Student Research Group Hydro+

Logo Koła Naukowego Hydro+

Student Research Group Hydro+ operates at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the Wrocław University of Science and Technology. The group is involved in the construction of a vehicle powered by compressed air for the international pneumatic vehicle competition in Eger, Hungary. Our task is to build a prototype pneumatic vehicle, starting from concept and design all the way to its construction. Such an undertaking requires a lot of work, effort, and time, so often the same vehicle is refined for many more years before a new one is built. Our research group has already built four pneumatic vehicles so far. Now, since last year, we have been working on a new, even more innovative vehicle, with which we want to participate in the competition in 2021.

The idea of using compressed air to power a vehicle is not new. A streetcar with a pneumatic drive appeared in Paris already in 1876. The engine used in that vehicle was the work of Ludwik Mękarski, a constructor with a Polish origin. The last streetcars powered by compressed air ran in the French city of Nantes in 1917.

Today, air-powered cars are designed by several companies in countries all around the world and are shown at automotive trade fairs. Pneumatic vehicles are also being explored by leading French car companies. So far, only one Indian company has introduced this type of drive in their cars. Although this type of vehicle propulsion has been known for more than 100 years, it has not yet been developed to such a form that it could be commonly used in modern cars. 

Student Research Group Hydro+, following the global trends in automotive industry, studies pneumatic propulsion in cars by constructing its own prototype of pneumatic vehicles. Our research group has about 15 members. Our team consists of several sections that have their own assigned tasks in the construction of the vehicle. Our divisions are:

  • Pneumatics – people in this section are concerned with the design and layout of pneumatics. Their job is to convert the energy stored in the cylinder into compressed air for as many extensions of the pneumatic cylinder as possible,
  • Suspension – people in this division construct the front and rear suspension and steering system of the vehicle,
  • Support structure – the frame of our vehicle is constructed in this section. Our specialists in computer-aided stress calculations are here,
  • Aerodynamics – in order to minimize the aero resistance of our vehicle, the people in this section construct an appropriate body from fibers (glass and carbon) using advanced manufacturing methods,
  • Drive – people in this division are responsible for converting the reciprocating motion of an actuator into the progressive motion of a vehicle. They build various mechanisms from gears, clutches, shafts chains etc.
  • Marketing – this is where our business agents come in. Although their work can’t be seen directly in the running vehicle their work is essential when building it. They handle the paperwork at the university as well as acquiring sponsors.

By developing our pneumatic vehicle, we hope that we are doing something good for our society. By researching a drive that is quiet and does not generate any exhaust fumes, we hope to contribute to cleaner air in our area. Our dream is to compress air using wind or water stream energy, without unnecessary conversion to electricity, and then use it directly as a fuel for cars.

Research group supervisor: Wiesław Fiebig, Assoc. Prof. Eng.
fb logo/ Hydro+

Our flagship project – the Pneumobil – is being built for an international pneumatic vehicle competition: Emerson’s AVENTICS™ International Pneumobile Competition, which has been held for years in Eger, Hungary. At the competition we compete, among others, for the fastest vehicle or the vehicle with the longest operating range. The competition, which is organized by one of the largest pneumatic companies in the world, always attracts about fifty teams from technical universities from across Europe. The biggest success of our group was taking the 1st place in the long-distance competition at this event.

Currently we are working on the 5th edition of our Pneumobil being constructed with the 2021 competition in mind.

Below we show our vehicles built over the years. So far 4 versions of Pneumobil – a vehicle with a pneumatic drive – have been created. The latest, fifth and currently under construction version of the vehicle is being prepared for the 2021 competition.