Cars powered by compressed air

I recently received an email describing and showing a picture of cars currently available in Europe that are powered by compressed air. I am wondering if this is reality and, if so, why we haven’t heard more about this. The email said these cars had a range of 125 miles and speeds up to 65 mph. I would be interested in any comments.

Here’s an article from my local paper regarding the Air Car:

I’m frankly a bit skeptical.

Of course it is possible, but why would you want to? Unless you have an unlimited supply of compressed air that you can tap for little or no marginal cost. Compressed air is not a particularly efficient way to store power, other than it is very light, which is a plus for a motor vehicle.

Now, if your compressor is your home exercise machine that you pump/pedal all evening as you watch TV, then use that energy to commute to work, that would be cool. No emissions, (greenhouse or otherwise) and you would be buff!

It’s interesting. What about creature comforts like heating and air conditioning? It doesn’t look like much of a commuter with a top speed of 65 MPH, unless it’s all in town.

I’m happy that people are looking at other than the traditional ways to power cars, but a sketch and a PR release does not a viable vehicle make. Only a working prototype can determine its viability.

This popped up about 15 years ago and if there was anything to it then it would have been a done deal by now.
The gentleman behind this was luring in investors with the promise of franchising and not much more if I remember correctly. It seems to me that Tata Motors in India may have purchased the rights to the idea anyway.

The problem that exists even if the car actually worked is that it works on extremely high air pressure in the range of 240 Bar, which is about 3500 PSI plus.

Exactly where would you air the tank up? The paltry 100 or so PSI at the gas station won’t even phase it. If you owned a pump at home that could provide this kind of pressure then you’re going to be looking at some major transformer/power line work and a major league electric bill. About the time the air pressure hits 300 PSI that wheel in the meter is going to be whirling away and at a 1000 PSI it would look like a turbine in a jet engine.

Heating would be a problem for sure but air-conditioning would be a by-product of expanding the compressed air. Have you ever noticed that the exhaust air of a pneumatic tool is ice cold?

I think this technology may have applications in recovering some of the energy needed to compress natural gas in CNG vehicles.

I hate to say this, but that email is lying. The range and speed are probably theoretical maximums and nothing anyone has built has come close to that, yet. I’m not saying people shouldn’t try, just that realistically it’s not as great as it sounds.

Also, people won’t buy small, light, commuter cars. It is legal, right now, to own and operate “low speed vehicles” in many states. For around town grocery trips and short commutes there are rechargable electric cars you can buy today but you don’t see them because they don’t sell well except in some retirement communities in Florida and Arizona. Gasoline is still cheap enough that no one really wants an alternative.

Like ALL alternative automotive schemes, it’s a matter of “Energy Density”. How much energy can you store in compressed air?? Why bother? Charge a battery and use electric motors for drive power. MUCH more efficient than reciprocating piston or vane motor “air” motors…

Compressing the air to 3000 psi+, then releasing it through an air motor, you will loose 50% of your input energy cost…