Sunday, November 22, 2009
Forget hydrogen, forget expensive lithium batteries, fuel up on compressed air? Maybe… The MDI AirPod rides through the streets of Paris
by Larry Geller
It’s clean, it’s green. At last, it moves.
It takes two minutes to fill the tank of this futuristic prototype air-powered car. It emits zero pollution. There are no batteries to replace or recycle, no hydrogen to explode in a crash. No fuel cell. But still too weird, too small, no aircon yet, (not even a seat belt!).
Who knows if it will succeed, but this may bear watching.
The car is small and light, hence its efficiency. If the electricity needed to run the little air compressor that refuels it comes from renewable sources, it could be very green. It’s top speed of 28 mph and range of about 140 miles would be good enough for city driving as is, and it could improve.
Development is clearly at an early stage, and many of these projects fail to succeed. A recent IEEE Spectrum article is far from positive. The company behind the cars, Motor Development International, has scored some important sponsors.
If we are to see any of them in Honolulu one day, Mufi will have to either fix the potholes or the AirPod will need bigger front wheels. It will need some way to cool down—right now it’s a green greenhouse that bakes its passengers relentlessly. Since the release of air from the engine is cold, it shouldn’t be too long before the designers figure out that they can use that to help cool the passengers.
Besides seat belts, air bags would seem to be a good idea in a vehicle this light.
Let’s see how it goes.
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