Thursday, February 26, 2009

The future of pneumatic hybrid technology

With four boys (and friends like Eric Diem at work), I know all about air powered rifles, Vulcan Nerf® guns and pneumatically-powered toys like Air Hogs®. To paraphrase a article, the Swiss are coming to Detroit in April at the SAE World Congress to "Pump us up" on air power.

Lino Guzzella, a professor of thermotronics in ETH Zurich's department of mechanical and process engineering, states that his tiny 1.0L inline 2-cylinder engine can match the output of a 3.0L V6 engine. Wow! This might be the justification I need to finally buy that air compressor for the garage.

Search Google for "potato gun" and you'll find hundreds of designs for innovative compressed-air powered spud launchers. One of the key ingredients of any successful pneumatic system is the valve. The same applies here as the valve and control system will be the most expensive part of the pneumatic hybrid engine. Many a spud launcher uses a valve from a sprinkler system. Not the Swiss team, they're using an electronically-controlled hydraulic valve from Robert Bosch GmbH / Bosch Rexroth. Haven't seen one of those yet on a spud gun.

Electric motors and batteries will always be better than compressed air in regard to energy storage, but there may be hope for a pneumatic hybrid engine in China or India. Overall cost will be a big factor. I think I'll just put up with my foot pump for a little while longer.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Lee,
    The Scuderi split cycle engine you are talking about is at most a pale imitation of the rotary pulse jet engine, which also uses an external source of pre-compressed air. You can visit to read more about it.