The newest hybrid technology to come from Peugeot and Citroën sounds more like something out of science fiction than real-world technology. The French automakers have worked to develop a new hybrid system that combines a gasoline-powered I-3 engine with a hydraulic motor powered by a tank of compressed air.
The Hybrid Air system works similarly to the current gas- or diesel-electric hybrids that are on today's market, but substitutes the batteries for tanks of compressed air. PSA Peugeot Citroën says that the system is currently designed to fit into a B-segment car, like the Citroën C3 or Peugeot 208, but could be scaled up to fit in larger C-, D-, or light commercial vehicle (LCV) segment vehicles. The current setup uses an 82-hp internal-combustion engine, but PSA says that a larger, 110-hp engine could be substituted for a C-segment car without changing the amount of compressed air required.
Air is stored in two tanks – one near the fuel tank for low-pressure storage and one along the center tunnel. Depending on vehicle layout and needs (like a flat load floor in LCV cars), the size, shape, and arrangement of the air tanks can be changed. The gas-air hybrid also uses regenerative braking, but not how we're used to: instead of using friction heat to create stored energy, the regenerative brakes work to pull in air through a compressor to refill the tanks.
PSA says that a Hybrid Air vehicle will net a 45 percent savings in fuel consumption and a range increase of 90 percent over a traditional gas-only car. On the European cycle, a B-segment Hybrid Air car with a gas I-3 is estimated to return the equivalent of 81 mph (2.9L/100 km). Operation is similar to gas-electric hybrids – the car can run in gas-only, air-only, or combined modes.
PSA promised to fit the Hybrid Air system to a production B-segment car by 2016. Would you want to see a gas-air hybrid model on the roads? Let us know in the comments section.
Source: PSA Peugeot Citroën