A Car that runs on air? The New Peugeot hybrid does!
A car that runs on air? Sounds like a dream come true. Yet here is a car that does so, or almost. It’s an idea that’s so simple, you will wonder why no one thought of it before. Peugeot has just revealed the prototype Peugeot 2008 Hybrid Air that uses this common medium to power the front wheel.
In this era of ‘green’ vehicles, this one promises to be the ‘greenest’ of them all. Electric cars run on battery power alone, and that involves the addition of large bank of batteries, while hybrids combine a low powered combustion, charging a smaller bank of batteries which drives a powerful electric motor which provides power to the wheels. In both cases, the batteries are the main factor as they are very expensive and heavy. They also need replacement from time to time, which makes both these kinds of vehicles expensive to run.So till now the biggest barrier for people buying hybrids and electric cars was the cost. Peugeot is seeking to break this barrier by using air as the propulsive force.
Very simply put, the power system consists of a conventional engine which is used to run the car at higher speeds. Leftover energy from the engine is used to pump air into the Air Drive system. Central to the Hybrid Air’s power train is a compressed air tank which is entirely self-contained, which can hold 20 liters of nitrogen and oil at a pressure of 220 bar. By discharging this tank the oil is forced through a hydraulically actuated motor which spins the front wheels. The Air Drive system can also harness the energy of the wheels turning, and the heat generated from braking to charge the tank.
The car can run on petrol, air or a combination of the two. The car can moveat a lower speed on the power or the air stored under pressure alone, when there is no emission at all. Hybrid mode is used when accelerating or climbing slopes as both power sources act together, and when cruising long distances, the petrol mode is most suitable. The air powered mode with zero emission is automatically switched on at speeds below 43 mph for city driving.
The other hybrids and also electric cars have a few other disadvantages too. They rely on those heavy and expensive batteries which create their own environmental problems when they need to be disposed of. Electrics have a limited range and need to be charged at regular intervals. They also carry the risk of going flat and leaving you stranded. In contrast to this, the Hybrid Air needs little battery power. It replaces electricity with air pressure. The ‘air’ in question is nitrogen, which in itself is not an environmental hazard. It is a lot lighter too.
The Hybrid Air uses a turbocharged three cylinder 1.2 liter engine delivering 81 bhp that can charge the system in about 10 seconds. However the prototype’s fully charged system can only run the vehicle for a maximum of ½ a kilometer before it exhausts itself. It is expected that this distance will be increased by the time the car goes into production. The car manages an average of 94 mpg, which in itself is awesome, and according to the engineers, Peugeot and Citroen cars, running on air, should be averaging 112 mpg by 2020.
The project has been in development in secret for the last three years, with around 100 scientists working on it. Peugeot says that the car will be available in 2016 at an estimated price of £16,000.
These cars may be on the expensive side, but cost next to nothing to run, and does its bit to Save the Planet. So what do you think? Would you like to own one of these wonderful cars?