The little-known and largely undervalued hydraulic hybrid could play a role in heavy-duty trucks over the next 10 years and may even find application in next-generation cars, a new study says.
The study, "Hydraulic Hybrid Vehicles," predicts that sales could climb to more than 60,000 vehicles a year by 2025, or remain under 10,000 annually, depending on whether the technology trickles down to automobiles.
"There are high hopes that a joint venture between PSA Peugeot Citroen and Bosch will bear fruit and prompt other volume manufacturers to follow," wrote David Alexander, senior research analyst and author of the study for Navigant Research. "However, if no company takes this critical step, then the technology will remain on the shelf indefinitely, labeled as little more than an interesting experiment."
Hydraulic hybrid technology is, in broad theory, similar to electric hybrid technology. Instead of storing energy in a big lithium-ion battery, however, it uses a hydraulic pump-motor, reservoir, and accumulator in combination with an internal combustion engine. Energy is stored in the accumulator by using hydraulic fluid to compress a gas, usually nitrogen. During acceleration, the stored energy from the accumulator helps launch the vehicle. The big advantages are that a hydraulic hybrid is far more efficient than an electric hybrid at capturing braking energy, and that it eliminates the need for a costly lithium-ion battery.
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Navigant Research’s study was broken into conservative and aggressive scenarios. The aggressive scenario assumes the success of hydraulic hybrids in automobiles, as well as in heavy-duty vehicles.
(Source: Navigant Research)