You probably know that emissions of gases from automobiles are responsible for up to 80 percent of the air pollution in large cities. Many communities have passed
laws that require automobile manufacturers to reduce emissions to help combat air pollution. One way to reduce emissions is to burn less gasoline per mile traveled. Some of the more
efficient vehicles available today can travel 40 to 45 miles per gallon of gasoline. Another way to reduce emissions is to use alternative fuels. Research on alternative fuels that
produce less air pollution is already underway. Automobile manufacturers also are researching electric vehicles, which do not produce any emissions. However, all-electric vehicles
are not yet practical for long-distance use. Most electric vehicles are powered by batteries, and can only go 80 miles or so before the batteries need to be recharged. Recharging takes
up to 8 hours.
Recently, several automobile manufacturers have introduced vehicles known as hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs). These vehicles can travel up to 70 miles per gallon
of gasoline, and they produce one-half the emissions of a standard vehicle. What are hybrid electric vehicles? How do they work? How do they help reduce air pollution? In this WebQuest,
you will explore the topic of hybrid electric vehicles and find the answers to these questions.
Your job in this WebQuest is to discover what hybrid electric vehicles are, and find out how these vehicles work. You will explore the reasons that automobile manufacturers
are producing these vehicles, and how these vehicles can help reduce air pollution. You will learn about the types of hybrid vehicles, and how each type works. You will also find out
the advantages and disadvantages of each type of hybrid electric vehicle. Finally, you will answer a set of questions about hybrid electric vehicles to demonstrate what you have learned.
Look at the web sites given here to find the information that will enable you to answer questions about hybrid electric vehicles.
- What is an HEV?
Visit this site by the Office of Transportation Technologies, U.S. Department of Energy, to learn what a hybrid electric vehicle is, and how hybrid electric vehicles can extend the
fuel economy of conventional vehicles. Scroll down and click on why HEVs fact sheet for more information on HEVs.
- How Hybrid Cars Work.
Go tothis site to learn all about hybrid cars. You can find out the difference between series and parallel configurations here, and see graphics that show how a hybrid electric
vehicle compares to a conventional internal combustion engine and to an all-electric vehicle. Spend some time at this site; it is very interesting.
- Hybrid Electric Vehicles.
Hybrid Electric and Fuel Cell Vehicle Systems. Vehicle components, energy storage, regenerative braking and ancillary load reduction, are all discussed.
- How do Hybrid Electric Vehicles
Visit this U.S. Department of Energy site to find a brief discussion of how hybrid electric vehicles work. The site provides links to the automobile manufacturers that now
produce two of these vehicles.
- Electric and Hybrid Vehicles.
Go to this site for an overview of the benefits, challenges, and technologies of both electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles. Electric vehicles were one of the first vehicles,
but lost out to gasoline-powered vehicles. Find out why at this site. You can also compare emissions and energy efficiencies of mid-sized automobiles at this site.
- 2001 Hybrid Vehicles.
Side by side comparisons of the Toyota Prius and Honda's Insight and Civic Hybrid. Look at greenhouse gas emissions, safety, EPA scores, and more.
- Electric Hybrid Vehicle National Data Center.
Visit this site for data on many aspects of hybrid electric vehicles. Click on what’s new to see a list of articles that relate to hybrid electric vehicles. Click on GM’s latest option
on electric vehicles to find out about the Chevrolet Triax, a unique new hybrid vehicle.
1 class period for Internet research and answering the set of questions
Read through the following set of questions before you begin your Internet research. As you explore each site, look for answers to the questions.
Questions about Hybrid Electric Vehicles
- What is a hybrid electric vehicle?
- What are the advantages of HEVs as compared to conventional vehicles?
- By what percentage can a HEV reduce emissions as compared to a conventional vehicle?
- What are the components of a hybrid electric vehicle?
- Name three types of energy storage systems in HEVs.
- Name three types of power units in HEVs.
- Name two types of propulsion in HEVs.
- Describe the series configuration in HEVs. Under what circumstances should a HEV with series configuration be used?
- Describe the parallel configuration in HEVs. Under what circumstances should a HEV with parallel configuration be used?
- What type of configuration is used in the HEVs available in the U.S. today?
In the process of completing this WebQuest, you’ve become informed about hybrid electric vehicles. You have learned about the advantages of a hybrid electric vehicle
as compared to a conventional vehicle, and by what amount HEVs can reduce emissions that result in air pollution. You have learned more about how HEVs work, and about the different
types of HEVs. You have developed research skills as you explored the web sites given and identified the relevant information to answer the set of questions above. Would you recommend
that people purchase hybrid electric vehicles?