The Air Car April 15, 2008 4:00am by Barry Ritholtz Compressed Air Vehicles Spread the wealth. twitter facebook linkedin What's been said: Discussions found on the web: ian commented on Apr 15 The FOMC board dive these, yet they need not refill as they enough of the own gas to fuel the forward motion required. Ha ha ha David commented on Apr 15 The Wankel-like air engine is likely superior to the piston one due to power-to-weight, no gear box and noise. Plus I like the Aussies more than the French. Howard Veit commented on Apr 15 The noise? Will that be fixed? And wait. Governments will hate this because there won’t be anything to tax. I look for a Big Brother spy system to tax us by the mile to come into being. Another stock to think about would be KGB, FBI, and maybe even ACLU. sumanta commented on Apr 15 I recall reading this news last year in Indian media. Tata Motors signed an agreement with MDI. http://www.bloggingstocks.com/2007/05/31/tata-motors-air-powered-car-green-portfolio-candidate/ Big Al commented on Apr 15 1st Law of thermodynamics. “You can’t win”. There will be energy losses to compress the air. There will be energy losses, as the compressed air moves the vehicle. Steve in TN commented on Apr 15 Something like this technology may have a future. From the data the reporter gave, the fuel cost/mile for the air car is approximately 1.6 cents/mile. For an typical automobile getting 24mpg at $3.20/gal, the fuel cost/mile is 13.3 cents/mile. So the air car, fuel costs only 12% of the gasoline powered car. I realize it’s not a fair comparison since the air car is much smaller that a gas car, so even if you double the size of the air car the cost per mile is 24% of the gasoline car with no pollution coming from the car. Giovannoni commented on Apr 15 haha this is where I’m from (Nice, France) and yes, I do want to drive one of those! Roman commented on Apr 15 How come I am pretty sure that just like every other nifty technology I see on these tech shows, this too will never see the light of day? Quiddity commented on Apr 15 Steve in TN: Who gets 24mpg in the city? Is that a typical mileage these days? I don’t know what the current average is for all cars in the U.S. I guess new compacts get that in the city, but I wonder what most people are getting in terms of city mpg. Ed Miller commented on Apr 15 I have been a skeptic of air cars, but this looks promising – especially the Aussie design. Of course we can’t get this in the US due to crash-resistance requirements and public disdain for micro-cars. These will have to change. For my personal transportation around town I’ve thought electric was the way to go but if an air car becomes available I would be interested. I have always been annoyed by having to start an internal combustion engine just to drive 2-3 miles and back (we have a Prius and wish it was all electric). I see the air car as most beneficial for in town driving, which is most of what we do. Ed Miller commented on Apr 15 Steve, I get 28 driving my Camry (4-cylinder) in town, 33 highway. I did get 48 driving the Prius until my daughter took it for her commute. firstname.lastname@example.org commented on Apr 15 Why are the alternatives to combustion engines so embarrassing? I don’t want to drive an air farting golf cart. Geo commented on Apr 15 I test drove a Segway a few weeks ago. Very neat. Totally intuitive. You’re good to go in a few seconds. Max speed 12 mph. Max distance 24 mph on one charge. Cost about $5k. Climbs hills, too. Does anyone know the negatives on this vehicle? Seems great for short commutes, trips to the store…. bluestatedon commented on Apr 15 It’s true that these engines are going to have to work within the context of normal auto design to make much of an inroad in that end of the powered vehicle industry. Probably a number of years off. I see the more immediate market being in the third and developing worlds, where millions use motorcycles, mopeds, jitneys, and small trucks for basic personal and business transportation, both in urban and rural areas, many using old and very dirty two-stroke engines. Replacing all these gasoline IC engines with compressed air would be a godsend for air quality in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur, for example, and the savings in fuel costs would be frosting on the cake. Just look at how fuel costs are hammering farmers in India right now. Chuck commented on Apr 15 I’ve been following MDI for a couple of years now (aren’t they still in Luxembourg?). Their web site has undergone drastic changes, from making outrageous claims, to making no claims at all. That reporter saying that the MDI engine can be touched while running as “only a little warm” has me wondering. If anything, the gas laws say that the engine should be ice-cold because of the expansion of the air. Frictional losses must really be high, otherwise. Calculating mileage on these things is pretty tricky. Unlike fossil-fuel engines, where the first drop of fuel in the tank has the same energy content as the last, the amount of power available from a compressed gas drops steadily as its pressure drops. While you may be able to travel 100 km. on a tankful on level ground, there may not be enough “oomph” left in a depleted tank to get you up the hill to your house. My money’s still on electric–great weight-to-power ratio, hugely efficient. Once the storage problem is licked (and we’re getting closer), it’ll be the power source of choice. Jon H commented on Apr 15 Note the bare sheetmetal in the car interior. In addition to lacking the touchy-feely comforts, it probably contributes to the noise. Also, I think the clip’s music made me gay. engineer al commented on Apr 15 The compressed air cylinders tucked within the frame rails of the MDI car are charged to 300 bar (4350 psi). That’s a whole lot of bar (psi) to be sitting on. The psi packed into your home air compressor is probably less than 125 psi. The gas bottle coupled to a average MIG welder might only be charged to 2250 psi. If you knock the neck off of one of those, the bottle will squirt out of your shop like a missile and pass through anything/anyone who gets in its way. Compressed air isn’t a fuel, it’s a battery. The air car isn’t a zero emission vehicle. It only relocates the emissions to somewhere else. Still, a cool device. My money is on hydrogen (also a battery) though. Nick77 commented on Apr 16 I dont get it. 1 tank of petrol can get you from LA to NYC? Why would the process of using petrol to run a compressor, and then using the resulting compressed air to run an IC engine be so many multiples more efficient than simply using the petrol to directly run an IC engine? What the hell is going on? Is it just that the car is so light? If so, then you could probably get from LA to NYC and back to LA again on one tank of petrol, directly powering an IC engine. jimmy commented on Apr 16 I’ve done a little research on this and it seems that this film is from 2005 and there is sketchy/fishy info about the product and its testing. Scott Nolan commented on Apr 16 To hell with automobile replacement, this is awesome for smaller engine replacements where hydrogen/electric batteries/natural gas have not been feasible: I can easily imagine vastly cleaner and easy to operate compressed air powered golf carts, lawn mowers, snow throwers, and chain saws…. All of those are huge polluters today, and simply replacing them with compressed air may not save much on energy, but they will at least dump fewer carbons into the air… Very interesting. Hans commented on Apr 18 The big auto makers will surely put a rock in the works – if this air engine works it should get on the road and get its real world workout immediately for all to see – tow a small trailer and some mountain type of driving with trailer attached would also be a good test at full fuel capacity and at minimal capacity after a hard day of regular type of driving – wish the developer all the luck in the world – just hurry up and get it to us in the real world to use – I am in the high desert (4200’elevation ) and am eager to try – currently drive my Prius everywhere and love it Sachi commented on May 4 We HAD the EV1, an electric car–on the road. Then along comes GM, theybought the NIMh Technology and crushed all the cars. I wonder when they’ll crush this one… Oil barons sitting on thrones. someone please–kick the chair out from under them—all! Creepy Icky Oil Lords standing on the neck of the human race. What are they doing with all that cash..? Shoving it up their shiny big rear hatches, I’m guessing. Carl Pinkston commented on May 9 i am sure a pressure tank will last longer than a battery pack.. i suspect there will be problems in cooler temperatures.. will need storage tanks of high pressure air along the route for quick refills.. can solar panels operate a high pressure compressor? a lot of heat during compressing.. lot of cold during operation.. or decrompressing..parhaps -15 degrees.. that would be ok in hot weather.. use it for the airconditioning.. 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