Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Air Car -- Can Technology Save The World?

America is never going to extricate itself from the Middle East until we dramatically reduce our need for "Texas Tea" and that won't happen until we get away from the gasoline powered internal combustion engine. Sadly, the technologies being developed by American companies, biofuel based, hydrogen and electric, are either environmentally unacceptable, expensive, or have limited range. The video below features two foreign inventors who, with their innovative companies, are working on compressed air technology. The French entry into the air car market is on the verge of widespread introduction in Europe. More on the technology after the break.

What is the point of this post? Where is my morning serving of horse race politics and Republicans making asses out of themselves? Well, thousands of young Americans are and will continue to die in the Middle East. Even Alan Greenspan admits the fighting in Iraq is over oil. What if an American president could look at a Saudi king or an Iranian president threatening to raise oil prices to $160 per barrel and say "so what?"

The following is from the MDI corporation's website.

MDI has developed a high performance compressed air technology. When it is compared to traditional gasoline powered engines, MDI´s engine is far superior in terms of energy used and thermodynamics.

An overview of the air car

MDI's MiniCat

The technology that MDI vehicles use is not new, in fact it had been around for years. Compressed air technology allows for engines that are both non polluting and economical. After ten years of research and development, MDI is prepared to introduce its clean vehicles onto the market. Unlike electric or hydrogen powered vehicles, MDI vehicles are not expensive and do not have a limited driving range. MDI cars are affordable and have a performance rate that stands up to current standards. To sum it up, they are non-expensive cars that do not pollute and are easy to get around cities in.

Two technologies have been developed to meet different needs:

* Single energy compressed air engines
* Dual energy compressed air plus fuel engines

The single energy engines will be available in both Minicats and Citycats. These engines have been conceived for city use, where the maximum speed is 50 km/h and where MDI believes polluting will soon be prohibited. It is already possible to see examples of this in some places, such as London, where if you want to enter the city center with gasoline powered vehicles, you must pay a fee.

The duel energy engine, on the other hand, has been conceived as much for the city as the open road and will be available in all MDI vehicles. The engines will work exclusively with compressed air while it is running under 50 km/h in urban areas. But when the car is used outside urban areas at speeds over 50 km/h, the engines will switch to fuel mode. The engine will be able to use gasoline, gas oil, bio diesel, gas, liquidized gas, ecological fuel, alcohol, etc.

Both engines will be available with 2, 4 and 6 cylinders, When the air tanks are empty the driver will be able to switch to fuel mode, thanks to the car's on board computer.
Former Mercedes Benz experimental engineer Angelo di Pietro is developing his rotary compressed air engine in Melborne, Australia. Theoretically the rotary design is more efficient than the more conventional MDI design.

Pietro's cart

Of course air technology would require us to invest a lot of money improving electric power generation. We need to do that anyway.