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AirPod Concept Car Runs on Compressed Air

By - Source: io9 | B 43 comments

Indian car maker creates urban vehicle powered by compressed air.

In a world where hybrid and all-electric vehicles are becoming more and more enticing, one car maker decided to take a different route. Slaving away since early 2007, India-based car maker Tata and Luxembourg's MDI have joined forces to create the world's first air-powered car. Dubbed the AirPod, the ultra-light, one seater is designed specifically for the urban environment.

Tata AirPod Concept Vehicle

With speeds between 28 and 43 miles per hour, the AirPod won't be joining any races anytime soon, unless it's a race for efficiency. Rather than running on gasoline or electricity, the AirPod is pumped with compressed air at a charging station or sucked in via an onboard electric engine. Like its hybrid cousins, the car is also capable of collecting energy while braking.

While the first concept was finished in 2011, it wasn't until May of this year that the companies completed testing the vehicle. No word on a release date or pricing just yet, but we definitely wouldn't be opposed to seeing a few more air-powered concepts in the future. For more information, tune into the Tata Motors webpage.

 

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Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    A Bad Day , August 26, 2012 10:08 PM
    Hm, I recall seeing a concept/prototype of an air-powered car back in the 2007s.
Other Comments
  • 13 Hide
    A Bad Day , August 26, 2012 10:08 PM
    Hm, I recall seeing a concept/prototype of an air-powered car back in the 2007s.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , August 26, 2012 10:18 PM
    They don't quite seem to mention what the range of this thing is (the 100 miles figure is for something different), although given its target market, it probably doesn't need that much range per charge.

    Now, if only this worked with a hand-operated air pump...
  • Display all 43 comments.
  • 7 Hide
    master_chen , August 26, 2012 10:35 PM
    Kickstarter donation page where?
  • 5 Hide
    madooo12 , August 26, 2012 10:52 PM
    mileage please!

    and oh! recharge time
  • 0 Hide
    belardo , August 26, 2012 10:57 PM
    Aircars like these have been around for years. They typically have two tanks. They make them big enough to hold 2~4 people without a problem.

    Cool thing about an AIR-CAR, is that there is plenty of AIR, its just compressed... And in a sense, it should be able to run itself.
  • 1 Hide
    belardo , August 26, 2012 11:01 PM
    Here are some examples of AIR-CARS that are years old:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJeMnZuOOJU (200 Miles per charge, takes minutes to re-fill / 60mph)
    Watch the video above: A possible $15K car... and perhaps the ability for it to-re compress its own air using... compressed air.

    This is WHAT we need. No pollution... no gas, no coal, no solar... no wind.

  • 1 Hide
    belardo , August 26, 2012 11:02 PM
    BTW: the link above is quite old, but its the same maker of the air-pod seen above. They are also looking at concept air-powered buses (small). http://www.mdi.lu/multiflowair.php
  • -3 Hide
    misterawsome , August 26, 2012 11:16 PM
    but what about air pollution :p 
  • 8 Hide
    HenrikG , August 26, 2012 11:25 PM
    Why oh why is it so difficult to make a 'green' car that also looks aesthetically pleasing for an affordable price?
  • 8 Hide
    InvalidError , August 26, 2012 11:58 PM
    belardoand perhaps the ability for it to-re compress its own air using... compressed air.This is WHAT we need. No pollution... no gas, no coal, no solar... no wind.

    You cannot make a self-powered air-car since the air-compression/decompression process is very inefficient. On top of that, you have mechanical losses due to friction, rolling losses in the tires/suspension, aerodynamic losses from drag, more losses from braking, etc. so no matter how efficient you manage to make everything, you still need some form of external energy source to top off the compressed air tank.

    The next biggest hurdle is the weight and size of an air tank large enough to store all the energy required for a typical roundtrip. To keep the tank size down, you need very high pressure air (4000+ psi) which means very thick tanks and pipes. Thermal cycling in the propulsion/braking piston would also be a problem with fast heating during braking and cooling during acceleration.

    Personally, I would be wary of literally driving a pipe bomb on wheels.
  • 4 Hide
    theabsinthehare , August 27, 2012 12:04 AM
    belardoHere are some examples of AIR-CARS that are years old:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJeMnZuOOJU (200 Miles per charge, takes minutes to re-fill / 60mph)Watch the video above: A possible $15K car... and perhaps the ability for it to-re compress its own air using... compressed air.This is WHAT we need. No pollution... no gas, no coal, no solar... no wind.


    For the car to compress the air it runs on via its own air supply would result in a perpetual motion machine. This is impossible. See "Entropy."

    If the car requires an electric pump to compress the air, then it doesn't actually run on air, it runs on electricity. Compressed air may be what makes the motor run, but electricity is what compresses the air. I suppose you could ultimately use a man powered crank compressor of some sort, but how much work would that take?

    From a general perspective, this may seem like a good idea, but if you think about how the entire system works including the charging, you'll realize this might be less efficient than a car that just runs on electricity.

    Each time you convert energy from one form to another, you lose some. For an electric car, you need to change the kinetic electric energy from the wall into potential energy in the battery and then to kinetic energy again when you drive the vehicle. For this Air-Pod, you do the same with an extra step: Outlet electricity to powering the compressor to compressed air then finally to powering the engine.

    Compressors give off a LOT of heat (put your hand up near the ceiling behind your fridge. That's heat given off from compression). That heat is lost energy. Batteries give off some heat, but not as much. This means a purely electric car would be more efficient. This concept just *seems* better because they tell you it runs on air.

  • 2 Hide
    danwat1234 , August 27, 2012 12:33 AM
    "or sucked in via an onboard electric engine"
    You mean "or sucked in via an onboard electric motor powered by a battery pack"
  • 2 Hide
    Elwenil , August 27, 2012 12:33 AM
    Another example of deferred responsibility. People get latched onto the idea that cars like this are so great because they create little or no pollution. That's fine, but in order to drive them, you must have pollution. All electric cars have to be charged and so far solar power isn't quite feasible. An air powered car will require the air to be compressed with by electricity or a compressor driven by an engine or something similar. The car itself may make no pollution but all you are really doing is making someone else responsible for the pollution, be it the electric company, fuel supplier, etc. These cars can't make their own energy so they must take it from something else. Even if we get solar power nailed down for electric cars there are still issues with the pollution created when making the batteries. Hell, even if you used a manual pump to compress the air a human still creates it own pollution as it works. Eventually we will reach a point where the efficiency of such things is worth it for the cost but so far everything I have seen fails miserably. I think I'll keep my '80s 4x4. ;D
  • 0 Hide
    sonofliberty08 , August 27, 2012 12:44 AM
    we should see more ngv around the globe by now
  • 5 Hide
    freggo , August 27, 2012 12:54 AM
    InvalidError.Personally, I would be wary of literally driving a pipe bomb on wheels.


    Ever see a gas tank blow up ? :-)

  • 1 Hide
    antegravity , August 27, 2012 12:55 AM
    This car really doesn't run on air. It runs on whatever compressed the air. Whether that is electricity from a power plant on the grid fueled by coal or wind turbines. Even batteries have an energy and material cost from their industrial production.
  • 0 Hide
    freggo , August 27, 2012 1:02 AM
    ElwenilAnother example of deferred responsibility. People get latched onto the idea that cars like this are so great because they create little or no pollution. That's fine, but in order to drive them, you must have pollution. All electric cars have to be charged and so far solar power isn't quite feasible.


    Actually it depends on your location. Germany, located in the Latitude of Canada, produces some 18TWh of solar energy already. Over28GW installed capacity in a country smaller than Texas with weather patterns similar to Canada; and they are building more.

    The oil lobby likes to talk down on alternative sources, wondering why :-)
  • 0 Hide
    freggo , August 27, 2012 1:05 AM
    antegravityThis car really doesn't run on air. It runs on whatever compressed the air. Whether that is electricity from a power plant on the grid fueled by coal or wind turbines. Even batteries have an energy and material cost from their industrial production.


    True, nothing is 100% pollution free. But if you generate your power responsibly, and outside city limits, then electric , air powered or hydrogen fueled cars will clearly help in cleaning up our smog filled downtowns.

  • -1 Hide
    del35 , August 27, 2012 1:50 AM
    Quote:
    Now, if only this worked with a hand-operated air pump...


    I envision air compressed by solar powered compressors being sold along traffic roads. This really is
    a grand idea and a reason to be optimistic about human ingenuity.... Just when we thought morons like the jury who decided on the Apple/Samsung case ruled the world.
  • 0 Hide
    sacre , August 27, 2012 1:57 AM
    antegravityThis car really doesn't run on air. It runs on whatever compressed the air. Whether that is electricity from a power plant on the grid fueled by coal or wind turbines. Even batteries have an energy and material cost from their industrial production.


    To charge an electric car, it takes very little energy. So, yes, you do pollute less by removing gasoline operated vehicles from the market.

    Look at it this way, You have factories that produces waste to produce gas which produces waste. Or you have a hydro station produce waste to produce electricity which... produces nothing. So now you eliminated 1 extra "waste" step.

    On top of this, you have Hydro Electric dams that produce no waste, so now you have a dam producing no waste that supplies energy for a car that produces no waste. What is this? Damn near perfection.

    Eliminating "gas" from the field would make this world a LOT better. Oil companies control every single individual heavily, gas goes up = food goes up, products go up, everything goes up in price.

    Unfortunately, people are afraid to go mainstream with new technologies. Doing so has the oil companies breathing down your neck trying to either buy you out or shut you up.
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