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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Will the Automotive X-Prize Be Won By The Air Car?

A company named Zero Pollution Motors plans on bringing a car powered by air to the U.S. sometime in 2009 or 2010. The six pistons in the Air Car's engine are pushed by compressed air rather than gasoline combustion, an idea developed by F1 race car engineer Guy Negre.

Air Powered Car Coming to the US

The company claims it's vehicle will get 106mpg and have a top speed of 96mph. It also boasts of zero emissions. The gasoline portion of the system is used to run the onboard compressor that refills the air tanks while driving and produces half the emissions of the Toyota Prius (the current cleanest production hybrid). The vehicle can also be "recharged in about 4 hours using a standard electrical outlet and uses about $2 worth of electricity. The cars air tanks can be filled with an external compressor commonly found in most service stations in about 4 minutes. The tanks themselves are made of a carbon fiber that makes them strong enough to hold the high pressure needed to run the vehicle. In the case of an accident, the tanks will crack instead of exploding like traditional metal compressed air tanks. Thus proving to be a very safe technology for the user.

The company has recently raised $20 million dollars in venture capitol from the India based automaker Tata Motors. This gives it the significant funding needed to enter the highly competitive US car market. The estimated price for the base model is around $18,000. When coupled with the amazing fuel economy, this vehicle appears to be well within the reach of most consumers.

The following video is from an Australian television show called "Beyond Tommorrow" that featured the amazing "Air Car". The second portion of the video features an Australian inventor who has also come up with an incredible invention he calls the "rotary air engine". This amazing engine can be held in your hands, yet produces an incredible amount of power. Is air power the solution to our dependence on fossil fuels and the answer for greatly reduced emmissions? Perhaps, but could they make this technology run in something that isn't so butt-ass ugly?

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