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Tata's Air Car

Tata Motors' Air Car will hit the streets of India in the summer of 2012. It's engine 'powered' by a tank of compressed air and is targeted for urban use.

Check it out here[url][/url]

What are your thoughts?

Here are some of mine:

* $2.22 for a 186 mile 'fill-up'? Hard to believe!
* What about performance? It would be a function of ambient air temperature and might be a real dog on cold days.
* The performance would decline as the initial charge of hot air cools. The range would decrease if the car sits idle and the tank air cools.
* What about performance (acceleration) when the tank nears empty?
* What is powering the fill-up compressors? Such compressors are high maintenance.
* To get a range of 186 miles, the car's air tank has to be big or else withstand very high pressures (heavy?, safety issues?). That trade-off would make an interesting design problem.
* As always, the number and location of 'filling' stations is critical.
Dennise wrote:

* What is powering the fill-up compressors? Such compressors are high maintenance.

They don't have to be. Some compressor designs can be relatively low-maintenance.
(Some, for example, have only one or two moving parts, and don't require any lubrication.)

The low-maintenance ones will usually be more expensive though.

You end up with another design trade-off... the decision between three factors in compressor design:
initial price - price to maintain - capacity/performance
Optimizing it for any of those factors in particular will tend to cause less satisfactory results in the other two factors.

As for the compressed air - powered car as a concept, it could be workable.
Compressed air is just another energy storage medium, like a gas tank or an electric battery.
The question is, can compressed air achieve a capacity/weight-size ratio more favorable (or at least comparable) to the other ways of storing energy?

(And if I had one, I would certainly want to add on an electric-powered compressor, so it could be recharged at any electric power source.)
(Though, I've heard it was held together with glue to save weight and cost... I am highly dubious about the durability of a car held together with glue.)
A few facts to help:
Petrol (Gasoline) is the most energy dense of the normally available fuels - ie it has more power per kilogram of fuel than electricity, hydrogen, LPG etc. This is one major issue. You will NEVER build a battery powered vehicle with the same power to weight ratio as a petrol vehicle - even if you use the latest super-dooper lithium-air batteries or any other conceivable technology.
Batteries are also NOT a fuel - merely a storage device. They simply put the problem off for one step - you still have to charge the battery somehow, and at the moment that is almost entirely by burning fossil fuels for most people.
Hydrogen has possibilities. The problem is that you need to squeeze it right down - hydrogen at room pressure contains 0.01079 Megajoules of energy per litre. For comparison, petrol contains about 34 Megajoules per litre. You therefore have to squeeze (compress) the hydrogen a very long way before it begins to approach the energy density needed. Even if you squeeze it 'all the way' - ie to liquid - then the energy density is still only 10 Megajoules per litre - about 1/3rd as good as petrol.
The trouble is that we have become used to the rolls-royce of fuel - oil is incredible stuff in terms of how much energy it packs into a small volume and nothing else comes close - short of nuclear. Obviously there are materials with more energy per volume - graphite, for example, is more like 80 megajoules per litre and aluminium is similar - but how do you get that energy out?
To compare batteries we need to use another measure - Megajoules per kilo.
Petrol, on that measure, is about 45 Megajoules per kilo. The best battery we currently have (even in the labs) - Lithium Thionyl Chloride batteries - are capable, possibly, of about 2.5 Megajoules per kilo (though we have never got near that in practice). These batteries are also not practical for the simple reason that they can only deliver their power at low voltages, they are very toxic, and they have a nasty habit of exploding. More practical batteries are rated around 0.5-1 MJ per kilo - 45 to 90 times less energy per unit mass than petrol.

The final choice is the hydrogen fuel cell - instead of compressing hydrogen into liquid and burning it like petrol, you do it in a much more controlled way chemically - like a battery (in fact it IS a battery). The hydrogen is the anode (-ve) and you use oxygen from the air as the cathode (+ve). Using a catalyst you split the hydrogen into an electron and a proton. The ion or proton passes through an electrolyte (like the fluid in a normal battery) but the electron cannot and is trapped. You make the trapped electrons travel down a wire - electricity - to rejoin the ions which have passed through the electrolyte fluid to the cathode where the electrons and ions re-unite - normally using oxygen as a further reactant to produce water at the end - very clean.

This type of fuel cell has an energy density of 1.5 Megajoules per kilo, but you don't have to carry the oxygen so it is slightly more efficient (still many times less so than petrol of course).

So thems the choices folks. None of them are as good as petrol in terms of energy per unit volume/mass but of them all hydrogen is probably the most viable. The problem at the moment is that all that compressing the hydrogen uses....yep...lots of power. The other problem is that hydrogen isn't generally found by itself - you have to 'scrape it off' some other chemical first - like splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. This guessed it.....lots of energy......

The hydrogen fuel cell is the best technology within reasonably easy reach - once we have the reliability and cost sorted - at the moment a lot of platinum is used to catalyse the reaction and that is very expensive - alternatives are being developed.

But realise - nothing is going to give you the same power as the old gasoline guzzler, so if you are a bit of a speed freak like me, then make the best of it whilst it lasts Sad
this is amazing.. "TATA" -- i just wonder if they have copy all the ideas from other company because now a days it is easy to re-design than to design..
nazal12 wrote:
You will NEVER build a battery powered vehicle with the same power to weight ratio as a petrol vehicle - even if you use the latest super-dooper lithium-air batteries or any other conceivable technology.


Electric vehicles can be (and have been) made that have much better power-to-weight ratios than gas-powered vehicles.
(They do this by having very short ranges. They may only be able to drive for 10 minutes before running out of battery power, but during that 10 minutes they have a fantastically high power-to-weight ratio.)

What you're trying to say there is that electric vehicles can't have a better energy storage to weight ratio, which is true.
(Except for small values, because the equipment to convert gasoline energy to kinetic energy (engine) is much larger and heavier than the equipment needed to convert electric energy into kinetic energy (electric motor).)
gasoline free vehicles, or non - gasoline is nice for us nowadays because some country suffer in fuel economy, in our country the crude and gasoline always getting a price hike, every month, week, or worse every day. The battery powered vehicle, air powered vehicle is a good, non pollution and more cheaper. if it is possible, gasoline / crude powered vehicle should pace out. But i think that is not so easy. so companies always making or still making them, just making them more fuel efficient.
For me, i like non - gasoline vehicles.. Wink Very Happy
if you don't want to commit mistake from your words, don't talk Very Happy
I assume this kind of car's main goal is for city-travel. Wouldn't a simple bicycle be better for that kind of thing? Ok, if we introduce the weather as an obstacle then there are many ways to solve the weather problem, including building a lightweight cabin for a bicycle.

Why am I so much in favor of bicycles? First off, it's damn healthy. Second of all, the parts are cheap, maintenance is cheap and the overall design is cheap. Third of all, the greatly reduces pollution, traffic and really important for me - noise pollution.

It would be nice to have a car to go to remote locations, especially places with rough terrain. But for the city? Buses and bikes are not "good enough" - they're great.

I admire their research into totally different methods of energy storage (what about a car that stores energy in an elevated water tower? Just joking Smile ), but it seems to me that the solution is already here - human powered vehicles for those times when you need to hope 5-10km to work/shop/visit friends.
A good idea because it is Eco-friendly. Fuel is also much cheaper than a normal car.
The article says the air is compressed to 4350 psi, which is about 300 atmospheres. It doesn't say how big the tank is, but apparently the car is reasonably large (six passenger minivan). A compressor for overnight use is provided with the car. The exhaust is nothing but very cold air.

The fuel cost sound almost too good to be true; presumably less if charged overnight and they claim it can go up to 105 km/hr (roughly 70 mph). I imagine it would get quite sluggish when near empty, but probably not noticeably so until 2/3 or more of the air is used. At $12,700 it sounds a bit pricey, coming from a company which sells cars for under $3,000.

I hope they have some success with this and that the technology can be improved.
the link is broken

This is somewhat embarrassing, isn’t it?

It seems we can’t find what you’re looking for. Perhaps searching, or one of the links below, can help.

is what i get but let me tell you something this is french technologie not indian

lol now check this one

dont forget as a refence to check video upload date

also check the MDI website at

MDI is a project initiated and directed by Guy NEGRE the CEO of the company, this mechanical engineer started his career with researches on engines’ efficiency.
Among his numerous creations, we particularly remember a rotary distribution device for a R8 GORDINI which produced 152 HP at 11 000 rpm, his light aircraft engines (SACMA) and also the development of a 3.5 liters W 12 engine, for Formula 1 races in the 80s. Throughout his career Guy NEGRE, has designed nearly one hundred engines.

Having in mind the protection of the planet, Guy NEGRE has then concentrated his efforts towards the development of zero pollution engines and created MDI in 1991.
The aims of this company are to promote and develop ecological energies; conceive and produce non-pollutant vehicles and systems.
Its study office develops new technologies and innovative production methods.
MDI is the owner of numerous patents pertaining to the improvement of its compressed air engines and their technical environment; these patents are protected in 127 countries.

Fifty engineers and technicians work on the compressed air vehicles with the support of TATA Motors, the exclusive licensee for MDI’s technologies in India since 2007.
The agreement provides that TATA will support the technologies final development and optimization for their use in India.

In the rest of the world MDI follows its business models (see Industrial concept) i.e. the sales of licenses and turnkey factories for the manufacturing and commercialization of its products.
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