I like the idea of a mechanical hybrid better than an electric hybrid for environmental reasons. I remember a while back someone studied the lifetime energy cost of a Prius vs. an H3 (or an H2, I don't remember the fine details) and the Hummer won, mainly due to the production and EOL recycling cost of the Prius's exotic materials. I would assume (perhaps someone can correct me if I'm wrong) that a hydraulic system would be a win-win for the environment (assuming nothing exotic in this system).
On the other hand, being someone who keeps vehicles for decades, I tend to think about post-warrantee issues a lot (my family has a fleet that includes an '88, a '94, a '99, and a '10). That high pressure bottle makes me REALLY nervous (especially sitting right underneath the passenger compartment). After 10 years I would fear it's become a corroded mess (it's located in a prime spot to collect water/salt), that may start to approximate an explosive device.
@etmax: I believe that this fluid will be a liquid. And yes you are right a lot of the energy is dissipated as heat but it will probably be more efficient then air. Also quitter then an air compressor since it will require a lower rpm. This is because when air gets compressed it changes density and the volume you have to transport is significantly higher than the storage vessel. Most liquids under pressure have insignificant density changes mostly. So the volume you move equals the volume in the pressure vessel.
So, let me get this whole thing straight. What we have is a hydrostatic drive system, similar to the bomblifts I used to fix in the Air Force, with an air compressor similar to the HiPACs (High Pressure Air Compressors) I also fixed in the Air Force, powered by a diesel engine, like the ones I fixed in the Air Force, pushing around a vehicle the size of the one I used to use to tow the HiPACs? So, technically, my military training would actually allow me to fix every system on the vehicle again? Damn. Now I need to get more handcleaner because my hands are going to get greasy again. And just when I was beginning to get fat and lazy from sitting behind a desk all day, someone has to come up with a use for my archaic training.
I remember an article in Mother Earth News back in the 70's, in which an eastern college had taken a VW chassis, and converted it to hydraulics. They used a 16HP Briggs and Stratton engine to pressurize the oil and regenerative braking to gain efficiency. With a fiberglass body (and likley no AC), they claimed to achieve better than 70 MPG! I checked back with the college 10 or 15 years later, and they hadn't done anything further at that time with the concept.
I'm surprised it's that efficient only because of what I've read about compressing air and how it put's a lot of the energy out in heat.it suggests an efficiency of the system "input to storage - withdrawal from storage" of about 25%, which is I think is less than half of an electrical storage solution.
Also air piston engines aren't supposed to be that efficient either.
About 20 years ago, I remember seeing a motivational video of a man driving a hydaulic hybrid automobile. I remember about a 20 horsepower prime mover, and the actual car was a prototype open frame chassis, with no body. Anybody else remember this video?
The concept of integrating hydraulics in hybrid vehicles is a good one but one that could easily misused if the ideas behind the creation of this technology are taken out of focus. Hydraulics are about increasing efficiency; more work for less energy. So it's not really suitable for all vehicles. Using it only on vehicles that really need that added efficiency is the way to go.
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Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.