Compressed Air and Electricity: The Hybrid of the Future

When the concept of green vehicles comes to mind many of the first fuel types most think of is electricity, hydrogen, or biofuels. There are, however, those out there that believe that alongside those fuel types air itself is a worthy addition to the green vehicle fuel line up. Using air as a fuel source can range from a wide variety of vehicle designs, including those using turbines or kite-like apparatus for propulsion, but the focus recently has been on using pneumatics.

According to Per Tunestal, a researcher from the Lund University in Sweden who focuses on engine design, using pneumatics in electric vehicles and hybrids could prove more effective and more cost efficient in the long run. According to Tunestal, it is possible to develop technology for use in electric vehicles that would allow the car to store energy created from using the breaking system as compressed air instead of in a potentially expensive battery. With the battery removed from the equation Tunestal believes that this could ultimately create a line of cheap pneumatic-electric hybrids.

Another member of the Lund University, a doctoral student named Sasa Trajkovic, had backed up Tunestal’s claims with his own research into the use of pneumatics in green vehicles. According to Trajkovic, forty eight percent of the energy generated from breaking would be capable of transfer for use as engine power later on. He also has stated that based on his own simulations into the use of pneumatics, city buses using such technology could potentially cut their fuel usage down by nearly sixty percent.

Although the researchers over at Lund are optimistic that pneumatic-electric hybrids are possible, they have stressed that the technology needed to make those models a reality does not yet exist in any concrete form. It is their hope, however, that as time passes the technology can be quickly developed in order to pave the way for a new type of hybrid.

Photo Credit: Thomas Myhre