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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Compressed Air Cars - A potential revolution.

One of the greatest contributors to urban air pollution is  the gaseous exhaust from passenger cars. Majority of cars in the world run on petrol or diesel and the combustion of these gases add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere along with other suspended particulate matter.

A french company - MDI based in Luxemborg has come out with a technology that makes cars run on compressed air. The piston in the engine is moved by the streams of high speed gases that is released from a tank that has air held at high pressure.

The company claims that a single filling of the tank will cost Euro 2 and for a single filling the car can run 125 miles or 200 kilometres before refuelling. This brings cost per kilometer to below Rs 0.75 per kilometre in Indian terms, much cheaper than petrol.

In India the technology has been licensed to Tata Motors. Earlier the company had said that it would launch a car on this technology in 2013, but till today no car has been launched. News reports now say that in this year Tata Airpod would be launched in Hawaii this year.

The YouTube video shown below shows how the compressed air car works and about the company MDI.

If the power for air compression is generated by a renewable source the car becomes a truly green car. The operational costs of petrol and diesel cars are much higher and maintenance is also relatively much more costly since fossil fuel is used, its combustion leads to accumulation of carbon in its tail pipe.

However in case of Compressed Air Vehicle, there is no combustion in the engine at all. So there is no question of the engine heating up too much except for the heat that maybe caused by friction between different parts.

The body of the engine would be light and it would be made of a composite of  Fibreglass and polyurethane sheets.

Sometime in 2009 Tata Motors launched the world's lowest cost car Tata Nano in India. It was meant for the Indian middle class customers, however it was launched at a time when oil prices were very very high. Also it is a petrol car and petrol is much more expensive than diesel in India. Along with it certain branding issues actually didn't help Tata Nano achieve a high level of sales.

If Tata is able to somehow make a compressed air version of Tata Nano , its sales will surely zoom ahead, if not for environmental reason , the fact that  its low operational costs will ensure good sales of the car in this country.

The Airpod as shown below looks very similar to Tata Nano.


The tanks in which the compressed air is held is made up of carbon fibre.

If successful this compressed air cars from MDI will go a long way in reducing pollution in cities. 

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