Have you been to the gas station this week? Considering that we live in a very mobile society, it's probably safe to assume that you have. While pumping gas, you've undoubtedly noticed how much the price of gas has soared in recent years. Gasoline which has been the main source of fuel for the history of cars, is becoming more and more expensive and impractical (especially from an environmental standpoint). These factors are leading car manufacturers to develop cars fueled by alternative energies. Two hybrid cars took to the road in 2000, and in three or four years fuel-cell-powered cars will roll onto the world's highways.
While gasoline prices in the United States have not yet reached their highest point ($2.66/gallon in 1980), they have climbed steeply in the past two years. In 1999, prices rose by 30 percent, and from December 1999 to October 2000, prices rose an additional 20 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Europe, prices are even higher, costing more than $4 in countries like England and the Netherlands. But cost is not the only problem with using gasoline as our primary fuel. It is also damaging to the environment, and since it is not a renewable resource, it will eventually run out. One possible alternative is the air-powered car.
Air powered cars runs on compressed air instead of gasoline. This car is powered by a two cylinder compressed engine. This engine can run either on compressed air alone or act as an IC engine. Compressed air is stored in glass or fiber tanks at a pressure of 4351 psi.
Within the next two years, you could see the first air-powered vehicle motoring through your town. Most likely, it will be the e.Volution car that is being built by Zero Pollution Motors.
The cars have generated a lot of interest in recent years, and the Mexican government has already signed a deal to buy 40,000 e.Volutions to replace gasoline- and diesel-powered taxis in the heavily polluted Mexico City.
2. VEHICLE PARTS
Compressed air tanks
One of the most frequently asked questions is about the safety of the compressed air storage tanks. These tanks hold 90 cubic meters of air compressed to 300 bars. Many people ask whether this system is dangerous in case of an accident and if there is a risk of explosion. The answer is NO. Why? Because these are the same tanks used to carry the liquid gas used by buses for public transport. The tanks enjoy the same technology developed to contain natural gas. They are designed and officially approved to carry an explosive product: methane gas.
In the case of a major accident, where the tanks are ruptured, they would not explode since they are not metal. Instead they would crack, as they are made of carbon fiber. An elongated crack would appear in the tank, without exploding, and the air would simply escape, producing a loud but harmless noise. Of course, since this technology is licensed to transport an inflammable and explosive gas (Natural gas), it is perfectly capable inoffensive and non-flammable air.
It is fitting, therefore, that MDI has reached an agreement with the European leader in aerospace technology Airbus Industries for the manufacture of the compressed air storage tanks. With a remote supervision arrangement, Airbus Industries oversees the making of the storage tanks at each MDI factory. The coiled carbon fibre technology used in the construction of the tanks is complex and requires a substantial quality control process which the multinational company, home of the Airbus aircraft, will provide for our vehicles.
Brake power recovery
The MDI vehicles will be equipped with a range of modern systems. For example, one mechanism stops the engine when the car is stationary (at traffic lights, junctions etc). Another interesting feature is the pneumatic system which recovers about 13% of the power used.