Considering GM’s new Chevy Volt and all of the new technology the vehicle incorporates, it isn’t a huge surprise to learn that the company may have received a few clean-energy patents along the way. What is surprising is just how many patents GM received and what those numbers represent when considering the whole of clean-energy patents issued in  the year 2010. According to a recent statement from GM, the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index of U.S. patents-a report prepared and published by the cleantech group at Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti-shows that GM received 135 cleantech  patents in 2010.

The index tracks the granting of U.S. patents in solar, wind, hybrid/electric vehicles, fuel cells, hydroelectric, tidal/wave, geothermal, biomass/biofuels and clean, renewable energy. GM’s 135 patents represent almost 14 percent of the total 1,881 received by 700 entities. GM also notes that it received a total of 940 U.S. patents in 2010, placing it in the top 25 of all companies. Beyond clean energy, patents were also attained in areas such as information technology and consumer electronics.

2011 Chevy Volt
Image via Chevrolet

GM says their clean energy patents covered hybrid electric vehicles, fuel cells and solar energy, and focused on improvements to current and future technologies. The following is a list of a few of the company’s inventions from the past year:

  • Multi-injection combustion cycle systems for spark ignition direct injection engines: Improves fuel and air mixing, and reduces hydrocarbon emissions during engine startup and cranking.
  • Dynamically adaptive method for determining a battery’s state of charge: Improves fuel economy with a new algorithm that estimates a lithium-ion battery’s internal parameters in real time.
  • Electrically variable transmission having three planetary gear sets with two fixed interconnections: Ultra-efficient hybrid electric vehicle transmission design that features low electrical losses, high torque capacity and city and highway modes.
  • Variable active fuel management delay with hybrid start-stop: Control system that seamlessly integrates active fuel management with start-stop for additional fuel savings.
  • Control of hybrid power regeneration during cruise control: Uses regenerative braking so the onboard battery can be charged during vehicle operation, saving fuel.
  • Method of operating a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle: Involves operating a heater when the vehicle is cold to preheat the battery, improving electric driving range.

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