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Tech Culture: The Green Show: Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive

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Tech Culture: The Green Show: Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive

4:51 /

This week we'll pop the hood on Toyota's hybrid engine, check out a cutting edge lawn mower, and learn why, in the future, you may never need to charge your phone.

[ music ] ^M00:00:01 >> Mark: Hey everyone, I'm Mark Licea, and this week we'll pop the hood on Toyota's hybrid engine, check out a cutting edge lawn mower, and why in the future you may never need to charge your cell phone. The Green Show starts now. ^M00:00:12 [ music ] ^M00:00:20 >> Mark: Hybrid cars are a popular choice among drivers, and Toyota sells the most using a technology called hybrid synergy drive. But how does it work? Brian Cooley has the details. >> Brian: Toyota's hybrid synergy drive is the big dog in hybrid powertrains. Nobody sells as many hybrids as Toyota does, not even close. So the way this engines laid out is important in terms of what's worked so far in the industry. The way they do it is typically a fairly small; fairly lean four-cylinder inline gas engine. Then there are two motor generators that are bonded to where you would normally have the transmission, in which case there isn't really a trans axle here, and those generate power when you need it, or recover power through regenerative breaking when you're slowing down. So when you slow down gradually in this car you're actually not using the breaks at first, you're using the drag, the magnetic drag of the motor generators to recharge the battery. The whole care is drived by wire, so when you shift it, or when you are on the accelerator, there's no cable being pulled. You're telling a computer what to do. The hybrid synergy drive has the ability to run electric only, silent mode, EV mode up to the low 20 mile an hour range, something like that. And of course there is a transmission on this car for final power output to the drive wheels, that's an electronically controlled CVP, Continuously Variable Transmission. It doesn't have any gears. It actually has these two variable pulleys, so it has an infinite range of gear combination from the input to the output side of it. So those are the basic components of what makes hybrid synergy drive this extremely robust power plant that has such a success in the Prius and other related Toyota and Lexus cars. I'm Brian Cooley for The Green Show. >> Mark: Thanks Brian. And speaking of hybrids, how about this ride on hybrid lawnmower? Husqvarna created this futuristic concept hybrid called the Pantera Leo. [phonetic] It uses 5 electrical engines and has a batter that can be charged in a standard outlet. An LCD display includes information on speed and cutting height, as well as battery life and service needs. >> From how fast they're driving, to warning about how close they are to protruding tree roots, all at the press of a button. >> Mark: it's also zero emissions and made from recycled materials. Talk about greening your lawn. Ever wonder what appliance or consumer electronic gear consumes the most power in your home? Let's head over to our green tech expert, Martin LaMonica's house to find out. >> Martin: Hey Mark, welcome back. I was just playing some power cords here with, and playing with my power meter. And I realized the louder I play the more power I used. So we thought we'd go around the house today and see how much electricity each appliance uses. I think we'll be surprised. I realized that my old CRT TV uses about 110 watts. Now one way you can lower the power consumption is to turn down the brightness. New flat screen TV's consume a lot more electricity, as much as your refrigerator sometimes. So before you buy a new flat screen TV, check out CNET's Juice Box Buying Guide. Speaking of refrigerators, refrigerators are one of the big energy consumers in your home. This guy right here consumes about 600 watts when it's on. Now one way you can save energy in your home is to use a microwave instead of a gas stove, and when you're cleaning up, the dishwasher. That is another big energy consumer in your home. This consumes about 600 watts. So when you're upgrading to new appliances make sure you get the energy efficient model. Another big energy user in your home is the washing machine; this one uses about 600 or 700 watts when it's on. Now you can get all this information with a power meter, but it's kind of cumbersome. What's gonna be much easier are these smart kit programs that will give you a readout in real time as to how much each appliance is using over time. Up here in the office, electronically we use less power than say your refrigerator, but they're on all the time. So my router and my voice over IP box consume about 16 watts all day long. Now you can cut down on your standby power and your vampire loads just by using power strips. Flick them on and flick them off when you're done. I'm Martin LaMonica for CNET, thanks for watching. >> Mark: Imagine a future when you would never need to charge your phone. According to Nokia that future could be a reality in just a few years. Scientists at the Nokia research center over seas are building a technology that could gather energy onto your cell phone from ambient radio wave. This means TV broadcasts, wireless signals, and even microwaves could potentially power your phone. Right now the technology is still in its infancy stages, and whether or not you're a smart phone user, how cool is that. And that's it for this week. Send your feedback in at GreenShow@CNET.com. I'm Mark Licea, thanks for watching. ^E00:04:46

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