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Worlds First Air Powered Car coming in 2012


Genie
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  • VT Supporter

Looks very impressive...

Tata Motors and ex-Formula One engineer Guy N. from a Luxembourg MDI have come up with a car that runs on air. Dubbed the Tata Mini CAT, or Air Car, the environmentally-friendly car uses no petrol, requires little maintenance and has a range of around 300km between re-gassing. Tata hopes to have it on the market in India in 2012.

The way the Air Car is propelled is fairly straight forward. There are two tanks of compressed air which turn an almost-conventional piston motor and drive system. The system is said to propel the small van to a top speed of around 105km/h.

Tata says the Air Car stores enough compressed air to offer around 300km worth of motoring. Users will then be able to re-gas the car at certain filling stations that are equipped with special tanks of compressed air, in around three to four minutes for around $2. It will also come with its own generator pack which can be used at home capable of re-gassing the tanks in around four hours.

The vehicle itself is a six-seat mini van using two 340-litre carbon fibre gas tanks which are filled with air to 4350psi. It also uses a tubular chassis design with fibreglass panels that are glued together, helping to keep weight down.

All the accessories and in-car equipment are powered by a microprocessor. From the exhaust the only thing that is emitted is air, of around zero to minus 15 degrees in temperature.

Tata is aiming to release the Mini CAT Air Car in India next year with prices starting at around $12,700.

Tata-Mini-CAT-Air-Car-1.jpg

Tata-Mini-CAT-Air-Car-3.jpg

How will the oil companies respond to this?

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  • VT Supporter

Like anything, I imagine the first cars using the technology probably won't be much good.

But if it's something that can be developed further and improved upon then it could be very very exciting.

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sounds groovy, excuse my ignorance of sciency-tech things but are there safety issues with running it on air? like exploding tanks etc?

You're probably right but would it be any more dangerous than driving round with 100 litres of petrol onboard?

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I have no idea, that's why I asked :lol:

I suppose it depends how close any ignitiony type source is to the actual motor and the tanks. But assuming that there are various safety tests to pass before this is let on the market, it sounds like a groovy idea all the same.

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Does it sound like this when it's moving

PFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cos that's the noise compressed air makes when I force it through my lips/ass

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  • VT Supporter

For a start it's not some massive breakthrough in motoring. I'm quite sure I saw a team on Scrapheap Challenge years ago make what was ultimately a pretty standard car engine run on compressed air with little fiddling, for example. It's effectively the same principle that a steam engine works on, except you replace a boiling vessel with a compressed air tank. And has similar problems. Pressure vessels are very dangerous and have to be maintained and checked thoroughly, but it's not something that people encounter day to day unlike, say, getting their engine serviced, or doing basic motoring maintenance. People get cars as they are now, and they like them.

Secondly, I'd bet it has some drawbacks. 65mph, for example, is not flexible enough for your average motorist the world over, and I'd bet they'd struggle to improve that much. And so on.

And lastly, and most importantly, it's big oil you're talking about. They know how to run this market. They also know that they're running on borrowed time in the long term, hence why they've all started to invest in alternative energy, because they know that that is the future of their business. If air compressor cars where the future, it's such a simple thing, that these guys would have been all over it already.

If these turns out to be 'a thing', it'll only be big in the emerging markets/poor markets. The big markets, the developed world, will go with hydrogen fuel cells.

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I agree with you to a degree but there is a huge difference between making the theory a reality like on Scrapheap Challenge and making a production version available to the general public. I dare say India has more relaxed laws regarding safety than Europe / US but they do still have crash and vehicle occupancy saftey standards.

Although TATA are not that well known over here they are a huge vehicle manufacturer with massive resources. If they can bring this idea on several generations then it should make the big oil companies sit up and take notice. I applaud them for having a go at this. IMO hydrogen fuel cells have more things against them being a success than a compressed air motor.

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The big markets, the developed world, will go with hydrogen fuel cells.

This is my guess as well. The only big thing missing is a simpler, less energy-demanding way of getting the Hydrogen off whatever it's stuck on. It's not something we'll run out of.

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The thing is, you still need to use power to run a generator to compress the air. So you might as well just run an electric car and cut out a middle step of compressing air then uncompressing it in the engine.

The main advantage seems to be that you can fill the car faster than you can charge an electric one.

Having a look around on the internet, it seems they are having problems preventing the engine freezing as the air drops in temperature massively when it expands.

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Problems are normal when engineering a car. I'm working on a project that'll be launched in 4 months time and that has some proetty big issues still, all will be resolved in time. TATA have the resources to really invest in this if they believe in it.

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The big markets, the developed world, will go with hydrogen fuel cells.

This is my guess as well. The only big thing missing is a simpler, less energy-demanding way of getting the Hydrogen off whatever it's stuck on. It's not something we'll run out of.

Indeed. I seem to remember reading that at the moment they were looking at ways of not having to 'refine' hydrogen to then sell at the pump, instead having the fuel cell do the 'refining' itself, i.e. getting the hydrogen out of whatever material it's currently part of.

Which would also make the process of creating and maintaining an infrastructure for filling stations potentially far simpler.

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