Autoview Motorsport & Motoring

Monday, 19 December 2011

Free breathable Fuel!

French Company MDI's Air Pod

For those not familiar with the workings of a compressor, it's basically an internal combustion engine minus the ability to combust! Compressor engines have a piston or pistons, if they are multi-cylinder, which are driven via an electric motor usually and the compression (or squeeze) phase of the combustion cycle is used to squash the air and store it in a cylinder. This compressed air is then used to inflate our tyres, power air tools or spray paint anything that moves (better if doesn't though, saves streaking!)

So, why am I prattling on about the virtues of the humble compressor on a car blog? Well, a small french company has been working on a range of compressed air powered vehicles. Their AirPod One is pictured above, but the proposed range includes public transport solutions too, and as our fossil fuel stocks continue to dwindle, everybody with an interest in these matters seems hell bent on unlocking the secrets of electric power. But this erm... interesting?? (I think it's decide!) looking little car has a dual fuel option (presumably using a combustion engine option), which, they claim, will give around 160mpg with only 30g of Co2 produced and an 800 mile range! In city mode, using compressed air only, the MDI produces no Co2! So run the engine backwards via an electricity supply and it refills the air tank (taking approximately 2 hours) or connect the tank to an air supply (your local garage has one of these!!) for a 2 minute refill and you're on your way!

Now, this poses an interesting question.... is it possible to run this 'engine' on compressed air and have it refill the tank whilst you're moving? I'm sure the 'brains' are working on this as I write, and although there is bound to be some efficiency loss, maybe there is a way to at least recoup some of the losses?

The genius behind this thinking is French engineer Guy Negre, who has designed over 100 engines, and his MDI company has signed an agreement with Indian Motor giant TATA to licence the technology. It's notable that not much attention (if any at all) is being focussed on the performance of Mr Negre's machines, so that probably means there isn't much (and that makes us sad :( ), but given time, investment and maybe a racing series (the AirPod challenge anyone?), things might develop - worth keeping an eye on?

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