VGT Technologies has started development of a plug-in gasoline/air hybrid vehicle using the RoundEngine technology. A gas/air hybrid vehicle is similar to a gas/electric hybrid vehicle (e.g. Toyota Prius etc.) but uses compressed air instead of electricity for an auxiliary drive. The new engine helps save fuel and reduce emissions mostly during city driving.
One of the big advantages to us all is that a gas/air hybrid uses only ONE system for gasoline or air operation whereas a gas/electric system needs TWO separate systems (gas and electric). In addition to the dual systems there is a complex control box to switch between the two power sources. Not having to deal with added complexity and cost makes the gas/air system a compelling option for today. In addition to the benefits of simplicity, ease of maintenance, and reduced costs, the VGT engine also has the unique capability of recycling some of the radiator and exhaust heat and use it for propulsion.
In the first phase of development VGT will focus on the air drive using the RoundEngine technology by modifying an AWD vehicle to incorporate the air drive on the rear axle. The front axle will be powered by the gas motor. The purpose is to prove the air drive in an automotive application and to demonstrate fuel and emissions savings. A toroidal engine is presently manufactured for this application.
Planned Features - Phase One:
1. Air drive used mostly for acceleration and low speed, gas motor drives at higher speeds and recharges airtanks.
2. Regenerative braking,where the braking energy is used and stored for later propulsion, this will save brake wear and cuts down on energy otherwise wasted into the environment.
3. Optional plug-in capability to recharge airtanks in off-peak hours.
4. Compressed air can be used for better air conditioning and heating as well as for powertools, we will experiment with these capabilities in the AWD.
5. Compressed air can be used to supercharge the combustion engine for short periods without any mechanical supercharger resulting in short power boosts.
6. Compressed air can be used to purge exhaust gases for further emission reductions.
Planned Features - Phase Two:
In this phase we plan to use waste heat from the exhaust and the engine cooling system to convert into power. As heat is transferred to the pressure vessels gases tend to expand or the pressure will increase. RoundEngine will make use of this characteristic and convert the expansion/pressure increase to power. Other options are to use fluids with phase changes to produce closed cycle high pressure steam for propulsion.
Planned Features - Phase Three:
In the third phase of development VGT will focus on the gas/air drive using only RoundEngines. This car will be 100% powered by the VGT engine we call, RoundEngine. There will be two RoundEngines, a combustion version and an air motor version. One engine will be running on air only while the other RoundEngine will operate with a combustible fuel (e.g. gasoline etc.) Both engines can run independently or together for best fuel consumption and lower emissions and/or for maximum power.
What are the benefits they expect to find?
1. A simple, easy to maintain gas/air hybrid system employing only RoundEngine technology
2. Lower cost than a gas/electric hybrid system as you will not have any batteries to replace, and batteries are a big cost to electric hybrid cars. The air tanks will not have to be replaced for the life of a vehicle.
3. Optional plug-in capability extending the non-combustion engine operation to achieve better fuel economy and emission savings.
4. Waste heat recovery for propulsion, exhaust heat and heat rejected from the cooling system can be used for propulsion and adds power to the drive system.