pneumatic cars

As the Chevy Volt nears its release, the buzz around plug-in hybrids has opened the door to cars that run on a multitude of energy sources. Zero Pollution Motors has a car in the works that’s part electric, part pneumatic, and part gasoline powered. Here’s how it works: When parked, the car compresses a carbon-fiber air tank to 4000 psi via an inboard electric powered air compressor, which plugs into a household electrical outlet. The process uses about 2 dollars worth of electricity and takes about 4 hours. The car runs on compressed air when cruising under 35 mph. When exceeding that speed, or when the tanks lose pressure, a small gasoline powered generator powers the air compressor, replenishing the air tank. This system is good for over 100 mpg! The idea is simple, cheap and utilizes no advanced technology. Essentially it’s a plug-in hybrid like the Chevy Volt without the expensive batteries, utilizing an air tank as an alternate means of energy storage. The air-car’s lack of complexity allows the manufacturer to keep the price low—it’s projected have a price tag roughly one third the cost of the Chevy Volt. The gasoline is a means of extending the vehicles range, but is not needed if the car is kept below 35mph and driven short distances before recharging.

When you hear anyone talk of air-cars, understand that air is not a source of fuel. Rather, compressed air is a means of storing kinetic energy, like a rubber band does when twisted. A tank holding compressed air is a method of energy storage, much like a battery. Any car powered by compressed air-driven (pneumatic) engines run on whatever power source was used to compress the air in first place. In most cases, that power source is electricity. An air-car, like an electric car, is really only as green as the electricity used to compress the air tanks initially. If the owner plugs his/her air car into a power grid fed by coal power plants, the air-car indirectly becomes a coal-car.

ZPM’s air car is a brilliant, practical alternative to the plug-in battery powered hybrid. Thankfully, the idea is more than a concept—we could be seeing them stateside in less than 5 years.

Tags: , , , , ,

2 thoughts on “pneumatic cars”

  1. George says:

    I this is absolutely the perfect alternative vehicle… If this type of vehicle is approved for the USA (crash tests, air bags, etc) it will be (in my opinion) the best option because it doesn’t use heavy expensive batteries! Plus, the air tank lets the vehicle be recharged without having to be connected to anything (air is always available!).

    I don’t agree with it being a “Coal” car… C’mon! We don’t call our household electricity a “coal house”…Most electric (or this type) of cars will be charged at night, when electricity is mostly wasted! So if you’re making good use of that wasted electricity (no matter how it was produced)… it’s better than it just going to waste. Of course, If I was the government, I’d offer the incentive of offering free solar panel charging system with every alternative fuel vehicle… That would both help the user (by being able to charge the car for free) plus it would promote local installation jobs… and would help the local power companies during the night when electric vehicles (not this one) could store electricity that could be used during the day!

    Lastly, Let’s all start thinking about getting our next vehicle (even if it’s only a second vehicle) an alternative fuel vehicle… We need to get-off of foreign oil ASAP so that our military can start protecting our country, instead of oil fields and oil tanker routs!

  2. Paul says:

    I have a fan website with more information at Citycat air car.

    or go to youtube and see my catvolution channel with videos of my trip to the MDI factory in Nice, France.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *