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Compressed Air Cars

by Brett M. Christensen

Outline:
Email claims that a car being developed in India runs on compressed air and can travel up to 125 miles for only 2 dollars.


Brief Analysis:
Prototypes of such vehicles do exist but it is unclear when or if such cars will be available to consumers

Example:
Subject: MADE IN INDIA Compressed air car!!

MADE IN INDIA , NOW, THAT’S A SWITCH. IMAGINE RUNNING A CAR ON COMPRESSED AIR @ 125 MILES FOR $2

AMAZING AIR CAR!

The Compressed Air Car developed by Motor Development International (MDI) Founder Guy Negre might be the best thing to have happened to the motor engine in years.

The $12,700 CityCAT, one of the planned Air Car models, can hit 68 mph and has a range of 125 miles. It will take only a few minutes for the CityCAT to refuel at gas stations equipped with custom air compressor uni ts. MDI says it should cost only around $2 to fill the car up with 340 liters of air!

The Air Car will be starting production relatively soon, thanks to India ‘s TATA Motors. Forget corn! There’s fuel, there’s renewable fuel, and then there’s user-renewable fuel! What can be better than air?

Check it out yourself and see – What A Cool Car! Enjoy! 🙂

The six-seater taxi should be available in India this year -2008!

Now If We Can Just Get It In The USA !



Detailed Analysis:
According to this email, an innovative new compressed air powered vehicle is currently being developed in India. The information in the message is more or less true, although only prototypes of the cars are currently operational. Such a car is indeed being developed by European company Motor Development International (MDI) in partnership with Indian company Tata Motors. However, it should be noted that Tata Motors has ruled out the launch of such vehicles anytime in the near future:

It was being speculated for a long time that Tata Motors would launch its compressed air car by the end of this year. The company ended all such speculations on Tuesday stating that the compressed air car engine technology is still in its nascent stage and a “launch in near future is ruled out”.

“The technology for an automobile engine that runs on compressed air is still in the development stage and launch of cars fitted with such engines from the Tata Motors stable in the near future is ruled out,” Rajiv Dube, President, Passenger Cars.

MDI’s founder, inventor and entrepreneur, Guy Negre, is responsible for the development of the revolutionary new engine. A 2007 article about the air cars published in Popular Mechanics notes that the air car “uses compressed air, as opposed to the gas-and-oxygen explosions of internal-combustion models, to push its engine’s pistons”.

Popular Mechanics suggests that there are several models planned, including the CityCAT which will sell for around $12,700 and cruises along at a top speed of 68 mph. It is claimed that the CityCAT will be able to travel around 125 miles before it needs to be refuelled at a service station equipped with a custom air compressor unit at a cost of about $2. The car also has a built in compressor unit that uses a normal electricity outlet to refill the air tanks over about 4 hours.

Zero Pollution Motors (ZPM), the US representative for MDI, promises that the vehicles will be available in the United States by 2010. There are also plans to manufacture the air cars in Australia and several other countries.

While reliable reports indicate that such cars are really being developed, many commentators have expressed doubts about the true potential of air cars. Some experts doubt that the cars will really be as cheap and efficient to run as claimed by MDI. A CNN article about the cars notes:

It is possible to power a car with compressed air, but the mileage claim is “at the edge of possibility,” said John Callister, director of the Harvey Kinzelberg Entrepreneurship in Engineering program at Cornell University’s College of Engineering.

He noted that such dramatic fuel efficiency is associated with tiny experimental cars, not bigger mainstream ones.

The article also states:

Another expert expressed concern about the amount of energy it would take to generate the required air pressure: 4,500 pounds per square inch, or more than 120 times the pressure inside the tires of a typical four-door sedan.

“That is above what you normally find even in an industrial setting,” said William Bulpitt, senior research engineer at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Strategic Energy Institute.

“That takes quite a compressor to do. … It takes horsepower to compress the air up to that pressure.”

If you count that energy, it’s hard to believe the car would be that much more efficient than an electric vehicle, Callister said.

Given their lightweight design, some commentators have also raised safety concerns about the vehicles.

Launch dates for the vehicles appear to keep being delayed. Only time will tell when or if such vehicles will actually hit the marketplace and how successful the compressed air driven vehicles would be in the long term.


Last updated: 2nd September 2008
First published: 11th June 2008
By Brett M. Christensen
About Hoax-Slayer

References
An engine which uses air as fuel
106 mpg ‘air car’ creates buzz, questions
World’s First Air-Powered Car: Zero Emissions by Next Summer
Zero Pollution Motors
Air car to call Melbourne home
The Air Car – zero pollution and very low running costs

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