81 MPG Compressed Air Hybrid Unveiled by Peugeot/Citroën


Gasoline and diesel fuel are, by far, not the only options available in the world of automobile propulsion.

Pretty much anything that stores energy can be used to propel a vehicle, whether as chemical energy in a combustible fuel, electrochemical energy stored in a battery pack, or air stored under pressure. There have been a couple of automakers who have toyed with compressed-air motors, to varying degrees of success, but Peugeot/Citroën could be the first to combine it with a gasoline-powered motor.

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Hybrid vehicles, generally accepted to be hybrid electric vehicles, make use of generators to recover energy lost during braking and store it in a battery. Then, on acceleration, the energy stored in the battery powers an electric motor to propel the vehicle forward.

Peugeot/Citroën’s Hybrid Air vehicle, instead, uses compressed-air canisters to recover energy from braking. “This breakthrough technology… represents a key step towards the 2ℓ/100km [118 mpg] car by 2020,” said Peugeot/Citroën executive Philippe Varin.

While Peugeot/Citroën is affirming that Hybrid Air technology is currently capable of 81 mpg, I can’t help but wonder how they’ve overcome the inherent inefficiencies of air pump technology, considering that an internal combustion engine is simply an air pump.

The prototype and further development is being funded by the French government, German parts specialty company Bosch, and Faurecia, a car parts company run by Peugeot/Citroën. Maybe in a couple years we will see if they can break 100 mpg using this setup.


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  • Karl

    To call this an air hybrid is like calling the prius a chemical reaction hybrid.—-This car uses hydraulic fluid to transfer energy to and from a pressuriesd gas ( probably nitrogen ).–At up to 80% round trip eff.

  • john

    An ICE is a sort of air pump. But it’s one where the pressure is generated every other revolution by an explosion of fuel (in a 4 cycle engine). The energy in the fuel used to generate that pressure is only partly converted to mechanical motion. Most of it is simply blown out the tail pipe as heat. Think of this new technology as a car running into a plunger that is connected to a sealed cylinder. As the car pushes the plunger into the cylinder, the air in the cylinder is compressed until the car stops and the cylinder is now containing all the energy that was required to stop the car. You could then apply the brakes and contain that energy until you wanted to go again…if where you wanted to go was backwards (in this example). With better technology, you could utilize this method to go forward too, which is what Peugeot has done.