A French inventor clams to have found a way to reclaim the energy from shock absorbers as a vehicle travels down a bumpy road to provide air conditioning or transport refrigeration.
The ClimaVerna suspension compressor system consists of a levered structure with one end attached to the chassis of the vehicle and the other to the moving suspension system. The lever pumps a specially designed refrigerant compressor to take over from the electrically operated compressor when the car is in motion, saving fuel.
Reversed, the same system could be used as a heat pump to distribute warm air, which could be of particular use in electric vehicles without engine heat to redistribute.
ClimaVerna could be used on a larger scale for refrigerated lorries, not only cooling the cold compartment, but also providing air conditioning and heat for the cabin, assisting air brakes and maintaining the hydraulic pressure of power-assisted steering.
As it only works when the vehicle is in motion, a traditional alternator and battery combination will need to kick in to power the systems when the vehicle is stopped.
The inventor, Christophe Verna, said: ‘A suspension system is in perpetual movement and the suspension compressor is less expensive than a traditional compressor. More compressed gas is generated than is needed, so I can see a time when a compressor could power both the air-conditioning and the heating of a car. The biggest benefits will be with electric vehicles, as less drain on their batteries will give them a longer range.’
Verna has installed a prototype on his own car, but it is not yet connected to the heat and air conditioning systems. ClimaVerna will be further developed by an engineering school in the Bordeaux region.