The Air Car
What with rising fuel prices and the need to reduce carbon emissions, the development of a car run by compressed air seems like a very good idea. India’s Tata Motors thinks so too and is backing the project. It seems there is also interest in Australia , supported by the Victorian and Federal governments. Some of you may have already read about this car, developed by a former FI racing engineer, Guy Negre, of Moteur Development International.
The car will be driven by compressed air stored in carbon-fibre tanks- the type used by deep-sea divers. The tanks, built into the chassis, can be filled with air from a compressor in just three minutes at an air-station equipped servo. This is much quicker than a battery car. Alternatively, it can be plugged into the mains for four hours and an on-board compressor will do the job. For long journeys the compressed air driving the pistons can be boosted by a fuel burner which heats the air so it expands and increases the pressure on the pistons. The burner can use all kinds of liquid fuel and can get the equivalent of 120 miles per gallon when fuel is needed.
There are skeptics as to the vehicles’ chances of success in countries such as the US but it will be interesting to see how this car compares with Tata’s own NANO Car. But in a country like India where the car market is growing rapidly and there is considerable city traffic congestion, its encouraging to see initiatives being taken to use renewable energy in low cost cars.