It’s always been a far-fetched dream for engineers to build a car that requires air as a fuel. It not only will give pollution free environment but also would be a preferred choice because it is found everywhere, without any traces of dirt and is free unlike the present fuels.
The main huddle, which an air base car might encounter, would be the ability of storing energy since the air must be compressed within the mechanics of car, which is quite a tricky business. However, a team of two engineers from French automaker PSA Peugeot has put forward a probable solution; they have tried to couple a gasoline engine and hydraulics technology together to make it a workable concept.
In 2010, they initiated the Hybrid Air Program, where they hooked up engine of a subcompact car to a commercial airplane’s hydraulic system.
With the help of a hydraulic pump and a piston in the newly designed Hybrid Air powertrain, nitrogen gas is compressed in a tank called the high-pressure accumulator. Now when the accelerator is pressed, it releases the pressurized gas making the hydraulic fluid move in the reverse direction in the same pump. The wheels are powered by the pump, which acts as a motor while the hydraulic fluid goes into the second tank.
While on the normal course of driving, the system will swap between gas and air power depending upon the terrain. For instance, gasoline engine will provide power during the steep hills while on smooth plane, like the highways, nitrogen tank will take the charge.
Engineers envision that system will work well on air power if the drive distance is less than 43m/hr, which usually happens to be the case in urban driving. With respect to gasoline-electrics, the evolved powertrain is lighter and cheaper, giving less stress on wallet. Air recharge is the only maintenance that is required by the new design said the engineers.
Yarce and Mokaddem’s, the two engineers, prototype has already reached the production level, PSA Peugeot Citroën has decided to manufacture the vehicles. As of now Europe will be the target segment, and most probably it’ll hit the other international markets by 2016. The price as per the manufactures would be around other gasoline hybrids.
Source: Popular Science