Future air cars are actually more than a lot of hot
air. There is actually substance to the claim that air cars are
a future possibility. In fact, several future air cars have been
demonstrated as prototype vehicles now.
PHEV top, MDI CityCAT bottom
For instance, MDI air cars are a reality. MDI has three different
models, the MiniCAT (Compressed Air Technology), CityCAT and OneCAT
are vehicles set to go into production sometime in 2007 and be
in showrooms as early as summer 2008.
The first MDI air cars will likely be sold in India under the name
Tata, produced by India's largest automaker in conjunction with
MDI. The MDI engines have 4 two-stage pistons and a dual-energy
system to propel the vehicles.
The MDI cars contain carbon fiber tanks, which are filled up with
4,500 psi of compressed air that turn the pistons. Since no infrastructure
is yet in place to compress air to this degree at local filling
stations, the MDI air cars come with their own onboard compressors.
The second company of note that is developing future air cars is
the Energine Corporation. The Energine Corporation has already demonstrated
a prototype parallel pneumatic-hybrid electric vehicle, which they
are calling the PHEV car (Of course, the plug-in hybrid electric
vehicle people are also using PHEV for their acronym as well).
Nonetheless, the Energine PHEV car uses both a 2-stroke pneumatic
piston engine and an electric motor to power the vehicle. The Energine
PHEV contains a 4,350 psi compressed air tank and can achieve a
top speed of 72mph.
Since air cars are zero emissions vehicles and there has been a
lot of public emphasis on finding solutions to global warming and
greenhouse gases lately, it is likely that the development of future
air cars will continue for quite some time. Look for more manufacturers
to jump on the future air car wagon as the technology is relatively
simple and there is high public interest in these vehicles now.
Written by Kevin Lepton