success. NRG is currently presenting prototypes to several potential customers and initial reaction is quite favorable. The approach outlined herein has allowed a third-party engineering services firm (HyCon) to enable a target, small business enduser (NRG) to deploy advanced ECU development tools from ETAS - in a cost-efficient and technically beneficial manner. The final result will be that NRG will offer its customers a superior new powertrain technology offering higher fuel economy and improved emissions at a competitive price.
THE CHALLENGE: Empower small, start-up companies with limited resources to bring their ideas and concepts to market, quickly and efficiently, using industry standard practices and tools more accessible to larger companies with deeper pockets.
THE SOLUTION: ETAS partners with third-party control system development services provider and ETAS tool expert, Hybrid Controls, to help an ambitious new start-up technology company, NRG Dynamix, implement its groundbreaking idea using ETAS' FlexECU, ASCET, EHOOKS, and INCA tool suites.
THE BENEFIT: An ongoing collaboration among ETAS, HyCon, and NRG that has produced working control system prototypes in a very short time and will allow NRG to showcase their technology to potential customers and investors.
Could $3M A Day In Fuel Savings Save Saturday Mail?
Michigan Company Wants To Try
March 11, 2012 3:51 PM by Matt Roush, detroit.cbslocal.com
DEERFIELD - Could $3 million a day in fuel savings be enough to save Saturday mail delivery?
NRG Dynamix has logged a 60 percent fuel economy improvement in a hydraulic hybrid postal vehicle. Further testing is expected to show it could save the USPS millions of dollars in fuel costs a day.
A postal vehicle equipped with a Drop 'N Hybrid developed by the Deerfield energy tech firm exceeded 25 miles per gallon in initial tests. Rigorous stop-and-go, duty-cycle testing replicating city- and rural-route postal delivery service is under way.
Current mail delivery vehicles cover 4.1 million miles and burn 1.4 million gallons of fuel each day at an assumed 14-16 mpg each. A 25 mpg Drop 'N Hybrid-equipped vehicle would save 840,000 gallons a day, and at a national average $3.76 a gallon, that's almost $3.2 million each day.
Independent tests show the Drop 'N Hybrid also reduces emissions by up to 90 percent, so it's greener than most other alternatives, and superior design and state of the art materials make it safe.
"Our objective was safety; we wanted all internal components double-walled to reduce the likelihood of any pressurized fluid escaping, even in a crash," said James O'Brien, president and CEO of NRG Dynamix. "The Drop 'N Hybrid strategy was lighter, less likely to leak at fittings, and easier to package in any vehicle. It just makes sense."
The Drop 'N Hybrid is a full-series hybrid; the system drives the wheels. The vehicle engine is used primarily to pressurize the hydraulic system, and always operates in the optimal range, even shutting down when not needed, aiding in fuel savings and emissions reduction.
The Drop 'N Hybrid fits between the frame rails of most vehicles, eliminating risk of high-pressure tanks "hanging" outside the rails or vehicle body, and avoiding costly architecture and engine modifications and change-over downtime. And minimal maintenance occurs at regular vehicle maintenance intervals.
NRG noted that driving habits and even the weather will vary results with any vehicle, and only the USPS knows if $3-million a day is enough to save Saturday mail service.