Update: Hybrid vehicles are getting increasingly popular these days. When I added this post 6 years ago I saw only one hybrid car, that was Toyota Prius. Now hybrid cars are not only affordable they are also getting better and better. Recently Maruti Ciaz launched their hybrid version. With the coming of Tesla, car manufacturers are increasingly investing in Electric cars as well. Without a doubt it will be electric and hybrid cars that rule the road in a few years.
Hybrid cars definitely make a good topic for a mechanical engineering seminar. You can also try it for your project as well.
The dictionary defines hybrid as something of mixed origin. A hybrid vehicle is one that combines a smaller than normal internal combustion gasoline engine with an electric motor. An engine that combines two or more sources of power is called a hybrid engine.
Typical features in a hybrid include the following:
• Produces much less pollution than standard gasoline cars
• Usually constructed of ultra light weight materials like carbon fiber or aluminum to overcome the power gap.
• Generally designed to be more aerodynamic than most cars, allowing them to “slice” through the air instead of pushing it out of the way
• A process called regenerative braking is employed to store the kinetic energy generated by brake use in the batteries, which in turn will power the electric motor.
• Electric power is used at starts and stops, low speeds (generally below 25 km/hr)
• Gasoline engine comes to play at cruising or highway speeds
There are two types of gasoline-electric hybrids:
• Parallel hybrid:
Gasoline engine and electric motor work together to move the car forward
• Series hybrid
Gasoline engine either directly powers an electric motor that powers the vehicle, or changes batteries.
Hybrids achieve improved efficiency using several approaches:
• Employ regenerative braking to recover energy and downsize or right size the engine or primary power source.
• Control the engine or primary power source to operate more efficiently and/or work more often in a more efficient range.
You can download the whole project report about this here