COLUMBUS, OH - Ohio State University and Vanner, Inc. are working with industry partners to accelerate the electric vehicle industry in Ohio. The university's Center for Automotive Research (CAR) recently secured state approval for the first $500,000 of a $3 million Ohio Third Frontier Grant designed to help develop market-viable commercial electric vehicles, including buses and trucks that represent a potential growth rate of 17.1 percent annually.

Vanner, Inc. and American Electric Power, STMicroelectronics, and Fil-Mor Express, Inc. will use the new CAR testing facilities to research, develop, and demonstrate new hybrid electric vehicle technologies. Advancement of this technology is projected to create more than 900 new jobs over the next five years.

"We will be able to measure everything onboard a hybrid vehicle, including fuel and energy efficiency," said Giorgio Rizzoni, professor of mechanical engineering and director of CAR. "One particular goal of our research is to move auxiliary power systems in working trucks and buses off the diesel engine and onto rechargeable electric. These systems run air conditioning or external hydraulic parts and using them often results in long-term idling of the engine, which wastes fuel and pollutes the environment."

Vanner has developed converters that allow a high-voltage battery in a commercial vehicle to power electrical accessories, thus eliminating use of the alternator, and possibly reducing fuel consumption by as much as a 40 percent, according to Rizzoni.