Skip to comments.Airpod, the Car That Runs on Air
Posted on 08/20/2012 3:29:40 AM PDT by Renfield
With gas prices rising and the massive drought making ethanol a tough sell as a gas alternative, India's Tata Motors has hit on the perfect time to debut the Airpod, a small urban vehicle that, as its name suggests, runs on air. If you don't know much about how regular cars use fuel, natural gas or, alternatively, hydrogen is compressed in a pressurized tank, hence the 'pssf' sound when you unscrew the gas cap. Now think about air rifles. If you had the bad luck to grow up with an older brother obsessed with using you as a target (or perhaps you were that older sibling yourself), you know that the air we breathe seems harmless enough, but when compressed it packs a punch. A gun is one thing, but is it enough of a punch to power a car?
Tata thinks so. They enlisted the help of MDI, an engineering company that's been developing zero pollution engines since the early 90s. The Airpod has a 175 liter storage tank of compressed air that you refill with an external pump or with an electric motor that can 'refuel' the car while its in motion. This first model reaches a top speed of 43 mph (70 km/h), making it best suited for transporting people or small goods around city streets. One tank lasts over 125 miles (200 km) and takes only two minutes to fill up again at an average price of just one euro per fill.
The Airpod has three seats for adults plus a smaller fourth seat for a child. There's even room for luggage. It only has three wheels, two doors and no steering wheel. Instead, you drive it with a joystick. MDI has the public and service sector in mind, naming runners, messengers and artisans as its target market. The Airpod, which is currently in its second phase of testing, is just one of five models MDI is developing. They're also working on a truck, sedan, convertible and bus version. Tata and MDI expects to release the Airpod commercially in the near future for $10,000.
The basic idea isn’t too bad. Although I expect that the NHTSA will nix it because of the high pressure tank that would go boom if there were an accident.
Some designer wasn’t very worried about blind spots or head on collisions. It’s a Sponge Bob Dustbuster with a glass jaw, the merits of its propulsion or the lack of them notwithstanding.
Compressed air is one of the most inefficient ways to store and transmit energy. There is a great amount of energy lost through heat when compressing air. I’m sure this same car run on a 2-stoke engine would be more efficient.
Does this car come with a flower for the lapel that squirts water, large over sized shoes and a squeeze horn?
Old idea taken from the locomotives that used to run in mine railroads (even compressed steam would have been too dangerous). Compressed-air cars were tried, like electric cars, at the turn of the last century. What next, a revival of steam-powered automobiles too?
43 mph = 69.2018 km/h...and its not very fast.
I agree with you that compressed air is a very inefficient energy storage medium. But since the objective for India is to get air pollution under control in their cities I dont think that a 2-stroke engine is the way to go. 2-strokes are very polluting because of the unburned fuel that is exhausted on each cycle of the piston.
2-strokes are inefficient and dirty compared to 4-strokes but do have a power to weight advantage.
“an electric motor that can ‘refuel’ the car while its in motion”
Bunk. How does it manage that? By trailing an extension cord?
The basic scientific illiteracy of today’s reporters is breathtaking.
Probably carries batteries to power the electric compressor to refill the air tank and an air powered generator to recharge the batteries. Excuse me now, I have to go and feed my flying pigs.
Actually, it is a very inefficient method. Compressed air is a horribly inefficient method of energy storage. Too much energy goes into heating of the air during compression. That energy is lost.
I saw the picture and said to myself, this must be in India. I’ll bet there are guys selling perpetual motion machines there too. They are about 50 years behind us, even with the “public gullibility” thing.
Looks like a foot ball helmet with knobs on the sides.
If this thing from India, it runs on coal. The coal is just burned someplace else.
Compressed air is the energy storage medium, not the energy source. Using a storage medium, like a battery or a compressed air tank, shifts the point of use of the energy, but it does not eliminate the need to burn coal. And, given the inefficiencies of transmitting electricity, running a generator, compressing the air and running the air piston engine, you probably have to burn a lot of coal to move this little death-trap down the road.
This thing is about as green as poorly tuned 1965 Chevy Suburban towing a horse trailer.