air-hybridPSA Peugeot Citroen developed an unusual type of hybrid. One which utilizes both compressed air and a gasoline engine to propel the car, unlike conventional hybrids which often use an electric motor and combustion engine in tandem to do so. This video shows how it works.

This vehicle can operate in three modes:

  1. Gasoline Power (optimized for cruising).
  2. Combined Power (optimized for high-power acceleration and hill-climbing).
  3. Air Power (Z.E.V) (zero emissions driving and Brake Energy Regeneration, although regenerative braking can be done in all three modes).

It is the compressed air system that does the regenerative braking. Regenerative braking is the concept of using the wheel rotation caused by the car’s movement to turn a generator, air compressor, or anything else that stores energy from mechanical sources when the vehicle is not accelerating. This is a way to take advantage of the kinetic energy that the vehicle possesses. 

Like plug-in hybrids, compressed-air powered hybrids can be designed to accept compressed air from external air compressors powered by clean/renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, or even biomass-fueled generators.

In this vehicle, a gasoline engine powers the air compressor to recharge the compressed air energy storage system (CAES). The CAES then discharge its energy by releasing the high pressure air  so it rushes through a pneumatic motor (compressed air engine), causing it to turn.

One drawback of this concept is that compressed air cars like these can’t simply be plugged into a typical 120 volt household power outlet without a compressor. However, the purchase of a compressor could be arranged, and compressed air cars could be equipped with built-in compressors, so it is possible for these cars to simply plug into a 120 volt or 240 volt outlet, however, on board compressors add to the cars’ weight.

Source: PSA Peugeot Citroen

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