KersTech, OIT team on electric vehicle drive technology

KersTech's compound motor will use control technology developed at Oregon Institute of Technology.
Courtesy KersTech Vehicle Systems

KersTech Vehicle System's compound motor will use control technology developed at Oregon Institute of Technology. 

KersTech Vehicle Systems and Oregon Institute of Technology will work together on developing an efficient electric motor ideal for use in garbage trucks and city buses.

The partnership is funded by a $139,173 grant from the National Institute for Technology and Communities, a division of the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium, known as OTREC. That grant is supplemented by a $15,000 award from Drive Oregon to KersTech announced in June.

OIT, also known as Oregon Tech, has been working with Green Lite Motors, a Portland-based startup working on an electric hybrid vehicle, on engine control technology.

Beaverton-based KersTech, which has hybrid technology for retrofitting heavy equipment, approached the university looking for the same kind of expertise.

KersTech, which started working on brake technology in 2004, is developing a compound engine that would pair hydraulic regenerating technology with a battery to make a more efficient electric motor. By using KersTech's patent-pending regenerative brake technology to power the engine, battery life — and electric vehicle range — would be extended.

Lester Erlston, KersTech's CEO, calls it a compound engine and he needed help building a control system that would marry the two technologies.

"It's way above my pay grade," he said, which is why he turned to OIT.

His timing was good.

"We've recently hired a fellow, Xin Wang — or 'Ryan' as he wants us to call him — who is an expert in control theory," said James Long, OIT professor of computer systems engineering technology, who is leading the collaboration.

Wang and Long, along with other faculty and students, will work on an advanced control algorithm using complex mathematics. The control technology will plug into the drive being developed by KersTech.

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