The Air Car – zero pollution and very low running costs [not really read the update below]
March 19, 2007 § 4 Comments
[UPDATE: Not quite so, read the update at the end of the article - jump there -].
Engineers have been trying for years to bring a compressed air car to market, believing strongly that compressed air can power a viable “zero pollution” car. Now the first commercial compressed air car is on the verge of production and beginning to attract a lot of attention, and with a recently signed partnership with Tata, India’s largest automotive manufacturer, the prospects of very cost-effective mass production are now a distinct possibility. The MiniC.A.T is a simple, light urban car, with a tubular chassis that is glued not welded and a body of fibreglass. The heart of the electronic and communication system on the car is a computer offering an array of information reports that extends well beyond the speed of the vehicle, and is built to integrate with external systems and almost anything you could dream of, starting with voice recognition, internet connectivity, GSM telephone connectivity, a GPS guidance system, fleet management systems, emergency systems, and of course every form of digital entertainment. The engine is fascinating, as is and the revolutionary electrical system that uses just one cable and so is the vehicle’s wireless control system. Microcontrollers are used in every device in the car, so one tiny radio transmitter sends instructions to the lights, indicators etc Most importantly, the 68 mph Aircar is incredibly cost-efficient to run – according to the designers, it costs less than one Euro per 100Km (about a tenth that of a petrol car). Its mileage is about double that of the most advanced electric car (200 to 300 km or 10 hours of driving), a factor which makes a perfect choice in cities where the 80% of motorists drive at less than 60Km/h.
How does it work?
90m3 of compressed air is stored in fibre tanks. The expansion of this air pushes the pistons and creates movement. The atmospheric temperature is used to re-heat the engine and increase the road coverage. The air conditioning system makes use of the expelled cold air. Due to the absence of combustion and the fact there is no pollution, the oil change is only necessary every 31.000 miles.
Also see this YouTube video:
I have placed this article in the “Energy Efficiency” category but a recent study seems to prove me wrong so I moved it only in the design category. The October-December 2009 issue of Environmental Research Letters covers the very issue of energy efficiency of air cars in an article called “Economic and Environmental Evaluation of Compressed-Air Cars”. In this article is is pointed that air powered cars have more than twice CO2 footprint than even gasoline cars. This is mostly because compressed air holds less than one percent of the energy of gasoline and because it takes huge amount of electricity to get the air compressed in tanks, perhaps this was one of the reasons the company that designed AirPod missed a few times the deadlines to bring the car to the market. (source) ]