Compressed-air car.

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bbctol
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Compressed-air car.

Postby bbctol » Wed Mar 21, 2007 12:21 am UTC

A brief disclaimer: I have no idea how the fuck this thing works, or even can possibly work.
Now, here we go. The Compressed-Air powered Car! New from India's Tata automobile plants, it runs on compressed air. So there's no pollution.

Let me say that again. It runs on goddamn COMPRESSED AIR.
But it also is made out of fiberglass, and glued, not welded. And it's filled with a massive computer system that gives you, oh, internet access, for one. In a car. And let me just repeat that it runs on air.

Am I nuts, or is this mad cool? (by the way, I'm probably nuts, so please say so if I am)

EDIT: I just read this as "Compressed air-car". Which means nothing, but sounds cool. Curse you, xkcd!

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Postby Jesse » Wed Mar 21, 2007 12:25 am UTC

That is so goddamn cool. If it weren't for congestion problems I foresee in the future I'd be tempted to learn to drive.

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Postby hyperion » Wed Mar 21, 2007 8:01 am UTC

but how does the air get compressed in the first place? if anything, this car CAUSES more pollution, since they compressing-uncompressing system couldn't possibly be 100% efficient. the pollution may not come from the car, but it comes from the electrical power station, or the petrol powered air compressor.

useless, but cool
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Postby Jesse » Wed Mar 21, 2007 9:14 am UTC

I don't care if it really works, it's good enough to fool the mass population and I can pretend to be green in front of them.

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Postby Toeofdoom » Wed Mar 21, 2007 9:31 am UTC

It tells you how in the article. If that actually does work efficiently and stuff, thats awesome. I mean, petrol powered cars aren't exactly that efficient anyway.
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Postby AngryRobot » Wed Mar 21, 2007 9:57 am UTC

Is it just me or do all of these cars that are meant to deliver us from the need of petrol all look like crud? besides car manufacturers will try n prevent these for as long as they can, i work for one i know that they make too much with parts alone to make these simple cars. Also all these "cars" arnt gonna appeal to alot of people, i wouldnt buy one, just like i wouldnt buy one of those smart cars. we need to get normal cars with these features, italian job (latest one) they couldnt take combustion engines into underground so they turned the mini's into electric mini's, thats what we need! Cool tech in normal cars not weirdo ones!

Also dont make me loose my job fixing cars :wink:
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Postby Hawknc » Wed Mar 21, 2007 10:40 am UTC

I've had reservations about the MiniCATs before, mostly about their efficiency - compressing air is not the most efficient of tasks. If those stats are true, though, it's a very impressive alternative to the currently rather expensive electric vehicles and even the low-emission Smart cars (less than 100gCO2/km for the diesel variant). Sure as hell blows hydrogen out of the water, which I'm all for. ;) I'd like to see more stats on it before I go praising it too much, though.
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Postby aldimond » Wed Mar 21, 2007 10:51 am UTC

AngryRobot wrote:Is it just me or do all of these cars that are meant to deliver us from the need of petrol all look like crud? besides car manufacturers will try n prevent these for as long as they can, i work for one i know that they make too much with parts alone to make these simple cars. Also all these "cars" arnt gonna appeal to alot of people, i wouldnt buy one, just like i wouldnt buy one of those smart cars. we need to get normal cars with these features, italian job (latest one) they couldnt take combustion engines into underground so they turned the mini's into electric mini's, thats what we need! Cool tech in normal cars not weirdo ones!

Also dont make me loose my job fixing cars :wink:


I basically agree with this sentiment. Often there is a project where a new drivetrain technology seems like it should be the focus of a car and the car also harbors a whole bunch of other concepts like all the crazy electronic gadgetry here. The same applies to all kinds of technology demos. They go way beyond the necessary scope and you can't separate the baby from the bathwater.

What I gathered from the article I read about it plus Slashdot comments was that storing energy to power a car via compressed air is already happening in Mexico City (getting the pollution source out of the dense urban center, just like batteries or fuel cells would), and that this car is a generally futuristic concept vehicle by an Indian company that is licensing the compressed-air tech from the company that developed it. If this drivetrain tech ever hits the market in general it will probably do so first in pretty standard-looking vehicles, just like what's happening with hybrids now.
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Postby Hawknc » Wed Mar 21, 2007 11:54 am UTC

You have to account for different tastes - this car was designed in France and is being sold in India. The design is very Smartesque and not dissimilar to a lot of European compacts. Eventually Negre will licence the technology out and other people will make different style cars (as long as they're lightweight, like this one).
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Postby gmalivuk » Wed Mar 21, 2007 3:24 pm UTC

Hawknc wrote:You have to account for different tastes - this car was designed in France and is being sold in India. The design is very Smartesque and not dissimilar to a lot of European compacts. Eventually Negre will licence the technology out and other people will make different style cars (as long as they're lightweight, like this one).


Yeah, I was thinking along those same lines. What I've noticed (from pictures as well as visits) of most hypercongested areas is that the proportion of "nonstandard" vehicles is typically a lot higher. A regular-looking car may be a more effective symbol of prosperity, but how much does that continue to matter when you're stuck in three hours of traffic every time you leave your house? Bicycles and tiny cars and golf carts and rickshaws can weave around traffic jams much more effectively, and are thus more appealing in many places than they would be in the US or, especially, somewhat "underpopulated" places as Canada and Australia.
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Postby bbctol » Wed Mar 21, 2007 8:01 pm UTC

Yeah, I still wonder about how efficient their air-compressing techniques are. Because they sound very much as if they would be far more polluting than a gasoline burning car.

But who cares? It runs on air!

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Postby Peshmerga » Wed Mar 21, 2007 8:11 pm UTC

Wouldn't it be awfully prone to blowing up? What happens when the canister breaks?
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Postby Hawknc » Thu Mar 22, 2007 12:14 am UTC

The air spontaneously combusts, taking out a city block.


It leaks AIR, man! What did you think would happen? :P I'm not sure what you mean by blowing up - it can't make any sort of fireball because...well, it's air for one thing, and there's no sparks or fire or even much in the way of high-voltage lines (most of the car is controlled using a wireless system). I suppose the tank could explode, Mythbusters style, if you overfilled it, but in that case it's really not difficult to design for failure and have a point that would break first, in a safe direction, so that the air simply leaked instead of exploding the tank. More than that, you could put a stupidly simple pressure valve on it to release some of the air if it detects a dangerously high level; you could have strain gauges on key points around the tank to monitor the stresses; you could use composites (which they probably are) to design for stresses in a specific direction...what I'm trying to get at is that pressure tanks are really really simple to design, and if all you're holding in it is air, the possibility of it rapidly decompressing is very very slim. It's far safer than a petrol or hydrogen car (except, possibly, where the hydrogen is stored in a solid matrix of some description).
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Postby Peshmerga » Thu Mar 22, 2007 12:19 am UTC

I just had this awesome image in my head where the canister would get knicked by something and compressed air would jet out, sending the car into random high velocity flight.
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Postby Jesse » Thu Mar 22, 2007 12:20 am UTC

I like Pesh's suggestion best. I say we go with that.

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Postby Hawknc » Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:36 am UTC

I second that motion, actually.
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Postby Solt » Fri Mar 30, 2007 8:09 am UTC

HYPERiON wrote:but how does the air get compressed in the first place? if anything, this car CAUSES more pollution, since they compressing-uncompressing system couldn't possibly be 100% efficient. the pollution may not come from the car, but it comes from the electrical power station, or the petrol powered air compressor.

useless, but cool



Pretty much anything is more efficient than a gasoline engine. These days the best efficiency we can get out of an internal combustion engine is maybe 40%. It still works though because gasoline has a TREMENDOUS amount of energy, about 131 MegaJoules per gallon, for only a couple dollars. By contrast a rechargable battery that holds just 3.6 MegaJoules will cost you on the order of $300 and weigh maybe a dozen pounds (granted, those 3.6 MJ only costs you about 10 cents to refill in the US in the form of electricity).

BUT, electric motors can approach 90% efficiency. So the route from say solar(evaporation)-> hydroelectric->air compression by motor->driving car by compressed air causes less pollution than mining->internal combustion of gasoline because the processes involved are so much more efficient.


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