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Air Car’s to hit the roads in 2015 !

Everyone knows the iPod, but do you know about AirPod ?

Growing environmental degradation day by day, has led to the development of green technologies for keeping the mother Earth alive and also making it safer for the generations to come. Automobiles contribute the maximum share of pollution and thus there is a serious need of coming up with clean, safe and efficient technologies. The presence of limited amount of petrol and diesel is making the global automotive industry to think on alternative fuels.

One such concept named ” One CAT Air Car was shown at the New York Motor show in 2008. It was proposed by Motor development International (MDI) , a French Company founded by Guy Negre.  As the name suggests,unlike conventional cars , this vehicle is driven by compressed air. In petrol and diesel engines, on combustion the chemical energy of the fuel is converted into the mechanical energy.Thus, it is the energy from the fuel that drives the piston of the engine. However,  in Air Car the energy of the compressed air is used to drive the engine.

CONCEPT OF AIR CAR:

MDI AirPod AIR CAR
MDI AirPod at Geneva Motor Show, 2009 (Source: wikipedia.org)

Air Car has a compressed air engine which works on the basic principle of using the energy available from compressed air. The compressed air is stored in high pressure tanks or cylinders installed on the vehicle. The cylinders are filled by plugging the compressor for generating high pressure air. The high pressure air drives the piston which result in the rotation of crankshaft and further the power is transferred to the wheels..

The filling of air is similar to the charging of the electric batteries in electric vehicles. This takes time of around two hours for complete filling and can be avoided by installing the compressor in the vehicle itself with a penalty of its weight.The MDI Air Car fills about 90 kg of high pressure air and can give speeds upto 56 kmph . For attaining higher speeds upto 80 kmph, a motor will start the compressor for producing more high pressure air. Pre-heating of the air using for engine drive, increases energy density of air and produces more power.In order to accelerate, a valve is positioned in the cylinder and during accelerator press, the valve allows more amount of air to go into the cylinder for producing more power.

MDI AirPod Engine Bay
MDI AirPod Engine (Source: howstuffworks.com)

On comparison , the amount of energy available in one kg of air and one kg of conventional fuel like petrol or diesel, the air has very less energy. Keeping this in mind , the weight of the vehicle plays an important role . Thus, MDI initially came up with a single seater concept suitable for urban driving. MDI has many range of products to be run by Compressed air, some of which includes the Ai rMulti-Bus (Urban Transport), AirVan (Transport Utilities),Air Transcontainer and AirBom (Waste Collection).

Pros:

The major advantage of Air Car is that the vehicle produces no pollution. The only source of pollution can be during usage of compressor for producing high pressure air and that could also be removed by using in-built solar panels for providing electricity to the compressor. The cost of air is very less when compared to the prices of petrol and diesel which are increasing day by day. Air being an abundant source such vehicles can be significantly effective. The vehicles are every light with aluminum chassis and keeping the weight to be around 900 kg. The small vehicles being compact can easily maneuver and will cause less traffic in the city. The vehicle can be easy parked in very small spaces.

Cons:

The disadvantage of Air Car is that it might not be used for long drives. It is due to the less availability of compressed air pumps and thus would be beneficial to go for urban drives only for initial stages. The prototype has shown to be driven for 120 miles in one complete filling of cylinders. If the vehicle proves out to be more efficient and fruitful, there are strong possibilities for increasing high pressure compressed air pumps.

MDI AirPod at Parking
MDI AirPod in Parking (Source: www.mdi.lu)

In their latest release , MDI( has come up with a prototype of AirPod and is optimized for parking in the city. The doors on the flanks are removed and can be easily parked perpendicularly to the pavement. They have also introduced joy stick for driving in the AirPod and the vehicle is extremely light.

BOTTOM LINE:

In India, TATA Motors will likely go for the production of Air Car. The compressed engines designed and developed by MDI will be integrated in to the TATA Motors vehicles. TATA Motors Air Car is yet to be produced. Major automobile makers are keeping their eye on compressed air vehicle. The market can be understood only after the customer response for the first models of Air Car. Zero Pollution Motors will be producing the AirPod vehicle of MDI and will be on sale by 2nd half of 2015.

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This is Gopal Singh Rathore. I have done my B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering from VIT University, Vellore. I am an auto enthusiast and remain curious to learn about automobiles. I have participated in BAJA SAE INDIA in 2012 and 2013 where I was involved in a team from my college for making an off-road vehicle. I was in the suspension department of the team. I love writing about automobiles and is always curious to learn about them at anytime.