Air Hybrid Engine May Beat Out Electric Hybrid

Compressed air hybrid system could improve fuel economy by 64 percent.

Published: 19-Feb-2003

WARRENDALE, Pa., Feb. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- A soon-to-be-released study projects that an air hybrid engine could improve fuel economy 64 percent in city driving and 12 percent in highway driving. Scientists from the University of California, Ford Motor Company and consultant Michael M. Schechter will present their findings during the SAE 2003 World Congress, March 3 - 6, Cobo Center, Detroit, Michigan, USA.

In a typical pattern of city driving, frequent vehicle starts and stops are made, requiring a significant portion of fuel energy to be used to accelerate. Much of this energy is converted into heat in brake friction during subsequent decelerations. Capturing and reusing this braking energy can help to improve fuel economy.

It is generally accepted that electric hybrids are a proven technology, capable of capturing and reusing braking energy. However, an air hybrid accomplishes the same result, but with greater simplicity. The air hybrid engine absorbs vehicle kinetic energy during braking, puts it into storage in the form of compressed air, and reuses it to assist during acceleration cycles. In contrast to the electric hybrid engine, the air hybrid does not require a second propulsion system.

Their study concludes that fuel economy improvement is possible with air hybrid technology without requiring reduced vehicle weight to compensate for additional hardware, and these efficiencies also can be realized without reducing engine displacement. "Using Camless Valvetrain for Air Hybrid Optimization" (SAE paper 2003-01-0038) will be presented 11 a.m., Monday, March 3, Room D3-16/17/18 - Cobo Center.

New to the SAE 2003 World Congress: DaimlerChrysler, Ford and General Motors will hold corporate engineering meetings at Cobo followed by VIP tours of the SAE 2003 exhibit floor; a Technology Theater on the exhibit floor, home to executive panel discussions throughout the week; and a re-categorized technical session program.

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