Filed under: Technology
It’s only a matter of time before cars’ suspensions become a part of the electric power-regeneration process (similar to regenerative braking), and that time is coming very soon courtesy of ZF Friedrichshafen AG and Levant Power Corp. Levant Power has been developing what it calls GenShock-technology, the first active suspension system with the ability to recapture energy, and ZF has entered a partnership with the Massachusetts-based company to build it.
The active dampers employ a new type of valve technology to regulate the flow of oil in the shocks, which is the basis for the active and regenerative characteristics. The technology is contained in a device mounted to the outside of each shock. The device houses its own control unit, an electric motor and an electrohydraulic gear pump, and controls the flow of fluid in the shocks to adjust the damping rate, like a normal active damper.
The process is reversed when the shock is regenerating energy. As the vehicle is traversing uneven terrain or is unsettled in a turn, during acceleration or while braking, the swaying motion of the piston in the damper pushes fluid past the electrohydraulic gear pump, which drives the electric motor and converts the kinetic energy into electricity that is fed back into the power supply. If you think that a system like this would function better on poor road surfaces, you’re right. The rougher the road surface, the more movement the damper experiences, which generates more electricity.
Portable jacks also could be a thing of the past for cars that use ZF’s and Levant Power’s new suspension system, because it’s capable of actively raising each individual wheel – perfect for a roadside spare-tire change.
Click on the image above to enlarge, and read about the details of the new suspension system in the press release below. And read carefully, as regenerative suspension has the potential to be the next big suspension breakthrough.