Different Hybrid Technology Could Make Green Cars Cheaper

By dancurranjr On February 13th, 2009

globeIf you’re saving your pennies for a new hybrid car, it just may be worth asking: What type of hybrid should I hope for?

Not as in “Prius or Civic?,” but as in “electric or pneumatic?”

Lino Guzzella, Professor of Thermotronics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, believes he has a better idea for hybrid auto engines. Noting the drawbacks of gas/electric hybrids — not just their complexity and reliance on advances in battery tech, but the fact that they’re too expensive for those in developing countries that could benefit most from them — he started pursuing a different path: a pneumatic hybrid drive.

In Guzzella’s design, a tank of compressed air would be grafted onto a car engine instead of an electric unit. That air would be released into the engine by an electronically controlled valve to produce motion; gasoline can be injected at the same time for quicker response.

In a news release about the invention, the professor explains (for those who follow the mechanics of it) how this could also allow for more efficiently sized car engines.

In early testing, the new engine produced a fuel savings of one-third over the gas engine alone, but Guzzella’s team says savings could reach 50% in cities because of the nature of the design, which would recharge the compressed air tank during braking.

“Several major motor companies and automotive suppliers” are said to be interested.

Source: Green Right Now.com

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