Sep 15, 2009

How Would You Like Your Next Car to Run on Air?



Compressed air. That's what fuels this teensy mini at left, as well as the larger "taxi" pictured below. And zero emissions—no stinky tailpipes on this futuristic car. Plus, it goes for only about $12,700. What's the catch? Well, there are two: "The Air Car," as it's called, will be available only in India at first; and the car parts are held together with glue. Sounds like a sticky deal, but hey, the technology is worth looking into.

Designed by a Formula One race car engineer, The Air Car uses forced air to propel its pistons (instead of internal combustion, which uses a mixture of
gasoline and oxygen to make the mini-explosions that propel pistons). Yes, compressing air does require energy. But how much energy? And how does the energy usage compare to an internal combustion car?

The car manufacturer, Moteur Developpment International (MDI), a Belgian firm, claims the cost to fill the air-fuel tank will be about $2.00 to $2.50. Yes, less than the cost of one gallon's worth of gasoline would fill 'er up. And one fill up will propel the car 125 miles. $2.50 for 125 miles. Sign me up! Need to look into the glue construction, though, that's a bit weird to me. Naturally, US automakers are appalled by the possibility and swear never to allow such a vehicle through their gates. BUT, if The Air Car is a smashing success (sorry!) overseas, won't demand
domestically force automakers to reconsider? And perhaps the Japanese, the Germans, or other irresistibly powerful auto-making countries will craft the technology into something better suited to an American market (no glue, puhleeze!).

Stay tuned because this is more than a lot of hot air. And by the way, this is NOT a hoax. The Air Car does exist and is ready to roll—check this out:

How a compressed-air engine works

The manufacturer, MDI

Air car versus electric car

Air car ready for mass production

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