It looks like an Indian car company is trying to commercialize a car that uses a compressed air engine. They claim:
- Costs about 1.50 Euros ($2.20) to refill the compressed air tank.
- Can run for 125 miles before refueling.
- Can reach speeds up to 68 MPH.
Looks pretty darn impressive.
What psi do you think would be needed in the tank to reach these levels of performance? Why isn’t this getting more hype?
A 79 gallon tank at 4,400 psi. This is a LOT of potential energy to have underneath you in a high speed collision. What does the company say to skeptics?
“Compressed air tanks have already been tested safe by one of our partners EADS(AIRBUS). This company’s reputation in the aeronautical field is indisputable, and they have been proven in a thorough way the reliability of our tanks. What’s more, the compressed air does not present any risk of explosion. Countless tests have been carried out in the most extreme conditions (gun shoots, resistance to fire…) to guarantee passenger safety in every possible condition. The high pressure tanks have been developed using a similar technology as those used in natural gas vehicles and by firefighters. All are produced with carbon fiber over plastic.
The tanks that MDI puts in its vehicles are similar to those already in use in natural gas busses in Germany and also other countries.”
Believe them? I’ll let you decide for yourself. It should be noted that this car has not passed US safety standards, only European. Not sure if there is much of a difference.
Maintaining Peak Power:
A question they don’t seem to answer on their website is how the same amount of power is available when the tank is full as compared to almost empty. Since the tank’s volume is constant, the pressure will lower as the air is used in the engine. This lower pressure would result in decreased engine torque. Any ideas as to how they might be working aroung this issue?
NEW (2/13): The Hydristor
This design is being developed for both new installation in cars and retrofits. Instead of a conventional hybrid, which regenerates energy from braking into a battery, this system would store the shaft power of braking as compressed air. The device, i would assume, is essentially a compresser that can work at any load level. This design also has appeal for the grid: if compressed air ever became a realistic way of transporting energy, this device would act as the transformer to convert to appropriate power levels.
As this article suggests, if wind turbines could store their energy in large compressed air tanks instead of being converted directly into electricity, it would help mitigate the problem of inconsistent power from wind.
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