Monday, November 3, 2008

The Air Car A Not-So-Distant Reality

India's Tata motors is developing a car that can be run on compressed air. Instead of an internal combustion engine, which ignites fuel above a a piston in order to create movement and drive a shaft, this vehicle would use compressed air to perform the same task. The present air tank holds enough compressed air for a sixty mile trip. After that, the compressor can be recharged either via electricity, or by the use of a small combustion engine that can burn gasoline, diesel, bio-diesel, or vegetable oil.

There is another ingenious means for traveling at highway speeds. Rather than using an internal combustion engine for continually compressing air, fuel is burned in a burner of sorts and the heat is used to expand the mass of the air left in the compressor. Using compressed air, of course, leaves zero emissions. The small compressor motor, being used intermittently, and the fuel burner for air expansion would give off very little pollution. This system should result in fuel consumption around 106 miles per gallon of fuel, highway! It is also possible that if they build enough plug-in stations (or if people stay around home and plug in consistently), there would be no need for fuel at all. Suddenly, the $20,000.00 price tag doesn't seem so bad after all.

Once this technology has gone into production, we can rest assured others will develop it further. Larger compressor capacities and larger, faster (and prettier) vehicles may be a possibility. Soon, smog may be a thing of the past (but don't hold your breath).

Picture courtesy of MDI via Yahoo News.

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