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Hydraulic Hybrid Company Introduces Lightweight Hydraulic Accumulators for Vehicular and Other Applications

Design of the lightweight hydraulic accumulators. Click to enlarge.

Lightning Hybrids Inc. (LHI), the developer of hydraulic drivetrain technology for vehicles (earlier post), introduced its lightweight high-pressure composite bladder accumulators for hydraulic and other energy storage applications.

LHI says its composite tanks are one-third the weight of standard steel accumulators and offer significant energy savings due to weight reduction, increased safety due to a higher than standard burst pressure factor, and cost savings because they are easier and less expensive to ship and install since weight and mounting hardware is minimized.

Lightning Hybrids’ accumulators are 6,000 psi (414 bar) bladder accumulators and range in size from 10 to 30 gallons. The accumulator is a Type 3 tank and consist of an aluminum lining and a spun carbon fiber wrapped shell, encompassing a nitrogen gas compression bladder.

The carbon-fiber-wrapped vessels are considerably lighter than their steel counterparts. For example, a 15 gallon accumulator weighs 115 pounds compared to 465 pounds for a steel accumulator. LHI’s accumulators are made and assembled in the US; orders are currently being taken with delivery 60 days from receipt of order.

The patent-pending tanks were engineered by Lightning Hybrids specifically for use in the company’s HyPER Assist hydraulic hybrid vehicle application. LHI says that it quickly became evident that there are other uses for these lightweight energy storage tanks such as emergency vehicles, forestry, agricultural and mining mobile equipment, among others.

Our lightweight accumulators enhance the performance and efficiency of a variety of hydraulic systems. In addition, they add a higher dimension of safety and reliability over standard steel accumulators.

—Dan Johnson, LHI’s CEO

Structural Composites Industries, a subsidiary of Worthington Industries, manufactures the accumulators for Lightning Hybrids. SCI is a leader in high pressure tank manufacturing with a strong safety record; SCI managed the certifications required for these high-pressure tanks.



How about a hydraulic motor-generator less than 100 lbs installed for automotive use.


I sure hope this company finds a sustainable niche. They seem so enthusiastic. I was sorry to see them withdraw from the X-prize competition. I had thought if they used a hydraulic free-piston engine with their sports car design they should be pretty efficient, but I guess a purely hydraulic transmission has substantial losses.


Or maybe integrate this technology into a velomobile.


I guess the advantage here is that this accumulator can be used for series hydraulic hybrid (LH's original design) or parallel hydraulic hybrid (probably more efficient transmission.


I'm left with more questions than answers. What is the capability of a 15 gallon accumulator? Seems to me the most advantage is gained by accumulating pressure during decel/braking and then using the pressure as an accelleration assist. Perhaps the same hydraulic motor can perform both functions. Should be far superior to current hybrid-electrics, since kinetic energy is stored then used avoiding phase change to another form of energy (ie electric).



These guys originally thought they could make a series hydraulic hybrid 2-seat sports car that would get more than 100 mpg. They didn't need large accumulators because they had a small diesel engine pressurizing the hydraulic fluid, running at optimum RPMs. Supposedly they ran into problems with a pure hydrualic transmission...less efficient than mechanical transmission.

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