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The Car That Runs On Air.

Discussion in 'The Pub' at netrider.net.au started by 2up, Feb 5, 2009.

  1. 21mlook1.

    Tata Motors has signed an agreement with Moteur Development International of France to develop a car that runs on compressed air, thus making it very economical to run and be almost totally pollution free.

    Although there is no official word on when the car will be commercially manufactured for India, reports say that it will be sooner than later.

    The car -- MiniCAT -- would have a range of around 300 km between refuels. The cost of a refill would be about $2.50.

    An overview of the air car

    The technology that MDI vehicles use is not really new. Compressed air technology allows for engines that are both non-polluting and economical.

    After ten years of research and development, MDI is prepared to introduce its clean vehicles onto the market. Unlike electric or hydrogen powered vehicles, MDI vehicles are not expensive and do not have a limited driving range. MDI cars are affordable and have a performance rate that stands up to current standards. To sum it up, they are non-expensive cars that do not pollute and are easy to get around cities in.

    Two technologies have been developed to meet different needs:

    Single energy compressed air engines.
    Dual energy compressed air plus fuel engines.
    The single energy engines will be available in both MiniCATs and CityCATs. These engines have been conceived for city use, where the maximum speed is 50 km/h and where MDI believes polluting will soon be prohibited.

    The duel energy engine, on the other hand, has been conceived as much for the city as the open road and will be available in all MDI vehicles. The engines will work exclusively with compressed air while it is running under 50 km/h in urban areas. But when the car is used outside urban areas at speeds over 50 km/h, the engines will switch to fuel mode. The engine will be able to use gasoline, gas oil, bio diesel, gas, liquidized gas, ecological fuel, alcohol, etc.

    Both engines will be available with 2, 4 and 6 cylinders, When the air tanks are empty the driver will be able to switch to fuel mode, thanks to the car's on board computer.

    How does it work?

    MDI explains that 90m3 of compressed air is stored in fibre tanks. The engine is powered by compressed air, stored in a carbon-fiber tank at 30 MPa (4500 psi). The tank is made of carbon-fiber in order to reduce its weight. The engine has injection similar to normal engines, but uses special crankshafts and pistons, which remain at top dead center for about 70 degrees of the crankshaft's cycle; this allows more power to be developed in the engine.

    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 50 000 km.

    The car

    The end product is a light weigh vehicle that can reach speeds up to 220 kmph.
    MDI's vehicle's have fibreglass bodies which makes them light, silent urban car. The car's body is tubular, light weight, and is held together using aerospace technology.
    The vehicles do not have normal speed gauges. Instead, they will have a small computer screen that shows the speed and engine revolutions. The system allows for infinite possibilities such as GSM telephone systems, GPS satellite tracking systems, programs for delivery people, emergency systems, internet connections, voice recognitions, map presentation, traffic information, etc.
    The seatbelt system is different from what we know. One part of the belt is anchored to the floor of the car, like traditional cars. The other part of the belt, in stead of being attached to the side of the car, is also anchored to the floor of the vehicle. This helps to secure the bodies of the driver and passengers in the case of a collision.
    The vehicle's electric system is also revolutionary. MDI has bought a patent that is bound to reduce the important of electrical systems in all cars. The trick consists in using a small radio signal. The system makes the car 20 kilos lighter and considerably quieter.
    There are no keys - just an access card that can be read by the car from your pocket.
    In the single energy mode MDI cars consume around Rs 45 every 100 km.
    When there is no combustion, there is no pollution. The vehicle's driving range is close to twice that of the most advanced electric cars (from 200 to 300 km or 8 hours of circulation).
    The recharging of the car will be done at gas stations, once the market is developed. To fill the tanks it will take about to 2 to 3 minutes at a price of Rs 90. After refilling the car will be ready to driver 200 kms.
    The car also has a small compressor that can be connected to an electrical network (220V or 380V) and will recharged the tanks completely in 3 or 4 hours.
    Because the engine does not burn any fuel the car's oil (a litre of vegetable) only needs to be changed every 50,000 km.
    The temperature of the clean air expulsed form the exhaust pipe is between 0 and 15 degrees below zero and can be subsequently channelled and used for air conditioning in the interior of the car.

    The smallest and most innovative: three seats, minimal dimensions with the boot of a saloon: a great challenge for such a small car which runs on compressed air. The MiniCAT is the city car of the future.


    Airbag, air conditioning, ABS, 3 seats, 1.5 m3.
    Dimensions: 2.65m, 1.62m, 1.64m
    Weight: 750 kg
    Maximum speed: 110 kmh
    Mileage: 200 - 300 km
    Maximum load: 270 Kg
    Recharging time: 4 hours (Mains connector)
    Recarge: 3 minutes (Air station)

    A spacious car with seats which can face different directions. The vehicle�s design is based on the needs of a typical family.


    Airbag, air conditioning, 6 seats.
    Dimensions: 3.84m, 1.72m, 1.75m
    Weight: 750 kg
    Maximum speed: 110 kmh
    Mileage: 200 - 300 km
    Max load: 500 Kg
    Recharge time: 4 hours (Mains connector)
    Recharge time: 3 minutes (Air station)
    The MDI Group

    The MDI Group is headed by Guy Negre, a former Formula One engineer. MDI is a small, family-controlled company, founded in Luxembourg but now located at Carros, near Nice (southern France) where Guy and Cyril Negre, together with their technical team, have developed a new engine technology with the purpose of economising energy and respect severe ecological requirements -- at competitive costs.

  2. A pic of the donk...

  3. Yes, but will it run a subwoofer????
  4. Too bad it's so god damn ugly.

    EDIT: Why do green car companies want to make such ugly cars? People will be less inclined to purchase them. I am not saying they should all look like sports cars, just well normal.

    I would feel like a thunderbird in that!
  5. you watch....they will find a way to charge for air.

    but looks otherwise cool...appart from the looks of course :p
  6. Excellent point.
    I feel it may be due to that the engineers, brilliant they may be at the mechanical concept, have no idea about taste.
  7. Wonder how a similar donk would go on a 2 wheeled velocipede.
    Might be interesting.
  8. Completely separate to the vehicle, this makes me wonder at the efficacy of compressed air expansion as a means of storing energy through night-time for a solar power plant.

  9. yes they make these cars damn ugly so people are less inclined to buy them. why? because the oil companies have there piece on the game board. and this sorrt of technology has been in development for more than 10 yrs ots really probably something like 20. but it had to be put off cos theres still money to be made with oil
  10. Not so much charge for air - but air doesn't compress itself. Some source of power is still needed to compress the air they're filled with in the first place. And while I guess you can say the cars themselves are non-polluting, that process is going to use some sort of energy source... and likely as not a fossil fuel one in the short term.

    It maybe has some potential for reducing smog in cities, maybe, and it's also easier to sequester CO2 from big compression plants than from individual vehicles, but like all such promotions the case is way over-sold by harping on about the non-polluting nature of the vehicles and just hoping people don't wonder where the compressed air comes from...

    I hate debunking (or adding a touch of reality to) these things, 'cos I'd love it to be true, but hype and white lies are just going to jade people to greener modes of transport rather than convince them to use them.
  11. Unless something has changed radically recently, I don't think it's very good. I haven't got figures to hand, but I did see some a while ago, in relation to compressed air rail locomotives (which have been around for 100+ years for use in high explosion risk/low pollution tolerance environments), which suggested that air doesn't store much energy kg for kg.

    However, if the engine design takes this into account, I can see the attraction of air. Apart from the inherent issues with any pressure vessel, it's a relatively safe working fluid, being neither toxic nor flammable, and the technology to both compress and store it in bulk quantities is well developed.

    Job creation scheme by providing foot pumps to the unemployed?:grin:

    Seriously though, my understanding is that, in many Indian cities (and cities worldwide, come to that), the outstanding environmental concern for the average bod is air quality rather than CO2. In that case, zero tailpipe emission vehicles make sense on a local level. Any incidental benefits resulting from centralised energy consumption are a bonus rather than the main game.

    But yes, your point is taken and I agree that much of the misinformation about such "green" vehicle technologies pisses me off as well. Trouble is, much of the target audience is sufficiently technically illiterate that both dishonest boosters and lazy journalists will continue to get away with it indefinitely.
  12. At what energy efficiency can air be compressed? That is, how efficient is compressed air as a battery?

    There's a bunch of these designs going around, in fact there's someone in the UK I think making a sort of flatbed platform that you can stick whatever body you want on top of.

    I think they had a small plug-in air compressor unit so you could recharge at home, or do it in one big squirt from a petrol station or whatever with the big-arse compressor gear.

    It's not a bad idea at all, I'm just wondering how much energy you lose in the process, given that battery-electrics are about 90% efficient from the power grid to the wheels.
  13. aircar.
    So simple that even a child can work out the system....
  14. Jeez, Ugly!

    When they make green cars they should just take existing cars, rip the innards out, and use the body and then it would look like a car, not a.......thing.But then if they could do that they could just make these look like normal cars to start with.... wow they're just so damn bad looking.....

  15. Totaly agree....
  16. I don't car if the car is bland, but they seriously seem to be trying way to hard to stand out.

    Advertise and make a nice simple designed car. If you stick to what people are used to, then you aren't going to scare off many potential buyers.
    Kinda like giving a granny death metal.
  17. Oddly, that's almost a 'plus', at least when we're talking about the green-transport movement.

    Who wants to blow a hojillion dollars on a hybrid car which looks like a boring and cheap low-end conventional car (eg: Hybrid Civic), when you can openly show to the world, "I spent a hojillion dollars on a hybrid, I care about the environment!" by buying the distinctive-shaped Prius instead?
  18. Now that's art! I love it! especially the "solar thing" :LOL:
  19. [/quote]

    You're compressor pic reminds me of

  20. Nice pic. That's what these 'debunkers' don't take into account. Yes, energy ALWAYS comes from somewhere. But using a system like this means ANY improvement in efficiency or 'greeness' of electric/compressed air etc will benefit the WHOLE FLEET of cars, IMMEDIATELY!

    EDIT: sorry I client turned up as I was writing it, so rushed it :LOL:

    Yes I do mean that any improvements in electricity generation have an impact immediately on the entire fleet on these types of cars. Also if people generate green energy off-grid it's laso immediately beneficial and something they can do by themselves.