Monday, March 30, 2009

United States Patent 7,315,089
WWW.USPTO.GOV
Lambertson January 1, 2008

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Powertrain system comprising compressed air engine and method comprising
same


Abstract
A powertrain system comprises a compressed air supply apparatus, a
compressed air engine, a rotary power conversion apparatus and an
electrical power conversion apparatus. The compressed air engine is
configured for extracting energy from compressed air. The compressed
air engine receives compressed air from the compressed air supply
apparatus and produces rotary power through extraction of energy from
the compressed air. The rotary power conversion apparatus is connected
to the compressed air engine and is configured for converting the
rotary power of the compressed air engine to electrical power of a
first specification. The electrical power conversion apparatus is
connected to the rotary power conversion apparatus and is configured
for converting the first specification electrical power to electrical
power of a second specification different than the first specification.


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Inventors: Lambertson; Michael Carl (Westover, MD)
Appl. No.: 11/360,777
Filed: February 23, 2006

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Current U.S. Class: 290/1A ; 180/302; 290/4D; 290/45
Current International Class: B60K 3/00 (20060101)
Field of Search: 290/1R,1A,4R,4D,40C,52 180/54.1,302



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References Cited [Referenced By]

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U.S. Patent Documents

774778 November 1904 Pratt
3693351 September 1972 Minkus
3765180 October 1973 Brown
3925984 December 1975 Holleyman
3980152 September 1976 Manor
4014172 March 1977 Jones
4018050 April 1977 Murphy
4060987 December 1977 Fisch et al.
4104955 August 1978 Murphy
4124978 November 1978 Wagner
4163367 August 1979 Yeh
4337842 July 1982 Spangler et al.
4355508 October 1982 Blenke et al.
4370857 February 1983 Miller
5296799 March 1994 Davis
5432383 July 1995 Kawamura
6044924 April 2000 Adli
6198174 March 2001 Nims et al.
6294842 September 2001 Skowronski
6367247 April 2002 Yancey
6508324 January 2003 Conley
6629573 October 2003 Perry
6862973 August 2005 Rehkemper et al.

Primary Examiner: Ponomarenko; Nicholas
Attorney, Agent or Firm: Galasso; Raymond M. Simmons; David O. Galasso
& Associates, LP
WWW.GAPATENTS.COM
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Claims

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What is claimed is:

1. A powertrain system, comprising: a compressed air supply apparatus;
a compressed air engine configured for extracting energy from
compressed air, wherein the compressed air engine receives said
compressed air from the compressed air supply apparatus and wherein
said extracting produces rotary power; a rotary power conversion
apparatus connected to the compressed air engine, wherein the rotary
power conversion apparatus is configured for converting said rotary
power of the compressed air engine to electrical power of a first
specification; and an electrical power conversion apparatus connected
to the rotary power conversion apparatus, wherein the electrical power
conversion apparatus is configured for converting said first
specification electrical power to electrical power of a second
specification different than the first specification.

2. The powertrain system of claim 1 wherein: the rotary power
conversion apparatus includes an input-output coupling device and two
direct current (DC) electrical power generating devices; the
input-output coupling device of the rotary power conversion apparatus
is connected between the compressed air engine and each one of said DC
electrical power generating devices for enabling transfer of rotary
power from the compressed air engine to each one of said DC electrical
power generating devices; and each one of said DC electrical power
generation devices are electrically connected to the electrical power
conversion apparatus for providing DC electrical power to the
electrical power conversion apparatus.

3. The powertrain system of claim 2 wherein: the electrical power
conversion apparatus includes two DC-to-alternating current (AC)
inverters, an AC electric motor, an input-output coupling device and
an electrical power generating device; each one of said DC electrical
power generating devices of the rotary power conversion apparatus is
connected to a respective one of said DC-to-AC inverters such that
each one of said DC-to-AC inverters converts DC electrical power
supplied thereto to AC electrical power; a first one of said DC-to-AC
inverters is electrically connected to the compressed air supply
apparatus; a second one of said DC-to-AC inverters is electrically
connected to the AC electric motor; and the input-output coupling
device of the electrical power conversion apparatus is connected
between the AC electric motor and the electrical power generating
device of the electrical power conversion apparatus for transferring
rotary power from the AC electric motor to the electrical power
generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus.

4. The powertrain system of claim 3, further comprising: a power
distribution apparatus electrically connected to the electrical power
generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus,
wherein the power distribution apparatus receives electrical power
from the electrical power generating device of the electrical power
conversion apparatus and wherein the power distribution apparatus is
configured for selectively outputting electrical power through a
plurality of power outlet portions thereof.

5. The powertrain system of claim 4, further comprising: an
acceleration module electrically connected to the power distribution
apparatus for enabling a stored electrical charge of the acceleration
module to be selectively outputted through at least one of said power
outlet portions of the power distribution apparatus, wherein the
acceleration module is configured for receiving an electrical power
from the power distribution apparatus for maintaining and replenishing
the stored electrical charge.

6. The powertrain system of claim 5, further comprising: a battery
apparatus including a battery and a power controller electrically
connected to the battery, wherein the power controller is electrically
connected to the compressed air supply apparatus for supplying
electrical power thereto, wherein electrical power from the battery is
selectively supplied to the compressed air supply apparatus by the
power controller of the battery apparatus when the compressed air
engine is inactive and wherein electrical power is selectively
supplied from the power distribution apparatus to the power controller
of the battery apparatus for enabling the battery to be recharged.

7. The powertrain system of claim 6, further comprising: a solar panel
electrically connected to the power controller of the battery
apparatus for supplying solar-generated electrical power to the power
controller of the battery apparatus thereby enabling the solar panel
to recharge the battery.

8. The powertrain system of claim 7, further comprising: a wind-driven
electrical power generator electrically connected to the power
distribution apparatus for enabling electrical power generated by the
wind-driven electrical power generator to be selectively outputted by
the power distribution apparatus.
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Description

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FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

The disclosures made herein relate generally to powertrain systems
comprising a compressed air engine and, more particularly, to
powertrain systems having a compressed air engine coupled to an
electrical power conversion apparatus that is coupled to a power
transmission apparatus.

BACKGROUND

Vehicle powertrain systems that rely entirely on petroleum-based fuel
are used throughout the world. They are used in nearly all, if not
all, makes, models and types of cars, vans and trucks. From a
quantitative perspective, vehicles having these types of vehicle
powertrain systems outweigh those with electric and/or hybrid
powertrain systems by several magnitudes of order.

It is well known that powertrain systems that rely entirely on
petroleum-based fuel are detrimental to the global environment. They
are also detrimental to an economy of a country that is highly
dependent on imported crude oil as well as its national security.
These three adverse considerations make powertrain systems that rely
entirely on petroleum-based fuel highly undesirable with respect to
the global environment as well as to a country where such powertrain
systems are operated.

Therefore, a vehicle powertrain system that does not consume
petroleum-based fuel and that produces power from solar energy and
regenerative types of power generation techniques would be useful and
advantageous.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

In one embodiment of the present invention, a powertrain system
comprises a compressed air supply apparatus, a compressed air engine,
a rotary power conversion apparatus and an electrical power conversion
apparatus. The compressed air engine is configured for extracting
energy from compressed air. The compressed air engine receives
compressed air from the compressed air supply apparatus and produces
rotary power through extraction of energy from the compressed air. The
rotary power conversion apparatus is connected to the compressed air
engine and is configured for converting the rotary power of the
compressed air engine to electrical power of a first specification.
The electrical power conversion apparatus is connected to the rotary
power conversion apparatus and is configured for converting the first
specification electrical power to electrical power of a second
specification different than the first specification.

In another embodiment of the present invention, a vehicle comprises a
compressed air supply apparatus, a compressed air engine, a rotary
power conversion apparatus, an electrical power conversion apparatus,
a power distribution apparatus, a power transmission apparatus and an
output power control mechanism. The compressed air supply apparatus
includes a compressed air storage tank and an air compressor connected
to the compressed air tank for supplying compressed air to the
compressed air storage tank. The compressed air engine is connected to
the compressed air storage tank for receiving compressed air from the
compressed air storage tank and is configured for extracting energy
from the compressed air. The compressed air engine produces rotary
power through extraction of energy from the compressed air. The rotary
power conversion apparatus is connected to the compressed air engine
and includes an input-output coupling device and two direct current
(DC) electrical power generating devices. The input-output coupling
device of the rotary power conversion apparatus is connected between
the compressed air engine and each one of the DC electrical power
generating devices for enabling transfer of rotary power from the
compressed air engine to each one of the DC electrical power
generating devices. The electrical power conversion apparatus includes
two DC-to-alternating current (AC) inverters, an AC electric motor, an
input-output coupling device and an electrical power generating
device. Each one of the DC electrical power generating devices of the
rotary power conversion apparatus is connected to a respective one of
the DC-to-AC inverters for supplying DC electrical power to the
respective one of the DC-to-AC inverters such that each one of the
DC-to-AC inverters converts the DC electrical power supplied thereto
to AC electrical power. A first one of the DC-to-AC inverters is
electrically connected to the compressed air supply apparatus and a
second one of the DC-to-AC inverters is electrically connected to the
AC electric motor. The input-output coupling device of the electrical
power conversion apparatus is connected between the AC electric motor
and the electrical power generating device of the electrical power
conversion apparatus for transferring rotary power from the AC
electric motor to the electrical power generating device of the
electrical power conversion apparatus. The power distribution
apparatus is electrically connected to the electrical power generating
device of the electrical power conversion apparatus. The power
distribution apparatus receives electrical power from the electrical
power generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus.
The power distribution apparatus is configured for selectively
outputting electrical power through a plurality of power outlet
portions thereof. The power transmission apparatus is connected to a
power outlet portion of the power distribution apparatus. The output
power control mechanism is connected between the power transmission
apparatus and the power outlet portion connected to the power
transmission apparatus. The output power control mechanism enables an
amount of power outputted by the power transmission apparatus to be
selectively varied.

In another embodiment of the present invention, a method comprises a
plurality of operations. An operation is performed for extracting
energy from compressed air for producing rotary power. An operation is
performed for converting the rotary power to electrical power of a
first specification. Converting the rotary power includes transferring
the rotary power from the compressed air engine to an input portion of
a direct current (DC) electrical power generating device such that DC
electrical power is supplied at an output portion of the DC electrical
power generating device. An operation is performed for converting the
first specification electrical power to electrical power of a second
specification different than the first specification. Converting the
first specification electrical power includes inverting the DC
electrical power to alternating current (AC) electrical power, driving
an AC motor using the AC electrical power and transferring rotary
power of the AC motor to a DC generator such that DC electrical power
is supplied at an output portion of the DC generator.

Turning now to specific aspects of the present invention, in at least
one embodiment, the rotary power conversion apparatus includes an
input-output coupling device and two direct current (DC) electrical
power generating devices.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the input-output
coupling device of the rotary power conversion apparatus is connected
between the compressed air engine and each one of the DC electrical
power generating devices of the rotary power conversion apparatus for
enabling transfer of rotary power from the compressed air engine to
each one of the DC electrical power generating devices of the rotary
power conversion apparatus.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, each one of the
DC electrical power generation devices of the rotary power conversion
apparatus are electrically connected to the electrical power
conversion apparatus for providing DC electrical power from the DC
electrical power generating apparatuses of the rotary power conversion
apparatus to the electrical power conversion apparatus.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the electrical
power conversion apparatus includes two DC-to-alternating current (AC)
inverters, an AC electric motor, an input-output coupling device and
an electrical power generating device.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, each one of the
DC electrical power generating devices of the rotary power conversion
apparatus is connected to a respective one of the DC-to-AC inverters
such that each one of the DC-to-AC inverters converts DC electrical
power supplied thereto to AC electrical power.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, a first one of
the DC-to-AC inverters is electrically connected to the compressed air
supply apparatus and a second one of the DC-to-AC inverters is
electrically connected to the AC electric motor.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the input-output
coupling device of the electrical power conversion apparatus is
connected between the AC electric motor and the electrical power
generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus for
transferring rotary power from the AC electric motor to the electrical
power generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, a power
distribution apparatus is electrically connected to the electrical
power generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the power
distribution apparatus receives electrical power from the electrical
power generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus
and the power distribution apparatus is configured for selectively
outputting electrical power through a plurality of power outlet
portions thereof.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, an acceleration
module is electrically connected to the power distribution apparatus
for enabling a stored electrical charge of the acceleration module to
be selectively outputted through at least one of the power outlet
portions of the power distribution apparatus.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, a power
controller of a battery apparatus is electrically connected to the
compressed air supply apparatus for supplying electrical power to the
compressed air supply apparatus.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, electrical power
from a battery of the battery apparatus is selectively supplied to the
compressed air supply apparatus by the power controller of the battery
apparatus when the compressed air engine is inactive.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, electrical power
is selectively supplied from the power distribution apparatus to the
power controller of the battery apparatus for enabling the battery to
be recharged.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, a solar panel is
electrically connected to the power controller of the battery
apparatus for supplying solar-generated electrical power to the power
controller of the battery apparatus thereby enabling the solar panel
to recharge the battery.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, a wind-driven
electrical power generator is electrically connected to the power
distribution apparatus for enabling electrical power generated by the
wind-driven electrical power generator to be selectively outputted by
the power distribution apparatus.

These and other objects, embodiments, advantages and/or distinctions
of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further
review of the following specification, associated drawings and
appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a block diagram view showing a powertrain system in
accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a diagrammatic view showing an embodiment of a vehicle
comprising a specific implementation of a powertrain system in
accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

FIG. 1 shows a powertrain system in accordance with the present
invention, which is referred to herein as the powertrain system 100.
As is discussed below in greater detail, the powertrain system 100
and, generally, powertrain systems in accordance with the present
invention includes a plurality of interconnected components that
facilitate extraction of energy from compressed air, conversion of
that energy to mechanical energy, conversion of that mechanical energy
to electrical power. The interconnected components further facilitate
selective and variable output of such electrical power, creation of
wind-generated electrical power and input of energy from external
energy sources. Electrical power is defined herein to include power
generated by electrical voltage and/or electrical current.

Referring now specifically to FIG. 1, a compressed air supply
apparatus 105 is connected to a compressed air engine 110 in a manner
enabling compressed air to be supplied to the compressed air engine
110 from the compressed air supply apparatus 105. The compressed air
supply apparatus 105 perform the functions of generating compressed
air, storing compressed air and regulating/converting electrical power
utilized for generating compressed air. The compressed air engine 110
extracts energy from the compressed air and produces rotary power
(i.e., power delivered via an output shaft). Compressed air engines
and compressed air supply apparatuses are well-known and the present
invention is not unnecessarily limited to a specific configuration of
compressed air engine or compressed air supply apparatus. Examples of
compressed air engine configurations are disclosed in United States
utility U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,104,955; 4,018,050; 4,370,857; 3,980,152;
3,765,180; 3,693,351; 6,862,973; 6,629,573; 6,367,247; 6,508,324;
4,014,172 and 774,778.

A rotary power conversion apparatus 115 is mechanically connected to
the compressed air engine 110 in a manner enabling the rotary power
produced by the compressed air engine 110 to be transferred to the
rotary power conversion apparatus 115. The rotary power conversion
apparatus 115 performs the function of converting rotary power
produced by the compressed air engine 110 to electrical power of a
first electrical specification. An example of electrical power of the
first specification is electrical power at a first voltage level, a
first electrical current level and a first configuration of electrical
current (e.g., alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC)).

It is disclosed herein that any number of means may be implemented for
coupling the compressed air engine 110 to the rotary power conversion
apparatus 115 and for converting rotary power to electrical power. In
one embodiment, a gearbox is coupled between an output shaft of the
compressed air engine 110 and an input shaft of an alternator or
generator of the rotary power conversion apparatus 115. In another
embodiment, a pulley and belt arrangement is coupled between an output
shaft of the compressed air engine 110 and an input shaft of an
alternator or generator of the rotary power conversion apparatus 115.
A skilled person will appreciate that the present invention is not
unnecessarily limited to a particular means for coupling the
compressed air engine 110 to the rotary power conversion apparatus 115
or to a specific component or set of components for converting (e.g.,
generating) electrical power from the rotary power.

An electrical power conversion apparatus 120 is electrically connected
to the rotary power conversion apparatus 115 in a manner enabling the
rotary power produced by the compressed air engine 110 to be
transferred to the rotary power conversion apparatus 115. The
electrical power conversion apparatus 120 performs the function of
converting electrical power of the first specification to electrical
power of a second electrical specification different than the first
specification. An example of electrical power of the second
specification is electrical power having a different voltage level
than the first electrical voltage, a current level different than the
first electrical current level and/or a configuration of electrical
current different than the first configuration of electrical current.

It is disclosed herein that any number of means may be implemented for
converting electrical power of the first specification to electrical
power of the second specification. In one embodiment, a conversion
apparatus such as a DC-to-AC inverter is used for converting DC
electrical power supplied by the rotary power conversion apparatus 115
to AC electrical power. In another embodiment, electrical power of the
first specification is used to energize a motor that drives a voltage
generating device (e.g., a generator) that produces DC electrical
power of a second specification. A benefit of generating electrical
power of a first specification and then converting it to electrical
power of a second specification is that the operating parameters of
the compressed air engine (e.g., engine speed, torque, etc.) may lend
themselves to producing electrical power of the first electrical
specification whereas intended used of electrical power generated by
the powertrain system 100 may most efficiently use electrical power of
the second specification. A skilled person will appreciate that the
present invention is not unnecessarily limited to a particular means
for converting (e.g., generating) electrical power of the first
specification to electrical power of the second specification.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the electrical
power conversion apparatus 120 performs the function of converting
electrical power of the first specification to electrical power of an
intermediate electrical specification different than the first
specification and then converts electrical power of the intermediate
specification to electrical power of the second electrical
specification different than the first specification or second
specification. For example, DC electrical power of a first
specification is converted to AC electrical power and the AC
electrical power is utilized for generating DC electrical power of a
second electrical specification. A portion of the AC electrical power
may be outputted from the electrical power conversion apparatus 120
without being used for generating DC electrical power of the second
specification. Furthermore, it is disclosed herein that conversion of
electrical power from a first specification to electrical power a
second specification may entail converting DC electrical power of a
first specification to DC power of a second electrical specification
without any intermediate output of AC electrical power. Similarly, it
is disclosed herein that conversion of electrical power from a first
specification to electrical power a second specification may entail
converting all available DC electrical power to AC electrical power.

The electrical power conversion apparatus 120 is electrically
connected to a power distribution apparatus 125 in a manner enabling
electrical power of the second electrical specification to be received
by the power distribution apparatus 125 from the electrical power
conversion apparatus 120. A wind-driven electrical power generator 130
is electrically connected to the power distribution apparatus 125 in a
manner enabling electrical power generated by the wind driven
electrical power generator 130 to be supplied to the power
distribution apparatus 125. A skilled person will appreciate that the
present invention is not unnecessarily limited to a particular type of
wind-driven electrical power generator. The underlying functionality
is that the wind-driven electrical power generator 130 converts wind
currents (e.g., free wind currents, motion-induced wind currents, etc)
to electrical power and supplies that electrical power to the power
distribution apparatus 125 for distribution therefrom.

The power distribution apparatus 125 performs the function of enabling
electrical power supplied by the electrical power conversion apparatus
120 and the wind-driven electrical power generator 130 to be
selectively distributed to a power transmission apparatus 135. An
output power control mechanism 140 is connected to the power
distribution apparatus 125 for enabling the power applied to the power
transmission apparatus 135 to be selectively varied. In this manner,
the power distribution apparatus 125 and the output power control
mechanism 140 facilitate output power control jointly. In one
embodiment, the output power control mechanism 140 is movable between
a plurality of relative orientation and a magnitude of power outputted
from the power transmission apparatus 135 is dependent upon such
relative orientation. An example of the output power control mechanism
140 includes a rheostat or potentiometer in combination with a
manually adjustable device such as a switch or a pedal.

It is disclosed herein that, in other embodiments not specifically
shown, the output power control mechanism 140 is electrically
connected to the power transmission apparatus 135 as opposed to being
electrically connected to the power distribution apparatus 125. In
such alternate embodiments, a prescribed amount of power (e.g., 100%
available power) is supplied from the power distribution apparatus 125
to the power transmission apparatus 135 and output power control of
the power transmission apparatus 135 is facilitated jointly by the
power transmission apparatus 135 and the output power control
mechanism 140.

The power transmission apparatus 135 is configured in accordance with
any number of known power transmission arrangements for converting
electrical power to mechanical power. In one embodiment, the power
transmission apparatus 135 is an electronic transmission (e.g., of a
vehicle). Such a power transmission apparatus receives electrical
power and converts the electrical power to mechanical power (e.g.,
rotary power at a shaft of a motor). By varying the magnitude of the
electrical power supplied to the power transmission apparatus 135
and/or by regulating application and/or magnitude of electrical power
within the power transmission apparatus 135, the corresponding power
outputted from the power transmission apparatus 135 is variable.

The electrical power conversion apparatus 120 is electrically
connected to the compressed air supply apparatus 105 in a manner
enabling electrical power from the electrical power conversion
apparatus 120 to be supplied to the compressed air supply apparatus
105. The electrical power supplied from the electrical power
conversion apparatus 120 to the compressed air supply apparatus 105
provides electrical power necessary for enabling the compressed air
supply apparatus 105 to generate compressed air that is supplied to
the compressed air engine 110. For example, in one embodiment of the
present invention, the electrical power conversion apparatus 120
supplies electrical power to an air compressor of the compressed air
supply apparatus 105.

A battery apparatus 145 is electrically connected between the
compressed air supply apparatus 105 and the power distribution
apparatus 125. Electrical power is supplied from the power
distribution apparatus 125 to the battery apparatus 145. Electrical
power from the battery apparatus 145 is supplied to the compressed air
supply apparatus 105. Electrical power supplied from the battery
apparatus 145 to the compressed air supply apparatus serves to
energize the compressed air supply apparatus 105 in situations where
electrical power is not capable of being supplied to the compressed
air supply apparatus 105 (e.g., when the compressed air engine 110 is
inoperable). In one embodiment, the battery apparatus 145 comprises a
plurality of battery cells (e.g., within a single battery or multiple
batteries) and a power controller that regulates electrical power
supplied to the battery cells and that converts (e.g., from DC to AC)
and/or regulates electrical power supplied from the battery cells to
the compressed air supply apparatus 105.

A solar panel 150 is electrically connected to the battery apparatus
145. The solar panel 150 converts solar energy to electrical power and
that electrical power is provided to the battery apparatus 145 for
recharging battery cells of the battery apparatus 145. A skilled
person will appreciate that the present invention is not unnecessarily
limited to a particular type of solar panel.

FIG. 2 shows an embodiment of a vehicle 200 comprising a specific
implementation of a powertrain system in accordance with the present
invention. It is disclosed herein that the powertrain system of the
vehicle 200 may be integrated into nearly any type of vehicle (e.g.,
passenger vehicle, commercial vehicle, miliary vehicle, motorcycle,
etc). Accordingly, it is disclosed herein that the present invention
is not unnecessarily limited in implementation and utilization to any
specific type of vehicle.

Two compressed air engines 202 receive compressed air from a
compressed air storage tank 204. The compressed air engines 202 each
extract energy from the compressed air and output rotary power at a
respective output power portion (e.g., a rotating output shaft). The
rotating power is transferred to two DC electrical power generating
devices 206, thereby providing input power to the two DC electrical
power generating devices 206. An alternator and a generator are each
examples of DC electrical power generating devices in accordance with
the present invention. An input-output coupling device 208 is
connected between the compressed air engines 202 and each one of the
DC electrical power generating devices 206 for facilitating transfer
of rotary power from the compressed air engines 202 to each one of the
DC electrical power generating devices 206; A gearbox and a
pulley-belt arrangement are two examples of the input-output coupling
device 208.

In response to the rotary power being applied to the two DC electrical
power generating devices 206, the two DC electrical power generating
devices 206 each output DC electrical power. The DC electrical power
from a first one of the two DC electrical power generating devices 206
is provided to a first DC-to-AC inverter 210 and the DC electrical
power from a second one of the two DC electrical power generating
devices 206 is provided to a second DC-to-AC inverter 212. The DC-AC
inverts perform the function of transforming DC electrical power to AC
electrical power.

The AC electrical power of the first DC-to-AC investors 210 is
supplied to two air compressors 214, which jointly supply the
compressed air storage tank 204 with compressed air. The AC electrical
power of the second DC-to-AC inverter 212 is electrically connected to
two AC electric motors 216. The AC electric power from the second
DC-AC inverters facilitates electromotive rotation of the AC electric
motors 216. An input-output coupling device 218 is mechanically
connected between the AC electric motors 216 and a high-output DC
electrical power generating device 220 thereby providing for the
transfer of rotary power from the AC electric motors 216 to the
high-output DC electrical power generating device 220. The high-output
DC electrical power generating device 220 is characterized in that it
capable of outputting considerably more electrical current at a
respective specified voltage than are the DC electrical power
generating devices 206 that are mechanically connected to the
compressed air engines 206. The DC-to-AC invertors 210, the AC
electric motors 216, the input-output coupling device 218 and the
high-output DC electrical power generating device 220 are jointly an
embodiment of an electrical power conversion apparatus in accordance
with the present invention.

A power distribution apparatus 222 is electrically connected to the
high-output DC electrical power generating device 220. The power
distribution apparatus 222 receives electrical power from the
high-output DC electrical power generating device 220. The power
distribution apparatus 222 is configured for selectively outputting
electrical power through a plurality of power outlet portions (i.e.,
electrical connections where power output cables are connected).

As depicted in FIG. 2, a plurality of drive motors 224 are provided
for turning a front and/or a rear tractive means (e.g., wheels) of the
vehicle 200. Each of the drive motors 224 is electrically connected to
a respective power outlet portion of the power distribution apparatus
222. An output power control mechanism 225 is connected to the power
distribution apparatus 222. The output power control mechanism 225
includes a pedal portion connected to a device such as, for example, a
potentiometer or rheostat that enables a relative position of the
pedal portion to be correlated to a desired amount of electrical power
output (e.g., 30% of maximum power output) applied from the power
distribution apparatus 222 to the drive motors 224. In this manner,
electrical power may be applied to the drive motors in a variable
manner thus facilitating speed control of the vehicle 200. The
plurality of drive motors 224 is an embodiment of a power transmission
apparatus in accordance with the present invention.

It is disclosed herein that the plurality of drive motors 224 may be
replaced with another configuration of power transmission apparatus,
such as one with a centralized motor or motors and power transfer
means for transferring power to one or more wheels of the vehicle 200.

A plurality of acceleration modules 226 are electrically connected to
the power distribution apparatus 222. Each one of the acceleration
modules 226 holds a stored electrical charge and is configured for
enabling the stored electrical charge to be rapidly discharged. In one
embodiment, the acceleration modules 226 each include a capacitive
portion (e.g., a large capacitor) that holds a stored electrical
charge and enables it to be rapidly discharged. Through its electrical
connection to the power distribution apparatus 222, the stored charges
of the acceleration modules 226 can be selectively outputted to the
power transmission apparatus through a power outlet portion of the
power distribution apparatus 222. Discharge of the stored electrical
charges serves to boost electrical power applied to the drive motors
224, thereby aiding in acceleration of the vehicle 200. The
acceleration modules 226 receive electrical power from the power
distribution apparatus 222 for maintaining and replenishing the stored
electrical charges.

A plurality of batteries 228 are electrically connected to a power
controller 230. The power controller 230 is electrically connected to
the air compressors 214 for supplying electrical power from the
batteries 228 to the air compressors 214. The electrical power
supplied from the batteries 228 is selectively supplied to the air
compressors 214 by the power controller 230 when the compressed air
engines 202 are inactive and electrical power is selectively supplied
from the power distribution apparatus 222 to the power controller 230
for enabling the batteries 228 to be recharged. The power controller
230 converts power as necessary (e.g., converting from DC electrical
power to AC electrical power) and regulates control of the electrical
power to the air compressors (e.g., supplies electrical power when the
compressed air engines 202 are inactive and a pressure level of
compressed air within the compressed air storage tank 204 drops below
a prescribed level). The batteries 228 and the power controller 230
are jointly an embodiment of a batter apparatus in accordance with the
present invention.

A solar panel array 232 is electrically connected to the power
controller 230. The solar panel array 232 converts solar energy to
electrical power (i.e., solar-generated electrical power). The
electrical power generated by the solar panel array 232 is supplied
from the solar panel 232 to the power controller 230 for enabling the
batteries to be recharged. It is disclosed herein that the solar panel
array 232 may be made up of a plurality of discrete solar panels
positioned at different locations on the vehicle 200. For example a
first solar panel may be attached to a front bumper of the vehicle 200
and a second solar panel may be attached to a rear bumper of the
vehicle 200.

A plurality of wind-driven electrical power generators 234 are
electrically connected to the power distribution apparatus 222 for
enabling electrical power generated by the wind-driven electrical
power generators 234 to be supplied to and selectively outputted from
the power distribution apparatus. The wind-driven electrical power
generators 234 each include a venturi air duct portion 236 expose to a
forward facing portion of the vehicle 200. The venturi air duct
portion 236 of each one of the wind-driven electrical power generators
234 serves to gather air as the vehicle 200 moves through the air and
accelerate the gathered air through a turbine portion of the
wind-driven electrical power generators 234 thereby rotating the
turbine portion and an attached electrical power generating device.
Rotation of the attached electrical power generating device causes
generation of the electrical power that is supplied to the power
distribution apparatus 222 from a respective one of the wind-driven
electrical power generators 234.

A skilled person will appreciate that specifications for components
and/or apparatuses of a powertrain system in accordance with the
present invention are relative and based on, for example, desired
power output of the powertrain system. Thus, detailed specifications
for certain components and apparatuses discussed herein are not
specifically disclosed. Accordingly, a skilled person will appreciate
that specific aspects of such components and apparatuses do not
unnecessarily limit the present invention. It is the functionality,
interaction and interconnection between such components and/or
apparatuses of a powertrain apparatus in accordance with the present
invention that provide the underlying basis for the operation and
usefulness of the present invention because the detailed
specifications for components and apparatuses of a powertrain system
in accordance with the present invention are dependent on an intended
use of such powertrain system.

In the preceding detailed description, reference has been made to the
accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, and in which are shown
by way of illustration specific embodiments in which the present
invention may be practiced. These embodiments, and certain variants
thereof, have been described in sufficient detail to enable those
skilled in the art to practice embodiments of the present invention.
It is to be understood that other suitable embodiments may be utilized
and that logical, mechanical, chemical and electrical changes may be
made without departing from the spirit or scope of such inventive
disclosures. To avoid unnecessary detail, the description omits
certain information known to those skilled in the art. The preceding
detailed description is, therefore, not intended to be limited to the
specific forms set forth herein, but on the contrary, it is intended
to cover such alternatives, modifications, and equivalents, as can be
reasonably included within the spirit and scope of the appended
claims. For more information go to WWW.GAPATENTS.COM OR WWW.GOOGLE.COM.

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