Thursday, January 5, 2012

Compressed Air-Powered Car Enigine
How does it work?

On my previous post I tackled about the up coming release of MDI and TATA Motor's Air-Powered vehicle, the MiniCAT, this year. You were probably in disbelief of the idea that your vehicle can be powered by air from your surroundings. Well I also asked the same question when I first heard about it. How does a compressed air-powered engine work?
MDI's AirPod One and its compressed air engine, at MDI's headquarters near Nice, France.
Lionel Cirroneau/AP Photo
The Compressed Air-powered Engine (CAE) works with the laws of physics. As the law dictates that unconfined air (gasses) will fill up any given space. That is how the CAE works. But this principle is best seen with a simple inflated balloon and a pin. The balloon's elastic skin contains the air tightly inside it. At the moment you bore a hole on the balloon's surface, using the pin. The air inside the balloon will expand outwards with such energy that the balloon explodes.

Compressing air into a small space builds up pressure, this is way of storing energy. When the air is released, it expands with such energy to to work. The expansion of pressurized air has the same characteristic with fuel combustion. Both moves the engine's pistons using the energy generated on expansion or combustion.

One danger seen with using compressed air is in the event that the air tank is punctured and pressurized air is released dramatically. It would be far more dangerous than a leaking fuel tank. However, the designers of the Air-Car has already seen through this danger so we should be expecting the Air-Car's tanks to be made of Carbon fibre.

Facts about the Air-Car concept:

1936 Air-Car
The concept of an Air-Car may be so good to be true and high-tech. But it is actually not a new concept, and in fact the original Air-Car was invented way back the 1930s. Yes, a real vehicle was invented back then and not just a concept. However, it was shelved and was never commercially produced. It was in 1990s, 50 years later, when Guy Nègre (CEO of MDI) started working to improve the technology. From 2007 to 2010, they have been attempting to launch this technology to the streets. But did not have any success, this year they will again try and carve their way through history and hopefully the MiniCAT will be launched within the year.

Let me hear from you. Suggestions for green technology  topics would be great.

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  1. Hi! This is superb like Nano. Small Car Like Nano and air compressed driven cars are for small family like to drive safer, short distance, slow speed (max. 0f 40-50). Nano was framed for small family, who rides with parent, two or three children in one motorbike which is not safe for the riding family and for the public on road. But some foolish I can say GREEDY people expect more from small cars, which has smaller engines. People should understand the capacity, and purpose of small cars and whether it suits their expectations or requirements before gping for it.

    1. Nice point there Nandakumar. This air car is truly for families and simple people. Let us just hope this will go into production soon.


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greenTech finds blogging as a way of passing time. With the interest of bringing green technologies to the Philippines. He aims to gather and share as much information about these technology.