If you frequent this site, you've read all about electric vehicles and gas-electric hybrids. In those applications, electricity is stored in a battery, which powers an electric motor. That electric motor can either move the vehicle or assist the gas engine in hybrid configurations.
One U.K. company is putting electricity to use in an unconventional way. Controlled Power Technologies (CPT) has developed what they call the Variable Torque Enhancement System (VTES). VTES is an electrically powered supercharger, which CPT says can improve performance of small internal combustion engines, while reducing emissions.
Many traditional superchargers use a belt connected to the engine's crankshaft, which reduces fuel economy under heavy power demands. CPT's design doesn't require any belts and their tests have shown that a gas powered engine equipped with VTES emits lower CO2 levels, consistent with those of an equivalent diesel engine.
In collaboration with German powertrain developer, AVL List GmbH (AVL), CPT paired their system with a turbocharged, direct injected 4-cylinder in a Volkswagen Passat demonstration car. The vehicle produced CO2 emissions of 159 g/km. VW's standard 2.0 liter TFSI 4-cylinder gave off 194 g/km. The available 170 horsepower turbodiesel Passat emitted 165 g/km.
CPT says VTES can be installed in gas or diesel engines even if they're already turbocharged. The British company believes the system is ready for mass production and they've inked an agreement with Switched Reluctance Drives Limited to produce OEM units. As of yet, no automakers have announced plans to use the system, but the concept has potential, given rising Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards and concern over global warming. Not to mention the appeal of an aftermarket product that can increase your vehicle's power and make it greener at the same time. (Note: CPT doesn't currently offer their product directly to individual consumers, but we think they ought to.)