This March at the Geneva Auto Show, the French automobile manufacturer PSA Peugeot CitroŽn launched an innovative new vehicle that runs on compressed nitrogen and hydraulic fluid, the Hybrid Air. Although the Hybrid Air is not the first hydraulic hybrid to be invented, it is the first to use compressed nitrogen in liquid form as an energy source.

The nitrogen is stored in a pressurized steel tank that is called an “accumulator.” The four-foot-long accumulator runs down the center of the vehicle’s undercarriage and can hold up to 20 liters (5.3 gallons) of nitrogen. Energy is created when the stored nitrogen is compressed or decompressed. The hydraulic components harness this energy and use it to turn the vehicle’s wheels, creating thrust. Thrust is the force that causes a vehicle to move forward.


Shown above is a cutaway model of Peugeot’s Hybrid Air. Note the aqua-blue air storage container—the accumulator—which compresses and decompresses nitrogen to create the energy necessary to run the vehicle. Credit: PSA Peugeot CitroŽn.

Hybrid Air combines the accumulator with a three-cylinder petrol engine, a hydraulic pump/motor unit, and automatic transmission.

The vehicle is capable of operating in three different modes: gasoline power, combined power, and Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mode. In gasoline power, Hybrid Air’s petrol engine runs solo. In combined power, both the petrol engine and the accumulator work together to power the vehicle. According to Peugeot, this mode is optimal for high power acceleration and hill climbing. Finally, in ZEV mode, Hybrid Air emits zero-emissions and accumulates power from brake energy regeneration. The automobile manufacturer claims that the vehicle can operate in air power mode for 60% to 80% of city driving cases.

The Hybrid Air project began in 2010. Nearly 200 Peugeot employees contributed to the project, which was completed in secrecy. Four generations of prototypes were created before the final version, the Hybrid Air, was revealed at the Geneva Auto Show in March of this year.

The Hybrid Air will be in production by 2016, and will start at 17,000 Euros (approximately 21,850 US dollars).


Pictured above is a side view of the Hybrid Air, which will be in production by 2016. Credit: PSA Peugeot CitroŽn.

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