"Zero-pollution" compressed-air car coming to U.S.

Edward Willett @ 28-02-2008


The French-invented Zero-Pollution MDI Air Car, already licensed to a car company in India, is coming to the United States, with the first reservations to be taken within the next couple of months, although it will be 2010 before any cars are delivered. (Via Gizmag.)

The car uses a compressed-air motor developed by MDI International. It’s a four-door, seats six, and boasts a don’t-bother-drag-racing 75 horsepower. It will run up to 35 mph entirely on air; if you want to go faster (up to 90 mph), you have to burn a little gas to heat and compress more air. It’s supposed to have very low maintenance costs (30,000-kilometre service intervals), a range of up to 1,000 miles, and cost less than $20,000.

Not surprisingly, it was one of the first entries in the Automotive XPrize competition, which aims to do for efficient, clean personal transportation what the original X-Prize did for private space exploration.

Sound too good to be true? It may be: here’s a skeptical take on the idea from Technology Review.

Time will tell, but if you’re an early adopter and you live in the U.S., now’s your chance to ensure you’ll be the first on your block whose car goes “Phffft!” instead of “Vroom!”

(Image: Zero Pollution Motors.)

[tags]alternative energy,transport,cars,pollution[/tags]

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5 Responses to “"Zero-pollution" compressed-air car coming to U.S.”

  1. tom says:

    I’ve been to the manufacturer’s site. First of all, I place no credibility in anyone who can’t even spell “brakes” right. Secondly, this car can never be sold in the U.S. because it would never meet crash test guidelines and it’s too slow. Forget it.

  2. tony says:

    let’s see…. take a fossil fuel, convert it to steam, convert that to mechanical energy, convert that to electricity. Now take the electricity, convert it to mechanical, convert that to compressed air. Next, take the compressed air and convert it to mechanical…. uuhhmmmmm.. there HAS to be a lot of conversion losses here, none of these conversions are even 75% efficient..

  3. ~gg~ says:

    Hmmm…..As a teenager, this now 54 year young woman used to love helping her dad work on his cars. This only qualifies me as a “girl” with some idea of which end the steering wheel goes in! Though I’m no engineer, I can’t understand why this vehicle can’t do some level of refilling of the air tanks while the car is being driven – just seems with all the usual movement of tires and axles, some of that energy cant be transferred to pistons or something that could pump air into a tank. Just a thought. Am I so far off that I should stick to what I know: gardening and nursing?

  4. Alex says:

    This technology has huge potential! MDI’s cars could revolutionize transportation, but there is also a different kind of air-powered motor which is even more fascinating: The rotary air engine developed by the Australian Angelo Di Pietro is powered by compressed air and reduces friction, size and weight to a minimum: http://economatters.wordpress.com/2008/07/13/the-air-car-could-revolutionize-driving-an-electric-car-without-an-electric-motor/

  5. David / PlanetThoughts.org says:

    Well, ~gg~, it is an interesting suggestion. Unlike the burning of gasoline in a hybrid which has extra “power to burn” and so can charge a battery, the running car will be constantly drawing on the compressed air, so using that power to compress other air (let’s say, in a second tank) would simply draw power away from the running of the car. So, it seems to me one could re-generate some compressed gas in the limited circumstances of running downhill using all or mostly gravity power to turn the wheels.