Friday, August 8, 2008

COMPRESSED AIR WOULD POWER 100 MPG CAR UNDER DESIGN

CNN - Of all the contenders in the quest to produce the ultimate fuel-efficient car, this could be the first one to let you say, "Fill it up with air." The compressed air car planned for the U.S. market would be a six-seater, a New York company says. . . a vehicle its backers say could achieve a fuel economy of 106 miles per gallon.

The technology has been the focus of MDI, a European company founded in 1991 by a French inventor and former race car engineer. New York-based Zero Pollution Motors is the first firm to obtain a license from MDI to produce the cars in the United States, pledging to deliver the first models in 2010 at a price tag of less than $18,000. The concept is similar to how a locomotive works, except that compressed air -- not steam -- moves the engine's pistons, said Shiva Vencat, vice president of MDI and CEO of Zero Pollution Motors.

The six-seater planned for the U.S. market would be able to reach speeds of more than 90 mph and have a range of more than 800 miles thanks to a dual energy engine, Vencat said. . .

"Above 35 mph, there is an external combustion system which is basically a heater that uses a little bit of gasoline or biofuel or ethanol or vegetable oil that will heat the air," Vencat said. . .

Vencat said an on-board compressor would refill the air tank while the car is running, or owners could refill it by plugging it into a power outlet for four hours. . .

It is possible to power a car with compressed air, but the mileage claim is "at the edge of possibility," said John Callister, director of the Harvey Kinzelberg Entrepreneurship in Engineering program at Cornell University's College of Engineering.

7 Comments:

At August 9, 2008 3:46 AM, Anonymous 420 said...

Fool me once...

Guy Negre's air car has been coming "in just about 2 years" for a decade now. Here's a BBC announcement from 2000. Claims that thousands would be on the road by 2002 never materialized. The hype gets resurrected every couple of years, this time in 2005. Here's a collection of articles dating back ten years to 1998.

Here is a somewhat technical discussion of the inefficiencies of compressing and decompressing air for use as an energy carrier. A simpler explanation can be read here.

There are a couple major points that many news articles on the MDI cars have misreported or omitted. First, they CANNOT be refilled from standard auto service station air tanks, such as the kind you refill you auto tires from. Those tanks usually range from about 100psi to 175psi maximum, though they typically deliver air to auto tires at about 30-45psi. The tanks on the MDI cars need to be filled to around 4500psi. Since no one is driving compressed air cars, don't expect any service stations to have these expensive, extremely high pressure industrial compressors for you to refill your air tanks in "3 minutes." Second, the "small" electric compressor built into the car to refill the air tanks is a 5500 watt compressor. That would require an electrician to install a special 50amp outlet at 120 volts, or 25 amp outlet at 240 volts, in your home or garage to properly power the compressor.

Here is a history of compressed air vehicles dating back to the 1800s.

 
At August 9, 2008 2:42 PM, Anonymous Philip Shropshire said...

I really think that Guy Negre's car is the real deal. Its clear that they have had some problems but a lot of that I think is investment not performance. The air pumps that you're talking about would appear very quickly if these cars made it onto the road and I think that they will.

The thing that separates the air car from say, my fave vapor car the Moller flying car which has been hyped for the last 10 years and I've seen nothing, is that there are many many working vehicles. And reporters can often be seen riding in them.

I think their best bet is probably creating a hybrid bio diesel/air car because that would increase the power but the car works. Does it work well enough for the roads yet? Perhaps not. But the working models are spectacular. This would change the world. I hope they're successful in pulling this off.
For a number of vids and impartial reports from the likes of the BBC and CNN go here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/CATvolution

Philip Shropshire
www.threeriversonline.com

 
At August 10, 2008 1:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At 4500psi, what does an air tank become in the case of an accident and/or vehicle fire?

 
At August 10, 2008 5:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Increasingly I am struck by the "Can't Do" attitude expressed by 420 and others whenever alternatives to the inevitable dead-end of fossil fuels are explored.

"Can't Do" is what America was founded on wasn't it, oh wait...

"Can't Do" in support of entrenched interests (like Big Oil) must be why innovation and leadership ain't happening here in America today.

The children and grandchildren of "Can't Doers" will be really impressed when they realize that they have been left holding the bag by their "Can't Do" parents and grandparents. What a gift to succeeding generations!

 
At August 10, 2008 10:18 PM, Anonymous 420 said...

So sorry to burst your bubble with a dose of reality. America was also founded by millions of people who still believe in the free lunch.

Guy Negre has a consistent record of "can't do" since 1998. If he ever does succeed with his innovation as promised, then high praise for his efforts will be justly earned. Until it's actually done, it's just more hype and snake oil. If 5:29 is willing to put his money where his mouth is, I can provide a long list of perpetual motion inventions in need of venture capitol, and would be all too happy to manage your account.

;-)

 
At August 11, 2008 9:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

420, you're not much of a student of history are you?. American was not founded by "millions of people" and the ones who did found it were certainly not of a "free lunch" mentality. You try creating a country out of nothing but a huge wilderness and see how much hard work it takes.

 
At August 12, 2008 12:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At its founding, the population of the United States was over three million citizens. Certainly three qualifies for plural status?
Must agree to some extent with 9:50 regarding the free lunch attitude. Slaves cost big money in those days. There was nothing free or even cheap about servitude.

 

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